With #blessed moments, #notsponsored video content and #nofilter thumbnails, beauty influencers are becoming predictable. The age-old debate on whether influencers are truly deserving of how they’re idolised continues; in the meantime, there are serious concerns on their authenticity. Although, I’m slightly ashamed of why I know the condescending slang for gossip, aka ‘tea’, I did think it justified my cynical click-baity title. Let’s delve deeper.
The Evolution of Beauty Influencers
When I first came across beauty content, it was the year 2007 and very few creators sat in their poorly lit rooms, creating passionate content. One of many creators was Panacea81, now a very much reminisced YouTuber in the community. Fast-forward to 2019, the number of creators and the sheer volume of their audience is overwhelming in every way possible. Somewhere during the last 12 years, creators became celebrities, and with that came its fair share of controversies.
Brands were not dependent on influencers for sales. In fact, there were a limited number of brands, to begin with. The platforms blew up, changing the trends that shape the industry. In 2007, you couldn’t watch one beauty video without the mention of MAC products; and now, the likes of Morphe, Fenty, Huda Beauty lead the scene.
I think this shift in the game started with a popular brand x influencer collaboration i.e. Becca x Jaclyn Hill. Becca, an underrated American cosmetic brand has always been a true gem across true beauty junkies and influencers, however, never has it received so much coverage and sales until the launch of Champagne Pop Shimmering Skin Perfecter Highlighter in collaboration with Jaclyn Hill. This one broke the records by selling 25,000 pieces in a mere 20 minutes to the launch and receiving a rating of 4.6 on Sephora. The success could be attributed to a beautiful product that just works. However, the same range of ‘Shimmering Skin Perfecter’s existed way before Champagne Pop and never received the same hype or sales. It took discovering the right beauty guru, who users were quite familiar with and had invested their time, effort and heart.
Thumbnails and Click-baiting
If YouTube sowed the seeds of success, Instagram nurtured it. The popular 60-second edit, usually inclusive of a ridiculous thumbnail that has nothing to do with the video itself has changed the beauty game. What once was frowned upon in the industry, is now very much on fleek (pun intended).
A brand that is a testament to the persuasiveness of the platform is Huda Beauty. The local phenomenon started with the influencer Huda Kattan, a blogger turned entrepreneur launched this brand to caters to every trend that was relevant on this platform.
What happens when an Instagram creator uses Huda Beauty products in a video? Her followers pursue the products to engage with their favourite influencer. The creator gets noticed by Huda’s massive platform and reaps the benefits of social climbing. According to recent data from OpenSlate, the top 100 beauty and style channels on the video platform pull in 682 million views each month. This includes makeup challenges, tutorials, product demos, daily routines, beauty life hacks, and lists of seasonal favourites. While initially, brands preferred influencer collabs that were based on similar values, morals and ethics. In this day and age, quantity is winning over quality as brands like Huda Beauty, Morphe and ABH are recruiting ambassadors that blindly promote products. And industry-wide, consumers are experiencing a lack of trust in their favourite creators.
Blushing with enthusiasm
The platform is powerful, the creators unstoppable. While I see influencers demanding respect from marketers and asking for what they deserve. Creators should not become sell-outs. It’s true that the industry has many gems, compared to the dishonest ones, but the sheer volume of controversies, drama and issues surrounding influencer behaviour is questionable. The creators that are in it for the passion get a bad rep because of the ones that aren’t. The number of people who get into this career for the perks alone is making everyone question the legitimacy of influencers today.
Despite all the subpar talent saturating this space, I am certain that influencer marketing will continue being the future of Social Media. Entire social media platforms and marketing is now being reconstructed with one person in mind i.e. the CREATORS. The shift I’m hoping for is the space for more nano and micro influencers, ones that aren’t driven by freebies or money, but by passion. And if you’re a beauty maven, an avid consumer, or just someone on the outside looking in, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this.