Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Festival Fancy Dress Inspiration for Hogsozzle 2018 - Fairytales and Fantasies

Festival season is nearly here! I'm pretty pumped about getting out and about this year and if you follow my blog on the reg you'll know that Hogsozzle in Hertford is the first festival of the year for us. For the first time in four years, the band aren't playing but that isn't going to stop us going and making some epic memories! If you haven't got your ticket yet, HURRY UP -  Click here for the link.

Aside from the free hog roast, paint fight and dancing all night, one of my top favourite things about this little festival is the fancy dress. Every year we try tell people we are bringing how much the whole site goes to town on their costumes on the Saturday night but noone really gets it until they have been - there isn't a person on the side of that hill that hasn't made some sort of fancy dress effort!

So, this year, money is a little tighter so we are going to DIY a lot of our costumes. On Wednesday, I'm hosting a craft night at my house and I'm hoping to knock up something pretty mega so I've pulled together a bunch of inspiration from around the web. The theme is Fantasies And Fairytales which leaves quite a bit of scope.

I tried and failed last year but this year it's happening, I want an LED cage skirt. Searching online led me to the discovery that these are actually called a 'Crinoline'.


SOURCE: @desiperkins


My plan is to whip up one of these using O-rings and some stiff metallic fabric, then to stick LED strip lights on the inside. I found some neon string LED's, these come in five colours, I might purchase just the green one but the full kit is only £9.99 - here is a link. By the looks of it, the battery pack is small enough to hide in the waist area, fingers crossed.

I've loved all the tassle bodysuits I'm seeing and I don't think it would be too hard to find a plain one to add my own ribbons or tassles to. I've been browsing Jaded London and Boohoo for inspiration, here are some of the fab ready made pieces that I've found ...

I've looked and looked but I haven't found a DIY for making these kind of bodysuits at home so I'm hoping to photograph my efforts, I'm thinking jewel coloured ribbons and potentially some dip-dying.

Primark have a fab festival range this year too, with everything under £20 and some great dupes of the giant disc sequin pieces that were all over Coachella. Obviously, the hassle here is going to be finding the pieces in store, because if your local Primark is anything like mine then hunting down individual things you've seen online is a bit of nightmare. Still worth it if you can pick up these bits...

No festival fancy dress outfit is complete without a crown, tiara or headdress of some description and they are definitely one of the most fun and interesting things to craft up yourself.

A few years ago I made a crown for the Cosmic Disco themed Hogsozzle, click here to see how.

This year, I'm hoping to go bigger and better with my headwear - I've been in love with Aurora Moon Headwear since I discovered her a few years ago, just look at this total beauty;

I don't think the budget is going to stretch that far (although I think for the work and energy that goes into her pieces, the price is amazing!) so I've been rounding up lots of DIY's and I'm going to have to do my best to construct something that doesn't hurt to wear or fall apart.

Here are some of the DIY's I've found but there are millions out there and obviously, head over to Pinterest for ultimate festival crown inspo.

  • This DIY shows you how to make a great base out of twigs and a glue gun
  • Such a cute feather DIY from Paige Joanna here
  • Make a pompom hairband super easy with this DIY from Brit & Co
  • Super easy and cheap mermaid tiara video here
  • Here is a great DIY for making a light-up flower crown

I'll be posting about the craft night and sharing the successes and disasters that we whip up over on my Instagram, I'd love if you would give me a follow - @katyclouds. I can't believe it's so close to the May Bank Holiday already. Let me know in the comments below if you are coming along to Hogsozzle and links, hints or hacks for making amazing fancy dress costumes that can withstand festival shenanigans.

Katy x

Monday, 30 April 2018

Following Hashtags & Growing Your Instagram Audience

Do you follow any Instagram hashtags? If not, you are seriously missing out, not only on discovering amazing new accounts that aren't selected by Instagram to be on the Explore page but also on reaching a much wider and more relevant audience.  I'm so excited to share this as discovering this feature has been one of the things that brought me round to LOVING Instagram again and actually seeing a benefit from using it to promote my blog and other online ventures. It's easy to feel stuck in a rut, that your images are only getting seen by the same few people - break out of the mold and start using these hacks (are they hacks? I feel like hacks might be one of the most overused words on the internet) to set yourself apart from the masses!

