In today’s world, where so much of our lives take place online, it’s no surprise that businesses are shifting to having more significant online partnerships for advertising and marketing. The last decade has seen a significant rise in the number of people who earn their living solely online through working with businesses and sharing their experiences. These people are now commonly known as influencers, and as we begin 2021, it’s hard to argue about the influence they hold in today’s marketing and advertising world.
The majority of consumer industries have influencers who primarily use social media to get messages across to their legions of followers. In 2019 Forbes reported that global spending on influencer marketing had risen from an estimated $2 billion in 2017 to almost $8 billion in 2019. Cosmetics giants and high street independents alike are fuelling this spending, with Estée Lauder revealing that in 2019 it spent 75% of its marketing budget on influencers. This marks a significant shift from traditional advertising which focused on tv and print.
So, how do beauty businesses benefit from working with influencers? We spoke with Tania Zahoor Rashid, one of the founders and directors of the London based cosmetic clinic Aesthetics Lab to find out more.
The most significant benefit to working with beauty influencers is the increased attention they provide to either a business, a product or a treatment. Tania explained that “in this day and age where social media has a very high impact on our lives, a treatment or a product featured on an influencer’s profile does create demand. From our experience, if an influencer is well-positioned with their followers and they trust the advice, they would try and source the product or try the treatment that is featured on the said influencer’s profile.”
This direct connection to their followers plays a vital role in the effectiveness of influencer marketing. One word that Tania used is crucial, trust. Beauty influencers, and those working in other industries, work hard to create a level of trust with their followers. This is crucial because when they post a photo and write up of a product or a treatment that is positive, even though the majority of the audience will know the influencer may have been financially compensated in some way, they trust what they’re being told.
Some influencers set high standards for the businesses they work with. As a result, they won’t promote a product or treatment they don’t believe in or doesn’t do what it claims to do. This is beneficial for businesses as it not only forces those whose products or treatments aren’t performing as they should to do better, but also highlights those that already are doing what they claim to.
Another benefit of working with social media influencers is that they can often show a more personal experience than a traditional print or TV advert. Creating content showing them using the product or having a treatment done, alongside the effects and their thoughts gives their audience an idea of what to expect. For those who may have reservations about a treatment such as microneedling or laser hair removal this can be particularly useful and something which isn’t possible with traditional advertising and marketing.
From a business’s point of view, it’s essential to choose the correct influencer to work with. Not only from a reach point of view, to ensure they are reaching as much of their target audience as possible, but also that the influencer takes their job seriously. “Influencers who are truly interested in skin, looking good and looking after their skin do a lot of research into the products and treatments they recommend to their followers” Tania explained. “It is reassuring to know that they take their responsibilities seriously as they do tend to have a lot of followers who trust their advice.”
Despite the rise in popularity and importance from an advertising point of view of social media influencers, they have not reached the point where they are dictating beauty trends, in Tania’s view. “I would say that beauty influencers spread awareness of certain trends, innovations, etc. but in my opinion, they don’t set the trend, they follow it.” This allows businesses to still play a vital role in the direction of their industry.
It should be noted that with the benefits highlighted above, there are drawbacks to the rise of beauty influencers. In some cases, social media can set unrealistic expectations in many aspects of our lives, but particularly when it comes to physical appearance. The role of beauty influencers, some would argue, has not helped this and Tania did tell us that Aesthetics Lab “have clients coming into the clinic wanting to look like their “filtered” selves. Of course, we have to educate them and explain the results, and set their expectations. We also have to explain to them that the results will vary from individual to individual, but we always work with them to achieve the best possible results for them.”
Overall, the influence of those working on social media as part of marketing strategies should be taken seriously by businesses. For beauty businesses, these influencers have in some people’s view, replaced celebrities as those driving awareness of products and treatments. “With everything being featured on social media”, Tania said, “influencer endorsements are probably more valuable than any celebrity endorsements.” And this can be seen by the number of celebrities now entering into social media marketing. It should also be said that businesses don’t have to rely on those influencers with the largest following to achieve great results for their business. Tania explained that working with “micro-influencers or local influencers also works well as they have a targeted following and their audience again trust and follow their advice.”
It is unclear how much longer influencers will continue to play a critical role in marketing, but their impact and benefits to the beauty industry are unquestionable at the moment.