Two advertising professionals travelling the world in search of the perfect cocktail. That's the brief that partners, Mel Harvey and Anthony Poncier, gave themselves: combine their knowledge, skills and passion into a cocktail blog.
All that was left to do was to find a new take on the already heavily blogged about subject... They found the solution by asking themselves the question, "What makes people decide to go to, and keep coming back to, a particular bar?" The answer: the person behind the bar, of course!
Lecocktailconnoisseur is the blog for you if you're looking for the perfect balance between drinks and good humour; and want to learn more about the people that make a bar special.
I was lucky enough to meet them to chat about the reality “behind-the-post”. In this interview, you'll discover the world of cocktails as you've never seen it before. Let’s raise a toast to the experts!
1. What does being an influencer mean to you? Do you feel like you are influential to people online?
An influencer is, by definition, someone who has influence over a significant, connected audience. What we do today and the image we are projecting are definitely in line with that. Every day, people get in contact with us to ask for advice or bar recommendations all over the world, and we regularly take part in lots of events with big brands. This year we're on the jury for the final of Bacardi Legacy in France. We definitely wouldn't have been able to get involved with that sort of event if we didn't the influence or the network of bartenders we have today.
Nonetheless, we don't use the word "influencer" to describe ourselves. We feel like there are other people more suited to the term. For example, when it comes to things like travel, there are people (influencers) that have real influence, because they can affect where you go on your next holiday through their communications and posts. In our case, we think the people that follow us or get in contact with us do it because they trust our expertise and taste, so we prefer the term "advisers".
2. You started this project with a blog, but today you're also on other platforms like YouTube and Instagram, what is the strategy behind each platform?
The main idea for the blog was to interview bartenders, so they could tell us about their work and also their creations. Those interviews are also available on YouTube, as that is primarily how the video is hosted. On Instagram we concentrate more on the visual format so we can show people the drinks and places we visit. Lastly, we use other platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but they're really secondary.
By looking at the statistics on each platform, however, we can identify differences in audiences depending on the media, particularly in terms of age and location. That's really useful for adapting the message we're trying to put across.
But if you want to be someone people want to follow on social media and build a reputation, it's important to have an original approach and above all have your own online signature that makes you stand out. That's why we decided to develop our own creative line for our content. Specifically, on Instagram, where we only post overhead shots of cocktails.
3. Seeing you at all the best bars and events makes the life of an influencer look pretty idyllic. Are there any downsides?
For us, there aren't a lot of downsides. But it is important to remember that it isn't our main job. We also have full-time jobs and sometimes a lot of work to do with tight deadlines. Sometimes it definitely is difficult to balance the two and still be consistent. It takes time to organize and coordinate interviews and trips, and to put together photos and videos. So far, though, we seemed to have managed to do it pretty well and have fun with it. That's the most important thing.
It's like yin and yang; in any business there's a good side and there's a side that sort of needs compensation for. For us it's the time aspect, since we need to balance our time with busy jobs.
It's probably our friends that have to put up with the biggest drawback though! When we get together, it's difficult to step away from that blogger instinct and we can't help taking pictures of our friends' cocktails, even before they get a chance to try them. (laughs) Over time, I can see how that might get annoying for them, but we can't help ourselves.
4. How do you approach brand collaborations?
We don't seek out brands and won't work with only one brand. All the partnerships we have with brands are genuine. We categorically refuse any partnerships that impose editorial restrictions. Our identity is what makes us what we are, and that's something we won’t compromise on. Either the brand likes what we do and gives us free rein when creating our content, or they can go elsewhere. That's pretty uncompromising, isn't it? But it is necessary.
If one day a brand approaches us for a long-term partnership and says, "We want to develop this partnership because you'll make the bar look good," then yes, we'll be open to the idea. As long as we are free to do what we love the way we want to, we'll consider the partnership. If we're told we have to do certain things, even if there is financial compensation involved, we consider that to be a restriction, so we won't do it.
As I said, sometimes we are given products or are invited to events at bars. But, once again, the brands are completely open with us and give us complete freedom in what we publish. Even if we aren't "obliged" to make reference to the brand, it is still fair to thank them and mention them in our posts in return.
5. What tips do you have for brands you work with or which work with influencers in general?
Our first tip would be to be careful about partnerships with traditional PR agencies who might not understand that influencers have their own tone, expertise and way of communicating. And that's what brought them to their audience. Still today, lots of agencies try to impose rules on the content created by influencers. And that's even if all the parties agree in advance on an editorial line for the influencer, like the brands, for example. They should work as an advisor rather than an obstruction.
Lastly, it’s wiser for brands to choose smaller influencers. Often, they have a more loyal audience than a macro influencer. A particularly smart move is to focus on people who are experts in a field and/or on a specific subject. That means we don’t go for "lifestyle" influencers, as it's a pretty vague term, which deals with (or includes) any subject but only at a superficial level.
In the long term, that sort of person doesn't have any influence, because their expertise is less reliable. Brands should focus on influencers whose audience and editorial line are more authentic, that match their image and target audience. And that's when a tool like Traackr becomes vital for identifying, checking and providing information on who the right people are to partner with, who might well not be superstars with millions of followers.
However, the human factor is also really important. It's important to make sure that every collaboration with an influencer is harmonious, on both sides. It is essential that there is mutual respect from both the brand and the influencer! There needs to be respect for the product and the brand. Without it, influencers shouldn't enter into a partnership, because it is a business for both parties. So, we recommend that brands refuse to work with disrespectful influencers, because it's really important to develop a real relationship rather than a temporary paid partnership. Otherwise you won't get the results and impact you were hoping for.
6. What are the current emerging trends and drinks in bars and the world of cocktails?
Fashions and tastes are changing and that's having an impact on what people are drinking and cocktail menus. Looking at Traackr's analysis in its recent publication, State of Influence: Spirits, Beer & Wine, we noticed it was interesting to compare it with the analysis found in the 12 most frequently order cocktails in the world (a study carried out in cocktail bars in 38 countries). Although the ranking is a little different, nine of the same cocktails appear in both lists. That shows that people tend to post about the drinks they drink the most often and, importantly, interact with the content of influencers that mention them, as you can see in the graph below.
We do, however, see a slight difference in the results for piña colada compared with other cocktails. That can be explained by the temporal nature of that type of drink. Basically, it’s a cocktail that has more prominence during holidays and festive times, which goes hand in hand with shares on social media.
I hope you've enjoyed hearing from these two cocktail and bar lovers whose goal is to share their passion on social media. If so, I highly recommend you follow their blog and check out their Instagram account!
If you want to find out more about the influence of online conversations related to spirits, beer and wine, I highly recommend you download our latest report, State of Influence, which will tell you everything you need to know about trends in these categories thanks to the analyses and data provided by Traackr.
Once again, feel free to get in contact to let us know what you think or if you have any questions. We'll be happy to answer them!