 I've spent the last few weeks looking for information about this relatively new option and for once, the Blogosphere has come up wanting. I'd love to know about any other articles written on this subject from a similar perspective.

Here is how you do it, really simple. Just type the hashtag you want to follow and then click 'Follow' on the search results screen.

Easy right? The results will show up between content from users you have chosen to follow along with the username of the creator and the relevant tag.

I've always struggled with hashtags and which ones are the best to use. It's all very well that there are over 2 million posts under #nomnomnom but is anyone actually SEARCHING for that hashtag? It doesn't seem likely to me. I believe that there is a big difference between hashtags that are top searches and hashtags that are used on the regular. It's pretty hard to find this information online as it changes so often. One of the things you can use the follow hashtag feature for is to follow hashtags that you have been using on your own content, see how your content fits in and what other users are tagging their similar content with - #ukbloggers is a great one to start you off.

It's not the simplest thing to find out how many people follow individual hashtags, I have yet to find this information in a useful list form that I can link to. Occasionally, slid into my regular feed I'll see a little section like this which is another great place to find relevant hashtags to put in my caption:

Since I started using this trick, I've have a major jump in my Story views. As you can see above, following a hashtag means that all Stories marked with that hashtag will show up in their own little circle on your Explore page.

I've followed my hometown hashtag and I find that people tend to tag their Stories when they are going to the gym or eating out, it's given me a great insight into where is best for Sunday roasts in my town, as well as helped me to discover lots of local content creators who I like to follow and support. I now make sure to add a hastag and a location tag to every single one of my Stories and no word of a lie, it's improved my Stories views by hundreds. I used to get around 100 views on most of my Stories and since I've been tagging as much as is relevant, I've jumped up to getting an average of 400-500 views each and quite a few of those viewers turn into followers. The tags don't need to be super-obvious, you can actually make them small enough to blend in pretty well with your image if you don't want them spoiling your aesthetic.

Some of the biggest success I've had from this has come from locations and event tags. I've already mentioned above how using a tag relevant to my home town (literally just the name with a hashtag before it) has made a significant impact on my Instagram Story views, but I've also found that some of the best way to get views from new potential followers is to use relevant event and location tags on your images and Stories wherever possible because people are following these high-traffic hashtags.

When the #trippinwithtarte event happened, I did an experiment to see if this hashtag was getting a huge number of views on Stories. I used some actual Tarte make-up so my post wasn't a total sore thumb (keeping things relevant is key to turning all this extra reach into a growing audience) and I actually hit nearly 900 views on the Story.

I tag a location into all my content now, both my pictures on my main feed and my Stories and although I've been trying quite a few new things to grow my Insta, I'm convinced this has had a significant impact.

I also followed the #trippinwithtarte and several other major beauty launch hashtags and will continue to do so. This means I get some great beauty content and I'm coming across new make-up artists and beauty bloggers on my feed that I would never have found through the explore page. I try to engage with as much of this content as possible too, which also generates new followers and engagement on my own account. Now, I look out for hashtags that are relevant to the UK blogging community and I follow them to, I've really found some amazing Instagram profiles this way that have inspired me to become a better creator myself.
Once you have spent a few days adding these tags to your Stories and posts and finding new bloggers and creators through hashtags that you are following, you'll be able to start using this information to improve your reach and impressions. If you have found a tag getting you a significant increase in Stories, chances are it will have the same impact on the main content that you are pushing out, as it often means there are a lot of followers of this particular hashtag. I have found that many of the hashtags that I use regular don't have anywhere near the impact that I thought they would when I include them on Stories, so I've dropped them out of my regular copy & paste hashtag job and I'm switching in tags that seem to attract a much higher number of views.

The only way that a new follower will come across your Story is if they are actually searching for the specific hashtag that you included, so experiment with lots of different locations, events and individual tags to try and build a unique set of hashtags that will contribute towards getting your content in front of a wider audience.

Every individual will have a different set of hashtags that work for them and will be following a completely different set of hashtags themselves. You can see which hashtags a user is following by clicking the 'following' number on their profile and then selecting 'hashtags' on the page that their following list is shown. This is super interesting as it's a great way to find new hashtags to tag and test out, but it's also one of the things that promoted me to write this post. So few of my favourite social media agencies, influencers and content creators are following any hashtags at all! It's such a useful and interesting feature that I've made it my personal mission to try and get more people following hashtags in this way. Many of the bigger influencers that I follow have created their own hashtags for their fashion, travel or lifestyle content and this is another fun way to utilise this feature - you won't miss any of their content.

