One word: Authenticity. With merely 1% of millennials relying on traditional forms of advertising to make purchase decisions, there’s a massive need for quality influencers who can be the bridge between brands and their targets. People are simply getting fed up with ads being shoved up their personal space, messing up their Youtube binges and cramping up their Facebook feed. Some resort to ad blockers, while others go as far as media fasting. With such extreme measures and negativity against traditional media, people need a beacon they can trust: the friendly neighborhood influencer.
About 4 in 10 millennials believe that their favorite influencer understands them more than their family and friends. As an influencer, you’ve probably experienced the special bond that forms only when the content resonates on a personal level with your audience. You’ve been doing this for weeks, months, or years, and you love what you do for content whether it be outdoor activities, fashion, food, or what have you. With proper guidance and expectations, brands can harness this passion to boost their organic sales and traffic immensely.
Read on to learn about the status quo of influencer marketing. Below are real world examples and situations so you can design your own unique strategy to engage your audience on the next level.
The World Of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is a social media marketing tactic that entails you, an influencer, partnering with an established brand.The partnership involves:
- Promoting their brand
- Endorsing their products or service
- Doing a content collaboration with the primary goal of optimizing brand appeals and driving sales
- Financial compensation or product compensation
- Access to a wider audience and network, including future collaborations
Influencer marketing relies on human connection and authenticity to spark natural and authentic conversations about a brand sans the tacky ads. Compared to traditional celebrity endorsements, as influencers, you are more targeted, hugely in part to you being a regular individual who found fame by doing what you love on social media.
Influencer marketing’s typical image may involve skinny Instagram models sipping tequilas and doing yoga poses on a yacht. Still, the world of influencer marketing is incredibly diverse and spontaneous, with thousands of potential influencer and brand opportunities in every area. The key here is to find a brand who resonates with your persona.
Influencer Campaigns: Explore Your Options
If you’re active on most social media platforms, you might have already come across some of the influencer campaigns below. The playing field is wildly imaginative and drives influence in more ways than one.
One of the most widely known and primary types of influencer campaigns, sponsored content is a straightforward way a company promotes their products. It does serve benefits to both the influencer and the brand. The company reaches out to you as an influencer with an offer to promote their products or services for monetary compensation or compensation via the product they want you to promote. In the same way, you should actively reach out to companies for a sponsorship campaign. Depending on the agreement, the final output is usually a photograph, video, or blog write-up highlighting their product.
The initial parts of these campaigns involve an intensive briefing about the company’s specific guidelines, requirements, and limitations regarding the type of content you can produce or post. Doing so protects you from swaying too far from your niche, while protecting the brand from any content faux pas in the post.
Competitions and Giveaways
Who doesn’t love a contest? When the stakes aren’t too high, and the process isn’t too intensive, there’s bound to be plenty of participants. There are many ways you can facilitate this event as an influencer. Depending on the rules from the brand, you can have your followers like, comment, and tag a certain number of people on the post, or even ask them to include unique content like their childhood experience with the brand. This usually leads to you getting free products, but can also build up your fan base, especially if you are a medium-sized influencer; this is a great way to gain more followers. It is also an excellent way for people to feel a genuine, emotional connection to your social media campaign. Plus, it’s fun!
As a long-term ambassador, over time, you become the “face” of a brand’s product—akin to how celebrities work in a long-running series of TV commercials, like Terry Crews in Old Spice. You could be consistently promoting the brand for months to years.
An influencer usually becomes long-term when they have stellar success from a one-time campaign. Frequent promotions also give you a wide variety of offerings while fostering trust and genuine connection between the brand and the people.
A takeover campaign gives you the freedom to use a company’s social media platforms for a certain period. Usually, this happens anywhere from a single day to a week, depending on the occasion or event. This can result in quite spontaneous content like “a-day-in-the-life-of’ or spoofy behind the scenes. This tends to be more risky for brands since there is fear of you going haywire or using their password for malicious purposes. For this method to work, you must first establish a high level of trust between you and the brand to ensure that you get the most out of this collaboration.
Applications like Snapchat make it easy to conduct takeover campaigns that give influencers full access to a brand’s account without giving over any personal details. This might be the social media takeover pitch that will give you the best results in order to build trust.
Review campaigns work on the premise that the influencer has never used or seen the product/service beforehand. You will use the product, testing out its pros and cons methodically before giving feedback either through a blog post or Youtube vlog. This type of campaign can also operate on a predetermined set of guidelines established between you and the brand.
