It’s safe to say the beauty industry pioneered the world of influencer marketing. After makeup enthusiasts with dedicated YouTube channels featuring tips and tutorials gained rabid followings, brands came clamoring. Today, influencer marketing in the beauty sphere is continuing to evolve, and other industries are still trying to catch up.

According to a recent report by influencer marketing platform Octoly, the market is showing signs of segmentation between established social media stars that already hold significant clout and emerging micro-influencers (defined as anyone with a social media following in the 10,000 to 100,000 range). Most notably, this includes a rise in variation in brand selection between well-known YouTube personalities and lesser-known influencers.

In part, this is due to micro-influencers continuing to gain popularity as they compete with the Bethany Motas of the world. Not only are they underserved by brands, Octoly reported, but they also offer a more attractive price point for companies seeking to increase engagement. “There is now a clear delineation of behavioral, content and product selection between the more well-known YouTube influencer stars and the thousands of emerging micro-influencers,” the report states.

Brands use both beauty micro-influencers and influencers for a variety of efforts, with the top case being product launches. Content promotion and events come in second and third, respectively, as the most prominent areas in which influencers play a “critical” role to companies, according to an eConsultancy report. In a January report, the company found that 60 percent of fashion and beauty brands have an influencer marketing strategy, and 21 percent plan to invest in one over the course of the next 12 months. At the same time, 59 percent of fashion and beauty brands said working with influencers is a challenge.
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Part of that discrepancy is trying to navigate the increasing chasm between top-tier influencers and micro-influencers. According to a survey by influencer marketing platform Markerly of 2 million social media influencers, Instagram users with with less than 1,000 followers have a higher like rate than those with between 1,000 and 10,000, at 8 percent and 4 percent respectively. They also attract more comments.

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To account for this divide, brands are being more strategic in terms of the influencers they partner with—but its not one-sided. Influencers are also being strategic about which brands they work with: They’re often looking to leverage brands’ followings to garner more business. Octoly found that M.A.C. receives more video views and engagement for videos produced by micro-influencers than any other brand. However, for content produced by influencers, it falls to fourth. Likewise, Sigma Beauty—which is in the number two spot for engagement and views on videos by micro-influencers—falls to eighth for influencers, and Maybelline drops from fourth to fifth. The rankings reflect views and engagement of videos on 2,799 YouTube influencer channels featuring brand mentions.

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Onalytica conducted a detailed breakdown of the content of the social media and blog posts of 100 top individual beauty bloggers and brands to see what they’re talking about. General makeup and hair products were mentioned most, comprising 61 percent of content, while lipstick was the focus of 9 percent of posts. Nails were mentioned in 5 percent of posts, and eyeshadow and mascara were featured in 4 percent each. Fashion was also a sizable percentage of the discussion at 13 percent, demonstrating that fashion and beauty continue to go hand in hand. Screen Shot 2016-12-02 at 1.25.43 PM

Ultimately, leveraging influencers bolsters engagement. Pixability found that views, subscribers and engagement of brand videos is higher on all counts when influencers are involved. So, while a schism may be erupting between micro-influencers and influencers, the charts show it pays to team with both.
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 Image via Michelle Phan.