Influencer Marketing: What E-Commerce Brands Can Learn From Snapchat’s loss

Posted on February 23, 2018

I imagine Evan Spiegel woke up yesterday morning excited. Coming off of the Nike collaboration Snapchat was finally getting some good buzz in the marketing community since their recent update. But that all changed with a single tweet and no, it wasn’t from Trump. At 1:50pm Kylie Jenner tweeted out a simple message;

With less than 140 characters the media mogul caused a $1.3 billion dollar fluctuation in Snap’s stock price… and we thought we had a bad day because it was rainy.

Frankly, I’m not here to write another article giving my two cents on what this means for Snap or any other headline that we’ve seen the past 24 hours. What I think is special about this moment is the spark of a hundred dialogues across marketers and brands asking the same question, “what if that was us?”. You see, influencer marketing has reached a pinnacle the past 18 months as brands are quickly realizing the enormous growth opportunities when working with influencers to sell their product. But with that growth has come a wave of backlash when the campaigns go awry. It’s time to address the fear we all have, which is the fear of losing control. When you partner with an influencer you are communicating your alignment with them as a person, and that requires a scary amount of trust.

What follows are two case studies of the positive and negatives that come along with influencer marketing, as well as a quick guide for you to use when building out your influencer campaign strategy. Enjoy.

Straight To The Point

Case #1 How A Swimsuit Brand Rode The Influencer Wave for A Perfect Ten

In April of 2016 Elisabeth Rioux created Hoaka Swimwear, a passionate swimsuit company focused on showing that no matter your weight or size, you are beautiful the way you are. Elisabeth operated like a seasoned veteran in the first year of her company realizing she only needed one traffic source to create a massively successful brand, and that was influencer marketing. Since ‘16, Hoaka has build a community of 398 thousand followers on Instagram, and their growth has been linear from the start.

The growth is impressive and it all comes down to executing a very simple thesis, find influencers that have the attention of your target market and build a mutual relationship with them to sell your product. The partnership we will highlight here is between Hoaka, and Erica Costell.

Erica has risen to fame status very quickly with the millennial market. Her impressive collaborations with multiple brands, along with her relationship with Jake Paul made her the perfect influencer to represent Hoaka. With a Instagram post every few weeks Erica was able to drive a massive amount of traffic and exposure to Hoaka’s site, just look at the engagement on a single post by Erica.

The Takeaway from this first case study is a valuable lesson, focus on the depth of the connection an influencer has with their audience. A single post drew 332 thousand eyeballs to their brand, and the audience’s connection to Erica translated into a massive amount of sales for the swimwear brand.

Case Study #2 When Missing The Mark Alienates Your Core Audience

Almost all blunders *hopefully* start with good intentions, and the following case study is no exception. Shea Moisture is an international brand focused on creating products predominantly for women of color. But in 2017 they looked to broaden their horizons with a campaign focused on women from multiple ethnic backgrounds. With the help of VaynerMedia they launched a campaign with multiple influencers culminating in the following ad;


And just a few hours later, they pulled it after receiving an overwhelming amount of criticism that can be summed up by the words of Richelieu Dennis “At the core of it is that the African-American community has over time seen many brands that stood for them not stand for them,”. (For the Full story you can  go here and here)

The success or failure of influencer marketing hinges on the brand’s attention to detail. A simple misalignment between the brand’s audience and the influencers they chose created a crap storm that Shea had to handle for months. In an effort to expand into new markets Shea unintentionally damaged their relationship with their core, a mistake we can all learn from.

So What Now?

Influencer marketing should be a core part of your brand marketing strategy going into 2018. The underpriced nature of this channel opens up so many opportunities to large and small brands, and you will be kicking yourself if you don’t jump in now. To help, we’ve curated the following resources for those looking to step up their influencer marketing game.

  1. A straight no chaser guide to implementing an influencer marketing campaign.

    1. When it comes to quality content Tapinfluence is a golden standard, and they outdid themselves with the following article . The key points here are; know your audience, set clear goals, and define how you will measure the success of the campaign. If you are looking for a complete guide, I highly encourage you to check them out.
  2. The importance of building more than a transactional relationship with your influencers

    1. Influencers are people too, and the best way to connect with people is to interact with them before an ask. A.k.a. Don’t be that creepy dude at the bar who goes straight for the kill.
    2. When doing influencer outreach, you need to be sure you are making an ask that benefits not only the influencer but the influencer’s audience as well. Your product must be relevant to the influencer’s audience otherwise the campaign will hurt your brand as well as the influencer.
    3. For this, along with some other valuable insights check out Shane Barker’s article on building strong relationships with the influencers who represent your brand. A key take away from Shane’s article is to trust the influencer to know what type of content is going to resonate with their audience. They have worked hard to build their audience, and they know what creative works well. The worst thing you can do is dictate exactly what needs to be said and how this will drive a divide between the influencer and your brand.
  3. If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Improve It

    1. Measurement is never a sexy topic, but it is the backbone of successful marketing. As I’m writing this the brander in me is screaming, but it is the truth. Setting clear KPI’s (key performance indicators), and measuring against them is the only way to know what is working and what isn’t. Your indicators do not always have to be sales, but you must set a goal for the campaign and think long and hard how that goal contributes to the growth of your company.
    2. Convince and Convert with Jay Baer has been a go-to source for content around measurement in marketing, and Kim Westwood’s article on the 4 specific measurements in influencer campaigns is a fantastic resource if you’re looking for a “how to” on setting expectations and goals. The 4 goals she lists are; visibility, engagement, content, and revenues. I would only add that the first 3 are great when they are part of an overall strategy to increase sales. For more information on retargeting and full e-commerce funnel strategies check out our daily show #plug.