The Great Debate: Celebrity or Non-Celebrity Influencers?

Holly Pavlika

SVP, Marketing & Content at Collective Bias
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This post originally appeared on the LinkedIn page of Collective Bias SVP, Marketing and Content, Holly Pavlika.

This question comes up every day: is it better to work with one celebrity influencer or multiple non-celebrity influencers?

Several studies have shown that audiences trust non-celeb content over celeb, and that middle-tier influencers garner more engagement. The team at Collective Bias conducted a large-scale national survey to learn more about how celebs vs non-celebs influence impacts in-store purchase decisions. The survey was fielded to nearly 14,000 U.S. adults this March, and the biggest finding:


Non-celebrity bloggers were 10x more likely to influence an in-store purchase than celebrities.

Non-celeb bloggers were 10x more likely to influence consumers than celebs. Click To Tweet

Only three percent of consumers would consider buying a product in-store if it was endorsed by a celebrity. In fact, celebrity testimonials were just one of the traditional advertising vehicles to rank low among respondents. Those surveyed cited TV (7.4 percent), print (4.7 percent) and digital (4.5 percent) advertisements as the least influential forms of communication when shopping for products in-store. These results point to a growing ineffectiveness of traditional advertising and the need for brands to embrace alternative forms of marketing to drive sales.

While we love our celebrities — and there are times you might want to employ a celebrity influencer — there is much to consider:

  1. Instant reach: Considering the size of a typical celebrity influencer’s audience, you will have instant reach and impressions– if that’s your goal. If your goal, however, is content creation and social engagement, we have found non-celebrity influencers are a better choice.
  2. Expense: Celebrity influencers cost more, plain and simple. You pay for their celebrity status. Before choosing a celebrity, weigh the advantages. You may find you’ll get more bang for your buck by using multiple mainstream influencers.
  3. Ease of execution: Working with celebrities can be more difficult than working with non-celebrity influencers. For example, the contract phase alone can create challenges if your program has a tight turnaround.
  4. Content ownership: Unless you negotiate content ownership in the contract, the celebrity will own content associated with their name. Mainstream influencers will let you own the content for digital use.
  5. Channel specific: Celebrity influencers tend to be channel-specific (think Instagram or Twitter), whereas non-celebrity influencers know the importance of content syndication and are looking to develop a relationship with brands they love. They will create content for multiple platforms as a part of the campaign.
  6. Audience control: Celebrity audiences are often broad, while a mainstream influencer’s audience will tend to be centered around their lifestyle category and passion point. Mainstream influencers are also closer to their audiences. They engage with them on a daily basis because they know it impacts their engagement.
  7. More complexity with scale: The more mainstream influencers you need the more complex the campaign becomes. The infrastructure to scale and dashboards that pull in measurement dashboards are critical.

You can find more about our influencer marketing survey, and to see additional results here.

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Holly Pavlika

SVP, Marketing & Content at Collective Bias

Holly oversees marketing and PR. Holly, also a blogger, founded MOMentumNation while serving as the Executive Creative Director and Managing Director at Big Fuel, a pure play social media agency. She is an award-winning creative marketing industry veteran who was recognized in 2012 by Klout as the “most influential agency person” and uses her voice for social good with 10X10 Educate Girls, Every Mother Counts, Global Poverty Project and the UN Foundation Shot@Life campaign.