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Case Study – Society6 Taps Into YouTube Lifestyle Influencers To Boost Brand Awareness

Society6 is an online community and e-commerce store for artists to sell their original artwork in the form of Art Prints, Wall Tapestries, iPhone cases and apparel. In 2016 they took their business to the next level by launching a large-scale influencer marketing program with YouTube lifestyle influencers. We’ve analyzed the campaign using Makrwatch to see the results.

influencer marketing society6 case study

The Strategy

With a huge range of diverse products to choose from, one problem many e-commerce brands like Society6 face is how to market such a broad offering of products to an equally broad demographic. In order to tackle this problem, Society6 focused on just one demographic profile and turned to YouTube, to tap into its large network of fashion-conscious, college-going Millennial women. These YouTubers, generally fitting into the ‘lifestyle’ category have created large communities of highly loyal and engaged Millennial viewers who turn to their favorite YouTube creators for tips, recommendations and inspiration, often on a daily basis.

Working mostly with female fashion, beauty and lifestyle YouTubers in the 18-24 age bracket, Society6 was able to position their brand as the ‘go-to’ place for this demographic to discover and buy unique artwork products at very reasonable prices.

The campaign videos focused on how Society6’s unique art objects and home decor products can help young women to deck our their college dorm room  with funky and modern art pieces, helping to make their room more personalized and feel a little bit more homey.

The Results

Gathering all the videos of the campaign together, we created a Markwatch Report to view the results; over 1 million video views, and an impressive 5.68% engagement rate.

Society6 influencer marketing campaign results

We identified 21 YouTube lifestyle influencers that they worked with during the campaign, some of them sponsored for 2 or more videos, for a total of 24 videos dating from April 2016 to the last month of the year. While Society6 has worked with YouTuber creators before, they previously focused on independent artists and makers to promote how artists can submit their work and make money with the platform.

This time, Society6 were targeting the other side of their business model; consumers interested in purchasing original artwork. Focusing on a very specific niche; female fashion and lifestyle YouTubers focused on creating content for young women attending college, resulted in a high reach of very engaged and active viewers.

Dorm Room Haul - Society6 Sponsored Videos

The sponsored videos featured a lot of “Dorm Room Hauls” & “Dorm House Tours”.

The results are impressive, with one video in the campaign even reaching an engagement rate of 26%, albeit partly due to a giveaway contained within the video. However this level of engagement with branded content is something most marketers can only dream about. With influencers’ unparalleled access to specific demographics that are actively seeking to discover new content from YouTube creators, the collaboration between influencers and brands to bring consumers content that is both educational and entertaining, while allowing them to discover new brands and products that can interest them, is a no-brainer.

Engagement levels on the Society6 report

The campaign saw huge levels of engagement with the branded content, with over 46,000 video likes and over 13,000 comments.

The brand also offered an incentive to boost conversions, by offering each influencer a customized coupon code to present to their viewers; 10% off and free shipping on everything on the site.

Society6 saw the opportunity to tap into the active female Millennial market via YouTube influencers, and the efforts paid off, boosting both brand awareness and conversions for the company.

Micro-Influencers vs. Mega Influencers

Interestingly, Society6 worked with both large YouTube lifestyle influencers and micro influencers on this campaign, so we can easily analyze the results to see how they differed with each level of influencer.

For instance, the videos with the fewest views in the campaign (i.e: all videos with under 20K views) were responsible for generating only 9% of the campaign’s total reach; not that impressive considering there were a total of 10 videos with under 20K video views. In other words, 40% of the content was responsible for generating only 9% of the reach.

However, if you look at all the videos which views of 100K or more, there were just 2. These two videos alone were responsible for generating 36% of the campaign’s total reach, or 8% of the content generated 36% of the total campaign views.

Of course there are other factors to be considered but this still makes a strong case for working with fewer influencers but focusing on those who have average video views of 100K and upwards.

Top videos in the Society6 influencer marketing campaign

The top video in the campaign was a clear outlier, compared to the rest of the content.

It’s not always possible to work with larger influencers though. For marketers the cost of working with larger YouTube lifestyle influencers can often be too high for brands to justify the spend. Even with predictable YouTube influencer marketing results, the ROI can be way too low because these larger influencers have inflated their value during the influencer marketing boom of the last 1-3 years.

If larger influencer are out of budget, there are many ways to work with micro-influencers for just as much impact. By implementing a large-scale influencer marketing campaign that hires several micro-influencers you can often achieve a very high level of reach by scaling up on the quantity of content creators participating.

For example, in Society6’s YouTube campaign, 17 of the 24 videos generated fewer than 50K video views. However these videos collectively contributed to 31% of the total reach of the campaign. Not bad, if you consider that these YouTube lifestyle influencers could be hired by a brand at a lower rate compared to top-tier influencers in the same niche.

With micro-influencers, a lot of their value comes from their high levels of engagement. As their channels are still small enough to manage, they often interact more with their viewers in the comment section, and their audience is primarily made up of very active and loyal viewers who have been with them ‘from the start’. This can often result in micro-influencers who are very in tune with what their viewers want to see, their feedback and more.

Many larger YouTubers no longer have this privilege of interacting with their viewers on a regular basis, due to the sheer volume of comments they receive. However, it’s worth noting that this does not necessarily mean that their engagement levels drop; the best influencers will be able to maintain and grow consistent levels of engagement as their channel grows.

Brands need to evaluate their campaigns’ goal in order to decide whether reach or engagement will be the most important factor in their campaign. If their budget will not allow them to work with larger influencers, they need to create a effective strategy for working with micro-influencers to achieve their desired marketing results.

Summary

Society6 was effectively able to harness the power of an often-ignored segment of the Millennial demographic through influencer marketing on YouTube; the college student.

While students are definitely not associated with having excessive spending power, they are one of the most tech-savvy, socially-aware and fashion-conscious segments of the Millennial demographic. Society6’s unique art products that support local artists were a perfect match for this target who value individuality, socially-conscious buying and expressing themselves through one-of-a-kind products.

Check out the full interactive and real-time report on Society6’s YouTube campaign here.

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