You could follow the tag for your favourite photo editing app, your favourite brands, influencers or charities to see their content more regularly. What about following the hashtag for a festival you are attending or your favorite resturant or holiday destination for serious lifestyle inspiration. Which hashtags are you following? I'd love to hear them in the comments below,

Katy x

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Ultimate Festival Inspiration - Tassels, Sequins & Metallics

All I want in life is sequins, biodegradable glitter and my friends in a field - four weeks until HOGSOZZLE!! (buy your ticket here)

We can't wait and I'm starting to try and put together some outfits for the occasion that I can add to the ridiculous amount of festival clothes I bought last year and create some super-memorable ensembles. I've put together a wishlist which I'll add to and edit over the next month and hopefully beyond - I hope you will find something that you love...
Amazing right?  Bookmark this page as I'll be adding lots more items as I find them online and these sell out.  I'd love to know what you think, if you make a purchase from my list or your favourite online destinations for festival garms, please leave a comment below, or hook up with me on Instagram here.

Katy xx

- This post contains affiliate links

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Camping Essentials For Sleeping And Comfort at Festivals (or on holiday!)

I struggled with what to call this post. Sleeping Bag Information Post? Camping Essentials For Sleeping With Some Comfort In A Bony Field?

Check out my Festival Tent Shopping Guide Here for lots of tent options.

You probably already have a sleeping bag tucked away in a cupboard, but just in case yours (like mine) ended up with four chocolate bars in the bottom stashed in the airing cupboard for a year, here's a guide to some of the best sleeping bags and other extras you can buy at every price range to give your weekend a little bit of extra comfort.

Worst case scenario, we once had a short notice opportunity come up to camp at a festival that we thought we were only going to for the day, although we had a tent we didn't bring anything to sleep on. Here is an actually photo of my trying to sleep on this occasion using our other supplies as a makeshift nest - the neck pain was real.

I don't recommend this set-up.

First things first, do not underestimate the chill of a summer morning in the UK. You WILL need a sleeping bag and something to lay underneath it so the chill in the ground doesn't give you a cold.

1. Trespass Seista (click here for reviews, info and to purchase) - £24.74

This is the sleeping bags that we have currently. They are super lightweight and pack down into a tiny bag the size of your hand but I've never been cold whilst inside mine!

2. MultiWare 3/4 Season Sleeping Bag - £9.59

When buying a sleeping bag, you'll often see how many seasons it's suitable for out of 4. This bag is thicker than the Trespass one but rolls up quite a lot bigger. My son has one of these for his school trips and it's pretty effective, the best thing about it is that you can open the whole thing out flat like a blanket or if you felt so inclined you could also zip two of them together to make a double.

3. Mountain Warehouse Apex 250 Sleeping Sack - £15.99

Suitable for two seasons, which I kind of assume are Spring and Summer although that isn't immediately clear. It's useful to have a distinctive pattern so when you come to pack away you don't pick up the wrong bag - this also packs down into a tiny little sack so it's ideal for longer walks to your campsite.

A sleeping bag alone won't give you a huge amount of support for your back. If you are anything like me (by which I mean, if you are over 25 and have ever hurt your back) you'll know that sleeping on freezing cold, rock hard ground isn't the best. I'd strongly recommend some kind of airbed or 'lino' type mat to prevent cold transfer and give you a little bit of extra comfort. Most of the mats around now are significantly better than those awful blue airbeds that your Mum used to have for sleepovers. We tried to take one of those once and it got popped within about an hour. We dragged it out the tent and used it as a sort of communal picnic blanket but it ended up abandoned in the field, soaked in wine and regret.

1. Trail Extra Thick Self Inflating Camping Mat  - £24.99

Self-inflating camping mats are the future. You simply unroll, undo the valve, put your tent up and then your mat should be full inflated although you may need to blow a few breathes into it the first few times to inflate the cells properly. It's a clever vacuum system that means you don't need to carry and heavy air pump and the relevant batteries around with you. This extra-thick one looks cosy, we have the Vango version (below) but if I had seen this I would have gone for it.

