For those who follow bloggers, reality television stars or other female social media stars on Instagram, FabFitFun is a household name. The subscription box service, which sends subscribers full-size items often including beauty products, accessories and other knickknacks on a quarterly basis, has leaned hard on influencer marketing since its founding in 2010.
Carter Baldwin, FabFitFun’s vp of content and creative, said that the brand has invested in influencer marketing for one simple reason: “It works.”
FabFitFun was created with the idea of bringing the what’s-hot-now sidebars that are omnipresent in women’s magazines to life (and being able to monetize them). In that sense, the influencers—who run the gamut from Hollywood actors like Tori Spelling, reality stars like The Real Housewives of New Jersey’s Melissa Gorga or social media powerhouses such as comedian Tiffany Jenkins of the blog Juggling the Jenkins—who promote the box on social media are a bit like the brand’s modern-day version of a magazine cover star.
Finding a winning formula hasn’t meant that FabFitFun has halted innovation on the influencer front. The brand is still evolving its influencer strategy, trying out new formats for its partners, which has included putting influencers front and center in its more traditional advertising efforts, such as commercials.
Baldwin said that using influencers in commercials has been particularly successful when the influencers in question are TV stars themselves—think contestants on The Bachelor and cast members of the Real Housewives. Even better? When those commercials run during the program that the featured influencer stars in.
“They work so well for us online. Why not try them on TV and beyond that, try them on their networks and use them around their shows?” Baldwin told Adweek. “It was just a hypothesis, and we tested it and it worked.”
It worked so well, in fact, that FabFitFun is doubling its TV spend for 2020, with 20 spots currently in production.
Influencers who have a recognizable-enough name to carry a commercial are only part of the equation for FabFitFun, however. Baldwin said that in their lineup, they have everyone from TV stars to those with relatively small social media followings—think 50,000 or fewer followers—and the latter are oftentimes the most effective partners when it comes to sales conversion.
“We have the big-name influencers, the people you pay a lot of money for, but we have hundreds and hundreds that we work with, and the ones that really turn and create the ROI are the ones that are in the middle,” he said. “Those are the ones that do a lot of heavy lifting. You get to make the big splashes with the big-name influencers, but the ones that are in the middle, or on the lower tier, are the ones who really move the needle.”
Even in the space of entertainment-famous celebrities, Baldwin says that it isn’t always the most expected people who perform well for the brand. Baldwin said it’s the people with devoted followings who have proved to be the most successful investments for a brand, such as Jenkins.
The majority of FabFitFun’s influencer content is made by the influencers themselves, and when the creative is made in-house, Baldwin says the brand often utilizes the same tactics that an influencer might use at home in order to retain that real-person feel that makes influencer marketing so successful in the first place. FabFitFun’s tried-and-true formula is having an influencer do an ‘unboxing’ video (in which the influencer shows the viewer what’s in a package item by item), with a focus on three items in particular, but in 2020, the brand will be moving into more “narrative-focused, branded spots, anchored in emotional engagement and evergreen benefits.”
“Something that we’re actually striving to do with the influencer work that we do produce in house, unless it’s for a TV commercial, where it has to have a little extra layer of kind of gloss on it, is to keep it real,” he added. “We’ve liked experimented with filming on an iPhone, because you just want them to look authentic.”