An inflluencer influencing
Not too long ago all celebrities were considered influencers. Brands paid exorbitant fees to just attach their equity to actors, musicians and athletes. These nearly impossible to measure relationships have changed dramatically over the last few years. So has the way to approach talent partnerships as a whole.
With the massive impact influencer marketing is having, brands are now faced with a new level of potential pitfalls to navigate as they look to leverage these third party audiences.
Just as they were forced to do when it became clear that not all Millennials were the same, brands must also account for the fact that not all influencers are celebrities and not all celebrities are influencers.
Shift in Thinking
A shift in thinking needs to occur when it comes to using a well known personality to bring a sense of believability to a brand’s offering. While there can be great upside in aligning with an influencer or celebrity, the risks are real and potentially devastating.
Objectives Determine Who To Use
It comes down to the objectives of the brand. Is the goal to drive engagement, awareness or consideration, intent and purchase? Could be all of those. Finding the right influencer and/or celebrity, then understanding how to extract the value of the partnership are the deciding factors between success and failure.
While the world’s most followed person, Cristiano Ronaldo, is followed by an astounding 254 million people, Ronaldo may not be a household name. This goes to show that one audience’s “obscure” is another audience’s “famous.” It also proves the point that just because you don’t know who they are doesn’t mean they can’t have a big impact on your brand.
It’s widely accepted that not every influencer is a celebrity. But, is every celebrity an influencer? It depends on which region of the country you’re talking to.
How do we define a celebrity these days?
The definition of a celebrity is not necessarily clear cut, however, we have some knowledge of how major publications have defined one for the purposes of rankings and lists.
Forbes, for example, has used a formula in the past based on money generated and media earned. Between earnings, TV/radio/magazine appearances, and digital media hits, celebrities accrue something to the effect of “points”; the more they earn, the greater their influence. We don’t often know what Instagram influencers make, although that is becoming more and more transparent as their importance in the media and marketing landscape grows.
But, even more so than money and media, the source of fame is crucial to explaining the difference between an influencer and a celebrity.
People follow celebrities based off of an admiration for their talent and the work they do through traditional forms of entertainment like movies, sports, or music. People follow influencers for their expertise that is relevant to a goal they want to achieve or a subject they are interested in learning more about such as fitness, fashion, and cooking.
Influencer or Celebrity?
Based on our definition of a celebrity and influencer above, how would you categorize the following people? (answers at the end of this article)
1. George Clooney
2. Rocio Ocampo
3. Hilary Duff
4. Charli D’Amelio
Finding the right influencer or celebrity
It’s not enough for brands to say “I want to build an influencer strategy” and then create a list of all of the famous people they know so they can start reaching out to them. And we know that more followers doesn’t always mean more engagement anyway. Our research shows that there are two primary considerations when choosing if and how a brand should work with a celebrity or influencer:
Influencers and celebrities don’t have the same restrictions on who they can and can’t partner with in the brandsphere. Where mega celebrities turned influencers like Dale Earnhardt Jr. can get paid millions to endorse Mountain Dew, micro-celebrities turned influencers like Duck Dynasty’s and Dancing with the Stars’ Sadie Robertson tend to promote products they are directly involved in (the Get Faithful app features sermons by Sadie) or products they can personally vouch for because they use them frequently.
To find the right influencer or celebrity to promote your product in the New Heartland, consider the cohorts core lifestyle touchpoints: music, food, sports, outdoors, and technology.
Once you’ve found a celebrity or influencer that mimics the lifestyle of your audience, make sure their values match too… particularly important in the New Heartland.
Over 90% of New Heartland respondents to our survey said brands who focus on their lifestyle and values stand a better chance of connecting with them. A brand’s mission should be to find an influencer or celebrity at the intersection of their audience’s lifestyle and values. You’ll discover that it matters much less how many followers a person has and more about who the person is.
Influencer or Celebrity Answers.
1. Celebrity: He’s known for his roles in film, doesn’t have a social media presence, and has only partnered with one brand in his entire career.
2. Influencer: She became popular as the writer of Mom Duty Blog, where she explores motherhood and shares tools from brands for caring for others.
3. Celebrity turned influencer: She became most recognized for her role in the 90s Disney Channel Show, Lizzie McGuire, and continues acting in a leading role on Younger. However, she regularly shares product recommendations on Instagram, where she has 16.3 million followers.
4. Influencer turned celebrity: She started filming choreographed dances to popular songs on TikTok in 2019. Within two years, she has amassed a following of over 109 million followers. Business Insider recently reported that the teenager would be the subject of a Hulu documentary. The Hulu deal represents Charli’s crossover from influencer to celebrity.
Brands partnering with celebrities is nothing new, but with the emergence of a new level of influencers, it’s even more crucial that brand decision makers really understand how to identify and use the right celebrity/influencer mix. The upside is real; the downside is real bad.
I’m the founder/CEO at New Heartland Group, a brand strategy/customer engagement agency in Nashville, TN. I’m really passionate about my cultural roots, and wrote my