The Art of the Feud: How Influencer Conflicts Can Increase Your Brand’s Popularity

The Art of the Feud: How Influencer Conflicts Can Increase Your Brand’s Popularity

“There is no such thing as bad publicity.” Even with the case of Fyre Festival.

The shrewd application of this idea can go a long way towards propelling your product or service into the spotlight, with the help of influencer marketing with your influencer-partners representing your brand.

The influencer feud, otherwise know as a “beef,” usually begins with a well-timed shady blog post or Twitter “diss”, can bring attention to your influencers just before your influencer marketing partnership is announced or your new product released. Attention for your influencers means attention for your brand.

Think of the rivalry that began between 50 Cent and relative newbie Kanye West way back in 2005. 50 Cent issued the first challenge, declaring that he had paved the way for Kanye’s success with his own success. Read more details here.

The ensuing competition between the two certainly seemed to enhance their brands, since that same year 50 Cent’s CD, “The Massacre” sold 1.14 million copies in the first week it was released, and Kanye’s CD, “Late Registration” sold 860,000 in its first week after release.

By 2007, Kanye was coming out on top. His third CD, “Graduation” selling 957,000 units to 50 Cent’s 691,000 for “Curtis.” The rivalry was a friendly one—the two stars even collaborating in the studio at one point—and was skillfully played out in a way that drove sales for both artists.

The Kanye-50 Cent beef effectively demonstrates that a feud is, in fact, an art; a thoughtfully-choreographed brawl almost in the spirit of a WWF Wrestling match, a comparison that is all the more appropriate when you realize that some rivalries that have started on social-media have ended in face-to-face confrontations between feuding influencers (like the feud between LiVicky, Bhad Bhabie and Lil Tay). A similar case also includes the famous Logan Paul vs. KSI.

Logan Paul and KSI rewatching their boxing fight.
Logan Paul and KSI rewatching their boxing fight.

Ahead, we’ll check out some examples of famous fights, and also look at ways that you can insert a timely influencer feud into your own marketing campaign.

And if a somewhat manufactured feud sounds too contrived, take heart. Like the wrestling match, a feud can allow influencers to enjoy some essentially good-natured showmanship that will prove very entertaining for their followers while increasing engagement—and increased engagement for your influencer partners is a big win for your brand.

Is an Influencer Marketing Beef a Good Way to Promote Your Brand?

It goes without saying that certain products and brands are more suitable for the influencer-feud marketing strategy than others. If your product is a line of handmade Italian leather briefcases or sterling silver flatware, a combative face-off between influencers may not be quite the right look for your brand. On the other hand, who knows? Maybe Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are willing to stage a Twitter war to promote your brand.

In all seriousness, your brand is probably a better fit for this type of strategy if you are working up to releasing the next Grand Theft Auto or you’ve formulated the most natural looking, dewy foundation of all time. For products like these, a good old fashioned social-media feud may be just the thing to promote your brand before its release.

Clearly you’ll need to choose an influencer for your influencer marketing campaign who has an assertive personality, since she needs to have enough swagger to initiate a conflict with someone high-status—preferably someone who is in a position where she’d like to be.

According to influencer talent manager and branding specialist Diomi Cordero, the first step for your chosen influencer-partner is to pick a target influencer who is higher status and find “things that they’ve done wrong in their space, jabs you can take at them,” like makeup artist Jeffree Star did when he went after Kim Kardashian in 2017.

Kim Kardashian and Jeffree Star had a feud in 2017.
Kim Kardashian and Jeffree Star had a feud in 2017.

Kim was about to launch a line of contouring powders and Snapchatted the swatches on Instagram. Jeffree called her out on Twitter for what he saw as her inept swatching, snarkily commenting, “Looks like chalk.”

After that the feud began with Kim’s fans coming to her defense, accusing Jeffree of having made racist comments in the past. Kim responded to her fans and called for them to leave his past out of the current conflict, saying that she herself would give him the benefit of the doubt. And here is a point of subtle importance: Jeffree many not have immediately managed to initiate a direct conversation with Kardashian, but he did manage to engage her fans, thereby engaging his own followers and generating publicity for himself and his brand.

