Influencer Marketing Laws Around the World

Influencer Marketing Laws

In 2014, an Oreo campaign that hired UK YouTubers to engage in ‘lick races’, had all the videos taken down after an advertising watchdog found a lack of disclosure. The UK has very strict influencer marketing laws, which require disclosure within the video and not just in the description of the video. That same kind of enforcement is coming to the US this year – the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced they will start strictly enforcing the rules they implemented years ago (to date, enforcement has been lax). Transparency and disclosure is absolutely crucial if you want to maintain your audiences’ trust, but not only that, it’s part of the law in the US. You can hide a brand deal by not disclosing it, but it will only hurt you in the long run.

I was curious about the kind of laws that exist around the world, so I set out to research them. This blog post does NOT constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is solely designed to give you an idea of the kind of laws that exist (or do not) around the world. I have always preached that strong, open and direct disclosure is the best policy for both yourself (legally) and your relationship with your audience.

United States

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defined clear influencer marketing rules several years ago. Content creators must disclose on each platform the content is shared (example: a blog must include disclosure, but a tweet sharing that blog must as well.) #ad is sufficient for Twitter as long as used before a link. While disclosure at the bottom of a post is okay, if it’s not clear and conspicuous, it may not be sufficient (small fonts/hidden under comments etc).  The FTC has announced that Enforcement is about to become very strict.

Canada

Canadian Influencers

Canada is behind in updating the laws to include influencer marketing, but there are some existing laws that do apply. Canada’s Marketing Code of Ethics requires disclosure of the connection between a marketer and someone endorsing their product. The Canadian Competition Bureau requires that you disclose if you have been paid or given something free to promote a product. Also, there is a law requiring that you have used the product and can be considered an expert in it before you can publicly promote it (Astroturfing). There has been little done to enforce this though.

United Kingdom

The UK has clear requirements set for content creators.  If any content is paid for (either with cash, or product) you must disclose that fact. They issued a direct letter to all content creators as a warning. The laws are covered in two pieces including one related to unfair trading and another about advertising practice codes. They also have additional rules for video creators. Enforcement is increasing in 2016 and beyond.

Australia

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is a federal body that protects consumers. In their Competition and Consumer Act 2010, it says disclosure is necessary if it would be deceptive or misleading not to. As it stands now, the interpretation of that is somewhat open – and as such, disclosure is a good idea but it’s not strict (at the moment). Several court cases involving paid influencer will better define those rules soon.

China

Earlier this year, China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC) updated their laws as they related to online advertising. One of the specific requirements was that paid ads must be clearly marked. They also added that any ‘celebrity or endorser’ can be held liable if they endorse a product with false advertising.

Spain

Influencer Marketing Laws

Spain has pretty clear laws surrounding influencer marketing. It must be made clear to the reader/viewer that there is a relationship with the brand. That does not mean that every image/second needs to be tagged as such though. The rules become especially strict if an influencer’s main audience is under 18. The document is as one of the best when it comes to setting clear expectations for influencers.

Thailand

There are currently no laws that relate to disclosure and influencer marketing. Also, in researching this I learned that there will never be laws surrounding it for one reason: “ทำอะไรตามใจ คือไทยแท้.”

European Union

Some member states of the European Union have some kind of law related to endorsements. However, there has yet to be an overall guide. The European Union is working a new set of laws and guidelines that will directly effect influencer marketing. You can see some of the plans here as they relate to misleading ads.

South Africa

Influencer Marketing Laws

The laws that exist can be interpreted to apply to influencers, but that is unlikely. As such, there are currently no requirements for disclosure.

India

There are no rules that are directly mention online influencers, but they are working on them. One law that may apply is on ‘celebrity endorsement’, which could hold the endorser liable for damages or even jail time if they endorse a product that does not deliver – false advertising.

