Whether they earned their fame and fortune by acting, singing, or, you know, just existing, celebrities have a lot of clout. But a celebrity sponsorship might not be the best form of marketing for your brand. Worse, it might not give the wrong message about your company.
Using celebrity sponsorship as part of your brand’s overall influencer marketing strategy can make sense. But you don’t want to put all of your eggs in a single, celebrity-filled basket. Here’s why.
Celebrity Sponsorship vs. Micro Influencer Marketing
What’s the difference between a celebrity and an influencer, anyway? For one thing, a celebrity can be an influencer, but an influencer might not be a celebrity. Usually, a celebrity becomes famous because he or she did something not connected to the internet.
Your typical celebrities include actors, models, and musicians. Your typical influencers include fashion bloggers, YouTube video stars, and mommy bloggers. There is some overlap, though. For example, members of the Kardashian/Jenner clan are typically considered celebrities, but they also have a huge social media presence and plenty of endorsement deals with brands, so they are also influencers.
Interestingly enough, celebrities tend to be less effective when it comes to conveying a marketing message than influencers and other types of marketing.
According to the 2017 State of the Creator Economy (SOCE) study, celebrity sponsorship was ranked fifth when it came to effectiveness, with an effectiveness rating of 6.77 (out of 10) in 2016. Meanwhile, influencer marketing had an effectiveness ranking of 7.54 out of 10 and content marketing had a rating of 7.61 out of 10.
Depending on the demographic you’re targeting and the site you’re using for your influencer marketing strategy, traditional celebrities are less cool than social media influencers.
For example, a survey of teenagers conducted by “Variety” found that traditional celebs (the likes of Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and Jennifer Aniston) couldn’t hold a candle to YouTube influencers when it came to popularity.
In the 2015 survey, eight YouTube stars were ranked among the top 10 most popular on the site. The only two traditional celebrities to make the list were Bruno Mars (at no. 7) and Taylor Swift (at no. 8).
Fame Is Relative
Another reason to avoid devoting all of your influencer marketing strategy to celebrities is because celebrity and fame are relative.
Whether people are following “regular” influencers or “famous” influencers largely depends on the social networks they use. The SOCE found that some social networks skew towards the famous. For example, people are more likely to follow famous names on Twitter, but to be friends with or like regular people on Facebook.
If you’re relying on a celebrity sponsorship on a site like Facebook, you’re likely to see fewer results than you would if you used a celebrity to promote your brand on Twitter.
Trust Is Important
One last reason why you want to avoid relying on celebrities for your influencer marketing strategy: the issue of trust.
Trust is huge when it comes to advertising and marketing. As a 2015 Nielsen study found, the most trusted form of advertising is recommendations from family and friends.
People are beginning to branch out and trust recommendations from people they don’t know in real life but may follow on social media. A recent study from Twitter found that around 40 percent of people would make a purchase after seeing a tweet about a product from an influencer.
But things get complicated when you throw celebrities into the mix. Some celebrities who also have large social media followings haven’t been so up front about when they’re promoting something. It might be because they partner with so many brands.
The Kardashian/Jenner family has had a particularly difficult time being up front about #ads and disclosure. In 2016, TruthinAdvertising sent a letter to their manager and lawyer charging a number of them with deceptive advertising.
Following the letter, the sisters (or whoever manages their social accounts) edited certain posts to include disclosures. These can include #ad or “a gift from,” according to the “New York Times.”
Properly disclosing a post as an ad is essential. Doing so helps maintain trust with followers and avoid fines and penalties from the FTC. True, celebrities seem unaware of the rules. But the SOCE found a majority of influencers (92 percent) are aware of and follow disclosure rules.
Working with a celebrity can bring your brand some cache. But celebrity sponsorships can also bring headache. This is especially true if that celebrity isn’t up on disclosure rules or whose behavior diminishes your brand. Use celebrities sparingly, if at all, in your influencer marketing strategy.