How Can We Trust Influencers? | Elena Lavagni

June 01, 2023

Elena Lavagni of Neville Hair and Beauty for L’Oréal Professionnel gives her opinion…

Love them or loathe them, influencers are here to stay – for the moment anyway. So, who are they and should you be using them for your business?

I’d describe influencers as people with a reputation of authority or expertise in a particular area, who then use that authority to engage with large numbers of social media followers.

Depending on their notoriety, influencers will have an established personal brand; actively post engaging, entertaining, and informative content in a niche area; attract a fairly sizeable following of fans on social media and leverage their authority to influence their followers’ purchasing decisions.

We started working with influencers in 2011, several months before we started using Instagram. At Neville, we’ve always been fortunate to have a lot of celebrities coming in, so dealing with influencers wasn’t a problem for us. We are undoubtedly confident in our service as we have always been at the forefront of innovation and fashion for our designated niche market; influencers were a consequence of this.

Over the years, we have tried to work with them in various ways. Currently, we offer an exclusivity contract for six months. We request a specific number of posts and stories, and they have a number of visits booked into our salon. We always evaluate the costs versus what they actually bring to the salon, and frequently assess whether or not the influencer partnership is bringing in new clients.

If you find the correct person, an influencer can be very good for your brand. However, big celebrity influencers will often not give you anything apart from making your brand aspirational. Sadly, ‘aspirational’ does not fill your salon with new clients. In my opinion, micro-influencers are much better. They have a more solid voice, and their reach is genuine from people that can afford their lifestyle.

Choose micro-influencers that have the same values as you, that represent the same niche market and that are real. You must choose how you want your brand to be perceived.

Brands take time to research the right influencers. These influencers have their following –which is built up in a specific niche market –by creating interesting content that it is relevant to the category. This means their audience has one thing in common, they’re all interested in that niche. So, when brands launch a look through niche influencers, it reaches the specific type of audience they need to reach.

At Neville, we are juggling different ways of reaching our clients and we don’t believe in using one medium only. Nearly a year ago we lost our Instagram account with 40K followers. It was heart-breaking but showed me that first, we cannot put all our eggs in one basket and secondly, that we do not own our online presence –especially on social media. One medium we do own is our own website, but for some reason it doesn’t get used as much anymore. We send newsletters, we write blogposts, we use LinkedIn and Facebook. We also send clients check-in messages to see if their service was ok. We reward our clients for the number of visits (not the money spent in the salon) with discounts and offers.

We always run our marketing and social media on the perception I get as a client. I don’t wholly believe in influencers, they do not look like their photos, and most of the time they are too young to understand the struggle of an older woman, but still feel they can talk about anti-aging products. Also, they tend to lean towards the brand that gives more to them rather than the functionality of the services or products themselves. And don’t forget that most people have now woken up to the idea that influencers are getting paid to push products!

In saying this, we are still using influencer marketing as part of our strategy, but only very few, key influencers –the rest are paying clients who are giving us lots of publicity at the moment through word of mouth. As this is not paid, it is more real, more effective and more organic. It might take longer, but it is also longer-lasting and certainly more impactful than using an influencer. My advice is this: get them paying and you will attract a different type of client.

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