Is the influencer bubble about to pop?
In the last year, the authenticity of beauty influencers has consistently come into question. Being largely unregulated, the market becomes increasingly difficult to navigate for both brands, consumers and influencers themselves.
Brands are fighting to compete for a share of a heavily saturated market, and paying influencers hefty amounts to post to Instagram or for a mention in a YouTube video is now considered the norm to promote a new product.
However, the authenticity of this strategy has come into question even more in the last week. Popular beauty influencer and CEO of Make-Up Geek, Marlena Stell, posted a video to YouTube calling out certain people within the industry and the current state of influencers and how brands are working with them.
Marlena has the beauty of having worked on both sides of the spectrum; she has been a blogger and is now a CEO of her own make-up brand, so she can objectively comment on the struggles of navigating the industry in the current climate.
In her tell-all video, Marlena comments on the struggles smaller brands face in working with beauty influencers. If a business wants to grow, it is important to work with influencers who reflect the feel and message of the brand, but the cost of doing so is only increasing. Some bloggers and YouTubers are charging £60,000 for a video or an Instagram post. To put this into perspective, if a brand only sells £500 worth of product from the post, this doesn’t pose an attractive return on investment. For small brands especially, £60,000 is a lot of money to invest in just one partnership, and there’s no telling how successful it will be until it runs.
Interestingly in her video, Marlena comments, “I’ve had other CEOs of very successful, I’m talking multi-billion-dollar companies, come to me and say, ‘Marlena, what do you do with these influencers? We feel like we are losing traction, but we want to support them, but this is the amount we are getting charged for it and we just don’t see the return on it.’”
However, whether you are a big brand or a start-up, it’s evidently clear who is in the driving seat here. Brands need influencers to stay relevant, build brand awareness and reach a wide range of audiences, which is why they can charge the amount they do.
There are no signs that this is about to change. Influencers will still remain a core part of brands’ strategies, as influencer marketing budgets are set to increase by 70% in the next year.
Following Marlena’s video, a number of people within the industry have also stated that some bloggers’ agents will offer to charge $70,000 in exchange for a negative review of a brand’s competitor – a practice which just doesn’t bare thinking about. Although beauty is an incredibly competitive market, there needs to be a line somewhere.
As with every business decision, a return on investment is imperative, and although a digital strategy is hugely important, is it important to pay influencers to stay relevant or can it be done without monetary reward?
At Little Red Rooster, we believe so.
We generally find our experience with influencers is mostly positive. Most of the people we have worked with are lovely, passionate people who love what they do, and do it because they love the brands we represent and have an affinity with those brands’ messages.
We approach influencers the same way we approach our press relationships: with transparency, passion and as much authenticity as possible. To this end, we have worked with a broad range of influencers, from the hugely popular Lydia Millen to those with a more niche but nonetheless highly engaged following such as The Discerning Man and Stylon Nylon. Regardless of whether it’s paid or unpaid, we try to make every influencer relationship as authentic as possible.
In her video, Marlena cites that perhaps working with and supporting ‘micro-influencers’ is the way forward. Although they have smaller follower bases, they tend to have a highly loyal audience that trusts and engages with their recommendations and advice.
As most industries are now embracing influencer marketing, it’s clear that it can be as detrimental to brands as it can be successful. If brands are going to work more closely with influencers, both careful research and an authentic relationship are essential to success.