A Bucket Full of Influence

As the term ‘influencer’ slowly becomes more and more of a staple on the men’s style circuit, we caught up with one of our favourites to get an insight into the world of influence

The ‘influencers’ are a much talked about bunch at the moment. They’re filling lists, they’re garnering more of our attention as we peer into our phones, and according to the influencer marketing agency, Mediakix, they’re part of a billion-dollar industry, with brands chomping at the bit to collaborate on content. Jargon aside they’re also filling a void, a void left by dwindling television viewership, the rise of social media and a change of tact in the way brands advertise. The rise of the influencer has been especially notable in the men’s fashion and lifestyle world and one name stands out especially.

Matthew Pike is an influencer. On Instagram he has a following of 42.1k and his blog Buckets & Spades, dedicated to Fashion, Design and Lifestyle has a loyal and active following. If we were a menswear brand we would go to him. His blog, which also chronicles his life, inspirations and blogging topics (such as fraudulent followers) is a thoughtful and aesthetically satisfying window into one man’s world. We caught up with Matthew to try to get to the bottom of all things influence.

How did you get into the ‘influencer’ scene? Tell us about your background in lifestyle blogging.

I’ve been writing a blog and online for nearly 10 years now. Social media wasn’t available back when I started, but when Instagram and Twitter kicked in it brought new opportunity to reach a wider audience. Ultimately, apps like Instagram have pushed me to be more creative and involve myself in the creative industry more. Any influence that those bring into my audience has been a natural one.

What do you do on a daily basis? What does being an influencer involve?

Every day is completely different. I travel a lot; to create content I go on press trips, meet up with creatives and connect with small businesses. When I’m working on a commission I generally research into locations I haven’t used before, find a suitable photographer who shares a similar vision and get out there. I could be writing articles all day, editing photos, styling interior images or photographing another blogger.

What makes a good influencer? What makes good content?

Consistency with the brands, styles and subjects they cover. An audience grows to know what to expect from an individual – as soon as something doesn’t feel right (not that trying something different is a bad thing, but it still needs to feel unique to the influencer), people have a tendency to tune out.

What is the relationship like between the influencer and the brand? Do you have to pick and choose according to your audience?

There’s bad experiences but generally I have very good working relationships with brands as they respect my style, what I offer and the fact I know my audience. I do have to pick according to what my audience expects to see and my own personal tastes. It’s all about morals for me.

How well do you know your audience? What is the measure of success?

I would measure success on how happy and content I am. If I’m proud of my output, what projects I have coming up and if I’m paying the bills. I don’t measure success on numbers.

If you were to plot the timeline of your followers growing on a graph, would it look like a steady rise or are there key hikes in numbers?

There was a hike in my numbers on Instagram as they highlighted me as someone to follow. That didn’t bring more likes, rather just followers, so a lot of them weren’t interested but they just pressed follow. A few years on and I have built up a very loyal following, with good personal engagement and interaction within the community.

What do you think the future of the influencer is?

Many will move on, get bored. The people in it for the right reasons will continue to use what they’re good at, collaborate with brands and create really strong content (on what platform that will be, no one knows).

What are your fondest experiences so far? Press trips? Free stuff?

A couple of things but press trips are very fulfilling. The travel is the one for me, seeing parts of the world you never knew existed, and connecting with inspiring people along the way. The human interaction is a big deal for me, be that grabbing a coffee with something, being shown around a new city or helping someone else out with photographs.

What effect does the job have on your personal life?

I am away from home a lot but my partner is totally used to it. I would class the people I have met in the industry to be my friends, and sadly lost contact with a lot of my older friends. It’s a hard balance.

Does the reliance on social media have a psychological effect?

Oh big time. There’s a lot of pressure to keep up appearances, be on your A-game at all times and to be constantly having some form of output. Also, numbers, yeah, if you take too much time looking at those it will send your brain into meltdown.EJ