Singapore

The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS), just released a new set of guidelines as it relates to influencer marketing. The new rules go into effect in Singapore on September 29th and are pretty detailed. First, you need to disclose if there has been any kind of compensation as soon as possible into a piece of content. Accepted disclosure includes the use of #adv, #sponsored or #endorsed. Secondly, they make it against the rules to inflate engagement by paid likes/followers/comments. There are additional articles that include fake reviews, negative campaigns and more. Check out the full list of rules here.

Influencer Seppuku

Influencer Seppuku

They say that any press is good press, and up until the advent of social media (and the social media influencer) I think that adage held true. But social media changes things. Perhaps it’s that you can destroy your life in a single tweet and the media will gobble it up. Regardless, Influencers have a different set of rules where good press is GREAT press and bad press is TERRIBLE press. I want to share a little story before I get into what this post is actually about…Media Piece

Back in late 2010, I was emailed by a journalist from the Wall Street Journal – she was doing a story about Klout, and my name had come up when she was searching for an expert. We had a little back and forth because I needed to know what the intent of the article was as there was a tiny bit of curious wording. She got me on the phone and put my fears to ease about the article. I gave her a long detailed interview about my experiences and this new concept called ‘influencer marketing’. I was excited to be sourced as an expert by the Wall Street Journal!

And then the article came out… “Wannabe Cool Kids Aim to Game the Web’s New Social Scorekeepers”. I remember the sinking feeling of that headline, and then reading the article only confirmed my disappointment. It painted me as the headline ‘wannabe’, instead of someone who was experimenting too see the cause-effect of these new tools. Most know me as quite the experimenter. On Twitter I lamented about the headline, and I never shared the article on Facebook. Yes, it was cool to see my name printed in the Wall Street Journal… but it wasn’t good press.

Yesterday, I read an article called “No More Likes: Are the Days of the Style Influencer Numbered?” and later changed to “Peddling Influence”. The article is directed at style/fashion influencers, but the overall piece is a commentary on every content creator. I certainly cannot argue the fact that the article is very interesting and well written (credit to Anya Georgijevic), but it is certainly not good press. It’s especially bad for one blogger quoted as the expert who commits what can only be described as influencer seppuku.

I have known Jay DeMaria aka Jay Strut’s name for years now – he appeared on my Toronto Twitter Influencers list, and despite our lives being vastly different we often find ourselves at the same events and, ironically, media pieces. All that said, I’ve never met the guy. I assume, like I do of most people, that he’s probably a nice person which gives me some hesitance in even writing this. But I’m not one to bite my tongue when I think there’s a lesson to be learned. I think he just made one of the biggest mistakes of his life – he admitted to the world that any brand that works with him… get nothing in return:

“There isn’t one guy in this whole restaurant that’s going to my website and saying, ‘Oh, I’m gonna wear those tights, that low tank top and that gold chain. And women aren’t coming to my page and saying ‘Yes, I want to look like that tomorrow,’ … But, there are aspects of me – the freedom I have in my expression, my attitude towards things and my overall aesthetic – it’s not relatable, but it’s relatable.”

The author adds ‘He doesn’t sell clothes; he sells the fantasy’. It is the most unbelievable quote I’ve ever read from an influencer. Here is a guy that is given luxury products… to promote; is flown to foreign destinations… to promote; and is paid well enough to buy a condo through gigs that are… to promote the brands involved. Meanwhile he’s admitting that he has no influence over anyone’s purchasing decisions. It’s exactly why influencer marketing is getting such a bad wrap lately – you’re paid for a service you can’t deliver.  “Jay Strut is flown around the world to hype up designer labels, but even he’s questioning the future of social buzz.” You’re right, it’s over.

It’s Influencer Seppuku

The article goes on to discuss the recent Digiday ‘anonymous social media exec‘ tirade, makes reference to an article that talks about how Toronto fashion bloggers are garbage titled “Sophie Grégoire Trudeau vs Wannabe Influencers“, and then mentions Justine Iaboni’s post called “The True Cost of Blogging“, which offers the only counter balance to an otherwise lopsided ‘influencers should be paid in yogurt’ article. As if the authors bias wasn’t evident enough, she closes by saying she’s going to be ‘sticking to her day job’, which she should remember is in journalism.

