A blog is only as good as its most avid readers. Sure, you could amerce a following and pay a site to get you even more, but it’s the followers that keep coming back, reading, retweeting and commenting that make the blog truly organic. The big question is what exactly motivates them? We already know what the blogger gains for having such a large following but truly understanding what inspires the audience could help both fashion bloggers and brands curate the right content to garner more consistent attention.
Millennials, people aged 18 to 33, are the biggest consumers of fashion brands, making them the most important demographic to keep in mind when it comes to marketing strategies. These millennials respond to the timeliness of blogs that keep up with the fast-paced industry and act like ideal PR sources. Then there’s the element of just how accessible they are. Stuck in traffic, long-boring meeting or under the dryer? You can easily access unlimited fashion and style advice without flipping through a single magazine. Let’s not forget the argument that well-done blogs are able to deliver transparency, relatability and availability to audiences in a way that is interactive and unique.
Thus, if you wade through all the research and journals (aren’t you glad we do that bit for you) it seems to go back to the classic theory of mass communication known as the Uses and Gratification Theory. Originally developed to see why and how audiences interacted with the radio (how far we’ve come!), it’s being used to look at what specific needs the consumer will turn to the internet to satisfy. Unlike other theoretical perspectives, it views the reader as an active consumer of media and thus is solely responsible for choosing and integrating certain social media into their lives. They seek out media to satisfy social and psychological needs such as social surveillance, entertainment, socialization and affiliation or expression. And this is what the people with the fancy verbiage narrowed down the motivations to:
Unlike the high end fashion products that present a ‘you are blessed to receive’ persona and only accept communication through a third party, readers can be more involved via blogs; whatever category of consumer your fall into. Be it the core member that participates in blogs, giving their own personal experiences and even striking up conversations with other readers on the blog. You also have the conversationalist, who only wants to discuss the information presented, the functionalist who is just there to get some information, and the informationalist who is ready to drop some knowledge at any time to other readers or the opportunist that only shows up when things are really juicy.
In an article published in the Atlantic Journal of Communication, the modern consumer is embedded in the ‘culture of immediacy’, addicted to instant information for their fashion fix. The interconnectivity between blogs such as trackbacks and hyperlinks prevent any one blog from existing in isolation.
Readers will tend to visit a page out of habit in their daily routine to view the latest post. While the time of day differs depending on the individual’s schedule, what was common was that they viewed the blogs frequently for short amounts of time. The ‘tyranny of the new’, means that the reader will be back within 24 hours to get more of their fashion fix.
Another aspect of convenience are the prompts the blog sends via other social media such as advertising new blog posts on platforms on Instagram or Facebook, and hyperlinking. Hyper textuality creates the proverbial rabbit hole of endless information where one click can lead you to 10 different sites and with a giant question mark of where one hour of your life just went.
Unlike the print magazines, the readers can easily extract useful content from the blogs they follow for their own use, mostly for the images. Street style bloggers are cited as the most frequented for inspiration from ‘average’ subjects who unknowingly just offered millions of readers great style advice. With the click of a button they could have personal lookbooks or points of reference saved to their desktop and gathered on Pinterest. Organizing these images into easily retrievable files allows the reader to revisit them at leisure for dressing or artistic inspiration. It also gives the reader the ability to contextualise and repurpose the fashion images based on their personal opinions. Plus, it’s all free!
The proverbial question of ‘what to wear’ can be answered for many a lady trying to leave the house on time and on a daily basis. When your wardrobe just won’t help you prosper, readers tend to turn to fashion blogs for some advice, inspiration and a new sense of perception when looking at your existing wardrobe.
Then there’s the seeking of validation for outfit choices. Either for a style you hope to wear or are thinking of throwing together, seeing it reflected on a successful blog gives the reader an even greater licence to flaunt the same look. This also largely extends to fashion purchase, whether you’re shopping for an event or because you’ve been on the fence on whether you should buy into the velvet trend or not. The blog can help the reader to decide where and what to spend their hard-earned cash. VIVO Active wear, for example, runs a blog showcasing how their partners or fashion bloggers wore their clothes to make a trend more tangible and accessible to the readers.
Escapism / Pleasure
In a world filled with depressing news, sometimes a beautiful pair of Manolo Blahnik heels can bring a little balance back into your life. Seriously, go to your daily newspaper and read the headline. Now look at the shoes below.
Don’t you feel better?
In the research entitled FASHION 2.0 by Sasha Johnson, she also found that readers will look at fashion blogs to curb boredom or while watching television for the feeling of efficiency. That is, to feel like they’ve managed to complete more than one task while watching the TV.
Fashion blogging may tend to focus on the advertisers and the bloggers themselves due to the money in play, but it’s the consumers that make such transactions a reality. Therefore, when reviewing new social platforms or choosing imagery, fashion bloggers should consider the reader’s perspective. Really getting to know who they’re speaking to so that the style advice has direction and doesn’t come across as aimless chatter in the blogosphere. Finding out how your readers are looking to satisfy their needs can help the blogger create the right content. Unlike the television era, the internet users are far from passive consumers and are constantly clicking to find information, the question is will you provide it?