At the beginning of this year, I wrote about my career story so far – the good, bad and certainly ugly experiences I’ve had of working on both sides of the proverbial blogging fence. I must admit, I set myself up a little high as I’ve definitely not blogged as much as I should have lately and I definitely haven’t posted anything on the subject of Blogging advice which I had promised (*slaps wrist*).
I do, however, have an excuse. My blog post drafts have been jigged around a little as I’ve been preparing for a talk aaaall about that stuff for Blogtacular (I had to make sure all my juicy secrets weren’t given away all at once). If you’d like to catch said juicy secrets then please purchase yourself some nice comfy seats at Blogtacular’s London event in June where you’ll be able to hear me not only gabble-on about the best way to work with brands but also excellent advice from some proper experts. Take a look!
We are Social Media Girls
Meanwhile, I’ve been dying to share this interview with you for yonks! Please welcome my friend and founder of Social Gals (an informal network for girls who work in Social Media at lifestyle companies) Kim!
Kim has been running her beautifully refined fashion blog Love Cloth for the last five years, creating aspiringly high quality photos and wearing outfits you’ll want to steal right off her. Oh and she also manages to squeeze in a little full time job running Jigsaw’s Social accounts. Like me, she’s a Social Gal-slash-Blogger so I was really keen to find out how she started, how she juggled the workload, how her dual roles influence each other and her predictions for the future. Enjoy!
Over 5 years ago, Kim started her career back in Northern Ireland, ‘slashing it’, as she puts it, in her many various roles. Her main source of income was from her brother’s menswear company, where she worked on the website doing the photography, graphic design and running the social media accounts. On the side she started her blog Love Cloth and freelanced for independent local businesses, supporting start-ups and generally being a right Jack of All Trades.
That’s what Kim loves best, diversity in her roles. As do I. This similarity we share likely stems from the fact that we both studied a similar uni course (one that spanned many fashion disciplines) and therefore are used to utilising different skills. I.e making or producing things to promote a finished piece of work, not just making the work itself.
Despite the breadth of skills learnt in Kim’s degree, Design for Communications, she admits she never knew what she wanted to specialise in at university because the role she was ‘made’ for just didn’t exist in the same way it does now.
Kim – “I played around with all forms of communication, learning all the basic skills of graphic design, photography and even did a years work experience at an advertising agency, but never felt I was a master of one … just yet.’
Lucy – “Essentially then, you were a ‘Creative’. When you graduated, without knowing it, you were set up for your future job with your set of skills under your belt but you just didn’t know that that role existed yet.”
Kim – “And looking back I can see, all the aspects were the perfect starting skills for a role in social media.’
Social media wasn’t yet enough of an established arm of Marketing then to be considered a part of Kim’s syllabus. Social Media would have to be learnt on the spot!
Kim recounts the desperation in job-hunting post-uni.
Kim – “When I graduated I applied for lots of jobs and there were lots of tears. The recession plus the fact that there were no big brand head offices based in Northern Ireland meant I was freelancing for around 2 years trying to make something happen. It was tough trying to find that job you enjoyed when it didn’t really exist yet. I decided to take my career in to my own hands and create a role for myself”.
The more Kim freelanced, the more her blog grew and she started being offered jobs in London. Alongside blog projects, she freelanced at the BBC and The Whitepepper (an indie fashion brand in East London) but her first dedicated Social Media role came at Jack Wills, as the Brand Content and Social media Executive. Now she’s Social Media Manager at Jigsaw in central London.
So what does Kim love most about her job?
Kim – “I love being creative and making the content look ‘on-brand’ by working with all the teams collaboratively to create the best quality output. One of my favourite parts of social media is contributing to their social aesthetic and ‘tone of voice’. At Jack Wills, I was the first to start creating social media content that reflected the bigger campaigns. By the time I left, the studio teams were creating dedicated social media shoots and videos, which was great to be a part of”.
I’m curious to know how social media and the wider business at Jigsaw works with Influencers.
Kim – “Influencer marketing balances between the press and digital marketing department. I try and be a part of it as much as possible, adding the experiences I have had through my own blog to advise on areas where I can. Personally in social media, I am always looking for content creators, not necessarily numbers to get great on-brand content, reach new audiences and have our stories told through someone else’s point of view.”
The conversation turns to outreach and we both agree that established bloggers who have a niche need to approach brands directly more frequently. After all, it’s useful when you’re a Social Media Manager with very little time for outreach to have influencers, who love your brand, come to you. When vetting a potential collaborator, Kim thinks it’s incredibly important to put quality over quantity and always looks to a Influencer’s aesthetic before their numbers – something a lot of other brands don’t do, sadly. From a blog point of view, we both agree we want to grow our numbers but we want to do it genuinely and true to our style.
“I always looks to a Influencer’s aesthetic before their numbers.”
When I ask Kim what she’s taken from working as a brand that she’s applied to her blog, she says it’s the knowledge of how to work with brands that she’s picked-up on the most. I completely agree with her and know that this is one of the main insights I’ve had from working for a brand too. To us, it’s invaluable to understand the pressures and expectations both sides have so as to foster a better relationship. (I’ll be sharing tips on this later – promise!)
Kim – “I’m more considered now with which brands I work with. At the end of the day, you’re putting your name against something so it should always feel 100% right and you should always remember how it might affect future potential partnerships.”
