Yet today, as Instagram, YouTube, and other social media “stars” blur the line between influencer and celebrity, how can brands select the right face and name to tout their product and generate revenue?
Know Thy Brand — and
Knowing your brand and the “brand” of the influencer is paramount. Away Luggage collaborates with jet-setting supermodel Karlie Kloss, a celebrity influencer who attracts her 7.6 million Instagram followers with posts of her with the luggage, resulting in an upwards of 46,000 likes per post.
However, Away really finds success through niche influencers - seemingly ordinary people who consumers inherently trust more than paid celebrity endorsements. These “micro-influencers,” with followings under 500,000, post content that is interesting, relevant, and most importantly, on brand.
Posts from lifestyle influencers such as Jeanne Grey (@thegreylayers) inspire those with smaller followings to take similarly styled posts, creating organic content at no cost for the brand, while bolstering consumer value and trust.
This is becoming more important as brands expand into global markets. While a global ambassador like LeBron James may have impact around the world, finding micro-influencers that resonate with particular groups of international consumers can have a bigger impact on ROI.
example, Marcela Valladolid is a Food Network chef with a loyal following in Latin America. With her Mexican heritage infused in everything
she does, her authentic content has an incredible power to influence purchase decisions among her audience even outside the realm of cooking, as evidenced by her work with Estee Lauder brands.
Not knowing an influencer’s personal brand can be detrimental. Such was the case in 2017 with Puma and tits chosen brand representative, Kylie Jenner. While Kylie is undoubtedly an influential figure, with over 115 million Instagram followers, she is not known for athletic prowess.
Upon the release of campaign images featuring the youngest Jenner modeling the Puma Fierce sneaker, the company received consumer backlash. Why? Kylie is not an athlete, and when selling products meant for athletic activity, it’s best to use a spokesperson you could believe actually uses the product.
Choose Engaging Experts Over
Mass Appeal Megastars
On the contrary, brands that tap targeted influencers to tout products experience exponential success.
MAC Cosmetics (full disclosure: a client) for example, makes a point to highlight in-store makeup workers -- called Mac “artists” -- in its content. Similarly, Mac collaborated with beauty influencer Patrick Starr, entrusted by his followers/fans for his makeup expertise, for multiple collections and enlisted 10 influencers of various follower counts from around the world to create their own shade of lipstick in 2017. The brand saw huge ROI, as the influencers’ cult followings showed up in droves to buy makeup co-signed by their fellow makeup-obsessed “celebrities.”
The key to that campaign’s success was selecting influencers who were experts, gaining the trust of their audience. The ability for micro-influencers to effectively tell a believable story is essential for brands that want to generate revenue while creating brand loyalty.
Vet, Vet, Vet
As the influencer market continues to grow, how can you pinpoint the right ones? Vet before signing. While it’s easier to know the history and morals of a celebrity figure, vetting a social media influencer could prove more challenging. Beauty influencer Laura Lee, for example, lost multiple brand deals from beauty giants like Ulta and Colourpop, as well as hundreds of thousands of followers, when her racist tweets resurfaced from 2012.
To avoid this type of situation, ensure that you have a strict process that examines influencers’ public personas, past and present. This will help uncover any red flags, which will give you a good sense of whether or not that influencer truly aligns with your brand and its core values.