Case Study: Fabletics Marketing Strategy Flexes Style And Comfort With Fitness & Fashion Influencers

fabletics-marketing-strategy

In a push to secure more of the athleisure market, Kate Hudon’s brand is linking up with Fabletics ambassadors. To better understand the Fabletics influencer marketing strategy, we sampled a set of Instagram sponsored posts featured in their campaign and evaluated the effectiveness of Fabletics influencers.

Instagram Influencer Marketing Case Study: Fabletics Influencers Get Active On Instagram And IRL

Co-founded by award-winning actress, Kate Hudson, Fabletics is a women’s activewear company aimed at offering stylish, quality clothing at an affordable price. An “athleisure” company with a strong e-commerce presence and 34 North American retail locations, Fabletics has grown year-after-year, boasting an annual revenue of more than $300 million.

Having a Golden Globe winner at the helm of your brand is an incredible asset for any company, but Fabletics marketing strategy includes partnering with many influencers across various social platforms to reach their target demographic. Fashion and lifestyle blogger, Amber Feldman, of Trendy & Spendy, writes that she showcases two outfits per month as part of her Fabletics ambassador partnership. Offering an influencer application on their website, Fabletics has a finely-tuned influencer program that’s been successfully collaborating with influencers for years.

Fabletics Influencer Marketing Campaign Encourages Followers To #KickButtLookCute

The front page of Fabletics.com features the hashtag #MyFabletics, where fans and members are encouraged to upload and share their styled-out photos. #MyFabletics has been used across Instagram 53,013 times, while the less brand-specific #KickButtLookCute has been tagged 4,491 on the platform.

Fabletics influencers using these hashtags often feature themselves wearing the brand’s latest styles, while detailing aspects of the gear inside of the caption. Many Fabletics influencers offer workout and/or lifestyle tips, with some using the space to open up about their own hopes and struggles.

Goals

  • Raise awareness around the Fabletics brand, clothing offerings, and consumer options.
  • Communicate Fabletics’ brand values.
  • Promote engagement by inspiring fans to join the Fabletics movement.

Approach

  • Channel: Instagram
  • Influencers: Sample of 12 female influencers in fitness, fashion, and lifestyle categories.
    • Three were nano-influencers, while nine were micro-influencers.
    • Most of the sampled Fabletics ambassadors also had their own blog.
    • Influencers represented a diverse range of women with different backgrounds, ethnicities, body types, and personal styles.

Preview Of Influencers

Themes

  • All Fabletics influencers are active on Instagram. Their sponsored posts featured high quality images that emphasized the influencer wearing a Fabletics outfit.
  • Captions tended to be long, with many Fabletics influencers offering personalized messages that included inspirational tones and encouraging words.
  • Hashtags featured in the sampled posts included #MyFabletics, #KickButtLookCute, and #MoveInFabletics.
  • The influencers didn’t include promo codes in their posts, but some referred followers to shopping links within their bios.
  • Fabletics influencers denoted the sponsored nature of their post with the hashtag #ad.
  • Each Fabletics influencer posted approximately one sponsored ad per month, with some influencers posting more frequently.
  • Fabletics used their official Instagram account (1.1 million followers) to engage with their influencers in the comments section of the posts.

Results

Combined Results (56 posts)

  • Social Reach
    • Instagram followers targeted: 177,212
  • Engagement
    • Likes: 59,981
    • Comments: 3,426
    • Engagement rate: 9.41%

Sarah Vadnais Takes Fabletics For A MotoX Spin

Fashion influencer, Sarah Vadnais, brings her personal style to 3,812 followers through her finely-curated Instagram feed. Vadnais’s May 23rd post stood out from many other Fabletics promotions, showcasing the nano-influencer on a motocross bike in a blooming wild-flower field.

The one with the fewest followers of the sampled Fabletics influencers, Vadnais was able to procure the campaign’s highest engagement. Generating 1,791 likes and 24 comments with her MotoX post, Vadnais achieved an impressive engagement rate of 47.61%.

Frances Flores Shows Off Bold Fabletics Solids Against A Weathered City Backdrop

Frances Flores, better known as Shaped by Frances on Instagram, posts creative and dynamic yoga photos for her 20,000 followers. Noting that she’s a Fabletic ambassador in her bio, Flores is most often pictured in athletic wear throughout her feed.

With a commanding and graceful stance, Flores shows off her Fabletics gear while looking into the camera. Captioning the image in both English and Spanish, Flores encourages her fans to “step up your game” and “evolve.”

Flores garnered 3,471 likes—the highest among sampled posts—with her May 15th photo. Her post also attracted 14 comments, resulting in an engagement rate of 17.43%.