Depending on your company’s mission and your brand’s message, a brash personality like Jeffree may or may not be a good pick for you. You can use a platform like SocialBook to facilitate your search for the right influencer for your campaign. On you can research influencers, interact with them directly and get information about their audience type and reach.

Other Ways to Initiate a Feud

Not just for influencers in the music space, the diss track is a classic salvo of the influencer beef. Take the 2018 track by gamer and world’s most subscribed YouTuber Felix Kjellberg—known popularly as PewDiePie—that takes aim at number 2 YouTube channel, T-Series.

When Felix initiated the rivalry last September, he had a mere 66 million subscribers but the excitement over his epic battle with T-Series brought him to a new milestone of 80 million subscribers as of January 2019, proving yet again that feuds can truly pay off.

Another way to start a beef, according to Diomi Cordero is to, “go on Twitter and you tweet some kind of shade―shade is sneak-dissing someone without actually acknowledging or tagging them or using their name.” For example, your diss could incorporate phrases like “A certain individual,” and include facts that make the target of the diss easy to identify, but do not directly name him.

How a to Create a Feud Between Two or More Feisty Influencers

Let us suppose your brand is the natural-looking, dewy foundation mentioned earlier. Your campaign could feature an influencer like Sophie Shab aka TrendMood—a beauty Instagram influencer (check her influencer profile with audience demographics, and channel performance here.) with 1.2 million followers—whose image, though wholesome, inspires a healthy amount of controversy and pushback due to her tendency to leak news of big beauty collaborations before brands themselves get the chance to announce them.

While Shab is immensely popular, this habit makes her a somewhat divisive figure. She even inspired an open letter from PopSugar beauty editor Emily Orofino that points out the fact that editors like Orofino must sign non-disclosure agreements before viewing product previews. Orofino writes, “According to an interview with Bustle, you work with certain brands to reveal products ahead of time. However, I also know of plenty of companies who are frustrated by your behavior. If you do actually coordinate with brands, do you limit what you show to those items? Or do you just post everything, regardless of who has sent you the image (and how it was acquired)?”

Controversy is naturally what you are looking for in a feud, and a partnership with an influencer like Shab is sure to inspire it. If your brand works with someone like Shab, the question of whether the sneak peak was a planned collaboration or a leak is sure to be brought up by her detractors in comments on social media. This will lead others to jump into the mix, either criticizing her—like fellow beauty influencer Jackie Aina aka La Bronze James, who has been critical of Shab in the past—or to defend her, bringing a lot of attention to your product in the process.

Another caveat is that the timing of your influencer feud is crucial. Diomi Cordero’s adviceis, “If you’re starting an Instagram or social media beef with anyone, you gotta make sure that your next posts are all focused on what you’re trying to promote.”

Once the feud is underway, let the promotion begin in earnest. All influencer posts following the inception of the feud should be about your stellar new foundation.

Beefs Are Not An Influencer Marketing Strategy for the Faint Hearted

If you decide that an influencer marketing feud is the right move for your campaign, be warned that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. There will be some who love your influencer-partners and others who are not fans, or not even a fan of influencer marketing at all, but the influencer marketing long term partnerships will garner a great deal of publicity for your brand.

Key to attracting the right kind of publicity for your product is first partnering with the best influencers for your particular influencer marketing campaign. There are plenty of ways to seek out and vet influencers for your influencer marketing campaigns including networking sites like LinkedIn. Just enter keywords related to your search to find second-degree connections to whom you can reach out.

An advanced Twitter search can also provide useful information for brands looking for influencers relevant to their industry, while Instagram-focused Shoutcart lets you select influencers based on price per post.

Whatever way you decide to proceed with your campaign, a calculated risk like an influencer feud can bring big rewards in publicity and profits for your brand.

SocialBook aims to help influencer marketers to quickly find the right influencers that they were looking for. Here is a sample influencer profile you can take a look at.

Want to find out how to find the best social media influencers for your target demographic? Head on over to SocialBook for a free demo and trial to find out how!

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