Digital Seppuku

Make no mistake, influencer marketing is about generating a return on investment. I do think that a lot of influencers charge too much and deliver too little to the brands they work with. I think it’s especially true in the beauty/fashion/lifestyle genres where the supply is excessive. It’s also not entirely their fault – brands/PR/marketers are still trying to figure this all out and as such, play a bit of a guessing game in determining who to work with and what the ROI of working with them is. Experimentation leads to a LOT of mistakes.

But I also think that all WORK has a price tag attached to it. Bloggers are still offering a service – content creation/promotion through their own channel. EVERY creator HOPES that millions will want to read and then buy the product mentioned. It doesn’t often turn out that way, but the intent and desire is for it to be a huge success. No creator is trying to rip anyone off, especially not the brands taking a chance on them. As such, it behooves the creators to only talk about the great things they have done, improve their social and traffic numbers, and do their best to create great content.

There world of influencer marketing is still in its infancy, and much like a child learning to walk, it takes time to find footing. But through all the weird partnerships, over payments, ineffective content, brand deals that didn’t make sense for the influencer and all the other mistakes being made, slowly we’re all starting to figure it out. Once we get through this rocky phase, those that survive and can actually deliver value will thrive. Until that point, creators need to keep putting their best foot forward – and try not to tell the world how non-influential you are.

Blogger Mistakes

Blogger Mistakes

Over the years, I have personally made so many blogger mistakes. If given the opportunity to go back and fix them, I would in an instant. Some of them are minor with no real consequence other than making life a little bit more difficult than it had to be. Others were truly massive issues that have hindered my success as a creator. That said, every mistake is an opportunity to grow and do better – but those lessons don’t help others. As I look at my fellow bloggers, some new, some veteran, I immediately recognize that they are making some of the same mistakes that I did. Today, I’d like to share some of those mistakes!

Blogger Mistakes: Consistency

Audiences like consistency when it comes to content. They want fresh content that’s expected and regularly shared, whether that’s daily, multiple times a week or weekly. I have had a horrible history when it comes to consistency on my blog. I wrote consistently for two years and built a strong, loyal audience. Then I wrote for a different blog, then did a podcast and only shared that content, then I came back to my blog. It fragmented the audience and was counter productive. I should have always been regularly producing content for my blog – at least once a week. Had I done that, I wouldn’t be constantly having to re-capture my readers attention.

Blogger Mistakes: Creating Content I Didn’t Love

My blog is MY space that I can do anything I want with – why would I spend ANY time creating content I didn’t love? I have created content that didn’t meet my own standards over the years. The audience recognizes when my heart isn’t into a post (as is evident by the traffic/time on page analytics). If you’re not loving the content, don’t post it as it only serves to hurt.

Blogger Tips

Blogger Mistakes: SEO

One of the things that it seems EVERY blogger could stand to do a little better is their SEO. For years, I did nothing SEO related – I didn’t use alt tags, I didn’t target a keyword and didn’t write in a way that web crawlers would ‘love’ my site. As such, I didn’t bring in the number of people who would have probably loved that content. I’ve been working a little bit every day to go back and optimize that content, but I WISH I had done it from the beginning. A plugin like Yoast can help immensely at simplifying the process.

Blogger Mistakes: Me vs Everyone

Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made as a blogger has been my mentality. I’ve always felt competition among my fellow bloggers, and that’s entirely the wrong thing to do. Instead of seeing the value in working and building our audiences collaboratively, I’ve actively tried to ‘beat’ everyone else around me. While naturally, there will be others who I don’t like at all, the reality is that many know exactly what it’s like in the ‘blogger trenches’ and as such are perfect allies. Collaboration as a creator is far more beneficial for everyone involved than trying to be the top of the pyramid alone.

