Welcome to the Social Spotlight, where we dive deep into what we love about a brand’s approach to a specific social campaign. From strategy through execution and results, we’ll examine what makes the best brands on social tick — and leave you with some key takeaways to consider for your own brand’s social strategy.
Influencer marketing is everywhere in today’s recommendation-driven environment, but getting it right can be tricky. Finding an influencer your audience will identify with, find aspirational and take at face value – all at the right, mutually-beneficial price – is a challenging process without a guarantee. Fresh Beauty is one brand that got it right when it partnered with beauty vlogger Ingrid Nilsen, and the authentic, relevant connection created between the brand and its target audience constitutes a social influencer success story.
Founded as a single shop in 1991, Fresh has been making beauty products that highlight natural ingredients from around the world for nearly three decades. Transparency has always been a hallmark of the brand, especially when it comes to founders Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg, who often tell their story of being immigrant entrepreneurs and being inspired by the products and experiences of Europe and their native Russia. Being open about the brand’s origins and what drove them to go into business set the duo up for influencer marketing success some 28 years later, when they partnered with Ingrid Nilsen to create a new offering in a popular product line based on her lifestyle and aesthetics. It’s a purple-hued lip tint called Sugar in the City which Nilsen co-created with Roytberg in Fresh’s Paris lab, documenting the process for her followers on YouTube and Instagram.
- Goals: Awareness, consideration and sales were the primary goals of the collaboration for Fresh. By partnering with Nilsen, the brand unlocked access to her sizeable social media following (3.7mm subscribers on YouTube and 1.3mm followers on Instagram), which drove awareness with an audience that is interested in beauty and open to recommendations from Nilsen. The latter piece of a carefully considered partnership – that Nilsen’s followers are likely looking to her to make recommendations – is what drives consideration; if Fresh is good enough for Ingrid Nilsen, it’s a viable brand for many of her followers. Finally, there’s the sales goal: By making the collaboration a limited-time offer, Fresh and Nilsen are able to drive urgency to purchase.
- Offline connection: This is where this influencer campaign really shines as a partnership. It’s common knowledge that in 2019, successful influencer marketing doesn’t involve handing off brand-created content to someone with a lot of followers and paying them to post it on their channels. Most brands understand that and invite influencers to create their own social content, but Fresh took it one step further and solidified its trust in the partnership (and in Ingrid) by inviting her to creative-direct everything from the announcement video to the product itself. Fresh handed over nearly complete control to Nilsen, and that level of trust makes an influencer feel invested in a partnership as their own. The results? 4.5 million impressions for Fresh on Ingrid’s channels in just 4 months.
- Key channels: Ingrid’s primary social channels, YouTube and Instagram, were the key creative outlets for the Sugar in the City launch content. Fresh itself posted the launch video to YouTube, Facebook and Instagram (and augmented the Insta video with additional still image and carousel posts about the partnership, which garnered an average of 60% more engagement than its general product posts), but for the most part the brand got out of the way and let the story be told on Nilsen’s channels. This may not seem like a big deal but it represents the scary but infinitely more effective trend of handing creative control over to the influencer partner, which ensures the content is aligned with what his or her audience wants and expects.
Influencer marketing is only dead in its laziest form. The deeper a partnership brands are willing to forge with influencer-creators, the more relevant the resulting products, content and campaigns will be. From letting your audience’s real behaviors and affinities drive your vetting process to giving up creative control, the bravest brands are seeing more compelling results the greater risks they’re willing to take.
- Know your current audience backwards and forwards. When a brand takes the time to understand its own audience and uses those insights to vet potential partners, it increases the chances of adding the influencer’s audience members to its own because there is a natural alignment in what content works for both.
- Find a partner who is willing to stick their neck out for the collaboration. Anyone with a high follower count can post sponsored content or record a quick plug for a brand that’s paying them, but it’s an entirely different beast to put your name on a product. Especially when you’re driving the product development and therefore largely responsible for the success or failure in the marketplace. If a partner is willing to do that, you know she believes in your brand and will stake her own reputation on it.
- Get as out of the way as your lawyers will let you. Fresh won when it gave up creative control – of the product, the name and packaging, the launch video and the primary social content creation and distribution. The brand put its trust in Nilsen that she knew her audience (and Fresh’s) and would create a product and marketing campaign that would appeal to both.
- Keep your bottom line in mind. Consider marrying an innovative influencer campaign with a tried-and-true sales tactic like seasonality or limited-time-only to inspire quick, affinity-driven purchase decisions.