Do Brands Prefer Digital Influencers Over Celebrities?

Digital Influencers Preferred By Brands Over Celebrities

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Why Brands Prefer Digital Influencers Over Celebrities

Celebrities have long been a prominent part of the marketing landscape. For decades, brands have tried their best to get the world’s most recognizable stars to be a part of their campaigns, many allocating millions upon millions of dollars to securing the right celebrity endorsement. As social media marketing channels and platforms amassed substantially large user bases (YouTube has over a billion users, Instagram recently broke 400 million monthly active users), brands began looking to digital influencers or social media stars to produce unprecedented levels of social engagement for targeted advertising campaigns online.

In conjunction with Entertainment Weekly‘s 25th anniversary, the publication celebrated with their EW Fest, which featured a dedicated panel of digital influencers who are changing the face of the internet. The takeaway? The entire concept of “celebrity” is changing. As EW Fest panelist and Vine star Marcus Johns puts it, “social media has leveled the playing field. There’s this element of ‘Hey, I can be that too.’” Similarly, top entertainment and business publications (including Variety‘s “Digital Stars Popularity Grows Versus Mainstream Celebrity” and Forbes) have been profiling the massive growth and influence of digital influences over celebrities and, many traditional Hollywood agencies are now securing top digital creators as a mainstay of their talent roster.

Smart marketing managers are taking note of this industry-wide shift. When it comes to campaign strategy and performance, it’s difficult to compete with the digital influencers of today in terms of channel reach and audience engagement. Here are a few reasons why brandsprefer working with digital influencers and social media stars over high-profile celebrities:

Social Media Reach & Impressions 

Paying for a celebrity appearance in a commercial may seem like a great way to turn heads, but the vast majority of these moments are fleeting. Stacked against drastically declining TV viewership and ad spend, it’s becoming clear that celebrity TV spots may have limited use when compared to digital, evergreen branded or sponsored content. With digital influencers across high-traffic social channels, it’s an entirely different situation. Top YouTubers, Viners, Instagrammers and other social media stars have multiple millions of followers who pay close attention to everything that their favorite influencers post, which means the measurable reach associated with each social media star can be quite substantial.

Digital Influencers Social Media Stars vs Celebrities

Engagement Rate & Audience Trust

The main goal or a primary objective of any marketing campaign is to engage with current and potential customers. What marketing managers are beginning to understand is that social engagement is something that social media stars and digital influencers are exceptionally good at — oftentimes across multiple channels.

Celebrity brand strategist Jeetendr Sehdev said in an article published by Variety that, “the level of advocacy teens have about YouTube stars is out of control,” and the same can be said of Millennials on platforms like Instagram. There’s oftentimes a close-knit affinity between influencers and their followers. The right collaboration and sponsored campaign between brands and digital influencers stands to serve everyone (marketers, digital stars, and their audiences, alike).   

Marketing Campaign Metrics

If there’s one thing that keeps many brands from working with celebrities, it’s money which means only the biggest brands in the world can afford these types of endorsements. Digital influencers are an entirely different story. While the top social media stars can generate a great deal of income each year, they’re still a fraction of what it would cost for celebrity sponsors who have similarly high visibility and engagement. Brands who are looking to achieve success through marketing endorsements while also factoring in their CPA metrics (cost per acquisition), then, should look to digital influencers.

As this Adweek article outlines, “brands’ next big celebrity deals may be with social media stars.”

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