Did you notice the front cover off Elle magazine this week was the social influencer Margaret Zhang? In case you don’t know who Margaret Zhang is, according to Elle she is a ‘Digital Fashion Superstar’. The multitudes that fan girl or boy her, linger over her Instagram feed for inspiration. Zhang was seen in the front rows of New York Fashion Week last year.
This is a trend you are going to see much more of this year. Ashy Bines, online Australian fitness goddess whose life’s mission is to connect like-minded girls in their local area, was on Fox/Hit FM out of home display billboards.
The front cover of Mother & Baby magazine this month was The Young Mummy’s Sophia Cachia, guaranteed to give you a gritty take on motherhood.
In the same June issue of Elle, that has Zhang on the cover is Kate Winslett for Lancome, Lady Gaga for Tiffany & Co and Jennifer Hudson for Dior. So what’s the difference between a celebrity endorsement versus a social influencer.
One has established a trusting audience, perhaps on a number of digital channels, over an extended period time. Often sharing their personal passage, through highs and lows. In Zhang’s own words “it was a kind of a me project and now it’s become something much bigger”.
On the contrary, celebrities, or what we refer to as ‘Macro’ influencers have established a recognisable profile in another realm such as sport, music, acting or modelling. A brand would utilise this profile on that brands owned or paid channels, for example an insert in Elle magazine or TV ads.
One distinction between a macro influencer and a social influencer is more than just the distribution of the content produced and where it eventually rests. Social influencers like Zhang, Bines and Cachia, have divulged details of their personal lives and built a tribe of devotees most brands only dream of.
Alyce Tran, CEO of The Daily Edited (TDE) recently commented at a Vivid Ideas event on stage, “Celebrities are for brand positioning but influencers sell product.” Social influencers have been a major pillar in the TDE marketing strategy that expanded the business so quickly. “I have never bought an above the line campaign” said Tran.
We recently surveyed the audiences of some key social influencers in Australia to unlock what this phenomenon is.The number #1 reason for following the influencer is because “it feels like catching up with a friend” (The Remarkables Group Audience Survey, 2016). The connections these unconventional celebrities drive is that of being a friend, not merely a fan. You often see brands trying to use the digital channels of celebrities for their but we see little to no engagement because that celebrity hasn’t taken the time to build their audience in the same way a social influencer has and doesn’t have the same level of creditability.
Traditional media has finally caught on and up with this by placing these faces on the front pages and bus stops around Australia as any brand would.
by Natalie Giddings, Head of Strategy & Innovation