Speaking of Collaboration…

I reached out to a bunch of bloggers who I respect and think are some of the best, asking them if they have made any mistakes and would be willing to share. Their responses have taught me a few things already, and it really goes to show that collectively, we have immense knowledge! I encourage you to also follow these bloggers on Twitter and check out their blogs as well – you won’t be disappointed.

The BIGGEST mistake I’ve made as a blogger—and still DO—is that I need to do everything myself, thinking no one else can do things as good as I do them. And that’s stupid. Part of balancing out blogging with the rest of your life is figuring out the pieces you’re willing to hand off to others so you can FOCUS on the parts you do BEST. – Casey at CaseyPalmer.com

 

As a PR professional and social media strategist by day, my biggest mistake as a blogger is not following my own advice. All the things that I’d advise my clients to do – creating content calendars, being consistent, answering emails in a timely fashion – are things I often neglect to do for my own site. Also – doing more of what works. If something is getting engagement and stirring up the interwebs, do more of it! – Stephanie at StephanieFusco.com

 

Looking back over the last four years of blogging, I’ve made a ton of mistakes. By far the biggest one was working with brands I didn’t care for. I’d see dollar signs and instead of asking myself, ” does this fit my brand?” I’d say “yes” and scream “show me the money!” – Brock at BrockDMclaughlin.com

 

When I first started blogging, I didn’t focus on a niche. I wanted to talk about anything and everything. I quickly realized that it was easier to create content on things that you are really passionate about and your audience will see that! – Janelle at NelleCreations.com

 

Since I started blogging, I recently learned how important it is to have the same filter on all of my Instagram pics. I never realized how much of a difference it makes on the whole look until I starting looking on other bloggers Instagrams. Consistency is the key! – Deanne at MyFashAvenue.com

 

Looking back the one mistake I made when I first started blogging is not promoting my blog content on my social media, or not promoting my content in a creative way which would bring readers to my site. Especially in the beginning when you are building your readership, ensure you promote your content to create awareness about the existence of your blog. I would suggest finding the right balance where you promote your blog posts on social media, but do not go overboard with promoting. – Eleni at Bijuleni.com

 

When I first started blogging, I had decided on only one thing, the fact that I wanted to blog. I prattled on about everything from cocktail recipes to tips for houseplants, and nothing was really connected. Obviously, this was not a successful approach. Why didn’t it work out? There was no passion! Then three year’s later—after I had given up on writing about how to care for your ficus tree—I found a niche I finally felt comfortable writing about. So my advice for new bloggers is to write about what you love, nothing more, nothing less (and avoid all plant related posts, unless you’re a Phytomaniac).” – Stephanie at WetHauteTech.com

Why Creators Should be More Like Donald Trump

Be Like Donald Trump

Before having read a word I’ve written in this post – is your mind filled with negativity? Does the title alone with it’s positive Donald Trump slant immediately instill thoughts that *I* must be a terrible person for saying that people should be like him? Congrats, you’ve proven exactly why creators should be more like Donald Trump.

As creators, the ultimate goal of doing anything – whether that’s blogging, or creating videos for YouTube, or taking photos on Instagram, is to give your audience a takeaway. Something that they can remember, or feel, or know from here on out. Perhaps as a blogger, that’s writing a review that will help someone decide whether it’s worth buying or not. As a YouTuber, maybe it’s to entertain and make someone smile on their worst days. As an Instagramer, maybe it’s about giving them a new perspective on something they’ve seen 100 times before, but never quite like this. This is how influencers are made – if you can repeatedly deliver an experience, education, message, or POV, you build a relationship with that person. Much like how marketers will talk about effective frequency (the number of times you need to see something before you’ll consider buying – Rule of 7), your audience needs to repeatedly get a positive experience from your content.

Donald Trump Content

Now the question becomes – why should creators be more like Donald Trump? While I don’t agree with a lot of the message, I can’t help but admire his ability to rally support and defying everyone’s expectations. How has he done that? By being entirely himself, speaking off the cuff, being unafraid of anyone and doing it in an entirely in a “Donald Trump” kind of way. The man knows about brand building, and he changed the world of politics as well.

