Social media influencers have continued to be a hot commodity for brands in recent years, with interest in ‘influencer marketing’ majorly increasing since 2013.

However, according to L’Oréal Paris, many brands are getting it wrong by focusing on short-term exposure rather than long-term gain.

With the launch of its ‘Beauty Squad’ initiative, the cosmetics giant is hoping to “craft a different type of relationship” with influencers. 

Here’s a bit more on the collaboration and why it could mark a shift within the world of influencer marketing.

What is the ‘Beauty Squad?’

The Beauty Squad is made up of five of the UK’s most influential beauty bloggers, including Patricia Bright, Emily Canham, Kaushal, Ruth Crilly and Victoria Magrath. 

Together, they have a combined reach of more than 5m viewers on YouTube as well as a mammoth following on various other social media channels.

Victoria Magrath, also known as ‘IntheFrow’, has over 730,000 followers on her Instagram account alone.

The idea is that the Beauty Squad will be brand ambassadors for L’Oréal, creating digital content to promote awareness and drive engagement around new products.  

This will apparently include behind-the-scenes videos of big events, product reviews, and tips and tutorials.

Following on from its #YoursTruly campaign earlier this year, and a change of tagline to ‘Because We Are All Worth It’, the Beauty Squad appears to be a continuation of L’Oréal's efforts to become a more inclusive brand.

Incorporating a variety of ages, ethnicities and styles into its marketing mix - a focus on diversity is evident.

Why is it different to other influencer campaigns?

It’s not unusual for beauty brands to work with social media influencers, however it is more uncommon to work with more than one or two at the same time.

It begs the question - why didn’t L’Oreal go for Zoella and her 11m subscribers rather than the Beauty Squad and their combined 5m?

According to the brand, it’s all about creating a sense of authenticity, and combatting the disingenuous nature of some sponsored campaigns.

While they might not have the biggest reach, the members of the Beauty Squad are well known for their knowledge and expertise in a particular field.

Each one has been chosen to represent a specific category such as ‘skincare’ or ‘hair’. 

As well as drawing on this level of knowledge and passion, L’Oreal also maintains that the collaboration will result in the critique and evolution of its products.

Instead of merely promoting the brand, influencers are said to be part of an ‘open discussion’ – with the freedom to honestly review products as well as speak about other brands.

Whether we will see real evidence of this is unlikely, however it’s definitely nice to hear a big brand take this perspective. 

Furthermore, the collaboration is also part of L’Oreal’s aim to forge long-term relationships with influencers, rather than using one-off posts or short-term campaigns.

Interestingly, Econsultancy’s Voice of the Influencer report found one-off sponsored posts to be the most common generator of income for social media personalities.

However, with 67% saying authenticity is a critical attribute for building influence, the monetary value is at odds with what it takes to generate real success.

Will consumers respond?

With the likes of Adidas coming under fire for social media mishaps – consumers are becoming wise to influencers being used for mere monetary gain.

(Naomi's original caption read: "Naomi, so nice to see you in good spirits!!! Could you put something like: Thanks to my friend @gary.aspden and all at adidas - loving these adidas 350 SPZL from the adidas Spezial range. @adidasoriginals")

So, even the decision to announce ‘Beauty Squad’ marks a shift towards being more transparent.

By highlighting from the start how L’Oreal plans to build a relationship with influencers, it creates an immediate sense of trust with consumers.

Beauty Squad is also a good reflection of the changing habits of beauty shoppers.

With millennials in particular turning to social media for tips, recommendations and advice - Instagram and YouTube are often the first port of call before any purchase.

By working with highly visible and influential voices in these spaces, L’Oreal's chances of engaging with its core consumer is immediately increased.

How can other brands learn from it?

Micro-influencers are people with a social reach of anywhere between 500 and 10,000.

With a much bigger audience, the Beauty Squad certainly do not fall under this bracket, especially when combined.

However, the collaboration with L’Oréal still reflects a growing trend for smaller yet more authentic partnerships.

In fact, a recent study found that as an influencer’s Instagram following increases, the rate of engagement rapidly decreases.

So, somewhere in between the everyday user and the social media superstar is the ‘sweet spot’ – an influencer who is able to better reach a more tailored audience through genuine storytelling.

Essentially, this looks to be L’Oréal’s aim, albeit on a slightly bigger scale.

For other brands, it could also be a great example to follow, and perhaps the most effective way of approaching influencer marketing in 2017.

For more on this topic, download the Voice of the Influencer report.

Or, improve your knowledge with the Fashion & Beauty Monitor Social Media and Online PR Training course.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 8 December, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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