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Playing the social media influencer game on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat can be a double-edged sword for brands and companies. Consider the example of Kylie Jenner, a prominent member of the Kardashian-Jenner social media influence complex who once was paid by Snapchat to promote it. In a recent tweet, however, she told her followers that she wasn’t using Snapchat anymore, and that set off a cascade of events that eventually lopped $1.3 billion off Snapchat’s stock market valuation.
The fickle whims of online tastemakers
This outsized impact of social media influencers can be particularly significant in just about any industry where the decision of which brands, companies and products are popular is really a matter of taste. That includes fields such as fashion and beauty, both of which have jumped on the social media influencer bandwagon in great numbers. Just having a social media icon talking up your products on Snapchat can inspire thousands of other people to use your products, so it’s easy to see the allure.
But what happens when those tastemakers decide to take their money, time and influence elsewhere? For example, as soon as Kylie Jenner sent out her tweet (“Sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is just me?”), Maybelline New York followed up by asking its followers whether it should be using Snapchat anymore. And, presumably, discussions were going on in other digital marketing offices around the nation about whether or not to move forward with any new social media influencer campaigns on Snapchat.
Picking the right social media influencer
One possible solution to the conundrum facing brands today is simply reconsidering who you are partnering with in the first place. Instead of actual research into which influencers might actually enjoy and support their products, many brands simply check out the number of followers on social media and then write a check based on the size of that number.
But that’s exactly the wrong approach. It’s far better to find influencers who can be active and informed ambassadors and evangelists for your brand. And that often means moving down the social media influencer scale – away from all the national celebrities like Kylie Jenner and towards more local influencers with smaller – but equally dedicated – followings.
Don’t put all your eggs into the same basket
Another possible solution is diversifying marketing efforts across a number of different platforms rather than going all-in on a single platform such as Snapchat. This can help to insulate you from rapid swings in sentiment.
The negative momentum around Snapchat had already been building – Wall Street analysts had already been downgrading the Snap stock, discontent was mounting over CEO Evan Spiegel’s huge payday, and clear evidence was already out there that Snapchat users were migrating to the more popular Instagram platform. So what Kylie Jenner said in her tweet was not eye-opening from that perspective. Instead, her tweet acted as a catalyst, putting into action events that were already being prepared. Brands should have seen this coming in advance.
What’s interesting to see is what happens next. Kylie Jenner – who was once paid by Snapchat to use and promote the app – has already backtracked a bit, saying in a follow-up tweet, “Still love you tho Snap.” But this might be a case of too little, too late. Brands that are staking everything on expensive social media influencer campaigns might want to reconsider they are sinking into Snapchat these days.