Who Wins for Brands – Digital Influencers or Traditional Celebrity Marketing?

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Four ways how digital influencers compete with traditional celebrities’ reach in marketing campaigns.

Influencer marketing works and brands are on board. With the increased presence of digital influencers, the role of traditional celebrities as a marketing tool is put into question. As consumers look for the latest trends and products, more companies are recognizing a shift in these consumer behaviors. As a result, brands are turning to digital influencers as the face of their campaigns.

Previously, traditional celebrities were able to influence purchasing decisions based in large part on their name recognition. However, the digital influencers’ increased social media traffic has granted them a larger piece of the marketing pie.

Over the past decade, social media channels and platforms, such as YouTube and Instagram, have accumulated large user bases. With this immense growth, brands are looking at digital influencers and social media stars as a valuable form of social engagement for online advertising campaigns.

The popularity of digital influencers has changed the definition of “celebrity,” forcing brands to rethink their traditional approach to working with celebrities. Listed below are four key insights as to why brands may prefer working with digital influencers.

1. Social Media Presence

Digital influencers have a strong following on social media. While traditional celebrities also have billions of followers across various social media channels, they don’t present the same authenticity as digital influencers. Digital influencers are seen as “regular people,” potentially with a greater online reach than idolized celebrities.  Because of this authenticity and accessibility on social media, digital influencers have a greater appeal to today’s audiences.

2. Price Point

Most often, celebrity endorsements are more expensive than partnerships with digital influencers. Extensive experience and previous track record add to the cost of using traditional celebrities.

3. More Tailored Audience

Followers of digital influencers pay close attention. They are a self-selected, very specific audience seeking advice and inspiration. By choosing specific digital influencers, brands narrow their audience.

4. Credible Third Party Endorsement

Whereas celebrities can provide exposure for a product, digital influencers can provide a certain level of understanding and connection to that product. A Twitter study found that social media users trust influencers nearly as much as they trust their friends. With that level of trust, a brand can benefit from the unique perspective influencers have on a campaign.

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Traditional Media Remains an Optimal Environment for Celebrity Marketing

8625795674_9be45d8f8f_zSocial and digital platforms are increasing in popularity, yet TV, radio and print are still home to some of the most dynamic celebrity marketing campaigns.

While many brands are upping their digital ad spend and taking advantage of the data and analytic tools social media channels are debuting, many brands are still investing deeply in traditional platforms.

These traditional platforms have advantages of their own and remain a powerhouse destination for marketing campaigns. As the use of new media continues to proliferate, traditional media is, at the least, an important supplemental piece to most campaigns.

Here are some of the benefits of using each form of traditional media and some successful celebrity marketing campaigns executed across them.

Radio

Radio and voiceover ads are more cost efficient than ads that run in other media without sacrificing a large reach. Statista found in spring 2016, 54.1% of Americans ages 18-64 listened to the radio each day. This put radio at third on the list of media with the most daily users, behind TV and email.

Buffalo Wild Wings used actor John Goodman, best known for his role in the 1990’s TV show “Roseanne,” to voice radio ads. The brand also released a TV commercial version of the ad, allowing for greater coverage and more recognition across two outlets.

By using a recognizable and strong sounding celebrity voice, Buffalo Wild Wings was able to grab the attention of listeners in key regions they wanted to target.

Print

According to The Association of Magazine Media (MPA), a study by Nielsen Catalina Solutions

showed magazines had the highest average return on advertising spend when compared to display, cross media, linear TV, mobile and digital video.

Aveeno, the skincare brand, has a long running partnership with actress Jennifer Aniston. They have run a variety of different print ads featuring Jennifer in several different publications. Since 2012, the ads have appeared in People, InStyle, Marie Claire, Allure and Elle.

The brand used the medium successfully by executing a long term campaign with different creative across magazines with different readerships.

TV

TV persists as the media platform with the largest daily reach. According to Statista, in spring 2016, 75.5% of US population was exposed to broadcast/cable TV each day.

Pizza Hut partnered with “Saturday Night Live” star, Kristen Wiig for a campaign promoting their brand image as the company that delivers the pizza consumers want, fast.

