Influencer marketing is a rapidly growing industry. According to Business Insider, in 2017 influencer marketing generated an estimated $2 billion and is expected to reach $15 billion by 2022. Companies often choose influencer marketing over traditional advertising for a higher Return of Investment (ROI). But the lines between influencer marketing and traditional advertising are beginning to blur. How can your organization keep up? First, let’s examine what has changed.
Prior to 2019, influencer marketing was the go-to option for objectives pertaining to building brand awareness, establishing trust, and creating word-of-mouth. Since influencer audiences were easily identified through various analytical tools, it was easy for companies to reach its specific target audiences. Although all this is still very true, recent videos have brought to light some issues on both sides of the industry, changing the way we see and use influencer marketing.
The first wave of change came after Makeup Geek’s, Marlena Stell posted the video “My Truth Regarding the Beauty Community,” calling out influencers posting sponsored content without disclosure as well as the high cost of influencer marketing. The video received over 1.16M views. Marlena Stell was one of the “OG” beauty influencers who created her own makeup brand. She has been on both sides of the partnership, so she was not afraid to share the flaws of the industry. Her video received a bunch of responses from high-tier influencers that were quick to note that influencer marketing comes at a significantly lower cost than traditional advertisements.
The second wave of change came in October of 2019 after YouTube influencers Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star collaborated for a 5-part series that looked into the world of a beauty influencer. Episode 2 of the series, “The Secrets of the Beauty World,” featured a candid conversation on brands that have unfairly paid beauty influencers. “A normal collaboration would be about 20% on a very fair end,” says Jeffree in the clip. The conversation then reveals an unfair partnership between beauty influencer, NikkieTutorials (13.2M Subscribers) and well-known makeup brand, Too Faced. The brand and influencer came together to create an eyeshadow/face palette that generated over $10 million in revenue. Jeffree called out Too Faced for only paying Nikkie a flat fee of $50,000. According to Jeffree’s suggested rate, Nikkie should have made around $2 Million from the partnership. Dawson and Star’s video received over 22M views.
Both videos have created long-tail impact within the influencer industry. Since these videos, influencers have been closely scrutinized by their audiences for sponsored content. Viewers and followers are holding influencers accountable to be more honest and to space out their sponsored content. Now, most if not all influencers disclose in the beginning of every video which products they use that are sponsored, sent to them through public relations (PR), and/or bought themselves. This is making it clear what products they are using organically vs. being paid to promote creating challenges for brands using influencer marketing as a strategy to build brand trust.
How should brands be utilizing influencer marketing in the future? Stay tuned for the next blog post in this influencer marketing series.
Written by Sarah Graham, Zozimus PR Account Executive