Sorry, Mrs. Maisel. YouTube beauty influencers are about to make the makeup-counter girl obsolete.
Consumers don’t want to leave their houses anymore. Why go to one store that may not have everything when you can see what Sephora, Ulta and MAC are selling and compare products and reviews online — and do it in 15 minutes from bed rather than schlepping to the mall?
As a result of buying online, people are looking to YouTubers to learn more about products they want to buy and how to apply them. Instead of getting a demo from a makeup-counter person, you now have a whole variety of people on YouTube to educate, advise and guide you, and you never have to leave home.
In response, beauty brands are pulling ads away from the traditional advertising space and repurposing those dollars to beauty YouTubers and influencers. But they can’t go blindly to any influencer.
Being a consumer and someone who has to advise beauty brands, I had the same questions as everyone else: Are these influencers really selling product? They’re outrageous, they’re in your face, they’re unapologetic and they don’t play by any rules except their own.
I know millennial customers are highly engaged on YouTube, but I still wasn’t sure people over 30 connected with them. Then I spoke to my mom, who’s 66.
We were having a conversation about YouTubers and the work I was doing and she said, “I just bought a new Shiseido powder eyeliner and I didn’t know how to apply it so I went on YouTube and learned how to do a cat eye with the liner.”
This is a woman who has always gone to the makeup counter at a department store to buy makeup. What she sees there, what the makeup girl tells her, that’s been my mom’s guide to what she’s supposed to be buying and doing. Now she’s buying beauty online and seeking direction on YouTube.
That’s when I really knew the makeup-counter girl model of sales is dead. Instead, we use YouTubers, who are at a click of our fingertips, to ask, “How does this feel? How does it smell? What do I pair it with? How do I put it on?”
The trend is only going to increase from here. So, here are some things I think beauty brands should keep in mind when engaging with beauty influencers.
1. Know Your Brand’s DNA To Find The Best Influencer Match
It’s important to be clear about your brand’s DNA when you go out into the beautysphere. You have to know what you stand for, who your target customer is, your demographic and your price point.
There are beauty influencers who are outrageous and all about color and there are those with a more natural, not over-the-top perspective. You have brands that cater to different ethnicities. There’s a wide variety of talent, so you have to pinpoint your brand’s DNA and find a beauty influencer that matches that.
2. Seed Your Product
Before you enter into financial deals, make sure you’re saturating your product to all beauty influencers. You want to hit influencers of all sizes — macro, micro and nano — to know who supports your product organically. You may be surprised to see some organic mentions; it’s not all just pay-to-play. In that dialogue you can also sometimes start to see that your product resonates with a customer base you may not have previously identified.
3. Understand The Value Of Influencers
People often get sticker shock about the cost of engaging beauty YouTubers with a brand. People always ask me how much certain influencers cost, but it’s a loaded question. It all comes down to the deliverables: Are they doing one video? Are they doing boosted social posts to support it? Is the video completely dedicated to just your brand or are they sharing the video’s content with other brands that aren’t competitive? All of those things play into the cost. But it generally ranges from $15,000 to $95,000 for one tutorial with some social asks to promote it.
4. Loosen Creative Control And Trust The Process
You can’t put significant boundaries on these influencers. You have to understand that you have little creative input. You give them a brief, explain to them what the product is and explain to them what the objectives are, and if they get it and agree to do the partnership, then they’re going to do it the way they want to do it.
Their content is extremely organic and they won’t engage with you if you try to constrict their way of operating. They know what their audience wants and input isn’t really well-received. But when you see the success of the videos, you realize you’re entering into an organic eco-system that you have to adapt to. If you find the right beauty YouTuber that fits your DNA, you have to trust they’re going to bring your product to their audience in the way they know is best. It’s much different than traditional advertising, but it works, so you have to play ball.
6. Prepare For A Plan For Backlash Before The Video Launches
You can’t please everyone all of the time. With influencers from Patrick Starr to Jeffree Star and beyond, some people will like their delivery and some people won’t. We’re now in a democratic consumer landscape where customer’s feedback and criticism is taken very seriously. I think the customer with 500 followers is just as important as a mega-celebrity because negative criticism and critique can run viral very quickly, so it’s important to be prepared for backlash, how you plan to navigate it and how you deal with it.