If you were on Snapchat last fall, there’s a chance you saw someone talking about a clay mask.

After all, there were over 2,000 millennial women sharing photos of themselves in the mask and posting review videos.

No, it’s not some new fad. Well, it might be, but it didn’t just happen out of nowhere.

It was a Snapchat marketing campaign that L’Oreal had run to promote its new skincare brand Pure Clay Mask.

The cosmetics giant recently disclosed that their Snapchat efforts, part of a bigger cross-channel influencer campaign, drove over a 51% lift in sales of its clay mask.

How did they do this and what can we learn from this campaign? Let’s take a look:

How It Worked

L’Oreal has long been finding success from leveraging Snapchat’s paid ads, such as vertical video ads and Sponsored Lenses, but this past fall, they turned to influencer agency BzzAgent to test out organic advertising. The two teamed up to produce a wide-scale campaign across various social channels.

To promote L’Oreal’s Pure Clay Mask, the agency put together an influencer marketing program, deploying over 2,000 female influencers to post photos, videos, and reviews across Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube.

Across the six channels, the campaign reached over 740,000 consumers, with Snapchat seeing the most activity.

Since Sponsored Lenses, filters that activate in selfie mode and alter your face, can be steep, costing anywhere from $450,000 to $750,000 for several-day events, it’s encouraging to see that influencer marketing can drive just as much if not more ROI than paid ads.

Rebecca Cutbill, a product manager for L’Oreal, told AdWeek that this influencer campaign was actually a test. “We’ll continue to explore Snapchat for everyday influencer campaigns in the future,” she said.

Going Against The Grain

Snapchat wasn’t built to be an influencer marketing channel.

The Snapchat team has been firm on their stance in keeping the platform authentic. Meaning influencers, celebrities, and everyday users all interact the same way. Users with more followers don’t get promoted to some sort of leaderboard or discovery page. Unlike most other social channels which have started to cash in on influencer marketing as a revenue source, the ephemeral messaging app relies on advertising.

On the other hand, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter often suggest trending content from popular users through push notifications or discovery pages. But Snapchat is all about seeing content from everyone you already follow.

And there’s little to no visibility into your engagement metrics.

But this doesn’t mean that influencer marketing is counterintuitive to Snapchat. Or that L’Oreal’s campaign was just a stroke of luck.

Most influencers build up their presence across several channels. Influencer Lauren Riihimaki, posts DIY content on social as LaurDIY. She has more than five million subscribers on YouTube, two million followers on Twitter and Instagram, and averages 250,000 views per snap on Snapchat.

As a micro-influencer myself, with around 3,600 followers on Instagram, 1,100 followers on Twitter, and 60 views per snap, I see the value in being multi-channel.

The more channels you’re on, the deeper your brand impression is and the greater your reach. After all, 72% of consumers prefer to connect with brands across channels.

Photo from MediaKix

Snapchat’s weaknesses can also become big advantages for influencers and brands.

Given the platforms’ focus on one-to-one messaging, campaigns like L’Oreal’s feel more authentic. It’s more of a conversation than a sponsored post. L’Oreal’s Pure Clay Mask campaign drove over 500 stories on Snapchat.

Snapchat also guarantees brands a very targeted, engaged audience. It’s the channel if you want to talk to millennials.

Marriott recently launched a wide-scale influencer marketing campaign on Snapchat to capture more millennial wallet share. Last year, only 28% of Marriott’s hotel guests were between the ages of 18 to 34, compared to Airbnb’s 50%.

The Marriott team partnered up with four influencers – Jen Levinson, Tom Jauncey, Sara Hopkins and Diipa Khosla – giving each of them Spectacles, glasses with a small camera embedded to the corner of the frame, to document their adventures in cities around the world.

Each influencer would take over the brand’s Snapchat account once a month.

Influencer takeovers are very common on Instagram, where influencers first announce on their account that they will be over on a brand’s account for a set period of time. The value of the takeover really is leveraging the influencers’ following and introducing your brand to this new audience through a mutual connection they know and love.

Marriott’s campaign was kicked off by Jen Levinson, who posted videos from Berlin, Germany to both her channel and Marriott’s branded channel.

Photo from AdWeek

Similar to L’Oreal, this was Marriott’s first time investing this heavily in influencer marketing on Snapchat.

“We want to give you that first person point of view from the members’ vantage point… we only have a limited amount of time to capture your attention, so we felt like these influencers have such a strong presence, they’re camera-ready, they have a built-in audience to really bring those brands to life,” Amanda Moore, senior director of social and digital marketing of loyalty at Marriott Rewards told AdWeek.

Breathing Some Fresh Content Into The Mix

Will successful campaigns like L’Oreal’s and Marriott’s inspire the Snapchat team to make the platform more influencer-friendly?

It could be a huge win for brands and influencers if more organic discovery was built into the app. But it could also mean more competition on the app. Updates like that could bring on a bigger flood of influencer marketing campaigns.

The marketplace has already become rather saturated on other social channels, with demand driving the cost of influencer posts up. Big-name influencers now getting paid anywhere from $1,500 to $300,000 per post! That’s why it’s important for brands to secure their presence by investing in multiple touch points and channels – Snapchat being one of them.

Influencer marketing on Snapchat can be a powerful alternative to paying big bucks to run a campaign on more established channels. It’s unexpected, it hasn’t been overdone (yet), and it’s more personal.