We both acknowledge how lucky we are to be able to make connections more easily thanks to our social presence. Our contacts made through blogging can help the brands we work for in the form of partnerships. Like-wise; an office meeting with a brand partner might lead to collaboration on our own blogs. It’s a unique privilege we both agree helps us move forward in both areas.
We talk about how the use of social media as a marketing tool differs for our blogs vs for brands.
Lucy: “It’s interesting how we’re so obsessed with engaging and being a part of the community via our personal brands e.g each time we post a photo, adding hashtags and replying to comments, but when it comes to brands, efforts are much more focused on considering the cadence, planning imagery and copy, pre-approving it all etc etc. Once a brand publishes it they have a tendency to just move on. It’s really important that brands engage with their communities and don’t hide behind the face of a brand.”
Kim agrees but she makes the point that on our personal accounts we speak in our own tone of voice that our followers and friends are familiar with. From a brand point of view it’s all about relevancy.
Kim – “While at Jack Wills, I was watching The Brits when Madonna fell off the stage. It made me laugh so much; straightaway I grabbed my phone and tweeted from the brand account. It was our biggest retweet and biggest tweet for engagement for a long time. We joined the conversation at the right time speaking to the right audience. It was relevant.”
“I was watching The Brits when Madonna fell off the stage. It made me laugh so much; straightaway I grabbed my phone and tweeted from the brand account. It was our biggest tweet.”
Kim’s love for e-books (a time-saver for her, ain’t nobody got time to pick up a book these days) comes in handy here. She tells me about how and how Sophia Amoruso of Girl Boss started her brand from the community up, making friends on MySpace using the tone of voice of a friend to grow her brand. It’s an interesting comparison to how most brands operate once they reach a certain size.
I tell her all about how we at ASOS had a culture of replying to Influencers and customers each time they tag or mentioned the brand. Even though it was a lot more work, it certainly helped to up engagement and increase positive brand sentiment. Of course, the same can be applied to how Influencers manage their communities now.
Meanwhile, I eye-up Kim’s uneaten sandwich remains and tell her I’m going to force myself not to finish them off even though it pains me to know they’re there. (I’m like a dog basically). We order hot chocolates to take my mind off it, stop for a good 10 minutes to photograph them and get back to our conversation…
We start chatting about working hours and flexibility in the roles we’re employed in. We both agree that social media isn’t a 9-5. As you can imagine, Kim never switches off – something I’m sure is a similar story for many other Social Media Managers who don’t have a big team.
In a dream scenario, Kim would work on multiple projects throughout a longer day, with some down-time sprinkled in between. She’d like to be able to meet different time zones and to work ‘real-time’ for the audiences who are on social media when they’re not at work. You can bet she’s checking all her numerous social accounts (she runs Shop at Bluebird too) before going to sleep.
I personally feel like Kim would ACE at being freelance.
When I ask Kim what she couldn’t live without in her role at work and in her blog, the answer is absolutely Instagram. We both rave about our love for photos to the point where Kim realises she can’t decide between editing or scheduling as her ‘can’t live without’ answer. For us, editing is a down-time indulgence. A me-moment wherever we are where we relax, swipe a few buttons and see our visions for our feeds come into fruition.
What does Kim think about the current Influencer landscape today?
Kim – “I think my views are the same as many others, there are just a LOT of Influencers out there. It is, from a brand point of view, harder than ever before to find the Influencers who are relevant to you and from a blogger perspective, it’s harder to be seen.”
Lucy – “As an Influencer yourself, you feel you’re drowning and as a brand, it’s really hard to wade through everyone to find the right people.”
Kim stresses the importance of being confident in your niche if you are starting out.
Kim – “As a Blogger, you might look up to big Influencers and think that’s what success looks like. But it’s not always easy for a brand to find the right influencer, so if someone new came to me with something that I hadn’t thought of before, I might think ‘ooh this is exciting and different, I want to invest in this’. You’ve got to be confident in your own vision.”
“If a new Influencer new came to me with something that I hadn’t thought of before, I might think ‘ooh this is exciting and different, I want to invest in this’”.
With that growing competition in mind, what’s the future of Love Cloth?
Kim – “Let me just get my crystal ball out! Last year I spent a whole lotta time worried about searching for my ‘niche’ but I’ve gone into 2017 not worrying so much. I’m getting more comfortable with my own content, how I dress and comparing less. I would love to do more collaborations with other bloggers in 2017 (like this interview!) to get back that community spirit. It was so great to do things like Kristabel’s #YouCanSitWithUs Blogger meet up and #TheBloggersMarket.
She does admit having itchy feet and wants to move Love Cloth on to incorporate more content pillars. As she’s grown in age along with her audience, she wants to bring in topics such as interiors and travel.
Career-wise, Kim wants to continue to help brands find their focus. “Once I get more experience under my belt, I would love to consult more for smaller brands alongside my own projects.”
I really hope Kim does fulfil her dream of helping smaller brands find their feet in this increasingly visual and social world. She’ll be bloody brilliant.
Thanks so much to Kim for joining me at Jigsaw’s flagship store and cafe in Bond Street!
Have a nosey over on Kim’s blog Love Cloth.
I hope you’ve found Kim’s insight into being both a brand and blogger as interesting as I have. Keep an eye out for more interviews and tips in my new series and PLEASE do tell me what you think and what you’d like to learn more about in a comment below so that I can try and answer your questions.
Want to hear more about working with brands? Hear me speaking at Blogtacular in June.