Social media stars are considered highly relevant by brands and agencies for upcoming endorsement work, a new study [download page] from Econsultancy and Celebrity Intelligence shows. The survey of 355 marketing specialists predominantly from the UK indicates that 69% of company marketers and 74% of agencies are currently working with celebrities.
Traditional celebrities continue to be the most commonly used by company marketers, the survey found. 4 in 10 company respondents reported having worked with singers and musicians in the prior year, with roughly one-third or more also having worked with film actors (35%), TV actors (33%) and models (32%). Social media stars (such as vlogger Zoella or Instagrammer Patrick Janelle) followed, with more than one-quarter (28%) of company marketers having worked with one in the previous year.
Agencies reported a different ranking, placing social media stars alongside singers and musicians at the top of the heap of celebrity types they had worked with.
It’s also a different picture when looking ahead to upcoming work. Asked about upcoming endorsement work they have planned, 43% of company marketers said that social media stars would be relevant to their particular strategy, putting social stars behind only film actors (50%). For agencies, social media stars (46%) were the top-ranked celebrities for upcoming endorsement work, ahead of film actors (39%).
The perceived relevance of social media stars is likely a response to increasing time spent on social media and decreasing time consuming other traditional media activities, such as TV. Various pieces of research also suggest that consumers don’t find celebrities particularly influential, which may be leading marketers to explore new ways of reaching audiences.
The trend towards use of social media stars also makes sense in light of the roles that celebrities are playing in marketing strategies. By far the most popular role currently played by celebrities is social media promotion, cited by at least three-quarters of company and agency respondents. For context, roughly half or fewer are using celebrities for content promotion, product launches, and product placements. Social media stars, by logic alone, would be highly relevant to these strategies.
Social media promotions, in turn, are proving to be very effective. Indeed, more than three-quarters of company respondents said that celebrities are highly effective for social media promotion. By comparison, only a minority could say the same about the next-most effective strategies, product launches (48%) and product placement/gifting (48%). It’s worth noting, though, that agencies are more enthusiastic than company marketers about the effectiveness of celebrities in product launches, with 64% rating them highly effective.
On the topic of identifying and reaching influencers, the report notes that marketers and agencies overwhelmingly like to keep this an in-house activity as opposed to using a specialist agency. Choice of celebrity most often comes down to in-depth research to ensure that they reflect core brand values, with that research typically taking place manually on social media platforms and forums. Word-of-mouth does play a role, though, as many marketers and agencies rely on recommendations to identify celebrities and also choose them based on personal contacts and connections. Reaching out via a publicist or PR team is considered the most effective way to engage with a celebrity for the first time.
As for desired attributes in a celebrity, having the right look for the brand (50%) is considered critical by more company marketers than the size of the celebrity’s social community and online following (33%), which in turn is more critical than their talent (25%). The emphasis on online following may be tied to the metrics used: while press coverage is the most common measurement of success, a majority of company marketers are looking at web traffic generated (73%), number of times content is shared (64%) and the number of online mentions (64%). Moreover, marketers feel as confident in measuring these engagement metrics as they are the press coverage they receive.
Overall, agencies are the most bullish about the effectiveness of their approach to celebrity marketing with 40% calling it “very effective” and another 53% “quite effective.” While company marketers are a bit more hesitant – 24% claiming their approach is “very effective” and 58% “quite effective” – only about 1 in 5 feel that their approaches are failing.
And while most agree that measuring ROI on influence/celebrity marketing is a challenge, the bigger challenge is that celebrities are expensive for brands with budget constraints. As such, roughly half of agencies expect to increase their budgets for influencer/celebrity or entertainment marketing, as will 39% of company marketers.
Fast Facts on Influencers
Given that influencer marketing being a hot topic these days, here are a few data points from recent studies on influencers. It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that company marketers responding to the Econsultancy and Celebrity Intelligence report were more likely to disagree (38%) than agree (35%) that influencer marketing is the same as celebrity marketing.
With that said:
- Three in 10 consumers are more likely to purchase a product endorsed by a non-celebrity blogger than a celebrity, with 18-34-year-olds clearly showing the most preference for these endorsements, per a Collective Bias survey;
- Close to 4 in 10 Twitter users report having made a purchase “as a direct result of a Tweet from an influencer,” says Twitter, also noting that influencers are almost as trusted as friends for recommendations;
- Instagram is the most effective platform for delivering social action (engagements / exposure) for influencer marketing, according to RhythmOne; and
- While size of social following may be important, an analysis from Markerly indicates that there’s an inverse relationship between an influencer’s follower total on Instagram and the rate of engagement with those followers, with the sweet spot for size and engagement being in the 10-100k follower range.
About the Data: The Econsultancy and Celebrity Intelligence report – The Future of Celebrity Marketing – is based on a survey of 355 marketing specialists, 53% of whom come from the client-side and 47% from agencies/vendors/consultants. More than 6 in 10 are based on the UK, with North America the next most heavily represented geography. More than 8 in 10 respondents are either primarily focused on B2C marketing or on B2B and B2C equally.