Whether it’s achieving that ethereal catwalk look or discovering how to avoid toxic ingredients in cosmetics; the beauty influencer has the answers; and brands have increasingly made them a core element of their marketing campaigns.

But it’s a strategy that hasn’t been without its drawbacks. Many brands have put considerable sum of money towards one-off campaigns with an influencer only to have it evaporate without much return.

Cosmetic brands generate huge engagement on Instagram and Digital influencers account for up to 90% of Instagram engagement for cosmetic brands, according to Tapinfluence. Instagram provides the ideal platform for lavish visuals, ideal for the beauty influencer.

It’s still a challenge for brands to measure impact and engagement and how they feed into the bottom line. But development of more sophisticated analytical tools combined with greater sharing by platforms of their data has gone some way to enlightening brands on the effectiveness of their influencer spend.

In the past, influencer spend was something of a lottery. Selecting the most appropriate and effective influencer from among the seemingly endless number was, understandably, problematic. As methods of evaluation were confusing and in the absence of reliable data, the number of followers was the obvious metric to use.

Rozanna Purcell, an Irish model, traveled to New York in partnership with Maybelline for its #MaybellineItGirls campaign and published nine sponsored Instagram posts documenting her trip.

Understanding of the dynamics of the digital environment has matured and brands, through their own engagement and with improved analytics, are tipping the balance of power back in their favour. As platforms make data more available and newer analytical tools are developed, information is becoming more measurable and brands are becoming more discerning in their choice of influencer.

One-off collaborations are no longer seen as a viable option. Rather than rely on a single influencer for a one-off promotion the current wisdom is to have a stable of influencers from which to draw in rotation with each influencer bringing her own unique qualities to the table. Establishing a core group and calling on them in turn for long term campaigns is found to be far more effective.

Collaborations with multiple influencers brings the added benefit of reaching a more diverse audience, thereby increasing brand awareness, and at the same time associating the brand with those who share similar values. Building long term relationships is seen as the foundation for success and some brands involve influencers in product development.

The L’Oreal Beauty Squad is made up of five of the UK’s most influential beauty bloggers. The idea being that the Beauty Squad will be brand ambassadors for L’Oréal, creating digital content to promote awareness and drive engagement around new products.

As brands continue to pour revenue into this area they are no longer prepared to hand over a wad of money to an influencer for a one-off promotion and hope for the best. Expectations for a campaign are clearly defined before handing over any cash and more recently, influencers are required to drive an agreed number of purchases before payment is made. This tactic can have negative effects however, as influencers rely on their integrity and the trust of their followers for maintain influence. If followers sense that an influencer is somehow ‘in the pocket’ of a brand then followers will quickly abandon them.

Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube and Snapchat, favoured by beauty influencers as the ideal channels for colourful posts, evidently have enormous leverage and can be expected to use it to extract revenues in the future.