Influencer / noun: A person or thing that influences another.
When it comes to being influential, Samantha March knows the power of a well-crafted opinion.
Since 2009 and at the height of taking to the World Wide Web to post ponderings about a plethora of subjects, the 32-year-old launched a blog, chicklitplus.com. There, she focused on two topics for which she was incredibly passionate: Books and beauty.
“There just weren’t a lot of people around me at the time who were interested in the same kinds of things that I was interested in,” said the 2005 Dubuque Senior High School graduate now living in Carroll, Iowa, with her husband and dog. “I thought that if I started a blog, I could probably find other people online to talk to about some of those things.”
And she did.
Eight-nine thousand (and counting) subscribers later, March — who found a love for beauty and makeup at a young age, playing with her grandmother’s stash — has evolved into what’s known as an influencer, a relatively new chorus of internet voices that cover everything from makeup tutorials and beauty how-tos to brand recommendations and more.
The product of learning through other influencers, March has passed on her knowledge, leveraging her blog into a YouTube channel and podcast, as well as presence on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Snapchat. She also has authored and published eight novels and featured interviews with several prominent authors on her blog.
Recently, March was recognized as Influencer of the Year at the American Influencer Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
“They reached out to let me know that I had been nominated, and I wasn’t even sure that I was going to go,” she said of the award ceremony. “My subscribers convinced me that I should, if anything, just to see Los Angeles. I think I booked my flight eight days before the event and bought my dress at Express. And then, I won. It was a very shocking moment. I didn’t have any speech prepared. But it was really fun and really exciting.”
It also presented her with networking and travel opportunities among other influencers and those immersed within the beauty industry.
Last month, March began embarking upon a collaboration with Ofra Cosmetics, a brand she has long recommended as a influencer. The products, available through www.ofracosmetics.com, include liquid lipsticks and a lip gloss and shimmer, highlight compacts and more, with color shades and even product names developed by March, in collaboration with the brand.
“It has been super successful,” March said. “I think even the company is surprised at how successful it has been.”
Ofra is just one in a growing number of cosmetic companies harnessing the power of influencers to help build their brand and boost their business.
According to Business Insider, influence marketing is on track to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022 — up from as much as $8 billion in 2019.
It speaks to the power of a dependable platform and the audience who rely on those upon it to learn what products they should put their money toward.
It has its perks. But it also can come with a fair amount of pressure, March said.
“As someone who has been an influencer for a little more than a decade and watched it grow, change and evolve, I think there is a certain amount of pressure that comes with it,” she said. “Nowadays, there can be a lot of backlash. If you’re recommending a product, people will be skeptical and wonder if you’re only promoting it because you have a relationship with that brand. You really have to know what you’re talking about. The last thing you want to do is make a recommendation, have people go out and spend money on that product, then hate it. These audiences really rely on influencers and trust them to give an honest opinion.”
And when you know your stuff, March added, brands — in addition to audience — will seek you out.
“It’s a huge industry,” said March, who is an influencer and author full-time. “You can get a lot more bang for your buck by using the voice of an influencer than even running a commercial that you don’t necessarily know people will see. We have an audience. We’re coming to their screens everyday, making recommendations and telling people what we think. And those who are interested in the same things that we’re interested in take those recommendations very seriously.”
Megan Gloss is the Features Editor of the Telegraph Herald.