2. Hikenture Inflatable Sleeping Mat with Pillow - £30.88

This looks amazingly comfortable, I can just imagine flooping down on it after a hard night dancing and it's a self-inflater too. Buying a mat with a built in pillow means you don't have to bring one from home, although I always do as I like to sit on something soft when I'm sitting around camp.

3. Vango Self-Inflating Camping Mat - £28.10

This is the mats that we have and they have lasted 12 festivals so far and haven't succumbed to cigarette burns or punctures. They roll up and come with bags but they are slightly heavier than the sleeping bags, yet I always forget that they need to be factored into the weight of our belongings when we are loading up cars and trolleys. Definitely worth a buy, I've recommended them to so many people.

Once your essentials are sorted, see if your budget stretches to a few extra bits to make your campsite comfortable and welcoming.  Here are some other bits and pieces that we have either used or really want to add to our kit this year.

1. Sunncamp Inflatable Chair - £11.95

What a bargain! Although you probably need a pump to inflate it, this style of inflatable chair has been my favourite the last few years and I'm chuffed to have scored this for our kit. I've usually found that someone else on the campsite will be happy to lend a pump if one is needed so I'm crossing my fingers and taking this along.

2. Chill Out Wedge - £14.99

I can't wait to bust this out! We got this as a gift last Christmas and it literally looks like a dream for lounging around camp getting ready for the night ahead. One of the main issues I have with camping is there is never anything to lean against to relax #firstworldproblems

3. iRegro Inflatable Sofa - £24.65

I have a love/hate relationship with these things. They look great, you sink into them like you are floating on a giant cloud and they are weirdly easy to inflate, you just wave the opening about like you are trying to put on a duvet cover. But they are thin and they seem to be the thing I see abandoned most after tents at the end of a festival so I get the impression they pop quite easily. Keep away from cigarettes and sharp sequins!

I hope this has helped! Please do comment below with any links to your own essential camping kit :)

Monday, 9 April 2018

What Tent Is Best For A Festival - Choosing a Festival Tent For Keeps

Happy Spring! I'm excited to introduce the first in a new series of Festival Essential guides that I am going to be posting over the next few weeks.

I've pulled together some of the best tent options I can find at every price point - please do leave me a comment if you have any questions or want to recommend a tent to add to the list. This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase a tent after clicking one of my links I get paid a small commission but there's no change in cost to you.

Whether you are a seasoned UK festival goer or have your first tickets booked for this year, the main piece of kit you are going to need is a tent. There are a huge range of options out there, as long as you don't leave it to the last minute you should be able to pick up an amazing tent at a really reasonable price that fits all of your needs and more.

First, establish the basics:
  • How many people need to fit inside?
  • Are you going to have a large amount of luggage or any valuable items that you may want to leave at the campsite? 
  • Are you going to a small festival where you will be able to come back to the tent regularly or are you headed to something huge where you may not see your camp for days? (Boomtown, I'm looking at you)
  • How much space do you have in the car for a tent, or are you travelling by coach and foot? The weight of your tent is going to be extremely important if you are taking a greener travel option than driving!
  • What is your budget?

Let's start with something ridiculously affordable. Unlike regular camping, at a festival you may find your tent crammed with sweaty people you have just met, poking through your stuff and trying to borrow your glitter - and they are all drunk. This combination at any time of the day or night means people rubbing their body up against the interior layer of the tent and just in case you weren't a Girl Guide, that means condensation will be able to penetrate the outer skin of the tent. Once you have touched the skin, water will continue to come through in that spot until you completely dry out the tent. British mornings, even in summer, are dewy and damp and there is no chance of keeping any of your stuff dry with a single layer tent. Most cheap tents tend to be single layer but I've found this amazing bargain for £24.99.

Check out the full specifications and reviews by clicking here

Bonus features include mosquito netting across the vents (because bugs love your unwashed festival skin and high-alchohol blood) and taped seamed - you don't usually get this in a cheaper tent and it means that water can't seem in through badly sewn seams. Honestly, this tent is a total bargain if you don't need something for heavy use.

I hate pop-up tents. They are unstable and usually only have one layer (see above). If they make it through a festival weekend, they probably won't go back in the bag quite right and next time you try and get it out you'll get poked in the eye by a sharp piece of metal. I've hunted high and low for an option that won't get left behind in the camping field - because that's really uncool - and this is probably the best one I could find. A friend has something similar and it's so far lasted 2 years and 7 festivals but it's only ever used for one person.

