There are two types of influencers: celebrity and social media. A celebrity is a famous person, usually because of their career or skills (actor, athlete,etc), and a social media influencer is a content creator with a social media following. Many people prefer to learn about new products through social media, 85% of the Gen Z population in fact, therefore influencer marketing is offering relevant solutions to an evolving commercial world. So which type of influencer would be best for your brand?
First, let’s look at celebrity influencers. By definition, being a celebrity is a condition of fame and broad public recognition of an individual or group, or occasionally a character or animal, as a result of the attention given to them by mass media. Being a celebrity influencer means the person is using their position to create awareness about a brand or topic. A few top celebrity influencers include Selena Gomez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylie Jenner.
Now, let’s talk about social media influencers. This type of influencer has found an online following by sharing quality content that inspires, entertains, informs, and connects them with their followers. They also start social conversations, drive engagement, and set trends amongst a receptive audience, which is why they are a great marketing tool for brands.
Getting a celebrity’s buy in on a brand has been used as a marketing tool for years, however many times a non-celebrity can be a better option for a brand. People generally relate more to influencers who are not celebrities, trusting their word on the brand they are endorsing. Also, as Mediakix.com explains, “While traditional celebrities are primarily focused on building their professional career, social media influencers focus exclusively on building relationships, engagement, and trust with their fans through social media.”
While both celebrity and non-celebrity marketing are beneficial to a brand, many times getting a celebrity to back your brand is not in the cards unless you have a large marketing budget at your fingertips. When a brand has a celebrity endorsement, the celebrity is the face of a brand message. The brand sends the message to the target market with the help of a celebrity. But when they have an influencer marketing, the message is being created by the influencer. The post and blogs are written by the influencers which gives credibility and authenticity to them which is lacking in celebrity endorsement.
A brand may struggle to find followers, especially if they are a smaller up and coming business. As a LiveArea blogger shares, “For many start-ups, engaging influencers is a cost-effective way to get their brand in front of wider audiences. The average return on investment for influencer marketing campaigns is over six times the initial investment.” Influencers have built a keen and enthusiastic audience, so getting their buy in means the brand has an opportunity to reach the influencer’s following, turning them into paying customers. Influencer content is also something that the brand can use over and over. Using curated content is a great way for a brand to continuously show real-life experience with their brand without spending their marketing budget.
One brand who has relied heavily on social media influencers is L’ange. L’ange is a beauty brand selling hair care, tools, extensions and accessories. I had never heard of this company until videos of people using their tools started popping up all over social media. It seems like influencers every where have become a brand ambassador for this company. One influencer in particular is Cortney Wheeler. Cortney describes herself as “I am just your average mom who loves all things beauty, fashion, decorating and Jesus!” She posts videos of herself using L’ange products, as well as writes blog posts about how to use these products depending on what you are looking for. Cortney is a perfect example of a successful social media influencer, doing a great service for the brand. Her social media posts have hundreds of likes and shares, she engages with her followers, liking their comments and answering questions about the L’ange products. She does live videos and YouTube tutorials to teach her followers how to use the products. Cortney also links directly back to the L’ange website in her social media posts, blogs and from her own website, providing a direct route for online traffic to make a purchase from L’ange.
Another brand who has recently begun to rely on influencers of the celebrity kind is Hello Fresh. They have a new influencer marketing campaign with Mindy Kaling, a comedian and actress, best known for her time on “The Office” and “The Mindy Show.” Hello Fresh and Mindy have collaborated to create a mini-series called Meals with Mindy. This is a series of videos where Mindy cooks Hello Fresh meals, showing how quick and easy they are, while talking about why these are her go to meals to make her life as a busy mom easier. While both Hello Fresh and Mindy Kaling share these posts to promote the meal kit service, you don’t see much else from Mindy on the brand. This is the big difference between celebrity endorsement versus social media influencers. Mindy does not respond to any questions or comments about the meals. All of the content is driven by Hello Fresh and Mindy is really just the face of the campaign. So while Mindy may be meeting her contract requirements, depending on what Hello Fresh’s goals were for this campaign, I’m not sure that I would consider her successful as an influencer for the brand. I would be shocked if there was a huge boost in revenue or customer engagement just because of her endorsement.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Kaling’s, but watching her do a video for Hello Fresh does not make me want to sign up for the meal kit service. I have however purchased many L’ange products, which I fully (and lovingly) blame Cortney Wheeler for!