What Donald Trump Does and How You Can Emulate It

As a creator, let’s list some of the things that Trump does that you should do:

  • Be Yourself – If there’s something YOU want to create content about – DO IT. Don’t restrict yourself to content that you think people will like and instead create content that YOU like. If you like it there’s going to be a passionate audience that loves it too. The days of pandering content are quickly going away.
  • Speak off the Cuff – Don’t carefully craft everything you want to say and instead just start saying it. There’s so much about building a relationship with an audience that comes from being unscripted and real. Reading from a teleprompter or being overly careful is a recipe for distrust.
  • Weather The Storm – If you DO get negative feedback: take the criticism, ignore the trolls and grow from the experience. The phony apologies don’t work and just serve to damage your reputation further. Your audience wants YOU, not you according to other people. (You’re also no one if no one hates you.)
  • Do it Uniquely – Do something that no one else is doing. That’s a big thing that sets you apart from the pack. Too many creators do what everyone else is doing, and it’s impossible to build an audience on that. There’s a reason Donald Trump is leading the pack – he’s not like anyone else.
  • Just Keep Going – Never stop creating content! Trump either has money, or he doesn’t… depends on who you ask, but he doesn’t care either way. If you’re not seeing traffic, just keep creating. This isn’t a short sprint, it’s a long marathon.
  • Ruffle Feathers – Don’t be afraid to shake things up and take down the status quo. It’s meant to change and improve – and while the people who are the standard won’t love you, they will fall behind. (And they still won’t like you.)

You know what content creator best compares to Donald Trump?

Casey Neistat

Casey is currently the YouTube golden boy – everyone knows his name, everyone knows his style, and everyone had to improve as a result of him getting in on the vlogging. To prove the comparison….

  • Casey is 100% himself. Weird, quirky, wears ripped clothing, spray paints his sunglasses… he’s just a character. But that character is him.
  • He ALWAYS speaks off the cuff, often using the wrong word or a word that doesn’t exactly fit… but you understand what he’s trying to say. He also swears a lot (not in the vlog, but at every off-vlog speaking engagement).
  • He’s weathered the (few) storms that have come his way. When he got grief for making fun of a cop and his car, he just said that’s what New Yorkers do… and moved on.
  • His style CHANGED the vlogging game. So many creators now emulate him (even massive creators with more subscribers than him!) It was something YouTube had never seen before and it was incredibly unique.
  • Casey started YouTube years ago and posted infrequently, but now he posts every day. In a year and a half of daily vlogging he went from a few hundred thousand subscribers to over 3.5 million.
  • Casey is no stranger to ruffling features – his first viral hit was a hit job on Apple. Meanwhile he’s happy to throw digital swings at other creators for stealing his style, or doing things wrong, or just being a detriment to the YouTube world. They certainly don’t love him, but he doesn’t care.

Be like Donald Trump. Be like Casey Neistat. There’s a reason they are popular, and you can be too.

Five Tools to Make Blogging Life Easier

Make Blogging Life Easier

I know all too well how much work and effort goes into maintaining a blog. That blogging life can be a real struggle. While to the reader it can sometimes seem like you just spent a few minutes typing up some content and then pressing publish – in reality, there’s hundreds of hours that go into the back end of your site. There’s making sure the content is SEO optimized; there’s the editing of the content itself to make it readable; there’s the plugins and widgets that make using your site easier; there’s the coding to help your pages load faster and the editing to make your images look nicer.

Blogging Life Made Easier

All that work is draining when all you want to do is write, but it’s a necessity if you are serious about blogging. While giving up control for simplicity (such as those writing on Medium or Tumblr) can seem appealing, the trade-off is that you no longer have control of your content. That’s not something anyone should be okay with. Instead, today I want to help make blogging life easier by introducing you to five tools that will help you cut down on the grind work of running a successful blog.

