EVERYONE’S FAVORITE SUBJECT!
But without a deep-dive into the history of the influencer landscape and how it’s changed, how are you to be expected to know what strategy works best for you and your brand? TBH, you can’t. And that’s my bad, because I should have addressed this first honestly.
So here we go folks, break out your notebooks and take a front row seat for today’s lesson…
The Influencer Marketing Landscape (and How it’s Changing)
Needless to say, the rise of the influencer (both micro and otherwise) has completely changed how the average consumer discovers beauty brands and products. Hell, influencers have changed the approach of consumers even OUTSIDE of the beauty realm! Big brands like Crest, Dove, Kia Motors (yes, the car company) and many more have hopped on the influencer bandwagon as a way to build credibility with consumers everywhere.
Why the shift?
Consumers, particularly millennials, are turning away and rejecting traditional forms of advertising (such as print) and instead looking towards online communities where these influencers dominate the space with product reviews and recommendations.
The secret is out guys. Nobody trusts the big brands anymore, instead that trust lies within perceived “friends” (AKA influencers) and family.
According to the 2016 Pixability Beauty Study, marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates 2x the sales of paid advertising. Not only that, those consumers have a 37% higher retention rate and likelihood of repurchasing. I’d like to point out that I LIVE for the Pixability Beauty Study and basically mark the date on my calendar each year when they release a new one.
Those numbers aside, my favorite factoids in relation to influencers is that 74% of consumers use social media to drive purchase decisions…and 8 in 10 of the most influential people for millennials is YouTube stars. That number only grows year-over-year.
Think about it, I’m sure you’re guilty of relying on social when making a shopping choice too. Best believe that any time I’m in a store, let’s say it’s ULTA Beauty, and I’m staring at a wall of blending sponges trying to figure out which one is the best value…I’m reaching for my phone to Google which option is better and why. The first results that come up for that Google search? Influencers that have uploaded comparison videos to YouTube explaining why one sponge is better than the other.
Decision = made.
What does this shift mean for brands? It’s time to get creative in reaching the increasingly- savvy consumer. Instead of attempting to shove traditional advertising down their throats (proven ineffective) it’s time to hang out where your consumer shops. Social media.
Unless you have a super savvy social media presence, the easiest way to build credibility with your consumer and to drive sales/ brand awareness (depending on what your ultimate goal is if not both) is to work with influencers who have a notable reputation in your brands’ vertical.
I didn’t say that you have to work with the influencer who has the largest following within your brands’ vertical…just that they need to have a notable reputation.
Don’t let big numbers blind you. Who cares if an influencer has 9 million subscribers on YouTube if their subscribers barely watch their videos for more than 15 seconds? Or worse, what if they’re an influencer who doesn’t even touch on your brand vertical whatsoever? A good example of this would be attempting to align yourself with a fashion influencer who occasionally posts beauty content simply because she has a huge subscriber/follower count. Always remember, the reason that influencer has such large numbers is because his/her audience likes to engage with one primarily vertical (in this case…fashion). The engagement is guaranteed to drop off the moment that influencer posts something outside of what the fans have come to expect.
What you should care about is identifying the micro-influencer
who has a high engagement rate with their audience.
By identifying and growing with micro-influencers, you build a rapport with both them and their on-brand audience. If you’re an indie beauty brand known for creating affordable, cruelty-free products…identify the influencers who champion that vertical. By aligning yourself with them, you will automatically reach an audience that has an interest in your products. They trust the influencer, and if the influencer falls in love with your brand…they automatically come to trust YOU.
It’s undeniable that society is 1000% shifting how they shop for goods, and influencers are hot right now. That being said, I strongly caution against inking big brand deals with influencers because those have been known to flop even after a large investment has been made on part of the brand.
Consumers value transparency, and the biggest complaint from the consumer side for recent large-scale influencer campaigns is that they’ve transitioned to be too much like traditional advertising that consumers have made a point to shy away from.
A good example of this that happened in the beauty world
is the partnership that Bare Minerals inked with Ingrid Nilson.
A good idea on paper, as Ingrid has always been a fan of the brand, but ultimately a huge loss because the adverts that rolled out were exactly what consumers DIDN’T respond well to. The partnership encompassed the brand paying upwards of 500K for Ingrid to create content for Bare Minerals’ social channels, in-person engagements, and the use of her likeness on in-store fixtures and marketing materials. Number stolen directly from the WWD report that broke the news of the partnership.
While the brand was smart in partnering with a true champion of their products, gauging the return on such an expensive partnership is tricky to say the absolute least. Ingrid might have included BM products in round-ups within her channel, but she didn’t post a single dedicated video that announced her partnership. Instead, she posted on Instagram (to a much smaller subsection of followers.) Additionally, she continued to ink deals with other, seemingly competitive brands and rolled out content for them shortly after her big announcement.
Now, I’m not saying that Ingrid’s management team isn’t looking out for the best interest of their client because they clearly are. But from the brand perspective, that’s a hefty paycheck to cut for someone who isn’t exclusively talking about your products (that she already loves!)
That money would have been better spent on a strategic campaign across several brand ambassadors versus putting all of your eggs in one basket. Work with influencers that come from different backgrounds, different ethnicities, and that have different points of view to reach the maximum customer base.
That’s of course, just my two cents on the topic but like I said. This landscape is CONSTANTLY changing, and it’s your responsibility as a PR person or a business owner to choose a strategy that works for you.
Have you thought about your influencer marketing strategy?