How many of you have laughed off an influencer?

As a marketer who runs a blog (OK, two with Mass Consternation) I play on both sides of the influencer marketing equation. Sometimes I’m consulting with brands on their influencer programs; other times I’m receiving books and bonuses for reviews. I’ve watched influencer marketing grow into a serious and incredibly powerful marketing tactic.

There’s one industry that quickly got influencer marketing right: the beauty and fashion industry. Yep, this same woman who’ll curl up reading in sweats and messy hair looks to beauty and fashion influencers for doing marketing well.

Beauty and Fashion are Generating the Sales

Influencer marketing is no longer a tiny part of the marketing mix. From 2017 to 2019 global spending on influencer marketing has quadrupled from an estimated $2 billion to about $8 billion. While that’s across all industries, Estée Lauder announced they’re now spending 75% of its marketing budget on influencers. I wonder if the cutbacks are mainly from in-store point of sale or print advertisements? Whatever way, I would want more than page views and a few shares for that kind of money.

Research by recent Harvard Business School MBA graduate Alessia Vettese showed brands are getting the ROI. Vettese found that 67% of beauty and fashion shoppers surveyed get their purchase information from social media influencers. Less than half the beauty enthusiasts said they reference company advertisements and only 34% look to public figures and celebrities. In fact, they said they trust third-party reviews most and company advertisements least. That explains Estée Lauder’s decision. The research found consumers want “to go online and get an at-your-fingertips experience. They want to ask an influencer questions and get personal responses.”

What Can We Learn from Beauty and Fashion Influencers?

Most of what beauty and fashion influencers do is transferrable to other industries. So, what do they do?

Tests ideas

I’ve asked beauty influencer, Cassandra Bankson, for this one. Cassandra’s been making videos about cruelty-free, vegan and natural skincare and makeup, and travel and wellness for nine years. She does something that many marketers miss with above-the-line campaigns, she tests ideas with her audience. As a disclaimer, Cassandra works with Intellifluence, as do I.

And so now I start off with an idea, but no idea is worth $1 million. It’s the execution of that. So something we do now is user validate. Meaning, I will post out a tweet or an Instagram story and I’ll say, “Hey, beautiful butterflies, my fans, what do you think of this? Would this be of interest to you?”

Plan and prepare

While it looks like influencers turn on the camera, record and upload, it’s not that simple. I often think back to the first influencer I worked with. We were working in travel and paying for him to fly around the United States and still fan girled a little, but when asked, he said he works in spreadsheets. The photos and stories were the end result of a lot of stats and organizing.

Content takes time

Following from the last, even a short video or the most spontaneous photo takes work. I’ve been caught with deadlines but can’t get the right lighting, or when I was filming a video on location in Vancouver, Canada on a stormy day. I couldn’t postpone and had to allow time for editing. I changed the story plan and filmed myself soaking wet. No, I’m NOT sharing that link. Seriously though, between pitching and discussing between brands and influencers, then production, then promotion, it’s work and needs time.

Just do it

I’m letting Cassandra answer this:
“If you don’t get started, you can’t make those mistakes and grow along the way. I used to be afraid of failure, and that was the worst fear. Because if you’re afraid of failure, you’re not willing to try. So lean into that discomfort, get uncomfortable. Face those fears, whether it’s your voice, whether it’s your equipment, whatever it is, just get started. A good backdrop is literally a wall or a bed sheet. Your best lighting is going to be from your window, and if you have a smartphone, you have a built-in camera, which is a lot more than I could have said 10 years ago. So just get started and learn along the way.”

Don’t just chase the big guns

International beauty retailer, Sephora, diversified their influencer portfolio, or as they call it, the Sephora Squad. The 24 members have a range of follower counts, with micro-, nano-, and macro- influencers. After all, it’s about sales and conversions not how many followers they can buy. From the influencer side, you may be a better brand fit with a smaller or up-and-coming brand.

It’s still early days for influencer marketing, so still time to learn from the beauty and fashion influencers and start getting the benefits.

Photo by DISRUPTIVO on Unsplash

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