In the ad, Kristen portrays multiple different Americans all with the same desire of what Pizza Hut can provide. The brand was able to cleverly mimic the diversity of the audience of the medium within the ad, making it relatable to many different consumers who are exposed to it.

The campaign includes a 30 and a 60-second spot supplemented with a radio spot, digital efforts and social media posts, making for a strong 360 campaign.

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Celebrity Marketing in the Healthcare Industry has Huge Benefits for Brands

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The connection fans feel to celebrities is intensified when they speak about medical causes or products.

Medical issues are generally very personal and intimate. When a celebrity makes a move to promote a medical product or cause, they show their fans a level of trust and openness that fans often look for but do not always get.

Fans feel closer to the celebrity for sharing the news and have a higher respect for them and for the cause or product they are endorsing in light of it.

Fans that are affected by the same condition feel a special connection to the celebrity and have even more allegiance to what they have to say on the topic.

For these reasons, celebrity marketing in the healthcare industry is extremely successful and useful. Here are some of the most impactful uses of celebrity marketing in healthcare.

Abbvie, a biopharmaceutical company, partnered with Julianne Hough, an actress and professional dancer best known for her role on “Dancing with the Stars.”

In 2008 she revealed she has a medical condition called Endometriosis. The disease is estimated to affect 1 in 10 women but isn’t well known or easily diagnosable.

In March 2017, Abbvie announced its partnership with Julianne in their campaign titled “Get in the Know about ME in EndoMEtriosis.” The goal is to educate women on recognizing symptoms of the disease and provide women who have the disease an opportunity to talk about their experiences.

Abbvie made a power move by enlisting an admired celebrity to bring attention to a cause that affects such a large segment of the population.

In addition to using celebrities to promote general health causes, brands can also partner with celebrities to promote specific products. This approach has high potential, as long as brands are careful to follow all regulations to avoid legal trouble

Valeant Pharmaceuticals produces a toe fungus treatment medication called Jublia. They recruited NFL greats Deion Sanders, Howie Long and Phil Simms to promote the product.

The brand aired a 30 second TV commercial during Super Bowl 50 with a comedic tone starring the three athletes.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals matched their use of celebrities with the right platform and audience. By airing the ad during the Super Bowl they were able to reach many potential consumers, and by using celebrities that made sense in that context, they were able to make a purposeful connection.

Tecfidera is a prescription medication produced by biotechnology brand Biogen, used to treat the autoimmune disease Multiple Sclerosis. The brand partnered with Jamie-Lynn Sigler to promote the product.

The actress, best known for her role on “The Sopranos,” revealed in early 2016 that she has Multiple Sclerosis. Shortly afterward the “Reimage MySelf” campaign debuted.

The campaign touted Jamie-Lynn as a former Tecfidera patient and included a website with written pieces of her stories dealing with the disease.

The brand won a second place award at the 2017 Direct to Consumer National Advertising Awards in the category of Best Use of Celebrity in Campaign/PSA. Their effective use of a celebrity allowed them to garner support from other MS patients and increase awareness and usage of their product.

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Celebrity, Influencer Marketing and Shoppable Ads a Powerful Combination for Increasing Ecommerce

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Brands with a bottom line goal of converting social media users into customers, shoppable ads with influencers and celebrities are a great option.

Combining the effectiveness of celebrity marketing with the quick and easy conversion allowed by shoppable ads creates a dynamic marketing opportunity for brands.

By reducing the amount of steps consumers need to take to buy a product featured in a post with their favorite celebrity or influencer, brands are seeing increased sales and using the tactic more frequently.

Shoppable influencer ads are not only leading to higher conversion rates, they are also giving brand marketers a clearer way to measure return on investment (ROI). They can determine what ads are performing the best and how well they are performing.

Links on social posts across the major platforms enable tracking sales from social media efforts. Purchases made can be traced back to the source to determine how many sales can be attributed to the ad.

Here are a few brands leading the way in shoppable influencer ads:

The clothing brand Loft partnered with actress Busy Philipps to produce a shoppable video ad campaign on Instagram. The campaign included a series of longer videos cut down into several clips and posted on the brand’s account.

Using the Like2Buy platform, consumers were able to view the ad and then use the link to visit the brand’s ecommerce site and see the items Busy had picked as her favorites.

