$60k sales in one hour: the lucrative reality of social media endorsements

Image via @KylieJenner/Instagram
Words by Bianca O’Neill

Are they worth it?

Is a paid post or free product placement from an influencer on Instagram a good marketing investment for brands? Well, how about a single picture in return for $60k of resulting sales… in just one hour?

A lot of conversation has emerged of late about social media endorsements, particularly in terms of return on investment. However a single post by Kylie Jenner this week has highlighted, yet again, that posts on Instagram by highly influential personalities can drive huge sales for brands.

It all started with a pic of Jenner in a pony print swimsuit on holidays in the Bahamas. The swimsuit in question was from Danielle Bernstein’s new swim collection in partnership with Onia Swim.

Bernstein, an influencer herself who blogs under @WeWoreWhat, took to the platform to share the resulting sales storm generated by the single picture – which, by the way, wasn’t even tagged with her brand or a link to purchase.

“I’ve been on a personal emotional roller coaster with the power of social media as of late – from an egg receiving 50 million likes on a single Instagram to the Fyre Festival’s biggest success and downfall all stemming for social postings – it all seems a little (ok, very) ridiculous,” she mused.

“But then something happens, the 10 year challenge turns into a focus on cleaning up our environment, Shaun King posts to educate and actually create change bringing those responsible to justice, and even a lost dog is found within minutes through the Instagram community. My high of this weekend was of course Kylie Jenner posting a photo in a small business swim brand, my small business, generating over 60k in sales in just 1 hour (and she didn’t even tag us). So the power of social media is clearly very real…”

Meanwhile, among many advertising websites and blogs, the overwhelming advice is ‘don’t waste your money on influencers’. A scathing op-ed on Medium late last year ripped apart the influencer market, calling it ‘a waste of money’ and ‘fake’.

It joins Vogue, which also questioned the meaningfulness of such sponsored posts in a fashion blogger-focused op-ed last year. It’s an interesting angle to take for a magazine that thinks this kind of obviously Coach-sponsored clickbait is a completely transparent and shining example of paid content marketing.

That being said, their intentions are correct: we should take this moment to investigate transparency. We can ALL be better in this industry.

Did We Wore What gift that swimsuit to Jenner? Did the brand pay her to wear it? Neither Bernstein or Jenner disclosed either – but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. A recent investigation into the Kardashian/Jenners’ collective #spon found that Kylie Jenner’s Instagram had the highest number of ‘problem posts’ – that is, ones that didn’t meet advertising transparency guidelines.

At least Vogue’s post had a (very discreet) ‘promotion’ sticker at the top of the article.

Until we fix the rampant problems with influencer marketing and transparency, we are facing an uphill battle in the fight for legitimacy.

Take note, if you plan to keep making money from this game: no one is going to unfollow you for disclosing your #spon or #gifted products.

But they’ll sure as hell unfollow you when you’re exposed for being a fake.

Follow Bianca’s Instagram, completely free of skinny tea endorsements, at @bianca.oneill 

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