Madison Fichtl Praises Morning Yoga As A Remedy For Jet Lag

Lifestyle blogger, Madison Fichtl, offers fans a wide range of content through both her Instagram feed and blog. Showcasing stylish clothing and “must have” items, as well as giving lifestyle, travel, and shopping tips, Fichtl’s posts are eclectic, enchanting, and engaging.

In her July 17th post, Fichtl is pictured in Fabletics gear walking with dog, Charlie, as she shares tips for beating jet lag and extols the virtues of her Fabletics leggings.

With 25,300 followers, Fichtl was the most-followed influencer of those samples in the Fabletics influencer marketing campaign. Garnering 1,808 likes and 58 comments, Fichtl achieved an engagement rate of 7.38% with her July 17th post.

Takeaways

  • The Fabletics influencer marketing campaign boasted a high overall engagement rate of 9.41%.
  • Complimenting the influencers’ tastes and lifestyles in areas such as fashion, travel, and fitness, Fabletics influencer posts feel organic and authentic.
  • Long-form, personalized captions that speak candidly to an influencer’s audience can help drive higher engagement.
  • Instead of focusing on one-off partnerships, Fabletics influencer marketing seems intent on investing in long-term relationships with their ambassadors.

Case Study: Snapchat Real Friends Campaign Leverages Instagram Influencer Marketing To Boost User Growth

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The Snapchat Real Friends campaign has taken to the spotlight, exposing part of Snapchat’s plan to win back social media users and refocus users’ interests on “real” life. Below, we explore Snapchat’s global campaign and the immediate results of its influencer marketing efforts.

Snapchat Global Campaign Showcases #RealFriends With Instagram Influencers

It’s no secret that the flagship product of Snap Inc., Snapchat, has been having a tough time over the last few years. With Instagram’s Stories swallowing up much of the market share, top influencers have migrated in large numbers to Snapchat’s more lucrative rival.

Snapchat has, however, somewhat steadied the ship in 2019. Overall growth has been underwhelming but consistent, maintaining a solid user base of 200 million. It’s also still wildly popular among younger audiences and gaining traction among those over 25-years-old, too.

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Snap has historically been fairly reluctant to conduct large marketing campaigns. Last year the company launched its first TV ad campaign, which took direct aim at Instagram in a bid to mark itself out and revitalize Snapchat in the short-form video social media scene.

This is a key strategy for Snap for 2019 after hiring two new executives in late 2018 and its first Chief Marketing Officer in April 2019 to improve its fortune in its battle with Facebook. The appointments have so far proved very successful for Snap.

Instagram Influencer Marketing Case Study: How Snapchat #RealFriends Campaign Snubs Instagram To Regenerate User Growth

Snapcaht’s global campaign, #RealFriends, seeks to take advantage of Instagram’s increasingly negative perception by users—principally, that the platform landscape is dominated by aesthetic-focused, photoshopped, posed, or otherwise inauthentic content.

This campaign push is an attempt to position Snapchat as the go-to platform for sharing real moments, and not “trying to look pretty or perfect”—as their campaign press release notes in a clear jab at Instagram.

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This plays into Snapchat’s hands as the pre-eminent “feel good” app. Respondents indicate that 95% of users feel happy while using the app, more than any other social media platform.

Snap is known for having no presence on Instagram, but cleverly used the platform for their influencer marketing push. They partnered with “quote influencers” for the campaign in a hashtag takeover that began on July 29, the day before International Friendship Day.

Goals

  • Drive awareness of Snapchat as the “happy” app for users in contrast to Instagram
  • Promote engagement among followers of quote influencers and emphasize Snapchat’s “real friends” push
  • Establish a brand voice which resonates with users on other platforms as Snap tests new marketing strategies

Approach

  • Channel – Instagram
  • Influencers – Motivational and inspirational quote accounts
    • Sample of 75 influencers
    • 35 mid-tier, 27 micro, 8 nano, 3 mega, 2 macro

Preview of Influencers

Themes

  • The hashtags used were consistent among all posts, with #RealFriends and #FriendshipQuotes featured exclusively
  • Influencers uploaded one post each, a simple solid yellow square with a quotation and the Snapchat logo in the bottom-left
  • The aesthetic remained constant, though there were a wide variety of quotations
  • The post captions all used the same template, simply saying “Brought to you by Snapchat.”

Results (75 posts)

Social Reach

  • Instagram followers targeted: 13,837,430

Engagement

  • Likes: 121,864
  • Comments: 1,900
  • Engagement rate (overall average): 1.25%

Poems Porn

Poems Porn is the largest account that was involved in the campaign. With 2.6 million followers, it is well within the realms of mega-influencer territory. The post features a quotation from Jim Morrison with the caption: “Brought to you by Snapchat. #RealFriends #FriendshipQuotes.” This caption format is followed by all the influencers in this case study.