Gleam

Gleam.io

If you’re running a contest, Gleam is by far the best provider right now. Rafflecopter, Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, Woobox and others are okay – but Gleam is by far the most intuitive, most robust and most interesting contest tool. You can literally do almost everything on Gleam from encouraging retweets, comments, Snapchat follows, subscribing to a Newsletter, following you on Steam, upload files etc. Literally any web based activity you want to encourage to enter your contest, you can make happen.

The free plan offers almost everything, while upgraded plans ($39/month) adds additional features like entrant data, image options, entry restrictions, branded pages, and other features.

Atomic Writer

Atomic Writer Plugin

Atomic Writer helps you create content that makes sense – think of it a little bit like spell check for readability. The free plugin for WordPress does a great job of giving you the tools necessary to improve your content and create something that’s more readable for your target audience. When you’re done writing the post, you select who the audience is for – is it a General audience (one that is new to the topic you’re writing about), a Knowledgeable audience (one that knows about the topic, but not an expert in it – this post is one of those), a Specialist, an Academic or a Genius. Generally, for most bloggers you’re likely only using the first two. From there it provides actionable feedback on what you can do to improve the content and an overall score.

Google Analytics

I know this is probably used by most people, but I still hear people talking about their ‘host provided analytics’ and other third party providers. Simply stated, when it comes to tracking your traffic the best tool is Google Analytics. The amount of information you can gleam from Google Analytics is amazing – everything from knowing who is reading your content, to what they are reading your content on, how long they stay, where the leave, and so much more. Host provided analytics are terribly inaccurate (and highly inflated).

Yoast SEO

Yoast Plugin

If you don’t have this, you are missing a major opportunity with your blogging life. Yoast SEO is a truly powerful tool to better target search terms and improve ranking on Google. The interface is a little complicated initially, but once you spend time learning it, you’ll have no idea how you lived without. It helps you to better plan your content by giving you a scoring based upon the SEO results of your content and ways in which you can improve it.

Unsplash

Finding quality images that you can use copyright free is a major blogging life stuggle, but that search is a bit easier with Unsplash. The site offers totally free (and beautiful) images to use for whatever purpose you want. You don’t need to credit, you can modify them, and use them without fear on your blog. The images are all very high quality, and there is a regular addition of new photos (10 per 10 days). Truly amazing stuff!

What Bloggers Can Learn from YouTubers

Learn from YouTubers

I have been blogging for six years now and I have been creating YouTube content for about a year. In the short time that I’ve been a YouTuber, I’ve learned a lot – in fact, you may have noticed that the style of content I create has changed significantly since the beginning of the year and that’s directly related to the things I’ve learned on YouTube. There are so many lessons that bloggers can learn from YouTubers that will enable you to create better content, build stronger relationships with your audiences and grow your platforms significantly larger than they are right now. Today, I want to share some of my insight and how it can help you to be a better content creator!

Global Appeal

One of the first things that I learned was that most YouTubers understand that YouTube is a global platform, as such the content generally appeals to wide audiences. The videos can be watched by anyone around the world and they don’t require existing knowledge of that YouTuber, their city or their situation. Bloggers (especially lifestyle based) have a tendency to go hyper-local with their content. Toronto based bloggers write about Toronto events and topics; Vancouver based bloggers write about Vancouver based events and topics; Montreal based bloggers write about Montreal based events and topics etc. While big cities have lots of people who could potentially read, the chance for your content to extend beyond the confines of your city are small. Instead of going local, think beyond your city when it comes to blogging. Not only will you have access to a larger pool of potential readers, but your local ones will still enjoy the content as well.

Regular Content Series

Content Series

YouTubers develop loyal and dedicated audiences by giving them serial content – something that bloggers are generally not doing. Series based content helps to hook potential readers by building upon content week after week, post after post. On YouTube, one only need to look at the biggest genre: Gaming. Gaming YouTubers put out regular series in playlists: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3 etc. It’s something that TV shows have done for years, car manufacturers do it (2014 model, 2015 model), Apple does it (iPhone 4, 5, 6 etc). Bloggers can implement regular series into their content that builds a relationship with that specific series, along with the blogger themselves. Think of your series based content as a running story arc – link them together, but each one also stands on it’s own.

