Are bloggers the new celebrities?

Bryanboy, The Clothes Whisperer, Tavi. These are the names that are big in fashion blogging. So big that they are snapped up for major advertising campaigns and they snag the best seats at Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week, which is currently taking place. They also have access to backstage and interviews that many journalists don’t even have. It’s a world, it seems, other bloggers want to be a part of. A kind of new celebrity status to aspire to.

At least it certainly appeared that way for many of those who attended the Independent Fashion Blogging (IFB) conference in New York this past week. IFB is a thriving community of bloggers who focus on fashion, but its insights are valuable to bloggers in other fields too. As founder Jennine Jacob, who also runs the successful, attests, it has become a place where established and up-coming fashion bloggers meet to share ideas and information online.

Jacob says interest from the bloggers became so great that she felt the need to take the lessons into the physical world.

“I have been running IFB for a number of years, and I came to New York for Fashion Week last year and we did a get-together for members of the community. There was a lot of excitement, especially at the panel we hosted before the party, so I decided to do it again, on a bigger level. IFB is all about learning and educating bloggers to help them become professional. That educational component is huge. We saw that there was an obvious and clear need for bloggers to get together and learn together; and work as a community and create this new industry that is really in its infancy now.”

It’s not just fellow bloggers that were part of the conference. Brands and PR agencies also took part – showing their buy-in into the whole concept. The extent of brand buy-in goes beyond just using Susie Bubble for a GAP commercial. During Fashion Week, a group of Tumblr-using bloggers were sent to the cover shows and met up with influential fashionistas like Marie Claire’s Nina Garcia.

Glamour Magazine has adverts on public telephone boxes across the city with various bloggers, like The Glamourai, in their own professional photo-shoots for its new Young&Posh feature. And it’s not just the fashion world. The Grammy Awards chose one blogger for each genre of music to send to the ceremony in LA and write and tweet about their time there, something that delighted the bloggers, who are all deeply passionate about music.

“They say love what you do and the money will come,” says Jacob. “We’re fortunate that technology has allowed us to shape our careers. There is not just one monetisation model. You don’t have to have a million page views to get revenue from your blog. It can be a platform to do other things too. This new technology allows us to have interesting careers and shape how you want to do things. I started out taking outfit photos of myself and it’s grown into all this.”

But, she emphasizes, a love for the medium is a must.

“It takes a certain kind of person to be able to have a successful blog, and that’s true of anything. You need drive, passion and the dedication to see it through. There are so many hours involved in it. I put in so many hours and I still work a normal day. You have got to do it for the love.”

So are bloggers really the new celebrity? “In their own niche, yes” says Jacob. “There are a few that kind of break that boundary and they are like micro-celebrities in their own world, with their own following and communities. But there are only a few real celebrities in the world left.”

Either way, brands seem to be responding to these “mini-celebs” and the ones that came to their fame by more traditional means too. In another panel on the celebrity spokesperson in the digital age, the example of Kim Kardashian (nothing traditional about this woman’s rise to fame!) comes up to show what can happen when the right high-profile personality comes together with the right brand.

The collaboration between the reality star and clothing brand Bebe showed the direct impact – where increased traffic to the brand’s website increased by 300 percent because of a tweet from Kim, which then translated into actual sales.

While brands and celebrities and celebrity bloggers continue to figure out their relationships with one another, Jacob is a firm believer in the form’s longevity. “It’s here to stay,” she says. “Look at how the Superbowl went social this year. It was a huge indicator that advertising dollars are going online and will continue to do so. People want to communicate with each other – from something as revolutionary as what happened in Egypt to “what shoe should I wear?”



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