How much is your influence worth?

It is no secret that fashion or lifestyle bloggers have become extremely influential over the last years and that they have reached a somewhat “celebrity status”. And what is even more impressive is that being a blogger has become a real profession that can be extremely profitable. One of the most prominent examples is Chiara Ferragni of The Blonde Salad whose annual income is estimated at $8 million and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Therefore, it is not a surprise that many bloggers are leveraging their popularity to make a profit. Next to sponsored Instagram posts where one can easily range between $5,000 – $25,000, some even score collaborations with big players in the fashion and beauty industry. 21 year-old Kristina Bazan of Kayture signed a 7-figure contract with L’Oréal last fall. And still: this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Now the blogger platform Bloglovin‘ has introduced a means to enable this type of monetization on a big scale. The platform was founded in 2007 by a group of five Swedish guys with little expertise in fashion or lifestyle trends but with a big desire to make it easier to follow and organize blogs. Today, it counts more than 20 million users that want to stay up to date with their favorite blogs and to discover others. Personally, I am very grateful for that and have been a loyal user for many years. Now Bloglovin’ wants to add a third player on their platform to help bloggers to leverage their reach. With the recent acquisition of Sverve, a platform to connect influencers and brands for marketing campaigns, all 750,000 bloggers that are registered on Bloglovin’ will be able to “monetize their influence”.

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Why is this relevant for us? Fashion bloggers provide user-generated content (UGC) that is usually very detailed and personal. They are more accessible than big companies or celebrities but also more relatable than some forum member. Moreover, UGC that is found on these blogs can be very diverse since it can include product reviews, discussions with visitors in the comment section and a lot of visual content next to the blog posts. The product reviews are perceived as relatively authentic while at the same time, bloggers gain more legitimacy and an “expert” status with increasing popularity. While these variables do not necessarily represent causality, firms understand the potential of a positive rating by a popular blogger. As discussed by Floyd et al., review valence has a higher impact on sales elasticity than review volume, and the strongest effect has been observed when reviews “are delivered by a critic, appear on a non-seller website, and include valence information” (2014). In this setting, trust plays a crucial role for high-reputation bloggers since their recommendations are perceived as more truthful leading to higher purchase intentions by readers (Hsu et al., 2013).

Bloglovin’s new initiative Activate acknowledges and supports this influence by adding a new dimension to its online community. Brands and firms define their campaigns and publish them on a dashboard where influencers can apply for the campaigns they’re interested in. This structure actually is very similar to crowdsourcing platforms with the additional dimension of online communities. As discussed by Bateman et al., there are different forms of commitment that lead to higher or lower engagement and other behaviors within the community (2011). In contrast to crowdsourcing platforms, Activate deals with a more close-knitted blogger community where commitment can derive from all three types. Since the platform only launched a week ago, we can be curious of what the future beholds.

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Bateman, P. J., Gray, P. H., & Butler, B. S. (2011). The Impact of Community Commitment on Participation in Online Communities. Information Systems Research, 22(4), 841-854.

Floyd, K., Freling, R., Alhoqail, S., Cho, H. Y., & Freling, T. (2014). How online product reviews affect retail sales: A meta-analysis. Journal of Retailing, 90(2), 217-232.

Hsu, C., Lin, J. C. & Chiang, H. (2013) The effects of blogger recommendations on customers’ online shopping intentions, Internet Research, 23 (1), pp.69 – 88.

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