This summer, YouTube’s beauty influencer universe was rocked by scandal. Some of the largest in the industry turned on each other in dramatic fashion, with both personal attacks and accusations of undisclosed paid partnerships with brands featured in videos. Their fans rushed to defend their champions across social media, but brands largely stayed out of the fray.

The unraveling of friendships among the vloggers is a reminder that influencer marketing, while eliminating many layers of traditional advertising, can also be fraught with its own risk. Among the more level-headed reactions, influencer Samantha Ravndahl (865k subscribers on YouTube, 2.2 million followers on Instagram) breaks the problems down to three main factors: influencers, brands, and fans. Her advice for brands: stop putting together expensive PR packages for non-headline products, as influencers only cover the things that they, or their audiences, are excited about. In addition, both sides need to be more selective about sponsored partnerships and entirely transparent about it.

If there is any fallout from the scandal, it will be that most consumers will assume influencers have paid sponsorships, regardless of disclosure. Despite the drama, consumers are still watching the content, and brands still want the referrals and sales. The key is to remain authentic and to disclose partnerships.

Briogeo found a partner that fit with both its aesthetic and values in mega influencer Tati Westbrook (@glamlifeguru, 1.1 million followers, 4.5 million subscribers). Thanks to four videos from Tati, as well as other influencer engagements, Briogeo received 11% of its site traffic from YouTube from April 2017 to March 2018 — more than any other brand in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Hair Care & Color.

Briogeo

These videos stood out for their authenticity to the influencer’s style. None of the videos include Briogeo’s name in the title, and two do not include the brand in the video description. Instead, they follow the format of other videos Tati has released, such as monthly favorites and product reviews. The only indication that these videos are sponsored is a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) disclaimer at the very bottom of the video description.

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