In the $60-billion beauty industry, YouTube celebrities are exerting more and more influence. Beauty vloggers are changing the face of the industry, turning creative and entrepreneurial make-up enthusiasts into online sensations.
Big cosmetic companies are taking notice. They’re partnering with these beauty gurus for advertising campaigns and product placements. In some cases, they’re even co-creating new products with these young influencers.
The rise of YouTube celebrities and other “amateur influencers” doesn’t just affect marketing. A deeper look reveals that the phenomenon of influencers provides insight into where the business world in general is heading today.
Here are three things companies can glean from the growing influence of beauty influencers.
- Consumers seek a two-way dialogue.
One of the reasons that people are attracted to influencers is because of the accessibility of these online personalities. Unlike celebrities, who rarely engage with fans directly, YouTube celebrities directly and frequently talk to their fans. That’s how they’ve built their brand and following.
This is something that the 36-year-old, Los Angeles-based YouTube star Kandee Johnson knows first hand. Johnson, who has over 2.7 million subscribers, gained Internet fame by developing a close relationship with her viewers. She regularly asks her community for their input on the type of content they want to see from her, including her popular celebrity transformations.
“Once you lose touch and it’s not a relationship, that’s when people disengage,” Johnson says, reiterating the importance of remaining relatable by talking to fans consistently.
This hunger for two-way dialogue is also relevant to the business world. Social media and mobile technology have changed the expectations of consumers. In the same way that YouTube viewers want to engage with influencers directly, consumers today want to feel heard by companies. They want to share their input, and they want to know that their feedback was considered.
- Community is more important than ever.
Social media influencers are masters of building communities. Michelle Phan, a 27 year-old, Boston-based YouTube sensation with over 7.5 million subscribers, started building her community in high school using a blogging platform called Xanga.
“I didn’t relate to a lot of people at my school, so I went online and found my community,” Phan explains. “I built this amazing relationship with my community and I felt like they were my friends.”
It was on YouTube that Phan’s community really grew, thanks to her make-up tutorials, which resonated with many women her age. Since starting her YouTube channel in 2007, Phan has since expanded her footprint in other social networks like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The massive community that Phan has built has resulted in partnerships with global brands like L’Oreal, which recently launched a make-up line designed by the YouTube star.
Influencers like Phan demonstrate the power of community. When individuals and companies put the effort to building a community, people are eager to follow. And as Phan’s financial success shows, having a strong relationship with your community can result to tangible, financial benefits.
- The “everyday” consumer can be as valuable as an influencer.
In the era of instant fame, every consumer is an influencer. The explosive growth of social media celebrities shows that regular people can become influential quickly and easily. Social media has given the public a platform to complain, rant and rave about brands. An everyday consumer is just as likely as an influencer to reach thousands of people in a matter of minutes.
That’s why delivering a seamless consumer journey is more important than ever. Brands can’t afford not to provide a great consumer experience every time. Don’t discount the collective influence of your everyday consumers. Companies need to pay attention not just to influencers like Johnson and Phan. They need a deep understanding of their consumers so they can offer the type of products, services and experiences that everyday people are looking for.
The rise of influencers demonstrates how companies today are in the midst of a customer revolution. Consumers have the upper hand in the company-consumer relationship. Companies that are willing to learn from influencers and who take the time to engage their community of consumers are in a position to thrive in the age of the empowered customer.