FaceApp Virality: Influencer Marketing Strategy Done Right.10 min read

By 8 September 2020 September 10th, 2020 Business, Social Media
How cheap or expensive is Influencer Marketing Strategy?

#FaceApp challenge was one of the biggest hits and viral trends that took everyone, from regular people to huge celebrities, by the storm. Each Social Media platform was buzzing with FaceApp challenge posts and that had the enthusiasts and experts look a little beyond what otherwise seemed organic. Was the FaceApp challenge a planned marketing strategy?

Source: play.google.com


Let us take a step back here and talk more about the FaceApp challenge, just in case you are still not sure of this (are bets are against though).  FaceApp is a photo editing mobile application that is powered by Artificial Intelligence. The model and features, being rather fun and interesting, allow you to edit your pictures in various options; the most viral being “Old and Young Face.” It allows the user to upload their current pictures and determine what they would look like in the future or what they looked years ago. Influencers and celebrities like Justin Beiber, Will Smith, David Guetta, and even Jonus Brothers found themselves indulged in this trend!

FaceApp’s Sensational Virality: Organic, Random, or Well-Thought Of?

FaceApp grew popular across the globe in different phases. Let’s analytically look behind the whole journey of FaceApp to understand their growth strategy.

Phase 1: Targeting Of Non-Western Markets

There was no country across the globe where FaceApp stood a chance or topped the charts prior to July 12th, 2019. And then, one day, like out of thin air, it appeared on top free charts of 5 non-western countries. A lot of significant influencers, including high-profile influencers and even sports celebrities, across the Arab countries used the app and shared the content. The images were SO VIRAL that it was like a magical recipe that had the app climb the ladder and made it the #1 to use. In the non-western markets, the makers of the app focused essentially on influencer marketing and then eventually, achieved the organic lift through influencer marketing.

Countries for which FaceApp Ranked on the Top 10 Free Apps
Source: Storemaven

Phase 2: Faceapp Gains Recognition In The Western Market

Soon after celebrities shared their images across platforms on the web, media houses looked at it as a piece of entertainment news. Reporters from publication houses in Arab countries obsessively reported the virality of the trend and that is all that it took for the app to become known in the west. 

As western celebrities also saw those same posts shared by the Arab celebrities,  they took no time to jump in and become a part of the trend. Justin Beiber was one of the most famous face-switches that gathered attention in the western market.

BuzzFeed also covered the app in the western market. Anyone could know what they’d look like as older people at a click, and the click-bait feature further added to the wonderful viral recipe.

Source: DailyMail

FaceApp obviously is suspected to have paid celebrities. But questions like how many celebrities were paid, how much were they paid still remain unclear. This is for the fact that the app could not have the huge capital that is required to campaign in the US. FaceApp, after all, just had a couple of hundred downloads before they entered the US market. 

Phase 3: FaceApp’s Organic Lift in The US Market 

FaceApp climbed to spot #1 from spot #1370 on the top free charts in the US within a whopping  5 days!

Publications and influencers started to go bonkers. Foreign sports teams and members were featured in various publications which further drove up the web referral traffic installs. Another interesting take here is that the app hardly had any installs before it started to become viral. Each user who was using the app was a ‘new user.’ It should be known that the key factor that contributes to an app’s virality is the absolute number of downloaded app units. The number of downloaded app units is determined by the ‘new installs’ of an app. And since all the users were ‘new users,’ it did not take too long for the app to top the charts.

  • On the first day in the US, the app experienced some 11K installations which had it climb the chart to  #7 in the top free chart
  • On day two in the US, the #7 spot drove an increase in browse traffic. Combined  with the influencer virality angle,  the installs grew to 200k installs
  • The installations just keep shooting up in numbers to as high as 711k installs per day by July 15. This was already enough for the app to become the #1 app on the top free app chart
Week 1 August 2019. Source: Appfigures

FaceApp Strategic Marketing Strategy: Why is Marketing Strategy important?

FaceApp really did make it big and its more than 10 million downloads, over 28.1k impressions on Twitter and over 5,000 reviews on Apple’s App Store account for this success. Social Media Platforms and digital platforms are increasingly becoming an essential part of the marketing strategy for brands. The world has gone digital and hence, a strategized digital marketing plan can majorly help advertisers to directly engage with their audiences in one place. 

FaceApp understood digital marketing very well and what really had FaceApp become a massive hit was its the news was the strategic marketing approach of the app. Strategic marketing is a tactic used by companies in order to create a plan that allows them to reach their targeted audience, satisfy their own sales, and eventually increasing profitability. 

FaceApp Growth Strategy: Influencer Marketing Strategy

Tons of apps are hosted on the play store and app store every day, what really was so unique about FaceApp that surged its popularity? It was the influencers. It might be suspected and is very much possible that the brand hired influencers and had them use the app, publish the results on social media against an amount. However, organically or inorganically, the app did make huge numbers. 

