Influencer marketing has been giving traditional marketing a run for its money for some time. At many high profile brands, the influencer marketing budget now accounts for millions in annual spend.
Beauty giant Estée Lauder, for example, is spending 75 per cent of its marketing budget this year on digital marketing, with influencer marketing being the primary beneficiary of that investment. According to Statista, Estée Lauder spent over $900 million on influencer marketing in 2017 in the US alone – a number that’s likely to have risen since then, given the company’s commitment to influencers.
But what exactly does influencer marketing involve? And why should aesthetic practitioners know about it? After all, most practitioners do not have access to marketing budgets on a par with Estée Lauder.
With statistics in the US putting Instagram posts at around $1,000 per 100,000 followers and the likes of Kylie Jenner reportedly making around $1m per paid post, marketers are becoming more creative when it comes to influencer marketing. You don’t necessarily need a mega marketing budget to tap into the trend. Whether you are running a chain of clinics or operating as a lone practitioner, you too could stand to benefit from working with influencers.
There have been some major shifts in how influencer marketing is used since it exploded onto the scene in 2016. Celebrity endorsements may have been the original form of influencer marketing, but as consumers have become more aware of how fake the influencer industry can be, the focus has shifted to greater authenticity. Away from celebrities to everyday people celebrating brands and products they love.
This shift presents opportunities for aesthetic practitioners to work with smaller ‘micro’ influencers, or even people who are not influencers at all, but simply individuals who align with your brand values, for example clients with a loyal social media following in your local area. Today, ‘influencer’ doesn’t have to mean celebrities, models or reality TV stars.
Even high profile brands like Estée Lauder’s use of influencers is far-reaching. True, they collaborate with big-name spokesmodels like Kendall Jenner and Karlie Kloss, but they also work with micro-influencers on YouTube and Instagram.
In a survey of 20,000 women by media platform Blogin, half said they make purchases due to influencer posts, primarily on Facebook and Instagram. The right influencer can help you reach your target audience and drive engagement.
In 2017, 92 per cent of marketers who used influencer marketing found it to be effective. And, says the Influencer Marketing Hub, influencer marketing has been predicted to grow to more than double 2017 figures this year.
How can aesthetic practitioners tap into and adapt this trend to appeal to their audience and suit their budget? Here, we look at the key factors to consider when finding the right influencer for you, and highlight some of the pitfalls to avoid.
Where do you begin in your quest to find and connect with the right influencers on social media?
First, it’s essential to understand the demographics of each platform before determining which ones make the most sense for you to use. You don’t want to waste your time creating content for a platform where your audience isn’t actually present. For example, Instagram has a younger user profile, whereas Facebook has a slightly older one.
Recent statistics show that only 10 per cent of UK women aged between 55 and 64 years are using Instagram. So, there is little use in running a campaign on Instagram if most of your customers are over the age of 55. On the other hand, the micro-influencer trend has particularly taken off on the Instagram platform; because Instagram is so visual, it’s easy for micro-influencers to post photos of products and brand experiences instead of writing a promotional tweet or Facebook post. And with 64 per cent of 18 – 29 year olds using the Instagram platform, if that is your target market Instagram would make a good match.
Research which influencers have a loyal following on which platforms and decide whether or not they are appropriate for your brand, depending on where your target market is most engaged.
It might be helpful to develop customer personas to make sure you understand who you’re trying to reach. You can then create a matching set of influencer personas that possess the qualities your customers will relate to. Find out more about personas and marketing in general in our Marketing for aesthetic practitioners guide.
It’s important not to target an influencer based purely on their popularity and reach. Take care to make sure they have demonstrated knowledge in aesthetics, skincare or whichever treatment or service you want them to promote. Check out their previous content, social interactions and reputation. Do their ideas and values match yours? Does their tone and positioning align with yours?
You can identify suitable influencers by using online tools such as BuzzSumo or Klear. You can also keep an eye out for relevant hashtags to identify micro-influencers that would make a good fit. A good place to start is by identifying the hashtags and topics that are key to your business and seeing who is already active in this area.
Clearly, for most cosmetic practitioners practicalities like budget and the geographical location of influencers are likely to be decisive factors in determining who the right influencers might be for you and how you go about finding them.
A major consideration when working with an influencer is budget – generally, the more followers a person has, the more they will cost. Influencer costs vary greatly depending on the level of commitment the influencer will provide and how many followers they have.