The post received 23,174 likes and 239 comments for an engagement rate of 0.90%—slightly below the overall average for the campaign.

Positivity Embraced

Positivity Embraced is a micro-influencer boasting 24,000 followers. The account posts quotes almost exclusively on yellow backgrounds, meaning Snapchat’s campaign format fits nicely with the influencer’s established aesthetic style.

The post featured the campaign caption and tags with a quotation from musician Joan Jett, “You don’t lose when you lose fake friends.” The post achieved 1,021 likes and 10 comments for an engagement rate of 4.31%, the highest performer of any post in the campaign.

So She Slays

So She Slays is a mid-tier influencer with 327,000 followers. This account differs from others in that it regularly features personalities who share their stories on their affiliate website. Their post for the campaign notably also featured the same Joan Jett quotation that Positivity Embraced used, suggesting that influencers were given a choice of what to use.

In contrast to Positivity Embraced, the Snapchat promotional upload stands out strikingly on their feed—bright yellow on a mostly white, pink, and pale orange page. With 6,808 likes and 120 comments, the engagement rate was 2.17%, among the more impressive of performers.

Spiritual Awakening

Spiritual Awakening is another mid-tier influencer, with 180,000 followers. The majority of content on the account deals with positive affirmation. The sponsored post for Snapchat displays a quotation from Gandhi, with the consistent caption and tags that feature across the campaign.

With 208 likes and 2 comments, this post was the worst performer of the entire campaign, earning an engagement rate of 0.12%. By the standards of typical engagement rates found with this tier of influencers, it’s a low rate and well below the average of the campaign.

Takeaways

  • Snapchat is keen to raise awareness of the brand as a feel-good platform in a period when leading social media giants are receiving a lot of flack.
  • Marketing on Instagram could be the first step of more prominent campaigns that the company has shied away from in the past—it’s no coincidence this is after hiring its first CMO in April.
  • Snap Inc. is looking to build upon a recent upturn in success and differentiate itself from Instagram Stories as much as possible.
  • They want to build on the app’s popularity with younger audiences and consolidate gains among the Millennial and Gen Z demographics.

The Growing Trend Of Influencer Events

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influencer-events

By now we’re familiar with many of the most common techniques employed by brands in influencer marketing. Whether it’s a long-term partnership with an influencer or a push on a special day, competitors are always looking for campaigns with variety to stand out in a crowded space.

What Are Influencer Events?: How Brands Dedicate Events To Influencers

With budgets for influencer marketing increasing year-over-year, brands and marketers are wondering what the next big type of campaign is for the industry.

This brings us to influencer events; an increasingly popular type of campaign in which influencers are invited to exclusive gatherings, getaways, or mainstream events in order to promote products and services for brands.

influencer-event-photoshoot-party

The primary appeal of these campaigns lies in the influencer A-listers which power them, brought together by brands looking to maximize potential reach by getting big-hitters on social media in the same room. Why this trend has picked up more recently and the different kinds of influencer marketing events you can expect to see is what we investigate below.

Types Of Influencer Events By Category

Beauty Influencer Events

These are the types of influencer events that are among the more established in the industry. Makeup brands are keen to get influencers in the same posts for extra bang for their buck. They often have the means to bring together mega influencers to feature in sponsored posts.

Influencer marketing events can be extravagant. Tarte Cosmetics, for example, are well known for gifting their sponsored influencers elaborate all-expenses-paid trips to Bangkok or Hawaii, to name a couple. Naturally, these trips lend themselves well to video formats beyond Instagram, with YouTube beauty vloggers enjoying the benefits too.

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Aloha🌺 #trippinwithtarte

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Fashion Influencer Events

Similarly, influencer events in fashion is a common occurrence, as you might expect. You’ve got the usual suspects, such as Revolve Festival at Coachella—an event organized by the online retailer which attracts some of the biggest names in the industry.

Such was the popularity of this year’s event, Revolve rented out an entire hotel, hosting 140 influencers. Chief Brand Officer Raissa Gerona refers to it as their “Super Bowl”, with co-founder Michael Mente noting it’s a bigger event for the brand than Cyber Monday. Revolve’s influencer marketing events don’t end there either, with the brand noted for flying influencers all over the world for fashion shoots.

Other brands are getting in on the act too. Outdoor clothing company Backcountry recently hosted a 4-day influencer event in Moab, Utah, for sponsored creators. From climbing to yoga, some of the biggest influencers of the outdoors and travel scenes were invited to the event, giving Backcountry a ton of exposure.

Fitness Influencer Events

Fitness brands have been comfortable with influencer marketing as long as any fashion or cosmetic retailer. Companies like GymShark lead the way with gathering the industry’s biggest stars to act as their ambassadors.

As opposed to other industries, GymShark’s gatherings, as with other well-known fitness brands like Myprotein, often involve meet-ups or challenges, mixing influencers with the public for exposure.

