Sahail Ashraf posted on 24 May 2017
L’oreal don’t have a bad business model. They create amazingly high quality cosmetic products and then sell them to a committed and appreciative audience.
The market is also kind of locked for them. They have been doing it for years and their audience just laps it all up. However, L’oreal has recently pulled off a major social media coup.
It has used what could well be the most intriguing (from a branding point of view) influencer marketing work ever. It’s a fast and efficient way of boosting ‘organic’ engagement. And it works beautifully.
Imagine if you were about to launch a product on Instagram. You don’t have any kind of market budget, and definitely nothing like the budget that gets you noticed on social media. You scratch your head for a few minutes and then realise that you have a loyal audience on your Facebook page. They love your content and will happily support you with whatever the next phase in your brand’s work is. So you make them influencers.
We have discussed influencer marketing before. Grabbing a group of people to promote your product or service. It can work on a huge level with people pushing your product to the masses on a more achievable level. The achievable level is perhaps the one that most brands can make use of. Less expensive bloggers and social media stars are paid a sensible amount of money to promote stuff online for you.
But there is now a third level. It’s basically the polar opposite of the high level, celebrity based model. This new model, if it is to be called anything at all, should be known as the ‘micro’ model. Here, brands enlist the help of ordinary people as part of their influencer marketing campaigns.
This is a brand new way of doing things. Here, a large amount of people are used to discuss the product or service a brand provides. As more and more people start and continue discussions about the brand and its product, reach and engagement grows. The influencers are not huge rock stars, but they do have social media accounts, upon which they are invited to spread their thoughts on a product or service.
L’oreal managed this expertly last year. In a campaign that ran through summer and Autumn of 2016, a mass of influencers discussed and created their own content around a clay mask that the company had created. Each post was nothing less than flattering about the product, and the sheer number of people involved meant that ‘snowball effect’ was there with engagement.
When it comes to gaining that mass influencer base though, it can take a long time. And this is where a whole new industry comes in. L’oreal didn’t put the work in to find this huge amount of fans to wax lyrical about their product. Instead, they passed the work on to a company that specialises in pulling together micro influencers, people who have a following on social, but just not in the millions.
The company and its work seem to have helped. As a different kind of marketing, where what is effectively an agency helps by corralling hundreds and thousands of people to discuss a product, it is a strange phenomenon.
But it goes against what many people feel influencer marketing is. The most common definition centres around the idea of relationship-building. By getting to know an influencer and building up the relationship, the exchange will result in mutual respect and support. The end result should be an effective amount of engagement, due to the positive impact of the influencer being more than happy to promote your product.
This is a new kind of influencer. The term being bandied around by people involved is ‘everyday influencer’. They match the criteria of having accounts, but they are just ‘normal’ people. L’oreal feels it is able to try this again, and has said as much:
“We’ll continue to explore Snapchat for everyday influencer campaigns in the future.” Rebecca Cutbill, product manager for L’oreal.
Snapchat (among other platforms) is where L’oreal experimented with everyday influencers. And that’s where things become a little strange. The platform has always been seen as a little rebellious, a place where users don’t expect to see a ton of adverts and marketing initiatives. Its quick and disposable nature makes it attractive to a younger demographic.
But having everyday influencers use it in a marketing sense makes it a little less rebellious. L’oreal can pull it off because the brand has such weight that seeing its products being endorsed by members of the public doesn’t jar with the audience.
It’s not entirely clear yet if the influencers that Loreal used for the Clay campaign were paid, but it is true that they were given the product to ‘try out’. So all a brand has to do is work with a loyal audience, giving them free stuff in return for a piece of user-generated content. Other brands are doing it too, or at least beginning to.
The work for L’oreal was carried out by this company, BzzAgent. It gets people on board and asks them to offer up a review of a product in exchange for that product. So it’s crowd-sourcing engagement. L’oreal found that the crowd-sourced love brought them a good ROI. Around 2,000 everyday influencers were deployed by BzzAgent, across Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, as well as other platforms.
Everyday influencers could work with smaller brands, but we aren’t so convinced. L’oreal pulled off a great piece of digital marketing here, and saw a 51% sales lift in the Clay product. But can a small to medium-sized business try this successfully?
As with all things social, it all depends on how it is done. But the everyday influencer train is building up speed. If your brand wants a piece of the action, now is the time. Paired up with a solid marketing campaign, it just might work.