If budgets are tight and you can’t stretch to sponsoring a paid influencer, don’t forget about current customers, particularly those who might also be very influential in your local area and are more likely to be passionate about your procedures. If you have developed strong relationships with them, loyal customers may well be happy to speak about your brand positively, recommending your procedures and jumping into conversations to advocate your services on social media.
Check out who is talking about your business on local social media sites and search using local hashtags. If you are a lone practitioner operating for example in a small geographical area, you will be mostly interested in identifying local influencers or high profile individuals and thinking creatively about ways in which you could collaborate with them to promote your practice.
‘Micro-influencers’ with smaller follower counts can be very powerful and are more likely to be accessible to aesthetic practitioners, most of whom will not have large marketing budgets. Those with as few as 1,000 followers, sometimes known as nano-influencers, often have even higher engagement rates. If you can find one who resonates with your offering it could be a match made in heaven. The rate of audience engagement on content peaks around 1,000 followers, making a partnership with a micro or nano-influencer incredibly valuable to practitioners looking to increase brand awareness.
In addition to offering higher engagement rates and being more affordable, partnering with micro and nano-influencers offers a more targeted audience and is often actually more visible due to social media algorithms which tend to give micro-influencer content a higher profile than content from celebrities if the algorithm determines that users might be more interested in it.
However, although working with micro-influencers can give you quick access to an eager audience, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to put in the work.
Influencer marketing is primarily about marketing to influencers. You will need to spend time researching and learning about their channels and who their audience is. In-demand influencers get lots of offers and, like any relationship, it takes time to develop. To get off to a good start you’ll need to show that you’ve put in the effort to learn what they do. Ideally, try to integrate organically with your target influencer’s posts. Start by engaging with their content, like it, share it, personalise your comments and show genuine appreciation so that you can begin to build a rapport. You can also offer to publish their content and cross-promote it on social media to generate engagement from their followers.
La Croix water finds micro-influencers by searching branded hashtags, such as #LiveLaCroix, and when users tag the brand on Instagram. It specifically targets profiles with lower follower counts to maintain a feeling of authentic “realness” that particularly appeals to millennial Instagram users. Then, La Croix reaches out to them with product vouchers or other offers to post pictures with the sparkling water.
Despite its success and the increase in spend on influencer marketing, 96 per cent of people do not trust influencers, according to research conducted by YouGov and Grey London. This lack of trust is, according to The Drum, is down to an increase in fake ads, fake followers and misuse of user data.
Survey findings aside, this isn’t enough to deter people from using social media. In fact, 25 per cent of those asked are using it more than they did two years ago.
But, if you’re thinking about working with influencers, there are pitfalls to avoid and steps you can take to make sure that your relationship is successful and productive.
To combat a growing culture of distrust around influencer marketing, it is essential to establish clarity between brand-sponsored influencers and their followers. For Instagram influencers, tighter guidelines around sponsored posts have been introduced; it is important to use the sponsored content pin developed by the platform, alongside appropriate hashtags. When influencers such as Louise Thompson of Made in Chelsea fame failed to comply with these rules, she was publicly penalised.
There are some important legal considerations to bear in mind when working with influencers. Influencer fraud hit the headlines recently when it was revealed that some high profile influencers were buying followers or having a large number of fake followers, and not correctly flagging up paid promotions correctly.
When content is controlled by you as a brand or marketer and not the influencer, it needs to be declared by posting #ad at the beginning of the post. Conversely, if you have supported something financially, but have no editorial control over the content, for example offering an influencer a free treatment, the influencer needs to highlight this in their post.
Before committing to working with an influencer, make sure the influencer you are considering is who they claim to be and that all paid posts are clearly labelled.
The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code applies to influencer marketing as much as it does to more conventional forms of marketing. The CAP guidelines provide a useful and informative source of information when it comes to influencer marketing. They include:
Our guide, Social media marketing for aesthetic practitioners offers more advice on this topic.
If your target market is active on social media, it is well worth taking the time to investigate opportunities for working with influencers in more detail. Perhaps consider devoting some of your marketing budget to influencer marketing, but do not be put off if you don’t have the resources to do this. With a little creativity you can benefit from the persuasive power of influencers, whatever your budget.
At the very least, take the time to research your local market to identify any individuals who might act as advocates for your practice. But beware of the pitfalls – make sure that any paid posts associated with your brand are correctly labelled and that you abide by the CAP Code at all times.