According to leaked e-mails in 2014, Kim Kardashian’s list of demands for promotional appearances is (unsurprisingly) over-the-top. In addition to a fee of $750,000 to $1 million, Mrs. Kardashian West requested: “five first-class tickets, plus one coach, first-class hotel accommodations (one suite for talent and standard rooms for others in party), portal-to-portal first-class exclusive ground transportation, airport greeter service, security, glam fee (day rate for her hair and makeup squad), and a per diem.”
Not bad for a woman who’s famous simply for being famous.
The Kardashians are no strangers to endorsement deals. Brands such as FitTea and SugarBearHair Vitamins shell out hundreds of thousands for several of the sisters to post product pictures from their avidly followed social accounts. Generally speaking, some might say you can’t go wrong with working with these big names, but one has to wonder whether these brands realize that the members of the Kardashian clan have very similar followings — almost identical. If you partner with more than one, your product isn’t reaching a completely unique audience, and your marketing spend is effectively misspent (and probably put toward the first-class airfares).
Utilizing data from HYPR’s platform, the audience analytics of the Kardashian sisters (Kim, Khloé, Kourtney, Kendall and Kylie), we see that they have a combined total reach of 408.3 million. But of that figure, just 169.8 million are unique — two-fifths of the total following. To break it down even further, Kim’s unique audience is just over 30 million (total following of 102 million), Kylie’s is just shy of 21 million (total following of 96.5 million), Kendall’s is almost 14 million (total following of 82.6 million), Khloé’s is almost six million (total following of 68.5 million), with Kourtney’s unique following coming in at a measly 3.3 million (total following of 58.4 million). Clearly you could have saved a few million dollars by cutting Khloé and Kourtney out.
Favoring instant publicity, marketers are abandoning established marketing fundamentals in favor of activating big names with large followings, but little to no engagement. Additionally, if these “social stars” are from the same genre, there’s bound to be audience overlap. Alternatively, accessing a host of influencers with smaller followings is cost-effective and exposes your brand to an intimate, interested and engaged audience. And perhaps most important, an audience likely to purchase your product.
Say, for example, an American cosmetics company procured a line of famous female pop singers to promote its latest product. Celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato and Lorde are all part of the campaign. Their social stats look impressive on the surface, but they tell a different story once you delve past the vanity metrics. Of the combined 404.2 million followers, 216.9 million are unique. That’s a little over half. Furthermore, just 27 percent reside in the U.S., with interests in pop music, fashion and R&B. Very little discussion about the proper way to apply eyeliner.
This “brand” would achieve far better reach and conversion rates by activating 50 to 100 micro-influencers, such as Natalie Pinto. With 76,000 followers, Pinto is smaller in comparison, but 92 percent of her followers are females interested in beauty and 85 percent reside in the U.S. Pair Pinto with other beauty-centric micro-influencers like Grace Atwood, Caitlin Lindquist, Jessica Fay and Jennifer Janelle, and we see that of their combined 450,000 audience, 416,000 are unique followers — that’s 92 percent. In addition, 90 percent are females who are interested in fashion and beauty, and 81 percent live in the U.S.
Audience overlap can be attributed to a hidden secret of the influencer marketing industry — influencers trade likes to boost their followings, and strong levels of duplication occur as a result. While this isn’t exactly fraud, it isn’t completely transparent, either, and leaves brands believing their total reach is larger than it actually is.
As a group, micro-influencers are significantly more powerful than celebrities are, but individually, they’re a commodity. For every Kardashian, there are thousands of alternatives that can effectively reach your desired target audience. And with thousands of new influencers emerging on social platforms each week, power is finally restored back to where it belongs — brands.
Gil Eyal is founder and chief executive officer of HYPR Brands.
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