As we look to 2023, creator-led marketing continues to expand its impact on the marketing world. According to one study, 60% of marketers said that influencer-generated content outperforms branded posts. As a result, creators are seeing their compensation increase to correspond with the value they’re driving brands. The success of influencer marketing has demonstrated the importance that consumers place on word-of-mouth recommendations and social proof.
The beauty of influencer marketing lies in its celebration of creators’ unique voices. Impactful creators come in all forms, shapes, and sizes, from micro-influencers to celebrity powerhouses, and from online jokesters to political analysts. Below, we spotlight three creators to watch in 2023, and highlight how their differences have positioned them for success.
Micro-Influencer Leads the Charge for Tarte Cosmetics
Coming in hot as Tarte Cosmetics’ No. 1 EMV-driver from September to November 2022 was micro-influencer and costume makeup guru Naomi, known as Bunny & Fawn on social media. While it's rare for a micro-influencer to rank as a large brand’s top EMV-driver, Naomi is a shining example of how smaller-scale creators inspire an intimate connection with their followings. With a mere 37.5k followers across social channels, Naomi’s Instagram engagement rate exceeds the average of Tarte’s other top nine earners by a whopping 118%. During that time frame, Naomi secured $825.2k EMV for Tarte via 83 posts, a 642% EMV increase from the prior three months. While many brands in the beauty and cosmetics spaces saw EMV declines during the same time frame, there’s no doubt that Naomi can be partially credited with Tarte’s 13% boost.
How did she pull it off? As seen by her 83 posts mentioning the brand, she clearly put in work. More importantly, she kept her followers inspired, consistently posting fresh makeup ideas via video tutorials across Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube—an important factor, given that video content tends to generate higher engagement, and therefore ROI. Naomi posted entertainment-inspired body art tutorials, often based on cartoons, celebrities, and holiday looks. Among her ~1k posts during the time frame monitored, Naomi shared 31 consecutive Halloween makeup looks for the 31 days in October, with her top post being a tutorial inspired by the character Helga Sinclair from Disney’s 2001 animated feature film “Atlantis: The Lost Empire.” The post generated 467 comments, a 19% engagement rate, and ultimately secured $116.8k EMV for all 13 brands mentioned, making Naomi a top creator for the likes of L'Oréal Paris, Maybelline, and NYX, in addition to Tarte.
@bunnyandfawn on Instagram
In a nutshell, here’s what Naomi does right:
- She connects with her audience. Through regularly posting the same type of niche content, Naomi has successfully built a relationship with her following. Additionally, she engages with her followers, and responds to the top comments on her posts.
- She built a personal brand. Naomi gave herself an online name, look, and consistent purpose as a digital creator.
- Video content, video content, and video content. In case you didn’t know, video content is hot. It garners higher engagement and ROI than other content types, and just so happens to be Naomi’s main content form. This might explain her impressive engagement rates: 125% on Instagram, 390% on YouTube, and 81% on TikTok.
- She’s consistent. In just a few months, Naomi published around 1k posts. Additionally, she’s clever about her content, putting out organized content series such as 31 days of Halloween.
Beauty Guru Generates Impressive EMV for Hair Care Brand ghd
Content creator Rashan Mh has her hands in all-things fashion and beauty. Most notably, the established influencer ranked among haircare brand ghd’s top 30 earners during the time period monitored, despite authoring just three branded posts. Her highest-earning piece of content featured a hair-curling tutorial that used ghd’s HELIOS hair dryer and ceramic brush hair rolls, resulting in a comment from the brand itself. Thanks in part to representation from Rashan, ghd enjoyed $15.1M EMV during the time frame monitored, an 18% boost versus the previous three months.
With just north of 500k followers across Instagram and TikTok, Rashan drives quite the impact. For reference, ghd’s 44 established content creators from September to November each averaged $50.0k EMV, while the brand’s 42 powerhouse creators averaged $79.1k EMV each. Meanwhile, Rashan drove $103.4k EMV for the brand, exceeding averages for both groups. While ghd proved Rashan’s top brand, she also sparked buzz for fashion brands Dior, Zara, and The North Face.
@khelan.mh on Instagram
Here’s what set Rashan apart from other creators:
- She mixes things up. Whereas Naomi sticks to a similar type of content across platforms, Rashan leverages each platform’s optimal content format. For instance, she promotes her fashion looks via Instagram stills, and her hair and makeup looks via interactive video tutorials on Reels and TikTok.
- Her fans are loyal. The most successful small and mid-sized creators generate the most engagement among their audiences. Of ghd’s top 30 brand partners, only two boasted a higher Instagram engagement rate than Rashan’s 13%. Likewise, only two claimed higher TikTok engagement rates than Rashan’s impressive 204%.
- She leverages other creator relationships. Rashan’s sister, Khelan Mh, is also an established superstar, who began building an Instagram following during the platform’s early days and has since undertaken brand deals such as McDonalds, Fashion Nova, and more. Luckily, Rashan has had the ability to learn from her big sis—and their followers love it when the two collaborate.
Powerhouse Creator Finds Fame Through Fast-Fashion Partnerships
Powerhouse fashion maven Vanessa Chen has been on the rise for quite some time now, largely by touting “fast-fashion” brands such as Aldo Shoes, Boohoo, Shein and more. This year, Vanessa even scored press in top-tier publications like Nylon, Vogue, and Business Insider. During the time period monitored, she ranked as shapewear brand SKIMS’ No. 1 ambassador, collecting $428.3k EMV via just nine posts, a 33% boost in EMV versus the three months prior. For comparison, the average potency of SKIMS’ powerhouse creators as a whole was only $54.1k EMV. Additionally, Vanessa’s nine mentions of SKIMS proved the lowest post count among the brand’s top 15 EMV-drivers. So how did she power so much engagement?
Here’s how Vanessa drives impact:
- She has her own style. Fast-fashion or not, Vanessa clearly has a consistent, well-curated aesthetic. Whereas some creators go for an all-black-everything, chic look, Vanessa rocks a vibrant, feminine aesthetic.
- Fast-fashion focus. Instead of seeking out brand deals across all of fashion, beauty, and lifestyle, Vanessa focuses on just one vertical, and one particle niche within that. By doing so, brands can recognize when their competitors partner with her, heightening their drive to do the same. Additionally, due to fast-fashion’s greater accessibility, Vanessa caters to a larger audience than she would if she favored just luxury fashion.
- She’s trendy. Vanessa focuses on trends. Be it the seasonal skirt in spring or high-rise boots in fall, she’ll show her followers where to get the item, and for a great price. Additionally, she regularly themes her outfits around timely events, such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, and more.
- Affiliate marketing is a win-win. Many of Vanessa’s posts include affiliate codes that offer discounts for her followers. These codes also offer transparency around her relationship with massive brands, further enhancing her credibility.
- Accessibility. Not only does Vanessa offer expert tips and tricks to her followers, she makes it easy for them to make the corresponding purchase quickly. Each of Vanessa’s social bios include a Linktree link, which features all of her other social profiles, her Amazon storefront, and more. The fewer clicks, the better.
As seen by the examples of Naomi, Rashan, and Vanessa, creator marketing celebrates influencers of all backgrounds, community tiers, styles, and voices. As we look to 2023, creators will further their stake in the industry, along with the sense of authenticity they bring to their followers via embracing their differences.
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