This strategy is evident with other brands too, such as Lululemon and their large-scale events promoted on Instagram. Their ambassadors can typically be found heading up smaller events like hosted classes. There is certainly an emphasis across fitness brands on more interaction with the public than aforementioned beauty or fashion brands.

Gaming Influencer Events

Gaming lends itself perfectly to influencer events. Large mainstream events, like TwitchCon, provide the perfect opportunity for brands to pair up star influencers of the gaming industry for big promotions.

It’s worth noting that many of the brands who engage with gaming events are non-gaming brands, like Hershey’s and Doritos—an indication of the mainstream appeal of gaming influencers.

In a sense opposite to fashion influencer events, fans flock to massive stadiums to watch their favorite gamers streaming at events.

Larger mainstream brands are keen to make influencers, particularly top streamers, the main attractions at expos. Expect to see this trend continuing at gaming conventions by partnering top pro gamers and brands for events like the upcoming Evo 2019 and BlizzCon 2019.

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Blogger Influencer Events

Aside from influencers who distinctly fall into categories, there are also campaigns launched by brands not necessarily seeking to target a very specific audience. These will typically involve bloggers who don’t fall so readily into one industry or another. Lifestyle influencers are a good example of this and are popular with brands for their wide appeal across a range of sought-after demographics.

For example, Macy’s, in a recent launch of limited edition watches, sponsored influencers from a variety of backgrounds to help promote the line. Models; shoe designers; software designers—diverse disciplines brought together by a brand to promote a product typically outside of their field.

Other Influencer Events

There are some influencer events that don’t really fit into any of the established events that we might be used to seeing. Instagram’s Kindness Prom, for example, invited influencers to an event in Venice, California to raise awareness of cyberbullying. It also follows the company’s enhanced bullying feature, a new algorithm which aims to combat bad behavior on the platform.

How To Throw An Influencer Event

There are several considerations to make before organizing an influencer marketing event. The elephant in the room is the cost. This, of course, depends on the industry and the type of event needed. Those Tarte getaways, for example, were estimated to set them back a cool $300,000. Be prepared to set aside an appropriate budget to pull off an influencer event.

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Tips For Hosting An Influencer Event

  • WiFi – Get off on the right foot by having a reliable wifi connection for your influencers. At the end of the day, the whole point of them being there is to create content and upload to social media, typically at specific times. Don’t rely on their unlimited data plans!
  • Agenda – Have a clear and detailed plan for when and where you need your influencers during your event. As you can see, despite flying its ambassadors halfway around the world, Tarte still has a clear and specific itinerary for its influencers. Don’t be too constrictive, though, they’re not going to want to feel like their on the job 24/7, so allocate downtime.
  • Giveaways – If you’re familiar with the sight of influencers having giveaway competitions for their fans, it’ll be because a brand is keen to have a longer-lasting campaign than could reasonably be expected with an event. Events are short, but influencers can continue to do giveaways long after its ended, meaning more exposure for the brand.
  • Location – This can be make or break for an event. And it doesn’t necessarily mean flying your stars to a tropical island. It just means having a finger on the pulse of what your audience wants to see. There’s a good reason cosmetic brands fly beauty influencers to Tahiti and gamers have just as much impact in-front of a computer monitor.

How To Plan An Influencer Event

  • Have the audience in mind: It’s no good planning an incredible event for your influencers if your target audience is not interested in it. As we just touched on, location is everything; there would be little point in flying a gaming influencer livestream to Hawaii for a shoot.
  • Make it stand out: Influencers are spoiled for choice, with invites to events left and right. Make your event interesting and shareable. Remember; they’re content creators—if they haven’t got their phones out and engaging with the event then it’s not interesting enough for them.
  • The hashtag: Give your event a specific hashtag for influencers to use and be clear about what your expectations for it are during the campaign.

How To Get Influencers To Come To Your Event

You likely know the answer to this one already, but if you want to attract influencers to your event you’re going to have to pay up to get them to attend. Don’t rule out inviting smaller influencers to your event (especially if they’re local), as they often provide great ROI and are eager to get involved.

Once attendance is sorted, be prepared to foot the bill for other expenses too—hotels, flights, activities, food and drink. Be prepared to have swag bags on standby to keep them interested and engaged.

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What To Expect With Influencer Events In 2019 & Beyond

It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that the biggest influencer events and meet-ups are led by the biggest brands. They are typically invite-only for influencers and can be very exclusive even in those spheres.

These events will likely continue to be headed by big brands; particularly the more extravagant ones, but events of all sizes are likely to increase in popularity. Expect to see this trend increase in popularity as brands look to improve their strategies and look for new avenues to expand their influencer marketing output.

