If we learned one thing from this year’s ISBN conference in Scottsdale, it’s that we are facing multiple disruptors to our businesses, many of which we seem helpless to avert. However there is one disruptor that we can stop. And we should stop it now.
Ten years ago, beauty bloggers burst into life, distracting consumers from established publications and preaching their new-style, homespun beauty advice. They were the vanguard of the new influencer. They quickly spread to new channels, increasing their influence and squeezing out the true experts – our licensed professionals. Of the top Instagrammers with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of followers, few are true experts.
Yet according to Havas Media, 22 per cent of consumers do not trust big brands. Instead they’ll look to these influencers for insight, but only if they come over as ‘authentic’. The phenomenon is even more acute in Millennials and younger. More than half of Caucasian millennials feel more connected to influencers than to established media, while the figure is even higher among African Americans and Asian Millennials, who traditionally have lacked a voice within the media.
Research shows these Millennials feel connected to these ‘real’ people and will engage with them, regardless of their qualifications.
But how authentic is a model with almost a million followers but who is untrained and unqualified? What expertise does she have to recommend a shampoo for a particular hair type, or a style for a certain face shape? How can she advise on skin tone? Yet that’s who our consumers are following and believing. We’ve been outmaneuvered. But it’s time to get our mojo back.
We can compete with the established Instagrammers. We have the experts with the knowledge, the enthusiasm and the authenticity. We just need to empower them. Stats from Instagram itself reveal that Instagrammers with huge followings conjure up only around 1.6 per cent engagement with their followers, while another with just a few thousand will garner 8 per cent engagement. There’s our opportunity.
It’s time to take back our voice and shove the ‘amateurs’ off their pedestal. But we need to consider our ‘voice’ if we are to be successful. Our content must be emotionally engaging so our target audience feels connected. To do that we need to make them laugh, cry, feel. We need to be funny, witty and pretty.
It might not be easy or possible to be funny or witty every time, but images will help. The eye comprehends pictures 6,000 times faster than words, and the social channels give us the vehicle to be pictorial. But we need not limit ourselves to social media for engaging content, rather we should be beam it through all communications, including signage.
Over the past year, we have being running Modern Fairy Tale campaigns for customers. The campaigns have been on fire and have captured our self-imposed challenge to Be Funny, Be Witty, Be Pretty. Campaign topics have included:
- Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest selfie of them all?
- To shave or not to shave: the question is yours, the solution is ours
- Everything looks better in color
- Your hair is 90% of your selfie.
- I like big buns, and I cannot lie.
That last one was for a section within a customer’s retail area where we collected together bobby pins, Invisibobbles, dry shampoo, hairspray, teaser brushes; anything that helped create big buns. How does a sign that says 20% off compare with that? It’s funny and witty and it is engaging consumers.
Online we can more easily capture that mood by telling our story, making ourselves accessible. I’m a base three brunette but I’ve gone blonde recently. It was a journey suggested and led by my stylist, who took a picture at each appointment. She’s been able to create a slideshow that reveals my transformation. What a great story. She put it in Instagram and got 15 per cent engagement. What about your clients’ journeys? Your stylist’s? Your own journey? What do you stand for and how are you communicating it online?
It’s time to take our voice back, and promote our expert, but not preachy or aloof, knowledge, dropping pieces of our wisdom into the pot and expecting followers to flock to our social pulpits. We need to recalibrate our messaging so it’s full of personality and interest. We must use images that enhance the story or explain the message. We have to use their language and show them we understand them, their concerns, their passions. We target consumers rather than clients. We don’t post work that simply impresses other professionals; it must garner an emotional response from the consumer.
Let’s disrupt the trend towards non-professional, unlicensed Instagrammers advising our clients and bring them back to us and our people.