Social Media Users into Brand Ambassadors: The Ultimate form of Crowdsourcing

Social media has become the G.O.A.T when it comes to marketing a business, especially for indie brands. I remember watching various makeup tutorials years ago and the Make-up gurus or Influencers would open their pretty Public Relations packages that they had received from make-up brands that only sold online. They would do the companies color swatches to emphasize the highly pigmented lip stick or eye shadows. Make up companies like Morphe, Beauty Bakerie, Colour Pop, Juvia’s Place, etc. are now available at stores like Sephora and Ulta. These companies are a great example of how unknown companies can leverage the popularity of YouTubers or those with a large social media following to help grow their business.

Many times, these companies will offer some type of discount or kickback to the social media user. It can become a win-win situation for the brand and brand ambassador. However, it is not always a win for the consumer. Over the years, I have seen many make-up gurus go on to launch their own make up brands all while still supporting other brands. They go from posting make up tutorials and teaching make up tips to becoming a marketing machine that just pumps out videos to sell products to consumers. Many times, it is overlooked that not only are these gurus getting this PR packages, where they get free product, but are also paid to review and promote the product on their popular platform. On the dark side of this is that in some cases we have seen it bring out the “ugly” side of the beauty industry. The side that is more concerned with Capitalism and Consumerism than their actual followers. When these brand ambassadors receive kickbacks from multiple companies, as popularity grows for the company, it allows the brand ambassador to begin to write their own check. We begin to see the purchasing of luxury items and vacations, many of which are paid by the brands and the launching of a new product. The organization grows to be a very reputable and the ambassadors are making hand over fist.

Indie beauty brands are not the only industry that leverage the popularity of social media users’ platforms. Athletic brands, clothing brands, as well as anyone selling a service will reach out to users with a moderate following of at least 500 followers to see if they are interested in working with them. In many cases, once the brand has grown to a certain size, they will even pay A-list celebrities to help promote their product and build their brand through paid sponsorships. We have seen some celebrities get in trouble for this by not being transparent in letting consumers or followers know that it is not a paid sponsorship. According to Buzzfeed News (2017), the Federal Trade Commission or FTC sent out letters to at least 21celebrities cracking down on them for not disclosing that they are being paid to promote their business. By not lending transparency to the fact that they are being paid to endorse a brand, it can create a sense of false advertisement. In certain case when it comes to the use of a product, it can also lend creditability to if the celebrity is even truly using the product.

Instagram launched companies like Fashion Nova have become infamous for utilizing celebrity platforms to sell their fast fashions. In some cases, they have even collaborated with celebrities like Cardi B to launch their own pieces or line within the brand.For clothing and make up brands, it is easy to see if a celebrity has its own but when it comes to the popularity of detox teas, unless we see a video of them drinking it, there is truly no way to know. Many times, when we look at these products, they have ingredients in them that can be harmful, especially with long -term use or for individuals that are under a certain age. I think that it is important to also note that in many cases, these are the most influenced group as they just want to “fit in” or be “popular”. Being able to find a commonality with their peers through liking the same celebrities, tv shows, music, movies allow them to find a sense of community. It is ultimately a form of crowdsourcing as influencers and consumers can give direct and almost instant feedback regarding a product or service. The company can see what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong without having to pay third party to come in and do a survey or research study. It allows the company to make crucial changes within a relatively short time.

Brand Ambassadors offers many benefits as it is very little work in most cases on behalf of the ambassador by them having to do very little work to help move the brand forward, especially if taking photos and tagging the item. Many celebrities are highly incentivized making six-figures for a single post for the social media platform and then from the brand that they are promoting. According to Hopper HQ, Dewayne “The Rock” Johnson was the highest pain celebrity on Instagram making approximately $1.05 million per post. Although his status as the highest paid actor does contribute to his following on Instagram, the Rock is also very positive, motivating and physically influencing through his work out clips, and motivational sayings. If a brand can afford the rates of a highly influential social media user, brands can almost always count on seeing their sales, popularity, and brand skyrocket. Allowing them to collaborate and be exposed to those they would never have access to before. If done, ethically brands can enjoy the profits, longevity, and recognition of major brands such as Nike, McDonalds, and Estee Lauder.

Sources:

Notopoulos, K. (2017) 21 Celebrities Just Got A Harsh Warning About Instagram Ads. Buzzfeed News. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/katienotopoulos/ftc-cracks-down-harder-on-celebrity-instagram-ads

Instagram Rich List 2020. https://www.hopperhq.com/blog/instagram-rich-list/

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