This only further proves for a fact that the marketers of Faceapp well understand the power of influencers when it comes to the growth of a business. FaceApp offered 21 features as free to use features while the other features were labeled as  ‘premium’ and could be bought against a sum. The premium features intended to yield better editing outcomes. #FOMO combined with FaceApps extraordinary marketing strategy, in turn, had people purchasing the premium features in no time!

How cheap or expensive is Influencer Marketing Strategy? 

It is now established for a fact that influencers play a great role in marketing a product. Even in your personal life, you would definitely know someone – if not you- who watches YouTube videos of influencers for reviews and suggestions before investing in a product. However, what does it take to have an influencer on board? What do apps like FaceApp pay the influencers as a part of their marketing strategy? There really is no ‘set’ market rate for influencers per see. It really depends majorly on the popularity of that influencer and the type of content generated by them. While some influencers may charge a rate as steep as 2,300$ per influencing post, some might charge way lesser, and the newbies could even do it for free. What price you really land on eventually with an influencer is heavily dependant on your rapport or negotiation skills with them. 

Before you hire an influencer for your brand or e-commerce business, however, you also need to understand the concept of “Ghost Followers.” A lot of influencers, you may have noticed, have thousands of followers on their Social Medi accounts, however, they might not have the engagement in those numbers. This is because a lot of influencers do tend to take the easy path of ‘buying’ followers which gets them a huge follower number but not huge engagement and activity. Look for a suitable follower that has a lot going on for them in their comment sections. Ensure that you personally read out some comments and views to assess the level of genuine and to make sure the comments are not generated by a bot.

Source: Twitter

Influencer Effect combined with the inherent Viral Component of FaceApp

It was actually not ONLY the influencers that drove the app to become what it did. It was also, as a matter of fact, the viral component of the app itself that made it famous. The influencers just catalyzed the entire process. For this very app, it was also very difficult for the public to even identify after a point of time if the shared posts were paid for or organic.

While the app had not even started to appear in the top 100 charts of the other countries, the US in specific was going crazy about it, having it appear on the #16 position by 12th July.

What other Marketing Strategies contributed to the massive success of FaceApp?

Social Media is excessively fueled by trends. Hashtag trends like #nobucketchallenge which became a major sensation back in time are completely forgotten today. However, when trends and challenges are still in trend, everyone wants to be a part of them. Everyone wants to be the cool person who has followed the trend or at least is up to date about it. Understanding the whole trend nuance is also what made FaceApp big and it was not just the Influencer Marketing angle.

  1. The makers and marketers of the app focused on something that would be liked, used, and shared by all. Everyone wants to know the future and everyone definitely wants a look into what they might look like in the future – accurate or not. People had their “old” pictures all over their Social Media accounts but not just there, the pictures also surfaced on dating app profiles of many! It was not just about the trend, it was a “fun” trend and everyone wanted to be a part of it.
  2. Each transformation picture generated by FaceApp had their watermark on the image. FaceApp understood the concept of branding in marketing and hence, due to the watermark on each image, people knew exactly where they could get transformational images of themselves.
  3. FaceApp targeted the young audience and eventually spread out to other demographics through word-of-mouth marketing. By using influencers, they reached out to the young audience on Social Media sites and that audience eventually shared their pictures on the web, eventually making the app a big deal.

Take-Aways from the growth strategy and marketing strategy of FaceApp-

 Some important tactics that can be learned from the marketing strategies of FaceApp that had them acquire the huge user base are as follows-

  • Influencer Marketing. This cannot be stressed enough. When a person known by the public, a person who has gained som credibility in the amrket, speaks to its audience on the web, the audience listens. Always.Especially for an app like this, the users would never even know if the celebrities are doing it for fun, just trying out for themselves or if they are doing it because they are paid to do it.
  • FaceApp had a viral component to it. Brands and businesses should look at finding a viral aspect for themselves that can have people talking about them. At times, brands even look at making shareable content in the form of social media posts and advertisements.
  • The FaceApp watermark. This very branding with the logo and watermark bridged a gap that could have otherwise existed if people had to put in efforts to figure out where to go and what to download.
  • FaceApp also created a domino effect. A lot of other apps with similar features were downloaded and started to top the charts on the app stores. This just further proves for a fact how important it is for the masses to stay in trend.

Final Thoughts-

As discussed, FaceApp was a mass celeb and mass user obsession. Even if you, as a brand are not looking to hire only influencers or depending on them for glorifying your product, including influencer marketing to some extent can really do wonders for your business. Considering how much time a general user spends on the web each day, be it social media or otherwise, marketing techniques relevant and valid on the web really need to be focused on. Brands need to excessively and obsessively looking at generating content that caught the user’s attention and haves them set apart from the crowd.

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