Connecting with the Audience

YouTubers are truly great at connecting with their audiences. While bloggers are turning off their comments in droves, successful YouTubers know that community is a major key to success. Smaller YouTubers engage with everyone who comments on their videos, they develop ways to shout out or involve their audience in the content, and they do specific things for their audience. If you watch a lot of different YouTubers, you’ll find more often than not they either consider their viewers their family, their friends or have a name for their fans. Pewdiepie calls his fans Bros. Ben Brown has the Brownies. Todrick Hall has the Toddlerz.  Hannah Hart has the Hartosexuals. You get the idea. Perhaps it’s the nature of written word that creates a divide between truly being able to connect with your readers – but it’s something that can be done better.

The Content Comes First

Always put developing your content a priority over everything else. Successful YouTubers grow as a channel and build an audience by putting out great content each and every week. Whether it’s editing, or intros, or the camera quality or a variety of other things – content on YouTube from the successful channels always feels like they are constantly putting more into it. Bloggers should regularly reinvest in themselves through upgrading equipment, modernizing your blogs, improving the overall experience and spending more time on your content. Unlike YouTubers, you also need to maintain the overall look and feel of your site, so make sure to spend time improving it regularly.

Community and Collaboration

Image via Redbooth
Image via Redbooth

One thing that the YouTubing community is well known for is their openness to collaboration with one another. This kind of community mentality has helped the top YouTubers reach the point at where they are at, and it helps new YouTubers grow. Presumably, if someone enjoys one beauty tutorialist (?), they may like another. That grows everyone’s audience and help to supercharge views. I have seen some collaborative efforts between bloggers, but more often than not we see each other as competition rather than potential allies. While being a lone wolf can be fun, it’s when you travel in a pack that you’ll control the most territory.

Now all that said, bloggers have a unique set of skills that YouTubers could certainly learn from, and I’ll address them in a future blog post. In the meantime, I encourage bloggers (and YouTubers) to offer their feedback in the comments below. I would ESPECIALLY love to hear about any collaborations that you have done with other bloggers. If you haven’t done any in the past, why not? As a sidenote, if there are any bloggers interested in collaborating on something, I am certainly open to it!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Blog Lesson: Brand Loyalty, Starbucks

As we edge closer to spring and eventually summer, I find myself slowly warming up to the social media community again. After burning out on it from my year long project, I started the year off just wanting to be a hermit – and thankfully, due the horrific weather we’ve been having, that has been quite doable! Encouraged even. In the same vein, I’ve been taking on so much writing for other websites and for clients that my own key bashing here has been greatly decreased. But as mentioned 86 words ago, I think my hibernation is coming to an end! In fact, I’ve even got a few posts in the works that are sure to ruffle some feathers – why not start today!

Dear New Bloggers (cause the old ones won’t listen to my words of wisdom),

Welcome to the world of blogging. If you’re from Toronto, you’ve successfully picked the best and worst place to blog. Chances are if you’ve been around for less than a year, you’ve already been caught up in some kind of weird blogger drama with someone else and you now consider them your nemesis. Good for you, that’s a crucial step to success because without competition you’re never going to be better than you are. However, don’t make the mistake of confusing competition with being able to do it alone. It’s a mistake I’ve made in the past and it will hinder your growth. But, then I remembered why it happened – too many egos. Unnecessary and unfounded egos get in the way of getting things done. Today’s new blogger has a built in ego that is miles above whatever egos I ran into a few years ago. Here’s something to consider… 99% of you bloggers are not nor will you ever be anyone – shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhocking.