Case Study: Away Influencer Marketing Campaign Takes Flight With Inspiring Travelog Content

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Instagram Influencer Marketing Case Study: Influencers #TravelAway With Affordable Luggage Brand, Away

Travel brand, Away, has been hugely successful at disrupting the luggage industry with its direct-to-consumer suitcases and travel goods. After a recent Series D investment round, the New York-based baggage enterprise was valued at an estimated at $1.4 billion.

Away has taken several novel approaches to enlivening a stale and steady marketplace. One of these has been its use of influencer marketing, which has given the brand a strong following on social media. A finalist for the Shorty Awards Best Overall Instagram Presence two years in a row, Away’s Instagram account is now approaching half a million followers

Away Influencer Marketing Packs Its Bags With Travel-Savvy Instagrammers

Partnership with celebrities like Dwyane Wade, as well as prominent travel and lifestyle influencers, have signaled that Away isn’t a typical luggage brand. The #TravelAway hashtag that accompanies much of Away’s Instagram content even appears within the company’s product packaging.

Away’s influencer collaborations have also inspired a stream of user-generated content, adding to more than 58,000 Instagram posts tagged with #TravelAway.

Goals

  • Raise awareness around the Away brand and its line of luggage and travel accessories.
  • Encourage engagement and user-generated content through Away influencer marketing posts.

Approach

  • Channel – Instagram
  • Influencers – Away influencer marketing worked with travel, lifestyle, and fashion personalities from around the world. Of the 13 influencers sampled, two were male and 11 were female. Seven were mid-tier influencers, while five were micro-influencers, and one was a macro-influencer.

Preview Of Influencers

Themes

  • Backdrops for the sampled posts ranged from outdoor destinations, to hotel rooms, to transportation spots and beyond.
  • Away’s products took center stage in some of the posts, while others incorporated the luggage in a more subtle way.
  • Twelve of the Away influencer marketing posts were single-photo, while one was a multi-image post that included a video.
  • All but one influencer tagged @away in their posts, and the majority denoted sponsorship via hashtags #ad and/or #sponsored, with a few using the more vague term “gifted.”
  • #TravelAway was the dominant campaign hashtag, while a small number of influencers used #awaytravel and one influencer used #travelwithaway.

Results

Combined Results [13 sampled posts]

Social Reach

  • Instagram followers targeted: 1,691,100

Engagement

  • Likes: 58,089
  • Comments: 1,090
  • Engagement rate (overall average): 5.22%

Phil Cohen Lays Out His Stylish Travel Wardrobe

Art director and style aficionado, Phil Cohen, is a 2017 Shorty Awards fashion nominee with 747,000 followers on Instagram. One of two male influencers in the campaign, Cohen was the only macro-influencer and the most-followed Instagram personality of those sampled.

In his trademark aesthetic, Cohen’s #TravelAway post featured Away’s The Weekender bag among a neatly-organized layout of clothing. Describing some of the bag’s hidden features in the caption, Cohen referred followers to his Stories and the link in his bio for more details.

Cohen’s post received 11,354 likes and 98 comments, generating an engagement rate of 1.53%. The image simultaneously yielded the most likes and lowest engagement rate among the sampled posts.

Hegia de Boer Brings Her Followers On A Journey

The Netherlands-based, Hegia de Boer is a mid-tier influencer who broadcasts to 96,700 followers on Instagram. With a background in architecture, Hegia offers classical design and fashion content throughout her meticulously-curated feed.

Hegia also highlighted The Weekender duffle in her #TravelAway post, featuring two images and one video. The sequenced portrait showcased the bag in different settings and situations, making the content play like a mini-travelog.

With an impressive 10,585 likes, Hegia’s post received the most comments in the campaign at 261, and had the highest engagement rate at 11.22%.

Fatima Abdallah Highlights Travel Ease and Versatility

New York-based Fatima Abdallah is a mid-tier fashion and lifestyle influencer who offers more than just trendsetting images to her 111,000 Instagram followers. A social advocate, Fatima encourages fans to “embrace what makes you different” in her bio, while also including a fundraising link to aid Syrian refugees.

Fatima’s #TravelAway post also featured Away’s The Weekender bag. Pictured at a train station with an on-the-go vibe, Fatima’s post is an organic-feeling alternative to some of the other more polished and stylized photos from the campaign. In her caption, Fatima also departs from highlighting the duffle’s material features in favor of recommending the bag for various kinds of journeys and travel.

With 3,161 likes and 41 comments, Fatima’s post garnered an engagement rate of 2.88%.

Bayley Junes And Oly Take to the Road

Bayley June Stevenson—Bayley Junes on Instagram—is a lifestyle photographer and videographer based in the Pacific Northwest. With 17,100 fans to her Instagram, Bayley June was had the least number of followers among sampled influencers.

