Influencer with 2.6M Followers Failed to Sell 36 T-Shirts
Who is Arii?
In the age of influencer marketing, we see more and more influencers trying to branch out into different mediums, starting businesses and launching their own brand(s) or collaborating with established brands to launch special edition product lines. But it isn’t as easy as it seems, even with over 2.6M followers and an average engagement rate of 1.59%, this 18-year-old influencer couldn’t sell 36 t-shirts to get her clothing line off the ground. What can we learn from this?
Arii’s Online Persona
Arii, the American fashion influencer, mostly seen posing in bikinis and tight-fitted, fashionable outfits with changing hairstyles on Instagram. Her online presence portrays a girl next door lifestyle filled with a mix of relatable moments, travel and luxury living. She is also a loyal fan of Fashion Nova with many of her captions tagging @fashionnova, without clearly stating whether it was an ad or partnership.
Launching her own clothing line
In May 2019, Arii launched her clothing line, ERA which turned into an epic fail after she posted that she would be withdrawing the launch of ERA. It is important to note that prior to the launch, the influencer did little in terms of marketing her brand launch with only a couple of Instagram posts very near to the launch date.
Promotional posts on Arii’s Instagram
Just 13 days after the launch of her brand, Arii posted a heartfelt post about her failure to launch her own clothing line which quickly went viral. The post expressed her feelings of disappointment explaining that she was unable to launch her brand as she couldn’t meet the minimum required sales target of 36 pieces. This, of course, caused an uproar amongst netizens with Twitter threads discussing her intentions, comments giving marketing advice to the influencer and general skepticism surrounding the use of influencers in marketing strategies.
Arii’s post explaining the failure of her clothing line
So what does the data say?
Using an advance influencer analytics and fraud detection tool, we can breakdown the audience quality of the influencer, the demographics of her fan base by country, gender and age, engagement rate and fraud checks.
Let’s review some basic questions all marketers should be asking before engaging any influencer.
Who are Arii’s fans?
Based on the quick analysis of her audience, her fan base is mostly 18-24 who are not likely to have large disposable incomes. Without knowing the price of ERA’s products, it could have been too high for her young fans.
Also, Arii’s fan base comprised of only 50.9% authentic audience – meaning her true followership is around 1.3M. This does still not explain why she could not sell 39 shirts, but worth to point out.
How engaging is Arii?
It is understood that influencers with higher numbers of followers generally have lower engagement rates. Considering the engagement rate benchmark for influencers with over 1 million followers is 1.97%, Arii with 2.6M followers is considerably engaging with an engagement rate of 1.59%. The global average seems to be around 1.66% at the moment, which sets Arii a bit below the line.
What happened after the viral post?
On 31 May, the influencer posted an update post on her Instagram account clarifying that she actually needed to sell a minimum of 36 pieces of seven different products, totaling 252 pieces which she added was “(very hard)”. She also mentioned that she never bought followers throughout her social media career.
Arii’s update post
In our opinion, it is certainly possible she never bought followers or engagement during her four-year social media career. However, it is unlikely – given that bots are incentivized by payment and nearly 1.3M from her total audience seems inauthentic.
But her clothing line failure may have been due to many other factors. Such as audience behavior and how ERA was launched.
Did her brand match her Instagram aesthetic?
This is one of the most essential questions many brands overlook when selecting influencers. In this case, Arii’s brand did not match her Instagram aesthetic at all.
Her Instagram photos mainly comprise of bikinis, crop tops, and overall tight-fitting clothing.
It is safe to assume, her audience follows her because they like her aesthetic. If her fans can’t imagine her wearing her own products, they will not be interested in the brand and/or products. Furthermore, her captions are often short (i.e. “over it”), passive and do not include a Call-to-Action for fans to transact. In many cases, when influencers act out of their usual online ‘self’, fans often disengage and unfollow as they feel it is unauthentic.
Arii’s Instagram account and photos of ERA’s brand launch
So, how did Arii’s fans react to her brand launch?
We used OwlStat to breakdown how this incident affected Arii’s followers and changed her engagement rate from May to July 2019. In early May, which is also the time that Arii started to promote her brand that later turned into a viral spectacle, we saw the beginning of a consistent decrease in followers and engagement rate averaging at 1.14% (in the month of May). Since the brand launch, fans have also been unfollowing at the rate averaging 1.5K unfollows per week. It is normal for influencers to lose some followers after such incidents. In Arii’s case, she is losing less than 1% of her overall following. Note the uplift in followers and engagement rate happened when Arii posted her update post. Even though the number of followers continued to drop, the engagement rate started to increase after that. This could be due to higher visibility after the update post.
Arii’s change in followers and engagement rates since 5 May 2019 (by week)
Arii’s change in followers and engagement rates since 5 May 2019 (by day)
What can marketers and brands learn from this?
With influencer marketing becoming more mature, marketers need to look beyond a large number of followers, and instead spend more time evaluating the influencer’s brand fit and engagement.
It is critically important for brands to understand their influencers’ content, online persona, audience, and their behavior. How did the influencer become one? What does the audience look like? Naturally, this is an essential part of any marketing campaign’s success. To weed out influencers with fake audiences, you can read more about how to spot fake influencers here.
In a nutshell, having a high number of followers doesn’t necessarily equal high conversions. It is still heavily reliant on how well the marketing was executed, how well the ambassador(s) fit the brand’s look-and-feel, as well as, whether the influencer’s followers are the right audience for the brand.
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