Employing celebrity brand ambassadors as a promo strategy is nothing new – famous individuals, whether actors, singers, sportspeople, models, even politicians have long been paid to lend their faces to a certain brand, endorsing its values.
But times change, and there is a new type of ambassador for our technology driven new age: the micro influencer.
Oftentimes these individuals (also known as bloggers, vloggers, the “Instafamous”, social celebrities or YouTube stars) claim to fame is simply a large following on their social media channels. They may or may not have a talent – they may sing, model, have phenomenal make-up skills or may be really funny but they are generally cute and entertaining to watch.
Detractors may turn up their noses at the phenomenon of ordinary people gaining extraordinary influence as simply another millennial menace. But the fact is, people are voracious voyeurs, and with everyone owning a smartphone with video capabilities and an internet connection, its easier than ever to open up a window into their lives and become an Internet sensation.
As consumers, we also prefer interacting with a person versus a brand – someone we follow and like and trust has a higher chance of selling us a product, be it skincare, sportswear, a new restaurant, or a travel location.
And brands have caught on. Its rather a no-brainer – micro-influencers can cost less than established celebrities, they may be more amenable and easier to work with, and come with that tantalizing stable of followers.
A 2016 study by TapInfluence and Nielsen Catalina Solutions found that influencer marketing can deliver 11 times higher ROI than traditional brand marketing.
Brands in Malaysia were quick to capitalize on the rise of Soimjenn (from the video above) who, from being a virtual unknown a year ago, currently has videos with both Samsung and Shiseido.
Estee Lauder enlisted Kendall Jenner to promote its youthful spin-off brand, The Estee Edit. Jenner has an impressive 75.1 million followers on Instagram, and thus is a top-tier micro-influencer.
It’s also a lucrative trend for these influencers. Jack Morris and Lauren Bullen are a couple who use their Instagram account to make a fortune travelling the world. It sounds like someone’s day dream, but they make a 6-figure salary promoting brands and locations on their Instagram to 3 million followers.
Even more impressively, Huda Kattan, a beauty blogger with 13 million followers, launched her own make up line starting with false eyelashes. She’s now worth $4.5million.
However, there’s also a dark side to influencer marketing.
Like the case of Michelle Phan where success online did not translate to dollars and cents. Phan was one of the original YouTube beauty gurus. When she created a How to do Barbie makeup video, she gained a mind blowing 66 million views. Yet when she launched her own makeup line in partnership with L’oreal, it sank without a trace and prompted her to take a hiatus, going dark for about a year.
Or the recent Fyre Festival, which proved that all the marketing in the world cannot help when your product is a dud. Tagged as a “luxury music festival”, the organisers paid $250,000 to Kendall Jenner for a single Instagram post promoting the event. Other models and influencers were paid upwards of $20,000.
For an event that was an unmitigated disaster, it would seem the money should have gone to more crucial things like basic amenities and an actual concert lineup. Fans claimed that they were duped by gorgeous marketing images featuring endless white beaches and frolicking bikini babes and the organisers have been slapped with 8 lawsuits so far.
Is your brand jumping on the micro-influencer bandwagon or do you think it’s just a passing phase?
Don’t want to miss out on the weekly shots of branding? Subscribe to our e-newsletter.