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VH1 Employs Digital Celebs to Promo Nicole Richie’s ‘Candidly Nicole’

VH1 is paying five social-media “influencers” to appear in videos promoting season two of “Candidly Nicole” starring Nicole Richie — aimed at getting fans of big Instagram, Twitter and YouTube personalities to tune into the reality TV show this summer.

And there’s another benefit to the tactic: The Viacom-owned cabler will spend far less to market “Candidly Nicole” via the social stars than it would through conventional advertising to reach millions of eyeballs, said Caralene Robinson, VH1’s exec VP of marketing.

“This is absolutely way more efficient,” she said. “We know the reach of the influencers, and we expect these videos to be very shareable.”

Aside from two billboards in L.A. primarily targeted at the trade, VH1 is only spending marketing dollars for “Candidly Nicole” on social promotion. The show follows Richie’s quirky explorations of different topics including relationships, race, gay rights and art, loosely based on thoughts she posts to her Twitter feed.

The five social celebs, who have an aggregate fanbase of 8.4 million followers, are: The Fat Jew, comic-actor-writer Josh Ostrovsky, who has 5 million followers on Instagram alone; baddiewinkle, an 86-year-old Kentucky grandma who posts her offbeat antics on Twitter and Instagram; YouTube fashion vlogger Jenn ImHannah Bronfman, DJ, model, entrepreneur and fitness expert with a sizable presence on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat; and Girl With No Job, former New York U. student Claudia Oshry, who has made a career from blogging about not wanting a job.

“I follow all of them, and we’re mutual fans of each other,” said Richie, daughter of singer Lionel Richie. Bronfman, she noted, will be appearing in the upcoming season of “Candidly Nicole.”

The five short videos show Richie in different adventures with each social star. They’ll launch over the two weeks leading up to VH1’s season two premiere July 29.

Richie actually has a bigger digital persona than most of the social-media figures she’s teamed up with: She has 4.8 million Twitter followers and 2.6 million Instagram fans.

VH1’s half-hour “Candidly Nicole” is based on AOL’s shortform original “#CandidlyNicole,” which ran for two seasons on the Internet site. (VH1 dispensed with the hashtag for the TV version in the belief the show would be easier to find without it.) At this point, Richie said, there are no talks with AOL for a third season.

Richie and the five social personalities will share the videos with their followers, and VH1 also will publicize them through paid posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. During the show’s eight-week run, the cabler will continue to focus on digital marketing, which is set to include Richie live-tweeting each episode.

VH1’s target demo for the show are adult millennial females “who are big consumers of pop culture, very much active in digital and social space,” Robinson said. The new campaign reflects those consumers’ shifting media-consumption patterns: “At the end of the day we have to get it right, because this is where our audience lives.”

In another “Candidly Nicole” marketing component, VH1 and Richie have pacted with Birchbox, which delivers curated packages of product samples to customers for $10 per month. Under the deal, Richie will select assorted beauty products for an upcoming Birchbox shipment.

“Candidly Nicole” is produced by Warner Bros.’ Telepictures, World of Wonder and Richie’s Honey Child Prods. for VH1. The 33-year-old’s previous TV gigs include five seasons on Fox’s “The Simple Life” with her socialite pal Paris Hilton.

Watch the teaser video for the “Candidly Nicole” promos with the social stars:

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