You hear a lot about micro-influencers these days, those people with strong followings in niche areas, and how they are the future of social media and influencer marketing.
While micro-influencers have their place in the marketing world, so do celebrities. For the right brands, celebrity influencer marketing can be a valuable way to get a message out in front of a massive audience.
Before you attempt to call your favorite movie star or pop idol, however, it’s important to understand that celebrity influencer marketing isn’t the same as other forms of influencer marketing. Here’s what you need to know before you try to find a celebrity to endorse your products.
Celebrity vs. Influencer: What’s the Difference?
You could argue that celebrities are “born” while influencers are made. To The Drum, celebrities are “foisted” on the public, and the public often has little say in the matter. For example, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian seemingly came out of nowhere, leaving plenty of people scratching their heads and wondering how those two women got to be considered famous.
With influencers, it’s a different story. Many of today’s biggest influencers, such as fashion bloggers like Aimee Song and YouTubers like Zoella, built up their influence and fame through work and effort. They created things that resonate with an audience and were eventually able to inspire enough trust in their followers that people take their advice and recommendations in a heartbeat.
Another considerable difference between celebrities and traditional influencers is their specialties. Influencers tend to group themselves into niches, which is why you have fashion influencers, beauty influencers, gamer influencers, and so on.
Influencers are “specialists,” as Convince and Convert argues. They are expected to do one thing and to do it well. People might think “eh” when a celebrity like Matthew McConaughey gets behind the wheel of a Lincoln. But when a fashion influencer like Chriselle Lim sits in a Volvo, the claws come out and people threaten to unfollow her for not being “authentic.”
Celebrities tend to take an “anything goes” approach to endorsements. They might be an expert in one thing, such as playing a sport, acting, or singing, but they aren’t going to limit themselves to that one niche when they sign on with a brand.
Why Work With Celebrities?
Although people might be more likely to trust influencers over celebrities, there is still value in working with celebrity endorsers. A major study in the Journal of Advertising Research found that brands partnering with celebrities saw a weekly increase in sales of around 4 percent, or around $10 million in additional sales per year.
Another benefit of partnering with a celebrity is that doing so gives your brand some of the celeb’s cachet. If yours is a relatively new or underground sneaker brand, getting someone like Justin Bieber or Drake to wear your footwear — and be photographed with them on — can provide you with a level of clout and status that would otherwise be difficult to achieve.
The Drawbacks of Celebrity Influencer Marketing
Of course, having your brand associated with the status of a celebrity has its drawbacks, too.
When a celeb’s star power tanks, so, too, can your endorsements. When golfer Tiger Woods was embroiled in a number of scandals a decade ago, the companies he endorsed, including Nike and Gatorade, felt the backlash, and shareholders lost as much as $12 billion.
Another drawback of influencer marketing is one that also plagues traditional celebrity marketing: Some celebrities buy followers. The New York Times found follower fraud is rampant among the social media accounts of celebrities, with everyone from actors to models and from athletes to celebrity chefs paying for followers.
If a celebrity has fake followers, then it can be difficult to get an accurate understanding of their clout and how effective it is to ask that person to promote your brand or products.
Examples of Celebrity Influencer Marketing
While traditional celebrity endorsements still exist — think George Clooney drinking Nespresso in TV ads, Michael Jordan wearing Hanes, and Jennifer Garner promoting Capital One credit cards — many of today’s celebrity influencer marketing campaigns happen on social media. Here are a few examples.
- Selena Gomez for Coach: Pop star Selena Gomez partnered with the luxury brand Coach to promote its handbags and accessories and to design a few pieces of her own. Gomez is one of the most followed people on Instagram, with well over 100 million followers.
- Khloe Kardashian for Amazon: Khloe Kardashian announced her pregnancy on an episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and quickly followed the announcement with a partnership promoting Amazon’s Baby Registry. A single post from the celeb resulted in more than 4 million likes.
- Vanessa Hudgens for Stella Artois: Former “High School Musical” star Vanessa Hudgens partnered with beer brand Stella Artois for a good cause. The actress promoted the company’s 1 Chalice campaign, created to help provide clean drinking water to people in developing countries. One of her posts in the promotion got more than 300,000 likes.
How Your Brand Can Get Started With Celebrity Influencer Marketing
If your brand is already familiar with traditional influencer marketing, then switching gears and adding a celebrity to the mix shouldn’t be too difficult.
One of the most important things to do is make sure the celebrity’s values and attitudes align with the values and attitudes you want associated with your brand. That includes doing plenty of research and due diligence first to make sure there aren’t any skeletons in that celebrity’s closet.
Where can you find famous people who’d want to work with you? If you’ve got a big budget and want to work with a big-name celebrity, you’ll most likely need to get in touch with that person’s agent.
Another option is to connect with celebrities on an influencer marketing platform. While some platforms only feature micro-influencers or traditional influencers, there are some that have all types of influencers, from brand-name celebrities to the smallest of micro-influencers.
Once you’ve found your celebrity, it’s time to plan out the campaign. What are your goals? What do you hope to achieve? Do you want to incorporate traditional media into the deal, or are you thinking of using social media only? Your budget and goals will determine the scope and size of your celebrity influencer marketing project.
Celebrities might not be “just like us,” but they can often be “just like the influencers” your brand is used to working with.