Advertising has previously been seen and thought of as TV commercials, billboards, print ads, and so on. Advertisements have typically used actors who are hired to promote the product in a professionally produced format. This method relies on the public trusting brands and purchasing based on their trust or distrust in the company. However, the rise of social media influencers is changing that.
Changes in the way brands advertise can be seen especially in the beauty industry. Advertising for beauty has changed in a way that no other industry has due to the fact that makeup lends itself so easily to interaction with the public. Makeup artists, as well as regular people with a love for beauty, can post photos of their personal makeup looks on Instagram or YouTube and gain popularity with other beauty lovers. People with an interest in beauty have shown that they’d rather see someone’s intricate eye look on Instagram than a typical L’Oreal advertisement. Research shows that “From 2008 to 2016, color-cosmetics challenger brands grew by 16 percent a year, four times as fast as legacy companies” (Hudson, Kim, &, Moulton, 2018). Brands described as “color-cosmetic challenger brands” are brands like NYX and Urban Decay lend themselves nicely to this new trend of beauty influencers because their products and packaging are bright and eye-catching, opposed to classics like L’Oreal and Maybelline that are considered less exciting. Because of this change in advertising, brands are increasingly going straight to these influencers to promote their product instead of creating an old-fashioned print ad. An influencer will be paid to post a makeup look of their choosing, using the brand’s products.
The typical social media influencer has a follower count in the hundreds of thousands, but a new level of influencer is emerging. “Nanoinfluencers” are people on social media that do have an influence on their followers, but they have mere thousands of followers. While they may not reach as many people with their promotions, “Their lack of fame is one of the qualities that make them approachable…their word seems as genuine as advice from a friend,” (Maheshwari, 2018). They may promote the product in exchange for free items or a commission if they get followers to purchase using their personalized code. Nanoinfluencers are an inexpensive way for brands to promote products and are a reliable source for followers to turn to.
Since brands are changing the way they advertise, they should also be changing the way they pay for promotion. Influencers are shown to have more influence over their followers than ads, but many brands are not paying influencers the way they would pay an actor to be in a professional commercial. “Payment” for influencers doesn’t always mean money. Due to the nature of the relationship between brand and influencer, it could be appropriate to exchange promotion for free product. Teresa Caro, a writer for Harvard Business Review, states, “Our study shows that 53% of influencers expect money and 20% expect free products. Overall, they expect their efforts to be rewarded by something of equivalent value…” (Caro, 2013). Compensation should be determined based on how many followers the influencer has and the type of promotion. For example, an influencer with 500k followers should receive a decent amount of actual money for promotion instead of simply receiving a tube of mascara and promoting it in a genuine way for free.