In latest news: the influencer world has been taken by storm. Big time.
Yes, we are talking about the “incident” between YouTuber Elle Darby and the Dublin hotel, which quickly escalated in recent days.
I find this incredibly ironic since the main reason this story went viral is a seriously click-baiting title set by plenty of online publications who, in total fairness, are not experts within the industry itself (this is just ONE of the articles you may see flying your way)
However, this story is clear proof even people in the industry do not really know how to act when it comes to these situations, as well as the need to address a bigger issue.
“I think the problem is that too many people outside of the blogging industry don’t really understand how it works. I felt very sorry for [Elle] on her YouTube video the way that people were making her out to be such a horrid person. I do think she could have asked for a discounted rate rather than a complimentary stay.” (Leila – @healthier_leila)
Is it just a case of greed/lack of professionalism/jealousy?
Or maybe at the core of this, there is a clear lack of regulations and guidelines within the industry (one that has seen a 128% growth in 2017 alone)?
To be 100% blunt, brand and influencer relationships is something not many people talk openly about: whether it’s brands or influencers, let alone agencies.
The only ones who set a standard are apps and marketplaces, but they are still internal within the micro-cosmos of the agencies themselves.
From an influencer perceptive, the intention behind an outreach can be genuinely positivte. Our influencer Anna (@annarachelphotography) highlights: “I agree with Elle, personally I’m able to be a freelance photographer because of social media. I get to travel the world because of influencers getting free hotels due to their followings and I don’t see anything wrong with this. It’s the world we live in today, it’s a win-win for both the influencer and the hotels.”
Over the past 8 weeks, we have been working very hard behind the scenes to create guidelines for both parties, as well as offering official training to provide influencers (and brands) with best practices, tools and tips.
In December we released our official pricing guidelines, which were welcomed very positively by both brands and influencers. Now it’s time to clearly define HOW relationships should be carried out between brands and influencers – I’ll take it one step further: brands, agencies and influencers.
Once again, why us?
Because we have been supporting each side for over four years, and personally, I have seen it all:
- At first, brands started sending loads of products out asking influencers for weeks worth of work in exchange for supplies
- Influencers realised the power of their platforms and started putting rates out, making it very hard for startups to start a relationship based on pure discovery and trust
- Now both influencers and brands are frustrated, and truly do not know what to do
”I’m afraid I do think she should have done her research better as the hotel is apparently notorious for doing this sort of stunt with influencers. (…) I do think the reactions Elle received highlights the ignorance there is around how blogging/influencers works and the exchange of goods and services that goes on. That’s certainly something I know HBC is all about addressing. But bloggers have a responsibility too to approach brands in a professional manner and outline their business case for collaboration, ways that some of you have shared here.”
Personally, I believe that the incident that occurred is a clear wake-up call that this needs to be addressed.
We are currently releasing a series of guidelines for both brands and influencers on how to efficiently and effectively lead relationships from a marketing and business standpoint, which you can get below.
As always, we encouraged a conversation among our influencers, who promptly gave us their opinion on the matter:
Hannah: “I think it’s pretty brutal how rude and exposing he was, but I do think Elle could have gone around it in a different way. I personally never ask for a complimentary stay, instead, I’ll simply write an email asking if the brand works with bloggers and then we communicate from there onwards (so I can get an understanding of what they’re willing to work with).” (Hannah – @hannahandfitness)
“Random members of the public have quickly come to slate [Elle] which is clearly just jealousy (why else could you be bothered to comment on the situation) and she’s just a young girl looking for great opportunities! I do feel sorry for her, it’s not nice getting hate mail and messages even the strongest of people can let it get to them” (Sophie – @sophiearmitage)
“(…)when bloggers are asked to promote products for free they usually don’t name and shame the company – they just politely decline. The way the company handled the situation was unprofessional and unnecessary, and I really do feel sorry for Elle, who even in hindsight did nothing wrong.” (Flora – @foodfitnessflora)
Where do we stand as a company?
This shows we need to really work on creating clearer guidelines and a much more transparent dialogue (which is what we are hoping to do within our remit). I feel like as a community we should be able to support, adjust and learn rather than bringing mistrust and animosity to the industry.
Again, this comes from years of experience in working with both parties, and also wanting to make a positive difference.
As we write this, we are also developing specific training on the subject, for both brands and influencers.
For influencers: I am proud to say that we are partnering with our friends at Wellspoken to create a very special certification that will focus on both credibility in the wellness industry and the advertising and marketing world. The joint certification will provide them with the tools, ethics and practices to comply to influencer industry standards. The certification is now live here.
For brands: for the last 6 months we provided specific training for brands who look to develop their own influencer strategy as well we are fully aware of industry standards within marketing and ambassador collaborations, both in small mastermind groups and for smaller teams.