Celebrity and Influencer ads on Snapchat are being revived since the platform recently debuted the ability for brands to link right to their websites.

Teva Women’s Health partnered with actress Sophia Bush to work on a campaign generating awareness about alternative birth control options. The #NoHormonesPLZ campaign included a ten second Snapchat video ad with Sophia instructing viewers to swipe up to learn more.

Users were able to go to the website for the campaign and sign up to enter the sweepstakes right through Snapchat.

The organization was able to get more entries by making the link closer to consumers and requiring less action to participate.

MikMak is a company that creates, measures and distributes shoppable ads on behalf of brands. Through their attach feature, brands are able to attach links to their ecommerce sites within their Snapchat ads or Instagram Stories.

Several brands began testing out the beta version of the service in spring 2017. GoPro, Birchbox and Dr. Brandt skincare are among those who have encountered success with the feature.

Birchbox created a series of shoppable video ads for their Mother’s Day campaign. Dr. Brandt Skincare saw a huge ROI, with a 500 percent increase in sales from Instagram for facemasks over a span of 10 days.

Seeing as all of these brands have used influencer marketing in the past, it will be important to keep an eye out for how they capitalize on the early adoption of tools like these to combine celebrity marketing with shoppable ads.

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Brands Avoid Entanglement with Societal & Political Issues by using Celebrity Marketing

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Brands with clear standpoints on political issues open themselves up to losing consumers who disagree.

Celebrity marketing allows brands to appeal to a wide variety of people and remain neutral on societal issues. Using a celebrity that is respected and well-liked will generate widespread appeal for a brand.

In a very polarized political climate, brands that make their political values clear in their marketing and branding lose a considerable amount of consumers and brand fans that fall on the other end of the spectrum.

Celebrities are the best way to stay away from societal issues and ensure brands gain and retain consumers.

A study done by the American Association of Advertising Agencies and research firm SSRS showed that consumers don’t like when brands focus their branding around societal and political issues. 58% of respondents reported feeling this way.

The 2017 Super Bowl, just a few weeks after President Trump’s inauguration, was filled with commercials that contained political messages.

84 Lumber’s 90 second spot regarded the controversial topic of immigration. It showed the story of immigrants traveling from Mexico and entering through a door in the wall President Trump has discussed building to keep out illegal immigrants.

Seeing as it was focused on such a divisive issue, the ad and the brand received a strong negative response from many people.

Not only do consumers have opinions about what brands’ political beliefs are, they take action and desert brands they disagree with.

A survey conducted by Ipsos, a market and opinion research company, revealed that 25% of consumers admitted that in the past three months they had boycotted a brand because its political leanings contrasted with their own.

With the data the survey provides, it’s safe to conclude that the backlash that 84 Lumber received on social media translated into lost consumers. By so distinctly showing their values in this ad they set themselves up to lose potential business from a massive amount of people.

The survey included 28 different brands. Amongst them were Uber and Nordstrom, both who took politically charged actions in the months prior. Uber, by lowering prices during an airport taxi strike that was in protest of Trump’s immigration ban, and Nordstrom, by pulling Ivanka Trump’s clothing line from their stores. Both brands saw over 30% boycott rate from the opposing side.

Comcast and Intel were included in the survey as well. It was revealed that they were two of the brands that were mainly unscathed in the minds of consumers.

Both Brands have partnered with celebrities in that past, allowing them to achieve likability and respect from the masses and avoid political topics.

Intel has long partnered with “The Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons. In March 2017, they released an ad featuring him and LeBron James, two very well-liked celebrities. Comcast has worked with Sofia Vergara, Taylor Swift, Cole Hamels and Matt Ryan to construct a positive and non-controversial image.

Both brands were able to avoid boycotts by using celebrities to cultivate a good public perception.

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How to Reach Multiple Demographics with the Same Campaign through Influencer Marketing

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Big brands have led the way in using a wide range of micro-influencers to reach a variety of consumers.

Having a single campaign activated across numerous influencers allows brands to access more than just the typical, narrow target market. Strategically using influencers that impact a variety of populations can allow campaigns to reach far beyond the usual scope.

