Social media platforms are rife with influencers for all kinds of products. There are celebrity or pseudo celebrity endorsements, influencers with large followings and micro influencers with small, targeted followings.
The hair world is no exception. Influencer marketing is an effective strategy for brands that choose to use it. It gets the company’s name and offerings out there. It can also pose somewhat of a dilemma in the hair loss community given that wigs and hair toppers are high priced items. It’s one thing when you’re “influenced” to buy a $50 pair of shoes. It’s another thing altogether when you feel compelled to drop $1000+ on some new hair because influencer “X” said “Y” about the product.
Does this mean that all social media marketing is bad in the hair world? There are definitely some advantages for consumers. Gifted items give content creators a product to showcase in a way that is different from traditional websites. Usually retailers photograph their products in professional studios, or at least well-equipped home studios with access to lighting, models, and/or mannequins/props, and photo/video editing that make products more appealing. By contrast, an influencer, particularly a micro-influencer gives consumers a chance to get a feel for a product on a “real” person. That’s not to say that social media accounts don’t have access to the same equipment that builds excitement about a product. But you’re likely to see the product in a more natural setting than a studio. An influencer who knows a lot about the products they’re demonstrating might give you more detailed information about a piece than the company’s website. They will also generally show you how to use, wear and modify the product to suit your needs. This is especially important as alternative hair rarely suits the wearer straight out of the box! Especially true of companies that have a greater capacity for using this type of marketing, you can envision a product on various face shapes, skin types and on those from different walks of life.
Here’s what you should consider when it comes to deciding for yourself whether a product is worth the hype:
Has the person been transparent about the product being provided to them in exchange for the content creation? Like many parts of the world, Canada has consumer protection legislation that requires these types of relationships to be unequivocally explicit that a product has been gifted. Why is this important? Think about when you see a celebrity endorsing a skincare product in an advertisement. How likely are you to believe the claims that it will reduce wrinkles, improve skin texture, and brighten your skin? Or do you make the assumption that said celebrity has access to high quality dermatological treatments and cosmetic surgery? You may find yourself hopeful that the product lives up to its marketed hype to a small degree, but you know you’re being sold something that requires a healthy amount of skepticism. An undeclared gifted item can influence decision-making without really giving pause for critical thinking. This may not be someone’s intention, but there are ethical concerns here nonetheless. Most hair loss accounts that I have seen are pretty explicit about declaring gifted items. Transparency is important when it comes to building trust with your audience.
You should also consider the substance of the post you are viewing. You might see a product review that focuses on the quality of the hair, how a piece is constructed, and it’s wearability. Generally a review that only touches on positive aspects of a product should be considered biased. With very rare exception, there is almost always some small opportunity for improvement whether it is the colour, cut, or something with the construction. In the hair world, these gifted reviews are usually done when the product is in brand new condition. While it is nice to see the product as you would expect it to arrive, toppers and wigs have a shelf life. Hair becomes dry or damaged over time. The cap can begin to stretch or become worn out and hair can shed with repeated washing and wearing. Follow-up reviews are extremely insightful as they can give consumers more information about how long they can expect to be able to use their piece and what maintenance it will require.
Personally, I love to see and make product demonstration/educational videos. I find it valuable to learn about a piece and be able to visualize how it could work for me and my hair loss situation. It may also dissuade me from purchasing something that won’t work for the severity of my hair loss.
It is great to look at detailed stock photos on a website such as a close up of a silk top in all it’s scalp realism glory, but seeing that compared to a piece with a lace top cap construction gives you a visual sense of the difference in thickness and how each lays on the wearer’s head. This is also a great way to pick up tips and tricks to improve your hair wearing experience. I will never forget seeing educational content that introduced me to using barber’s velcro to replace clips on a topper that would have otherwise caused sensitivity in spare areas!
Discount codes are another signal that a content creator has partnered with a brand to show a certain product. This is definitely not unique to hair! This does not always mean that the person gets a kickback when you use their code but this varies from brand to brand. If you’re planning to buy from a certain brand, USE A CODE! Who doesn’t love to save money?
To sum up, look for content creators who are transparent about their collaborations and whose content seems balanced and informative!