It’s no secret that social media has become one of the most important tools in marketing and public relations. Today, it is unusual for people not to be connected in some form or fashion. Because of social media’s practically universal influence, it can be difficult to actually penetrate the static of day-to-day social media use and connect with potential consumers. One way to gain attention can be through celebrity endorsements used in social media marketing campaigns. However, celebrity endorsements aren’t an easy, foolproof trick for effective marketing. Read on to see if celebrity endorsements could be right for you.
With their fame, celebrities inevitably have both admirers and critics. This does not change when they are brought into a marketing sphere. If anything, opinions become stronger. When you begin associating your product or cause with a famous face, you will undoubtedly lose and/or gain potential consumers based on the association alone, no matter how good the product may be.
There is also room for the celebrity to become associated with a scandal, thus connecting your product to the scandal as well. Just look at the recent Paula Deen fiasco: book contracts, television shows, and more, have been cut and are over. Once thought of as a reliable, comforting, and accessible cook, Deen is now regarded as a terrible racist. If you choose to run a celebrity social media campaign, be wary of this risk.
Naturally, it is also important to choose the “right” celebrity to represent a product. The same person can’t realistically endorse lip gloss, bookmarks, or cleaning products. Nevertheless, there have been some odd pairings: Bob Dylan and Victoria’s Secret, Kim Kardashian and a debit card, Paris Hilton and Carl’s Junior.
Pay attention to guidelines
For smooth sailing, celebrity endorsements require adhering to FTC guidelines. For example, Twitter has become a hotbed for celebrity endorsement conflicts. Was Miley Cyrus paid for her tweet thanking a flight booking start-up? Did Kim Kardashian independently tweet a picture of herself using specific cosmetics? While these examples are in the gray area, it is important for consumers not be lied to; sure, celebrities can totally plug in their own likes on their own accounts, and should be able to like the rest of us — but if they are paid, you have to tell it like it is.
This can lose the “magic” of a seemingly organic celebrity endorsement. But not announcing sponsorships and facing thousands of dollars in fines is no treat, either. In 2012, Snickers faced an investigation from the UK Office of Fair Trading, after Snickers launched a social media campaign featuring UK celebrities eating Snickers on their Twitter accounts. Ashton Kutcher has also faced criticism for shamelessly plugging companies he invests in on social media sites without clearly announcing financial ties.
Social media’s essence is YOU
While using celebrity endorsements can be a good idea in gaining legitimacy and an already devoted audience, it takes money, and usually a lot of it. Reality TV start Snooki has been reported to earn thousands of dollars just for tweeting, for example.
Ultimately, the power of social media lies with the user, with you and your skills as a marketer. Today, you don’t need a big brand, company or celebrity to become viral. This is what social media is for, after all—connecting to others directly. Use it to your advantage. Be creative, bold, ambitious. If a celebrity endorsement fits without feeling forced, then by all means, go for it. But don’t brush away new possibilities that haven’t been done before.
Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet, a site that helps users make informed personal finance decisions on subjects ranging from tuition planning to strategic investing.
Copyright © Anthony Mora Communications 2013
Vergara, Fernando. “Paris Hilton vs. Hairtech International, Inc.” Photo. Buzzfeed: Business. 24 May, 2013. 14 July 2013. <http://www.buzzfeed.com/katienotopoulos/15-celebrity-endorsements-gone-horribly-wrong>
Moloshok, Danny. “The Kardashians vs. Pre-Paid Debit “Kardashian Kard.” Photo. Buzzfeed: Business. 24 May, 2013. 14 July 2013. <http://www.buzzfeed.com/katienotopoulos/15-celebrity-endorsements-gone-horribly-wrong>