For her #TravelAway post, Bayley June snapped a photo of a traveling companion next to an Away duffle bag in the back of her Volkswagen Westfalia. Mentioning how much she enjoyed road-tripping with others (and her Vanagon “Oly”), Bayley Junes ended her caption by crediting The Weekender with helping her to stay organized.

While Bayley Junes was the least-followed Instagrammer for Away’s influencer marketing campaign, the lifestyle influencer received 1,228 likes and 27 comments, which produced a higher-than-average engagement rate of 7.34%.

Takeaways

  • Away influencer marketing has found a way to turn product photos into captivating content.
  • Campaigns with a strong theme can utilize a wide range of influencers without seeming unfocused or wayward.
  • The size of an influencer isn’t necessarily indicative of the number of likes or comments a post will receive.
  • Posts that tell a story have the potential to create higher engagement.

FDA & FTC Warning Letters: How Influencers Should Promote E-Liquids

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It’s no secret that the influencer marketing industry has a tricky relationship with the FTC with regards to guideline compliance. There have been numerous instances of run-ins between influencers and the FTC, almost all of them caused by sponsored parties failing to disclose the nature of their endorsements in their material.

Estimates suggest that 93% of top celebrities neglect to appropriately signal their relationships with brands during social media campaigns. In 2017, FTC warning letters were sent to over 90 celebs, influencers, and brands who violated endorsement guidelines. In a market where the primary bargaining chip is trust between the influencer and the audience, it’s imperative to not take its effectiveness for granted.

As the industry continues to expand dramatically towards the end of this decade, the importance of brands, influencers, and agencies to play by the rules will become a primary consideration. You only have to look at the debacle Kim Kardashian found herself in with the FDA back in 2015 by failing to adhere to the correct standards.

FTC Warns Vaping Influencers

The vaping industry is the latest industry to have run into issues with FTC and FDA compliance this year. Whether that is because influencers have been callous or because they haven’t been given a structured program for best sponsorship practices is what we’re going to discuss today.

Either way, it’s vital that marketers and influencers learn how to execute a bulletproof campaign without running into compliance issues.

FTC Warning Letters Aim to Evaporate Misleading Influencer Sponsored Posts By Including Health Warnings

Vape products are in an interesting position as far as influencer marketing goes. Typically, brands and influencers fall foul of either FTC or FDA guidelines. E-liquid promotions run the risk of failing both, meaning sponsored posts need to be extra careful in their social media campaigns.

Not only do posts have to disclose the sponsor behind the campaign, but they also have to abide by the correct disclosures required and outlined by the FDA concerning health risks and concerns applicable to consumers.

In light of this, the FTC and FDA have jointly sent warnings to four companies:

  • Solace Vapor
  • Hype City Vapors
  • Humble Juice
  • Artist Liquids Laboratories

The FTC warning letters highlighted that influencer campaigns pushed by the brands ‘fail[ed] to disclose material health or safety risks in advertising.’ The FDA stated that their posts failed to include a required federal warning that the item promoted included nicotine.

Let’s have a look at some examples of e-liquid posts that get it right; and those that get it wrong.

Vaping Influencers

Deceptive Influencer Marketing Of Vape Products

Shontel Anestasia is a nano-influencer based in New York City. Her post is an endorsement of e-liquid brand, Humble Juice, and features a short caption with no disclosure tags and a @humblejuiceco reference. The engagement for the post was an impressive 7.7%—an indication of the power of utilizing smaller influencers in campaigns.

Andrew Reed is another nano-influencer nearing 3,000 followers, collaborating with Hype City Vapors. He features a short, personalized caption with an ‘advertisement’ disclosure at the end. He does fall short of FDA regulations, however, by failing to disclose the health concerns of the endorsed product.

Elissa Lynn is an ambassador for Artist Liquids Laboratories. Her post is excellent from a pure social media marketing standpoint, with an artful image, great caption, good tag use, and a compelling call-to-action. From a compliance standpoint, it does not abide by FDA guidelines.

This New Jersey-based micro-influencer maintains endorsements from several brands; this post featuring an Artist Liquid Lab product. If sponsored, the post doesn’t acknowledge the partnership, while also lacking FDA compliance.

It’s worth noting, however, that the image shows the health warnings on the product packaging, and the influencer consistently abides by FDA regulations in his other posts with the use of banners. It doesn’t feature the now-popular banner across the top of the image. Just to stay on the safe side, exercise caution and state in the caption or with an image banner.

Proper Disclosure Of Vape Product Health Risks

Vapingkamea is a mid-tier influencer with 60,000 followers endorsed by Solace Vapor. Her post features an image with a warning banner and a short caption with a nicotine warning along with the appropriate #ad within the tags. This is a typical example of a post that adheres to both FTC and FDA regulations.

