Because social media has become such an integral part of a solid promotional plan, a new brand of marketing has emerged in the form of influencers, social media stars with mass followings whose positive opinions can result in massive sales. Not surprisingly, savvy spa and beauty brands are taking note and leveraging the power of these influencers to help promote their offerings.
When it came time for Acqualina Resort & Spa On the Beach (Sunny Isles Beach, FL) to celebrate its 10-year anniversary this past May, the folks there commissioned various social media influencers to act as brand ambassadors. “The winning formula for us is influencers + press pickup = engagement win,” says marketing manager Jessica Goswami. “We had influencers stay with us throughout the weekend, sharing posts to their community using the hashtag #Acqualina10. The influencers helped us gain a larger following on Instagram almost instantaneously and added credibility to our brand.”
For spas and brands that aren’t comfortable going it alone, there are a host of digital agencies that have sprung up to navigate this new world. Having established relationships with influencers, they understand who has real clout and can target the audience you want to reach. “Social media has become more than just a hobby, it’s a way of life,” says Lauren Clifford Knudsen, senior vice president at J Public Relations (JPR), which also operates the digital and social strategy agency 7th & Wit. “Today’s influencers are more than casual picture takers, they’re role models, tastemakers, and drive today’s lifestyle decisions. An influencer by definition is a person who has a large online social presence that can impact buying habits, purchase decisions, and overall lifestyle trends.” According to her, influencer marketing has become part of the traditional PR campaign. “If you want to be competitive in the wellness, lifestyle, and travel spaces these days, this is not a nice to, it’s a have to,” says Knudsen.
When the iconic brand Elizabeth Arden decided it needed a brand makeover, it turned to influencer marketing to reach younger consumers. It enlisted the help of interns to research YouTube videos and search the internet for people with fewer than 10,000 followers. By reaching out to emerging influencers and giving them products to write about, the company created a successful grassroots marketing campaign.
According to Knudsen, JPR often partners with likeminded brands for its spa clients and curates press trips that target each property’s demographic. “It’s been very cool to watch the groundswell of buzz during these trips, and after, seeing comments pour in on posts from people who want to vist the property and also watching the number of followers on the clients’ channels skyrocket,” says Knudsen.
Many spas and product companies are now budgeting for the added expense, as big-time influencers don’t come cheap. In fact, in “The Blogger Will See You Now,” in the August 3, 2016 issue of WWD, writer Rachel Strugatz notes that “Beauty brands are spending millions to tap into the followings of the industry’s latest authorities: digital influencers.” And their posts are driving sales into the thousands and even millions. While it’s true that some influencers charge a hefty price tag for the exposure, influencers come in all shapes and sizes. “Remember that everyone who walks through your doors is an ‘influencer’ in some way, even if it’s just with his or her 10 instagram followers,” says Knudsen. “Make it as easy as
possible for them to be your brand ambassador.”