In a world of celebrity marketing and the era of Kardashian reality, many brands have entered the realm of celebrity endorsements through social media. Most of us have seen the Instagram posts from Kim, Khloe and all of the other “Ks” where they make claims on a product that has magically “changed their life.”
But let’s get real. Did this directly impact the sales for those brands? Sure, that post probably received a lot of ‘likes’ and ‘views,’ but did it result in an increase to a company’s bottom line? Our team at TapInfluence has put in the groundwork to find that answer and what we’ve uncovered is a big, whopping “no.” An article on Brandwatch published in early 2016 even discusses a brand that utilized Kim’s Instagram to drive engagement and found ended up investing a mere $30 for 30 online orders.
Although Kim and her entourage may have huge surface level impression metrics that some would label as a success; most brands that are looking to drive meaningful results and celebrities are not the answer to do so. Kim, along with a number of other celebrities tend to prioritize their own personal brand over the brand that has engaged them. This results in an extreme lack of well-produced and authentic content.
Celebrities don’t take the time to develop meaningful imagery or videos that they know will move their audience, their sole focus is on themselves and they have a whole team dedicated to helping them with exactly that.
So how do you actually achieve these meaningful results through influencer marketing? Embrace the potential of the power middle.
In the early 2000s, influencers were defined narrowly as someone who had a blog. Today, influencers come in many forms and are not strictly defined by their number of followers, but instead by their ability to engage with an audience, big or small. An article on Digiday states, “Instagram followers with under 1,000 followers have a like rate of about 8 percent. Those with 1,000 to 10,000 have a rate around 4 percent. As the follower rate grows, engagement drops even further.”
TapInfluence classifies influencers in “the power middle” somewhere between Kim K and your mom’s foray into the social media world. This power middle may not have the massive following of one of the “Ks”, but they do have power to directly impact consumer purchasing decisions through an extremely engaged audience. An influencer in the power middle has a much more loyal network of fans and followers that engage with their content across multiple platforms. Although the power middle has a large range of tastemakers from social media rockstars to premium influencers with large audiences, to micro influencers with smaller but niche audiences; this is the type of influencer that will help make a meaningful impact.
- Stronger Authenticity: A recent survey we conducted with our influencers reflected that the most important factor when considering a brand relationship is aligning with the company’s core values, rather than getting blinded by a check with a ton of zeroes. Power middle influencers take this into strong consideration, specifically how their personal brand will be impacted by a relationship with a brand and what this might mean for their future engagement. In fact, in a combined study with the research group, Altimeter, over 1,800 marketers identified authenticity as the main reason why they do influencer marketing.
- More Loyal Following: As a result of perceived stronger authenticity, influencers tend to have a more loyal following who believe in the content they are producing as well as the claims they’re making regarding a product or service. Power middle influencers are able to connect with their audiences in a much closer way by sharing personal stories, and anecdotes that help their audience relate. A large part of successful influencer marketing campaigns is to drive a call-to-action. We’ve found that influencers with an authentically driven following have a much stronger result with a campaign’s action.
- Produce better content: We classify Kim Kardashian as a celebrity rather than an “influencer.” When working with brands, celebrities like Kim are not natural content creators and are less effective at crafting content around a brand in a meaningful way that drives engagement. That’s why you see so many celebrity selfies, it’s because they don’t know what else to do. With true influencers, they spend a great deal of time creating customized content that they know will engage their audience. The best influencers will work carefully to craft specific content for each social platform and each audience to drive the best results possible.
The next time you’re looking to make a social splash for your brand, remember to look to the middle. Research says that 41.4 percent of influencers say that aligning with a brand’s core values is the most important factor when partnering with a brand. This also means that influencers are much more selective with partnerships which results in a much deeper relationship with their network of viewers/readers. Relevance is what will resonate within a campaign along with the influencers ability to lean into their audience for engagement and feedback.
Promise Phelon is the CEO of TapInfluence, the leading influencer marketing company combining data science, technology and a robust marketplace of content creators. Promise is an accomplished tech entrepreneur and CEO, she has deep expertise in venture fundraising, scaling Software-as-a-Service, and accelerating revenue growth. Currently an active mentor for TechStars, Phelon has been a key advisor for upcoming leaders in some of today’s most innovative and high-growth companies, helping create impactful product strategies and actionable GTM plans.
As a current PR student and loyal Kardashian follower, your article immediately got my attention. Reality TV stars seem to be at the forefront of the celebrity endorsement movement, yet I do not know one person who has purchased or seriously considered purchasing a product just because it was on Kim Kardashian’s Instagram.
Reality TV shows are supposed to give viewers a true, unfiltered version of its stars. So why do the Kardashians and many other reality TV stars come off as inauthentic and fail as brand ambassadors?
Thanks for making me think!
Westminster College ’18
Although I do somewhat agree, you have to consider that the products the Kardashians are selling typically target a crowd who are interested in what the Kardashians have to say. They will promote jeans for curvy girls or wraps that make you burn belly fat fast. These products are the types of products a Kardashian fan would be interested in. I know for a fact a lot of my friends find their body types “semi” relatable to Kylie Jenner’s and after she advertised Fashion Nova jeans on her Instagram account its now where majority of my friends get their jeans from. I think a lot of brands recognize this correlation and use it to their advantage. In my personal opinion celebrity endorsements can help, if you are using the correct celebrity that is relatable to your product.
I consider celebrities with millions of followers and fans to be trendsetters more than influencers. When the Kardashians (unfortunately) decided to bring back Bermuda shorts, the world followed. I think this is why brands spend so much money for their Instagram selfies and generic tweets. Nowadays, consumers see through the cold endorsements of celebrities and look to real people like YouTube vloggers and internet personalities to influence their purchases. I have noticed a trend, however, of celebrities starting their own YouTube channels and doing things like the power middle does. I recently watched a YouTube video of celebrity Keke Palmer doing a makeup tutorial. She didn’t include any generic company name drops, she just showed fans and viewers how she did her makeup. This is something I’d like to see more from celebrities; authentic content that actually engages consumers. Do you think that if big name celebrities like Kim Kardashian learned to endorse brands with more authenticity like Keke Palmer it could actually start to show a rise in brand’s sales?
Thank you for your time!
I found it really surprising the factual evidence about how these top social media celebrities like Kim k don’t drive up your sales. I always assumed that certain people based on all the followers that they have would be the perfect person for advertising. But in fact these types of people are the worst people to show off your product. I think that’s so funny because we give these types of people a lot of attention and assume they hold a lot of influence. I guess looks can be very deceiving. I also found it so interesting that the middle man or someone who’s a little less famous than kim k can be a bigger influencer on the audience because the content is thought out more and not so self-absorbed. It makes me think that maybe I could be an influencer and take some of kim k’s gigs.
Interesting read! The Kardashians’ vast platform and consistent fan base makes it seem as though anything with their infamous name tagged onto it would have a huge influence on followers. To say that this is actually not the case feels almost counterintuitive. Upon thinking about my own following habits, however, I realize that I pay much more attention to the celebrity in a post than to the brand he or she is endorsing. This idea of embracing “the power middle” is one that I will be sure to keep in mind!