Farrah is by far the biggest influencer on our list. With 235K followers. She is comfortably in the mid-tier of social media influencers and has a large audience, styling herself as a ‘vape promoter’ after quitting from 15 years of smoking.

Her post has a short caption with the FTC-compliant #ad and #sponsored tags, in addition to the familiar banner that we will become more accustomed to with smoking- and vaping-related promotions.

Will The FTC Regulate Soon Regulate The Promotion Of Detox Teas, Too?

As we’ve seen in these examples, correct disclosure by influencers can be difficult. As marketers and brands continue to use strategies of sponsoring smaller influencers, it’s almost a certainty that non-compliance with guidelines will occur and some will slip through the cracks.

Unlike larger influencers, nano- or micro-influencers may lack the knowledge or direction to appropriately comply with regulations.

It’s not just vaping brands that will have run-ins with federal agencies over influencer marketing. The latest concern regards the promotion of detox teas which claim weight-loss benefits for consumers.

This post, for example, is FTC-compliant, with a clear indication that the post is sponsored by Flat Tummy Co., but there is a gray area with the promotion.

The brand is careful not to express specific medical or health benefits of their tea, but a significant number of posts clearly position the tea as a supplement to weight-loss for women.

None of the sponsored posts outline any direct health benefits or adverse effects from consuming their product, raising concerns of transparency from brands using influencer marketing to reach out to audiences.

When pharmaceutical brands ran into similar issues, they were quick to navigate the FDA and FTC obstacles by instead opting to partner with influencers without promoting individual products. They often form partnerships to promote a cause, avoiding directly endorsing consumer products—more importantly, they can also avoid those off-putting health warnings required by the FDA.

E-Liquid Product Companies Are Responsible For Ensuring Influencers Disclose Health Warnings To Protect Consumers

As an industry, influencer marketing is only as strong as the trust that influencers can enjoy from their audiences. That trust is principally maintained through openness and transparency.

It’s vital that brands and influencers do not take advantage of the relationships built with audiences. It’s generally the case that online audiences are pretty switched-on when it comes to perceptions of influencer marketing, and are good at separating a poorly considered campaign from a successful one.

There is, however, a unique determination to be made regarding the social media marketing of products that can have direct effects on a consumer’s health (positive or adverse)—something that predominantly concerns certain industries such as medicine.

With regards to e-liquids, the FDA and FTC warning letters are clear indications that they will be willing to step in if they feel that certain products are being marketed without the correct compliance.

Like pharmaceutical brands, e-liquid or nutrition brands may conclude that complying by FDA rules is too much of a turn-off for their consumers, in which case they may seek to try different approaches that don’t directly advertise specific products to get around them.

It will be up to the governing bodies to ensure that the playing field is level for brands of all industries, and it’s up to marketers and influencers to maintain transparency and continue building strong relationships with their audiences.

Revolve Influencer Marketing Propels Brand To $1.2 Billion Valuation

revolve-influencer-marketing-ipo
revolve-influencer-marketing-ipo

If you’re unfamiliar with the online fashion retailing giant Revolve, now is a good time to get to grips with it. For years, Revolve influencer marketing has been an effective, watertight blueprint for other brands and now possesses an extensive network of thousands of social media stars bigging up the brand. In anticipation of its recent IPO, the company was given a market capitalization value of nearly $1.5 billion.

Revolve Influencers Drummed Up Interest From Investors & Set The Trend For Influencer Marketing

Revolve’s rise to become one of the major fashion retailers in the country since its early days in 2003 is in large part due to its pioneering influencer marketing strategy, which has been in operation since the fledgling days of the industry. It has a substantial Instagram following of 3 million and hires everyone from Kendall Jenner and her 112 million followers to smaller micro-influencers in the thousands to promote their brand.

It should come as no surprise that Revolve shaped up well for its IPO. It has a history of having a finger on the pulse for tapping into the crucial Millennial and Gen Z markets, utilizing every influencer tier to drive engagement. As our very own Evan Asano says,

Revolve was a very early player in influencer marketing and is still one of the most prominent names in the space.”

At present, the social media marketing of Revolve is a business unto itself. It has poured (and continues to pour) money into the influencer marketing budget, accruing an enormous roster of 3,500 influencers who collectively drive an estimated 70% of sales for the company, despite only making up a very reasonable 25% of the annual marketing budget.

Needless to say, it’s the company that sets the trend in the influencer marketing industry.

Revolve’s Influencer Marketing Strategy

Revolve was quick to get ahead of the game early on, using fashion bloggers for promotion in the late 2000s and early- to mid-2010s by sending them free clothes in the hopes they would talk them up. Popular bloggers like Aimee Song (Song of Style) and Shea Marie (Peace Love Shea) became regular fixtures of the strategy, using their online profiles to reach out to key audiences.