Be aware that the contract can urge you to tout only the products’ positive sides or they may be open to allowing you the creative freedom to flat-out admit their product is crappy. Your setup depends on the level of risk the brand can stomach for their brand’s image.
Collaborations: Product and Content
Product collaborations are campaigns that entail brands working hand in hand with influencers to create a product line that incorporates the influencer and the brand. This is quite common with sneakers or beauty products, with prominent influencers creating one-of-a-kind spinoff product lines. This method is most often implemented by companies that have manufacturing capacity, and with larger influencers who already have an established fan base.
Influencer Marketing In Action: 10 Real-Life Examples
Marriott was one of the first-ever hospitality and tourism brands to hop on the influencer train. An example of a largely successful marketing campaign was when they worked with internet sensation Jeana Smith (@PrankVsPrank), who has over 8 million Youtube subscribers. The occasion was to commemorate one million Marriott app check-ins. The video posted included a surprise dance party for the smartphone user who reached the landmark check-in. This quickly went viral, garnering almost four million views.
Being an influencer means you have to think outside of the box more often than not. It’s a huge help not to get all caught up in the details when planning a campaign. Brands like Marriott rely on your ability to produce content that reflects your individuality and personality. Although, from time to time, brands will set some mainstays for your content, don’t let it muddle up your entire concept. After all, it’s what made you stand out.
Lagavulin distillery is a malt whiskey company that distills spirits into a single malt scotch whisky. Lagavulin is a brand known mainly in whisky connoisseur circles but not exactly a weekend go-to for the average bar hopper. That fact changed almost overnight when comedian and actor Nick Offerman, who played the famous manly character “Ron Swanson” in Parks and Rec, sat through a whopping forty-five-minute video doing nothing but sipping a cup of Lagavulin in silence.
Lagavulin needed a bridge to non-whisky connoisseurs and they found the perfect personification in Nick Offerman: simple, masculine, and meme-friendly. When selecting a brand to endorse, pick something that embodies your personal brand image and personality. When you keep producing consistent and relevant content, brands related to your genre will be naturally attracted and you’ll be receiving those endorsement emails in no time.
Fiji Water collaborated with Instagram influencer Danielle Bernstein (@weworewhat) to create one of their most successful campaigns
Fiji Water aimed to come across as the beverage of choice for the health-conscious, and Bernstein was deemed their poster girl. At the time, Bernstein’s channel, We Wore What, had over 150,000 committed and devoted fans. The campaign was seen as a novel and exciting way to reach out to prospective customers.
This is another case of success by just staying relevant to your niche and churning out interesting content. Bernstein’s tweets about Fiji Water felt less like a scripted sponsorship and more like an open diary of what she was focusing on at the time.
Audible offers subscription memberships for audiobooks and podcasts on the Amazon platform. Its marketing staff regularly collaborates with actors and influencers of all ages, even micro-influencers. In one Instagram post caption, photographer Jesse Driftwood (@jessedriftwood) mentioned using Audible to learn more about business strategy and competitiveness.
This is a particularly good example for a micro-influencer: Jesse Driftwood has less than 100,000 followers now (and had far less at the time). Still, the Audible team understood that his fans are particularly passionate and committed based on how he interacted with them. His simplistic anecdote gave followers the impression that they are getting a genuine peer recommendation.
British Airways flew 100 technology leaders with differing degrees of authority from Silicon Valley to London to unveil the company’s “UnGrounded” engineering lab. During the ride, the influencers discussed ideas for a digital forum that would allow techno-savvies like themselves to tackle global issues effectively. The flight demonstrated how brilliant things can come to fruition 30,000 feet in the air.
British Airways was able to highlight aviation’s commercial appeal while launching a media-friendly advertisement. The individual posts by the micro-influencers, Forbes, TechCrunch, and Wired covered UnGrounded’s first ride. Because of the influencers’ reach and increased media coverage, the airline could cater to a small audience segment of tech industry business travelers.
St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, another legendary hotel company, is better known for catering to affluent tourists. St. Regis hoped to expand its average audience by marketing the Monarch Beach resort as a family-friendly destination. In a blog and video, Naomi Davis (@taza), a blogger and social media influencer outlined her experience after visiting the location with her family over Father’s Day weekend.