If you want something that is going to last for several trips as well as 'regular' camping, and have room for everything you might want to take with you, you should look to spend a little more. As we sometimes have to store instruments and equipment in a tent, when it came time to upgrade from our trusty blue Eurohike 2-man, I knew I was going to be looking for something with a bigger porch. The Eurohike (linked here) did us well for two seasons and eight festivals but the zips on the porch finally gave way meaning we couldn't seal off the inner compartment from moisture or bugs and some of the poles were starting to poke through their casings. 

We upgraded to this beauty:

It might not look like much but after struggling hunched over in dome tent with a tiny, unsealed porch area for two years it was pure luxury.

It has all the features that I knew we needed and quite a few more - you have no idea how gleeful I was over having large pockets on both sides. I can kneel with a straight back in the porch and at the beginning of the sleeping area and the whole thing is sealed off from the elements, which made a real difference on the side of a Welsh mountain at the end of last summer in the torrential rain, let me tell you. If you want something waterproof, big enough to have a late night gathering of festival souls and easy to carry, pitch and pack away for under £150, make this tent your bitch.

Link to read reviews and see more images is here.

If we had a little more in the budget, I would have pushed for a bell-style tent. There are so many amazing polyester versions of the classic festival tent. I've found the one below which has some great reviews and seems to offer everything that you could need in term of waterproofing and ease of pitch. Having a tent like this means most of your possessions will become communal as people gather in the only tent with any standing room, but the payoff is worth it. All the space you could want and you won't get a hunchback like the rest of us dome-tent peasants. It's not double layered, but the extra room means that you are much less likely to rub up against the sides and there is an option to add an interior section as well.

Check out the 'Grand Canyon Indiana' here, along with reviews and sizing options.

If money was no object, I would go for something fun and traditional. All the tents I've included so far are made of polyester which is lighter and more waterproof than traditional canvas but I would cast those features aside in exchange for a rainbow bell tent from Boutique Camping. Check this beauty out:

Whilst definitely not as practical as some of the other options (you'll probably need some sort of trolley device to get it from the car park to the campsite!) you can't beat a bell tent for drawing you home after an evening of dancing. More room means you can bring things like foldaway beds, pop-up storage and even stuff to cook on. You can really pimp these out with flooring and flags, lighting and storage. If you know you are going to be going to quite a few festivals and you have the budget, one of these will last you forever if you care for it properly and it will feel like a home away from home with some personal touches. Don't underestimate the benefit of having a full length mirror if you can carry one as well!

Check out all of the reviews and options for these beautiful tent by clicking here.

Finally, I want to include possibly the very best tent I have seen online. I want this tent so much that I regularly trawl the Lotus Belle Facebook and other social media looking for competitions to enter to try and win one. It's wildly out of my price range, but the features are off the scale. I can dream, right? Lotus Belle tents are inflatable, fully waterproof and huge, they would be such an amazing basecamp for a weekend at a music festival or just to take all of your friends camping in luxury. Not going to lie, they are pricey, but if you end up buying one, please do invite me along for a glamping weekend!! You can check out their website by clicking this link. The lovely people at Lotus Belle got in touch to offer my readers a special discount code KATYCLOUDFD for free UK delivery on any of their amazing tents. You can also follow them on Facebook by clicking here.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

First Festival Of The Year - Hogsozzle 2018

Does anyone else feel like this winter has gone on for several hundred years? I've forgotten what sunshine feels like on my skin and I can't remember the last time I drank rum out of a grass-filled plastic cup. Honestly, these last few weeks of Arctic weather and cloudy skies has kind of taken it out of me.

So, finally, the Eternal Winter is over and SPRING is on the horizon. That means it's time for the band to start booking up festivals, yay! For the last three years I've been lucky enough to go to Hogsozzle in Hertford during the last bank holiday in May with our friends, an 11-piece band called The Turner Brothers - all my posts about the band and their gigs are linked here.  This year the fun starts on the 25th of May and goes on until 27th - get your ticket by clicking here!