Whether it was a New Year trip to Mexico or a packing list for a visit to the Hamptons, Revolve was beginning to grasp opportunities to engage with the Millennial demographic by getting their product noticed by trendsetters online.

Instagram’s rapid rise in the last few years has meant it is now the preeminent force in influencer marketing, with businesses spending $1.7 billion on marketing on the platform. Revolve’s strategy remains much the same as it did 10 years ago, flying their stars to exclusive locations and throwing lavish parties at Coachella. Only now Instagram is undoubtedly the most important factor for them.

Revolve doubled down by curating a strategy that didn’t market at their audience, but instead positioned itself as an indispensable fashion partner for influencers. As Revolve has become an important status symbol for so many, stars want to be seen as part of its brand and want to be engaged in its extravagant activations.

In return, Revolve requires its influencers during events to post twice a day using pre-designated hashtags to promote the brand. A small price to pay for most.

Revolve In-House Influencer Collection

Revolve has more recently sought to establish its own brand of in-house clothing, curating an array of collections to sell directly to consumers. This is including a collection from the aforementioned Song, who is the first influencer to engage in a long-term in-house partnership for Revolve.

Having in-house collections is the start of a new strategy for Revolve. With an established brand and large online following among the key Millennial and Gen Z demographics, it is well-placed to start introducing its own product lines with support from its influencers. They have their audience locked-in, now they want to take full advantage and be a major fashion producer in their own right.

In addition to the obvious monetary value in cutting out the middleman and building in-house brands, Revolve is quick to note that designing and manufacturing its own products allows the company to stay sure-footed in an industry that can change direction in an instant.

Having their own brands offers them the opportunity to quickly release a new piece of clothing if they feel it will perform well. It is, after all, a brand built on data, not fashion. Its founders, Michael Mente and Mike Karanikolas, have no background in fashion but instead have expertise in data and business.

Analytics is the key driver of the brand and the primary reason for their great successes over the last 15 years. If their audience responds well to something: make more. If it doesn’t: cut it. An in-house assortment of brands and collections is seen as the natural next step forward for Revolve.

Revolve Influencer Events

Much of Revolve’s success can be attributed to its events, which function as one of the core pillars of its marketing efforts. Revolve’s calendar of exotic trips and parties is spectacular, and its influencers would likely agree—given Revolve foots the bill for all of them.

#RevolveInTheHamptons

The Hamptons trip is exclusive for Revolve’s most-followed influencers. They invite 20 of their latest and greatest stars to stay at a $37,500-per-month home—along with $2,000 dollars clothing credit, and an appearance fee to boot.

#RevolveSummer

A two-week activation in Bermuda for a line-up of 75 top influencers, starting in 2018 and created to replace the Hamptons trip. Dining, pools, beach parties, yachts—you name it, it’s there.

#RevolveFestival

The annual #RevolveFestival at Coachella, which has become an event unto itself in many ways, even to the point of overshadowing the main event. It is one of the most exclusive parties and returned in 2019 for its fourth year, featuring the likes of SZA and 2 Chainz.

Why Revolve Influencer Marketing Is Successful

Revolve might spend much of its time presenting an exclusive brand for the most exclusive influencers in the industry, but the fact is that it is a company that is enormously successful at appealing to its key demographic of young women.

Its top influencers may be in the stratosphere of the social media world, but many hundreds of its huge network of thousands of influencers command far more modest followings. Their influencer strategy relies just as strongly on micro- and mid-tier influencers as it does on its stars.

With the help of influencers, Revolve has successfully bridged the gap between fashion and influencers in a way that few others have been able to replicate. Helped no less by the brand hashtag of choice, #RevolveAroundTheWorld, used by almost every influencer around the world to promote its products.

It’s one of the primary reasons for their success: an ability to use social media reach out to as large an audience as possible. With 3,500 brand ambassadors; you’re casting a very wide net. In this way, they’ve been able to present themselves as a relatable brand offering affordable, yet high end, clothing to younger audiences.

How Revolve Influencer Marketing Will Continue To Evolve

In the wake of its huge IPO, Revolve is unlikely to slam the brakes on its strategy. With the rest of the fashion retail world making efforts to catch-up, expect Revolve to keep moving forward.

It has already broken the mold in what you can do by merging retail and technology together on social media, and considering the success, its roster of influencers is likely to continue to grow in size.

The Revolve Awards gives influencers the chance to walk the red carpet and pick up a gong, while influencer clothing lines can be expected to grow in number if Song’s proves to be a success. Events and activations organized by the company have so far proved to be worth the expense to provide mainstream buzz with big stars, and its partnerships with thousands of smaller influencers boost engagement from across the board.

As we go forward, we can expect Revolve to kick on and expand its existing influencer marketing strategy while everyone else scrambles to keep up.