Rather than using a large number of influencers who have followings with similar characteristics, brands can use influencers with extensively different backgrounds whose followings are diverse. This allows brands to use the same central campaign to connect with a larger sphere of people.

Here are a few brands who have successfully executed this approach.

Walmart

In spring 2017, Walmart launched its “Fight Hunger Spark Change” campaign in partnership with Feeding America. Their goal was as many donations as possible to secure meals for hungry Americans. Walmart used 7 influencers on Instagram to spread awareness for the cause and increase donations.

A charitable cause as broad as this one could be taken up by a massive array of people from all different backgrounds. Walmart mimicked this through their use of a mixture of influencers. From professional soccer player Sydney Leroux to YouTube personality and cook Rosanna Pansino to professional skateboarder Ryan Sheckler, Walmart covered a broad spectrum of influencers.

The result was a huge engagement rate of 23% and raised $1.5 million.

Axe

Axe partnered with 30 male influencers for their “Find Your Magic”campaign with a goal to break the cycle of toxic masculinity and support men in destroying stereotypes and using hair products.

The Haircare VP of Unilever (the company that owns Axe), Piyush Jain, was quoted in AdWeek saying “this is the first time male influencers from all different walks of life are coming together to inspire guys to start styling.”

Amongst the 30 were actor Josh Peck, cooking channel star Josh Elkin and video gamer Joshua Ovenshire. With just these three celebrities, Axe was able to reach men with disparate interests by involving influencers with an assortment of personalities and fan bases who openly used Axe products on their social channels.

Gap

For their “Styld.by” campaign, Gap partnered with multiple prominent influencers across several categories. They enlisted photographers, writers, singers, models and bloggers amongst others, spanning different cultural backgrounds, races, genders and stages in life.

Each of these influencers posed for photos wearing Gap clothing mixed in with their own pieces showing how they incorporated the brand into their own styles.

The material was posted on several platforms, including Gap’s social channels, the influencers’ personal channels and the online community dedicated to the campaign.  

Using influencer marketing allows brands to extend their target market on a budget and/or create multiple campaigns.

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Updates to Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat: What Brands Need to Know for Their Celebrity Marketing

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Big changes are taking place across the major social channels as they compete to one up each other and rise above the rest.

Brands and marketers need to stay up to date and adapt their campaigns based on updates. Social and digital trends change quickly. In order to lead the pack and get the most out of a campaign, brands must stay current and be ready for more change.

Social Media has become an integral part of nearly all marketing campaigns.

Here is what the major social channels are doing next, along with some insight on how these features affect influencer and celebrity marketing.

Facebook

Facebook announced that they’ll be releasing an app for influencers to create videos. The feature will operate with Facebook Live and only be accessible to celebrities, journalists and internet influencers, or any other verified accounts.

Brands can integrate themselves with celebrities in an entirely new way through this feature. Current celebrity endorsement avenues include celebrities posting on their Facebook pages or influencers mentioning products or brands in their YouTube videos. The video creation app combines both, creating a new opportunity for brand and celebrity partnerships.

Snapchat

After receiving a lot of criticism from marketers and advertisers who want to use metrics to assess campaigns, Snapchat has tried to match the other social channels in terms of data and analytics. They released the paperclip tool which allows links to be attached to snaps.

This provides brands opportunity to drive more traffic to their websites and measure how much traffic comes from the ads’ placement on Snapchat specifically. When promoting a brand on Snapchat, celebrities can now include a link to whatever the brand chooses right within the snap.

Instagram

In an attempt to help brands follow the endorsement rules put forth by the FTC, Instagram launched a “paid partnerships” feature. It allows celebrities to clearly mark the posts that feature the partnerships they have with brands.

This feature allows brands to be clear and transparent about endorsements. Using this tool on Instagram will keep brands out of conflict with the FTC.

Social Overall

Across all social media platforms, more tools for data and analytics are being developed. Social channels are accommodating brands’ demands for better marketing outlets and striving to provide the best place for ads.

Using these tools as they are released gives brand marketers opportunity to showcase their campaigns and provides helpful insight for planning future campaigns.

Facebook and Twitter are among channels focusing on live streaming events. This trend is another to follow as it develops. With the decline of TV, this is another potential format for celebrity marketing campaigns to flourish.

 
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