I've shared so many pictures of Hogsozzle over the last few years that some of these may be familiar if you have ever read one of my festival roundups, but I've grouped my all time favourite pics by year throughout this post anyway, because you can't have enough festival throwback pics on freezing Spring days, right?

Hogsozzle 2015...

...more 2015

As the band have played the festival for the last four years running, they aren't on the line-up this year, but I'm hoping this won't stop us heading over yonder hill to the custom built festival site (the guys run Wilkestock from the same site later in the Summer!) and getting ridiculous - we've seen several of the same people year in, year out so I'm looking forward to reconnecting with all the friends we've met over the years.

Hogsozzle is a small festival with a friendly vibe and a serious focus on looking and being as silly as possible. My favourite thing to do there is to sit on one of the huge torn sofas perched on top of the hill and just watch the craziness happening all around.

 ...2016 continued
 Every year the staples of what makes this a joyful start to the festival season stay the same. A glorious powdered paint fight, a couple of huge sizzling Hogs (included in your ticket price) and a line-up of some seriously awesome dance and entertainment acts as well as some of the best fancy dress we've seen in the last few years - and it's one of the cheapest around too. You can snap up tickets on their official site by clicking here.

Hogsozzle 2017...

...more 2017

I would love to try out their luxury camping this time round, each year we've have created our own little campsite area with gazebos and lights but I think trying the luxury camping would be super fun - there's bell tents for hire and the whole thing is set up ready when you get there. I'll be doing some camping and festival essential guides in the coming weeks as we dig our kit out from under the Christmas tree and everything else we've piled on top and I'm always looking for recommendations and gadgets to take camping. This year my essentials are going to include a solar powered fan, some kind of non-heavy, easy to carry chair situation and a battery charger that doesn't blow my phone battery with two uses - please do pop your recommendations below.

The line-up is looking pretty sweet too, no word yet on whether our dance tent favourites Mirrored Theory are going to be playing a set but I do know that Scratch Perverts have a slot and there's a DJ set by Dub Pistols which I can't wait to get down to but the biggest draw for me is the fancy dress. This years theme is pretty generic and I think you could probably dress up as basically whatever you wanted if you put a bit of thought into your backstory - Fantasies & Fairytales. Don't forget my shopping and inspiration guides if you are stuck for fancy dress ideas, just click the images below.

Will you be coming to Hogsozzle this year, or any other boutique festivals? Buy your Hogsozzle ticket here and let me know you are coming, I'd love to join you for a dance in the Pig Pen! I'd be interested to hear about more small, friendly weekends we can get booked in for the summer. After the last few months of snow, ice and staying in I'm definitely ready to start planning an epic summer. Don't forget to drop a comment down below if you've read this far, it really means a lot to me when people comment on my blog posts :)

Friday, 2 February 2018

Why Do Brands Take Influencers On Expensive PR Trips?

What a week for new beauty releases! I've seen the most insane PR packages and trips. I honestly love how fast-paced the beauty industry is moving at the moment. I spotted 4 separate 'blogger' or launch events happening yesterday across my social media feeds and they each looked their own kind of incredible.

When launching a new product or store, introducing a new face or having a rebranding, the current preference for glitzy, no-holds-barred events is a part of a trend called Experiential Marketing. It's been predicted as being 'big' for several years on digital and tech blogs but it's taken some time for brands to get used to spending their budgets in this way and so we are just starting to see something really awesome happening in the sphere of Influencers. Brands are beginning to understand that not every aspect of marketing can be measured in a quantifiable way. Experiential Marketing is about giving consumers an experience that will increase their propensity to purchase, even become an advocate for, the brand. In turn a wider audience is then exposed to positive feelings about the product. This snowball effect is extremely valuable!

At the Benefit Cosmetics #raiseabrow event last year

I was inspired to write this post after I saw quite a bit of moaning on Twitter. Two nights in a country hotel for a new cleanser?  The Maldives? For a MASCARA?  How can this possibly be beneficial for the brand and why are they splashing out thousands on a very small minority and then charging a high price for the product when us mortals have to purchase them?

Brace yourself, sensitive snowflakes.

If you are going to work in social media, expect brands to pay you for your content and ideas and promote yourself as an expert in the subject, you need to know your shit.