Anyone1

But enough of the snark, let me give you some advice on being a better blogger. Blogging starts off being something personal. It’s a good way to share your thoughts with the world, whether they are reading or not. It’s a wonderful way to document your life and have something to look back on. But what too many bloggers fall into is the ‘brand trap’. Now, working with brands is a great way to add some spice to your own life, get some exciting content and some good memories. It’s also a good way to get swag, gifts and other perks. The problem comes when you’re not willing to have some brand standards on who you want to work with. You see, many people come to read your blog because they like the way you write, the like the stuff you say and they may even trust your opinion. This relationship with your reader is something you should NEVER betray, lest you decide to hang up the blogger gloves.

Last year, I worked with a lot of brands on my year long project. It was necessary to survive – and it was only accepted by the audience that read because they knew the name of the game. But here on ZachBussey.com, I work with a very strict set of brands. For example Starbucks Canada, who have been great partners with me for years now. It’s a relationship that people know I have with them – I love their coffee and the brand, and as such we have a working relationship. In fact, I was at a private coffee tasting yesterday morning where I had the opportunity to sample different blends – much like a wine tasting. The event was a way to bring me (and @BrockMcLaughlin, @StephanieFusco and @JayneSmiles) into the fold on the coffee tastings they are hosting Today, Tomorrow and Friday at their locations nationwide! More details on that below, plus a little giveaway. The point I’m trying to make is that people know my relationship with the brand. The blogger trap occurs when you as a blogger are willing to work with any and every brand who is willing to send you anything.

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(Real example. Different phones. Three weeks, promoting 3 different phone companies. Yuck.)

What too many bloggers do is work with Brand 1 and then they’ll work with competing brands 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. To date, most PR people and brands don’t much care how disloyal you are, they just want the numbers. But that will change (there’s already software to determine how ‘loyal’ a blogger/social media user is to a brand, and it’s starting to find it’s way into the hands of PR people), and when it does, those opportunities will go away because your reputation will be zilch. At the same time, whenever you start working with a different brand – your readers will start to talk. Words like ‘sell out’ start to pop up. Your opinion loses value because you can’t be trusted to provide on honest one. And let’s not even talk about making money to write your opinion – just go read @CPantazis‘ blog post called ‘So, You Think You Should Make Money Blogging‘. So my advice to you is to find and create long term brand partnerships for your blog – you’ll still be a ‘sell out’, but one that doesn’t compromise your integrity as everyone knows your long term partnership.

That, or just keep doing what you’re doing because at the end of the day, I don’t read your boring, formulaic, self absorbed jargon. Your cut and paste blog style adds little value to my life and the lives of others, and I know you’re just doing this for the stuff while it lasts. But, if you have any desire or care at all about your image, maybe you’ll take a little bit of my advice.

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Now onto the greatness that is Starbucks, because Coffee is for Closers!

As mentioned above, Starbucks is hosting coffee tastings (free coffee and you don’t even need to blog about it!) Each of the tastings will be from 2-3PM at participating company owned stores in the country, and each day is a different blend.

  • Today, (March 27th) True North, aka the Blonde Roast will be available in stores to taste.
  • Tomorrow, (March 28th) Pike Place, their medium roast which is probably the most commonly consumed Starbucks blend.
  • Friday, (March 29th) Tribute Blend, the seasonal dark roast which was supposed to just be a one time thing, ended up being so widely loved that they brought it back permanently will be available.

As a bonus, I’ve got a little gift bag to giveaway! The bag is worth about $75, and contains one 1lb bags of True North, Pike Place and Tribute Blend PLUS a $25 gift card to Starbucks!

Starbucks-Coffee-Gift-Bag

How do you win? Well, because I’m done with the terribly boring and spammy ‘tweet this to win’ nonsense, instead… contribute to the discussion. Talk about anything below, tweet me something, comment on something posted on Facebook. It need not be specific to Starbucks, just something useful! Social media has largely lost a lot of the social! I’ll loosely keep track of messages, conversation threads or anything else that added value to my day over the next 36 hours and then draw someone at random who’ll win!  Not too shabby!