Working with a brand outside of your scope can also be a strategy on the brand’s part to change their image. Most parents would not think of St. Regis while preparing a family holiday. Still, by working with a famous “mommy blogger,” the company avoided a stuffy brand appearance and highlighted facilities that catered to children. Partnerships like this are an excellent way to begin targeting secondary markets without altering the course of the whole marketing campaign and isolating current consumers.
Virgin was launching three nonstop flights from the United States to Manchester, and they wanted to increase travel intent by emphasizing Northern England’s rolling landscapes and historic charm. Their marketing agency, Travel Mindset, created an influencer marketing strategy that included branded content on a consumer travel portal and their award-winning sister publication iExplore. The advertisement also featured 360-degree footage, allowing viewers to see the journey from each influencer’s eyes.
Since most airlines have similar service and services, influencer marketing must also be about more than just branding. Virgin was able to enlist the assistance of two non-competitive companies, Marketing Manchester and Visit Britain, by concentrating on the destination—resulting in more convincing material for the initiative.
Tom’s of Maine
Tom’s of Maine creates toiletries with all-natural materials. By inspiring consumers to try their brands and post about them on social media, the organization hoped to raise brand interest among health-conscious shoppers. Tom’s targeted micro-influencers inspired their fans to share their content. In the first three months of the campaign, this approach created a snowball impact that hit 4.4 million new buyers.
While it’s tempting for brands to subscribe to the narrative that more followers equates to a better reach, more and more are placing greater emphasis on engagement score. You could have garnered a million followers over the years but ceased to create engagement with them—resulting in a dwindling number of likes, shares, comments, and other factors that make up your engagement profile. This is more common with macro-influencers which is why some companies opt to have micro-influencers who are usually much more active to endorse their products.
Dunkin’ Donuts and their advertising agency, Trilla, agreed to publicize National Donut Day. They partnered with Collab, a digital talent network and entertainment studio, to create a national Snapchat campaign with visually appealing original content.
Dunkin’ Donuts created a promotional deal for the day, and Collab selected lifestyle creators to share content about the deal on Snapchat in their respective cities. They chose eight well-known influencers to create and distribute teaser content.
The eight influencers took over the Dunkin’ Donuts Snapchat channel on National Donut Day. Since it was broadcast through three time zones and three cities in the United States, the advertisement lasted more than 24 hours. The influencers directed their followers to Dunkin’ Donuts locations to take advantage of the free offer.
On National Donut Day, Dunkin’ Donuts was able to attract ten times the number of followers to their snapchat channel they’ve gotten over the past few months. With the right content, your takeover campaign as an influencer can achieve massive results as long as it’s fun and engaging. It can be advantageous to be familiar with SnapChat as their platform is highly compatible with takeovers.
Laci Green, best known for her YouTube sex-ed channel of over 2 million subscribers, hosts MTV Pants Off, a Snapchat sex-ed show. The Snapchat program was meant to provide young people with reliable and timely sex education.
MTV’s aim was to use Laci, a sex education influencer, to assist confused teens on Snapchat, a new site for MTV. For eight weeks, Pants Off “played” on Snapchat every Saturday.
Their guest plan was to allow influencers with large followings who were relaxed discussing sex and relationships to be filmed for the broadcast. There were several genuine exchanges with guests from various social media platforms.
An episode of Pants Off received an average 3–5 million views with hundreds of thousands of shares. There were a total of 439,000 messages, not counting extra Facebook cross-posting. As an influencer, a good measure of content is the difference it makes in other people’s lives. Is your content making a positive impact on others? Then you’re on the right track. Laci Green was able to achieve massive success with her campaign because of her already-established reputation as an educator.
The digital marketing landscape changes rapidly without warning, often leaving brands agape and standing in the dust. Loss of proper online engagement leads to loss of following, leading to an evaporating market share and budget.
Influencer marketing is a new player in the game, driving awareness like no traditional marketing has ever done before. As an influencer, you are a beacon of authenticity and credibility in a digital world that rapidly fades in and out. Companies can produce excellent content, gain credibility, and earn exposure through your connections. Creating your own content entails learning the inner workings of SEO, which you can easily learn from a guide about Amazon suspension, containing principles easily applicable to other platforms as well.
Jayce Broda is the managing director of Seller Interactive, the number one Amazon advertising agency based in Canada that helps brands build their business on Amazon. His content marketing expertise has led him to work with brands such as Toyota and GoDaddy, producing content that has reached over 20M views in a month.