I'm really surprised by some of the people I've seen negatively commenting on bloggers attending events, especially when the general mood of the blogosphere finally seems to be turning in a 'support each other' kind of direction.  So I've written below some of the ways that these launches can benefit the brand in a much wider way than just promoting the individual product and how it benefits you too.

Brands have had to completely change the way that their marketing budget is allocated in the last three years. From point blank refusing to pay bloggers to signing up content creators on £100,000 contracts, things have gone from zero to hero for those of us that love to write about and photograph our lives. When I first started working in Influencer marketing, I was convincing decision-makers of the three ways that working with Influencers could help to grow their business.
  • Increasing the number of followers their brand accounts had
  • Raising general awareness of the brands existence
  • Direct sales (became a lot more relevant with the advent of Instagram Stories 'swipe-up' function)
All three of these are measurable to some extent. You can watch a brand's follower count go up when you see an influencer posting about them. Brand awareness can be measured in tags and mentions and direct sales are counted by total sales, of course. A combination of this data should help a brand target the Influencers to keep working with, the type of content that works for them and so on. This ability to use the data to hone future campaigns is a secondary benefit which works infinitely better online than it can do in print as you can test different content and users easily with A/B testing. This is where you trial something on a selection of your potential audience, and something else on another group.

At the launch for Deciem x ASOS

Each of these desired results has certain ways it can be achieved - for example, if you want to increase your follower count then running a contest that involves following that account would be an ideal way to achieve it.

So, we have all these ways of creating campaigns, mixing and matching your desired results with A/B testing of audiences and content. Brands usually have to select what they want from a campaign.

Experiential marketing does all of this and more.

But what brands really want these days is for their fans and users to be creating content for them, independently. This is the holy grail of online marketing in the current climate. Imagine you are launching a product and you've given it a kooky hashtag. If you check that hashtag daily, you want to see people tagging your product in their images. In the case of beauty brands, this is so valuable because of the possibility of using so many different products in one images. You could easily feature 15 or so brands in one picture of your made-up face and tagging with the brands individual hashtags is the first step towards getting that brand to notice you. If they notice you and your image is of a high quality, you might get shared on their page. Boom, 4 million people are looking at your photo, This can have an earth-shattering impact on your own follower count.

 If a brand seems to be sharing a lot of Influencer's content to their audience, sending out amazing PR packages and taking bloggers on holidays that most people can only dream of, it becomes aspirational to be noticed and featured by these brands. This in turn makes their products more desirable, as you aren't going to be featured on Kylie Cosmetics page wearing a knock-off dupe liquid lip. For those bloggers that don't actually take pictures of their face but create elaborate flatlays and studio set-ups - the same goes. They need to buy the product to create the content. Then their followers see them buying and recommending the product and go out and buy it too - this is where micro-influencers fit in and play their part in the campaign. Essentially, creating content on a brand's behalf in exchange for a potential feature.

This is the crux of Experiential Marketing - for the cost of hiring an aquarium for the day and giving away some of your product in mermaid packaging, you can create an experience that gets shared millions of times, something that isn't always possible to get when paying individuals to create content - although that's obviously incredibly valuable too!

One of the negatives I've seen so far is that EM is more difficult to measure. I don't know how brands are going to be analysing whether the thousands and thousands they spend on events with spaceships coming from the roof, covetable merchandise (who else wanted a Too Faced sunhat last summer?) and masterclasses added to their sales. This will be really interesting to watch and research. I'll be keeping an eye on new launch hashtags and how long it takes content to start getting created by aspiring make-up artists and micro-influencers.

The Boohoo Spring/Summer Press Day 2017

I LOVE the movement towards this type of promotion and PR. It means brands have the opportunity to really infuse their personality and their ethos into launches, making it an exciting time to work in the beauty (and fashion and lifestyle and fitness...) industries. Once the longer term effects on sales and brand awareness can be measured I believe there will develop a whole secondary industry dedicated to putting on these type of events with the most success. In the meantime, the only way anyone gets to be involved, whether it's an all-expenses paid trip to Bali or a pool party in central London, is to create amazing content - moaning about it on Twitter won't get you anywhere at all.

I hope this has given some background as to why brands are creating these experiences, I would love your comments below on amazing events you have been to and how they made you feel about a product or brand - please do leave a comment.

I'm currently available for consultation and digital content projects. You can email me on katycloudsofficial[at]gmail.com or tweet on [at]katy_clouds

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