By Orchida Harizaj
Another day, another post. Haley McNeill sets up her camera, sits down on the other side and hits record. She starts to apply her makeup and shows the products that she uses directly to the camera. She takes her time blending out her warm-toned smokey eye to perfection and making sure that her highlight gleams on her skin. The careful attention to detail in her looks has paid off as her page is growing.
Whether it is on her actual feed or an Instagram story McNeill posts daily about her favorite products and tips that she thinks her followers would like to know about. In just two years McNeill was able to build enough trust between herself and her followers and is able to recommend cosmetic and hair products to them.
McNeill started off by posting videos of herself doing makeup and sharing her personal makeup application techniques. She was originally doing glam makeup but was really able to show off her creative side and her skills with her many elaborate halloween makeup looks. Her hard work paid-off when she started receiving public relations packages from skin care and lash companies.
Now a full-time Instagram influencer, McNeill works for Monat, an all natural and vegan hair company, where she promotes and advertises their products either on social media or in person and receives commission based on the amount of traffic that she brings to the company’s website.
“We’re given a website when you join as a partner so therefore whenever someone purchases, you get paid,” said McNeill, the 23-year-old hair and makeup enthusiast from Ottawa, Ontario. “We get paid every Friday, plus we get bonuses for hard work on the 15th of every month.”
McNeill is one of many influencers that has created a base of followers that trust and value her opinion on beauty related products. Cosmetic companies are turning to social media influencers who have a strong base to promote and advertise their new products. Nearly 70 percent of consumers hear about new products or services from the people they follow on social media, predominantly on Facebook and Instagram, according to CPC Strategy’s 2018 Influencer Marketing Report.
Social media is changing the way that cosmetic products are being advertised to the public and influencers are reshaping the advertising industry. Influencer marketing advertisement spending is expected to reach between $5 billion and $10 billion in 2022, according to the Influencer Marketing (2018) research report from Business Insider Intelligence.
Digital marketing on Facebook is the best way to target people over 25 while Instagram is geared more towards Generation Z, according to CPC Strategy’s report. “Digital marketing is analytics focused and we have the ability to see who these people are, where they come from and what they want to see,” said Erin Murray, account executive for Boucher and Co. “We can really target our audience.”
Influencers’ followers are a niche of people who are specifically interested in that person and what they have to say. This makes it easier for companies to target certain audiences through these influencers who have already established a feeling of trust and a connection with their followers. “It isn’t about a large following but who can you trust,” said Carlos Vega, a creative director at A. J. Ross. “It’s about making connections with your audience and earning it.”
30.5 percent of consumers value the trustworthiness of influencers over the amount of followers they have on social media, according to CPC Strategy’s report. “I trust the opinion of influencers because they know how to do makeup well and I don’t think I can do it as well as them, so I just follow them in hopes of getting my makeup to look like theirs,” Nelvisa Ahmetaj said.
Ahmetaj might trust the opinions of influencers, however, there are many consumers that are skeptical of paid advertisements on social media and are hesitant about buying products recommended to them. 31.7 percent of people agree that they would not trust someone who is being paid to promote a product, according to CPC Strategy’s research.
“I’ve never bought or paid much attention to the products that are advertised by influencers on Instagram or Youtube. The obvious reason is that it’s all fake,” Elizabeth Araujo said. “They are only advertising products because it is their job to do so and I don’t trust their opinion toward a product if they are being paid to say good things about it.”
While digital marketing is an effective way of advertising to a more targeted audience, it mainly focuses on a younger demographic. “People 55 and older are spending more money and they are used to traditional ways of advertising,” Vega said, adding that this older demographic is more receptive to flyers and printed ads, despite it being more costly.
To reach an audience of 2,000 people traditional marketing can cost approximately $1,800 while digital marketing on social media costs approximately $125, according to Seriously Simple Marketing. “While traditional advertising is more expensive, you can stand out more because everyone is turning to digital marketing,” Vega said. However, he also stressed the importance of having a presence in the digital world and said, “you need to have a healthy balance of both in order to stand out and succeed.”
As for McNeill, she has found that balance of both in-person advertising by making it specific to each person she talks to and also the social media aspect of having a presence and building that trust between influencer and follower.
McNeill’s makup look is now complete and she poses for the camera to show off her completeled look. She then gets up and presses the little red button on her camera to stop recording. She takes a few selfies and posts them on Instagram to get her followers interested in the look she just created. She edits her video, chooses a cute song, finds an inspirational quote (or an Ariana Grande song lyric) for her caption, and clicks post.
As her followers like her picture and video she thinks to herself that the best thing about her job is “just being free and not having to have a schedule,” McNeill said. “I can work when I want and wherever I want.”