Brands and Beauty Bloggers: Leveraging Longtail Influencers on Instagram



Instagram. Home to photos of puppies, food, scenery, and of course... selfies. But did you know that an Instagram selfie, for beauty bloggers, is a source of income?

Beauty bloggers are the superstars of the cosmetics and beauty industry, and marketers and brands in this space are taking notice. Their selfies and content, which often times feature brand shout outs, garner thousands of likes and raise questions from fans such as: What lip colour are you using? What’s the best foundation? What’s your favourite mascara brand?

Their influence is apparent. I for one have tried numerous products based on beauty blogger recommendations (they know their stuff!). So much so, that these beauty bloggers have become makeup brand ambassadors, whether they have been formally contracted by a brand or not. For the cosmetic industry, beauty bloggers are replacing traditional celebrity endorsements because these bloggers are considered to be an authority. The combination of their unique product expertise, honesty, and engaging personalities has the power to attract loyal followers, and a lot of them.

So who are they?

Prior to their Instagram fame, many of the app’s biggest beauty bloggers got their start on YouTube by posting beauty tutorial videos, “Get Ready With Me videos,” and “Product Haul” videos. Beauty channels like Jaclyn Hill’s self-titled channel and Carli Bybel’s “the Beauty Bybel” have over 2.7 million and 4 million subscribers, respectively.

It is this power of influence and an army of loyal subscribers that has allowed beauty bloggers, like Jaclyn and Carli, to create a successful business model. However, as the celebrity of these bloggers has grown, coupled with YouTube’s tightening revenue sharing regulations, they have also been able to successfully branch their business model over to other social channels such as SnapChat, Facebook, and of course, Instagram.

Why Instagram?

The move to Instagram is a logical step for these bloggers. Both Jaclyn and Carli each have over 2 million followers (and growing!). Without tight sponsorship revenue regulations like the YouTube model and the visual nature of the platform, the app is perfect for sharing photos and short videos of new beauty looks. In addition, the app allows bloggers to create content instantly versus the hours (sometimes weeks) that can go into creating a professional YouTube beauty video.

But like Hollywood celebrities, the beauty blogger world has its list of A-list stars. Names like Jaclyn Hill and Carli Bybel are the Julia Roberts’ and Angelina Jolie’s of the industry. Their star power is huge, and contacting them to promote your brand or try your latest product line is not only difficult, but expensive. Major beauty bloggers are now being represented by talent agencies and have steadily climbing fees. According to WWD, a sponsored post with bloggers can cost a brand anywhere from $5,000 per post to $25,000!

Say hello to the longtail beauty blogger

For some brands, investing in an A-list beauty blogger isn’t feasible. Instead, brands and marketers are looking for the next up-and-coming stars - or - the smaller scale bloggers that are still powerful in their own right. These influencers are known as the longtails. While they may not boast millions of followers, they have an extremely niche following of engaged fans who trust them. Like their A-list counterparts, these bloggers have built a following based on their keen interest in beauty and their connection to other like-minded individuals.

But who is the next generation?

To uncover the next generation of Instagram beauty gurus I used the Affinio to platform to analyze Jaclyn Hill’s Instagram audience using the ‘Network Graph’ option. I then honed in on a specific tribe, appropriately titled “Makeup Lovers” - this is the group of individuals that are heavily invested in the “Beauty World” and rely on bloggers, like Jaclyn, for product recommendations and the latest trends and tips.

I then focused on the interests of this tribe and sorted their interests by Affinity Scores. Defined, the Affinity Score is how many times more likely this audience is to follow a given account compared to all of Instagram. In this scenario, I looked at the top 100 accounts and decided to identify bloggers that had between 10-50k Instagram followers. While 50k followers may sound like a lot, compared to Jaclyn and Carli, these bloggers are still little fish.

Some of the beauty bloggers sourced with high Affinity Scores included:

Affinio Jessica Braun

Affinio Hannie Choi

Affinio Lola Mitchell

Affinio Emily Fox

Affinio Ash Quinn

These bloggers have high affinity within the “Makeup Lovers” tribe, which tells us that they are resonating with this audience. What this shows us is bigger doesn’t always mean better. While bloggers with massive followings, like Jaclyn, are influential, there are also smaller Instagram stars who are highly relevant to an audience. What smaller audiences also tell us is that their followers aren’t necessarily following them because the rest of the industry is, but because they are creating content that is valuable to them.

For brands and marketers, leveraging technologies like Affinio and understanding Affinity Scores is an easy, data-backed way to detect who is resonating with an audience. The power of the niche, long-tail influencer cannot be ignored. Not only do they have highly engaged audiences, but at a lower cost, brands can leverage more longtail influencers versus spending big bucks on one A-list blogger. Now that’s beautiful.

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