Deidre Woollard has written for AOL.com, Realtor.com, JustLuxe.com, Pursuitist.com and more. She teaches in the University of California Irvine Extension Digital Journalism Program.
One of the biggest trends I am seeing lately is that brands are creating their own content. I’ve been a professional blogger for nearly a decade and the industry has changed quite a bit. First bloggers were ignored, even by the brands they covered. Then bloggers were courted by everyone in order to get the brand content on the blogs. Bloggers were given trips, free products and more. Now we are seeing the third stage, brands are hiring bloggers to create videos, blog posts, social media accounts and more for their own accounts. Instead of trying to get consumers to take the leap from a blog or website they enjoy to another brand, the companies are trying to also be the content. Sometimes this is simply a well followed blog on the company’s main site such as the blog on Barneys, The Window but the newest trend seems to be standalone sites such as the Life Is Suite blog launched by Kimpton Hotels.
Of course the question is how successful are these blogs? From what I’ve seen even the best of them have limited engagement with few social media shares. I can’t imagine the traffic is that good on these sites. Even when the content is as good as over even better than the content from independent bloggers people don’t really respond to it. Why is that? I suspect that when we know that a brand is behind the content we are conditioned to automatically be suspicious. Some brands are able to break through and get readers to respond but many come off as overeager and a bit inauthentic. Part of the key is not to try to maintain the division between the brand and the blog as much as possible. Branded blogs could never and should never replace independent blogs and websites but they may have their place in our ever-changing media landscape.