78 — Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, Vol. 7, No. 2 • Fall 2016Keywords: social influencers, branding, Maybelline, social media, brand marketingEmail: [email protected]This undergraduate project was conducted as a partial requirement of a research course in communications. Examining the Beauty Industry’s Use of Social InfluencersKristen Forbes Strategic Communications Elon UniversityAbstractWith the rise of social media, the use of social influencers has become a popular tactic in brand marketing. Research to date regarding the use of social influencers for branding has lacked specific insight regarding the beauty industry. This study identified characteristics of selected beauty social influencers to see how they are utilized in advertorials for brands on YouTube. The study used a content analysis of Maybelline’s sponsored videos that three influencers produced and featured on their YouTube channels. Attribution theory and social learning theory were used for analysis of influencers’ impact on viewers. I. IntroductionIn 2014, beauty was the fourth-leading industry with the largest reach of influencers in the United States (Statista, n.d.). These influencers, dubbed online as “Beauty Gurus” online, use their skills in makeup to partner with cosmetic brands, earning big bucks while building brand awareness around products. Influencers have gained popularity due to the rise of social media and their ability to connect with their consumer peers. These self-made social media celebrities are vital to brand storytelling, and their thoughts and opinions may actually be more persuasive than messaging straight from the cosmetic brands themselves. With this realization, marketers and communications professionals are seeking ways to leverage these new influencers in changing brand dialogue in the digital space.Research has been conducted on social influencers for brands, but there is a lack of research focused specifically on influencers in the beauty industry. To gain more insight into this area, this study will dive into the world of beauty social influencers, specifically looking at the brand Maybelline. Maybelline is a top-selling cosmetic company across the globe and the leader on the Nielsen “Top 10s” Health and Beauty list with more than $86 million in sales at the end of January 2016 (Nielsen, n.d.). Maybelline’s communication strategy includes the use of social influencers to promote trends and products in the social space by the use of advertorials on YouTube. This provides a perfect case study for identifying the characteristics of influencers used by a successful cosmetic brand. This paper will study what the successful characteristics of social influencers are and how they are utilized as an advantage to the branding of Maybelline.
Examining the Beauty Industry’s Use of Social Influencers by Kristen Forbes — 79II. Literature ReviewThis literature review will investigate who social influencers are, why they are important to brand