The word “influencer” is being thrown around a lot in content marketing. What is it? What makes someone an influencer? How can brands use influencers?
An influencer is someone who has clout in a particular community, like travel, fitness or food photography. Boasting a large number of followers and seen as experts in their fields, influencers set trends based on the content and ideas they share. In other words, when an influencer speaks, people listen.
Brands are constantly looking for fresh ways to stand out in an increasingly competitive and creative market. Tapping into influencers is an effective way to build brand awareness. Influencers can help strategize, socialize and maximize branded content and messaging.
Brands have executed some incredible influencer campaigns so far this year. Let’s take a look at my top three favorites of 2015 (so far).
Maybelline Malaysia: #DareToNeon
Maybelline Malaysia launched their #DareToNeon campaign, which brought awareness to their newly launched lip balm, Baby Lips Electro Pop. In order to elevate awareness of the new product, they partnered with nine Malaysian Instagram influencers. The brand-generated content was posted on both the brand’s and the influencers’ Instagram accounts using the #DareToNeon hashtag packing a one-two devotee punch. Taking the campaign one step further, they engaged their target demographic (tween to teenaged girls with a passion for fashion, beauty and glamour) with a socially driven contest.
Here are a handful of influencers who participated in Maybelline Malaysia’s campaign: Andrea Tan, model and brand ambassador, Kok Annie, model and brand ambassador and May Ho, model and brand ambassador.
Why It Works
Maybelline Malaysia embraced the strong influencer culture already present in the beauty industry and used this to leverage their #DareToNeon campaign on Instagram. By zeroing in on their target demographic from both the brand and influencer angle, Maybelline Malaysia was able to significantly raise awareness of their new product through their strategic campaign. Ultimately, there were more than 700 #DaretoNeon photos posted during the campaign. According to SimplyMeasured, #DaretoNeon content reached more than 300,000 people throughout the duration of the campaign, 128,000 of which directly engaged with the campaign.
- Stimulate fan advocacy by incorporating a socially driven and influencer-centered contest into your campaign as Maybelline Malaysia did. You can also use the contest as a way to source user-generated content (UGC), which provides your brand with word-of-mouth referrals, better SEO and more site engagement.
- Keep the engagement numbers in perspective. You may not score 1 million impressions or 500,000 likes on a post, but you’re targeting a very specific audience with an influencer-based campaign. This is high-level, niche marketing, so each interaction is worth more.
- Partner with a content marketing agency that specializes in the tactics to help you plan, execute and analyze your strategy. I happen to work and blog for a pretty great one.
Styld.by, Gap’s online style, shop, social and share hub, is a community of influencers showing how they pull together looks incorporating both Gap clothes their own wardrobes. Their looks are self-styled or put together by stylists, and photographed and shared on a variety of social media accounts. Gap benefits from the built-in networks of followers from all of these contributors, along with posting the UGC on their own social channels.
Here are a handful of influencers who participated in Gap’s campaign:
Sandra Riley Tang, musician for The Sam Willows: Tang’s self-styled looks are shared on her Instagram to her over 50,000 followers.
Caitlin Crosby, singer-songwriter and philanthropist: Crosby’s looks are styled by The Zoe Report and photographed by Monti Smith. She shared her looks on her Facebook and Instagram (over 40,000 followers combined).
Justin Livingston, lifestyle blogger and GQ Insider: Livingston’s looks are self-styled and shared on his blog and with his Facebook, Instagram and Twitter followers (over 170,000 combined!).
Why It Works
With 61% of consumers having based a purchase decision on blog content, bloggers have a significant amount of authority in the digital sphere. By working with influencers from a variety of fields, Gap was able to tap into already existing loyal audiences by featuring the influencers on Styld.by and having the influencers post the content to their personal social media channels. The Styld.by content hub encourages users to explore looks and trends by season and become inspired to share their personal style with the #styldby hashtag on Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr. Styld.by also lets users shop the looks featured directly through the site, making the experience seamless, interactive and user-friendly.
- Create a blog or content hub to share your brand story and provide consumers with valuable content. Both are a great way to meet potential consumers in the middle of the purchase journey and provide them with branded content that doesn’t oversell.
- Launch an Instagram campaign that encourages users to post about your brand or product using a specific hashtag and promote it across your website, social media pages and advertisements. A hashtag campaign lets you get a closer look into who is more likely to engage with your content, share it and be an ambassador for your brand.
- Identify the influencers in your field and start engaging with them now rather than later. This way, if you decide to embark on an influencer-based campaign, you’ve already laid the groundwork for the relationships with industry influencers.
Bellagio Las Vegas: #UltimateVegas
Bellagio Las Vegas selected 20 influencers across multiple fields to execute their comprehensive campaign #UltimateVegas with the world’s largest travel influencer on Instagram, Beautiful Destinations. The goals for the campaign included amplifying brand reach for both Bellagio Las Vegas and Beautiful Destinations, UGC and driving traffic to social and online property sites.
Here are a handful of influencers who participated in Bellagio Las Vegas’ campaign:
Markiplier, the second biggest YouTube gamer in the world with over 9 million current subscribers, posted content primarily on Instagram, where he as over 1 million followers. He also posted a video celebrating 8 million YouTube subscribers, with a nod to the Bellagio for making it possible to reach such a milestone.
Amanda Cerny, model, actress and Vine star, promoted the content to her 1.8 million followers on Instagram, almost 300,000 followers on Twitter and over 3 million followers on Vine.
Jack Morris, founder of online lifestyle and travel blog Doyoutravel, shared several snaps on his Instagram with his almost 900,000 followers, of his time at the Bellagio.
Why It Works
The eight-week campaign touted original, on-property content created by a group of 20 influencers which was then shared to their Instagram, Vine, YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter accounts. A UGC contest supported the influencer campaign, allowing users to upload their most epic travel photos with the #UltimateVegas hashtag. The image posted on Bellagio’s Instagram that garnered the most likes after a 24-hour period would win an ultimate trip to Las Vegas. To date, there have been close to 43,000 posts tagged with #UltimateVegas. The contest served to further the awareness and momentum of not only the campaign, but also of the Bellagio Las Vegas property.
- Establish a set period to run your campaign and/or contest. This heightens the excitement of your campaign and gives you an exact date range to measure your engagement and analytics.
- Encourage influencers to share content on all of their social channels and repost their content on your brand’s social channels. That way, you’re helping build your influencers’ following, while building yours at the same time.
- Give your influencers some guidelines and then allow them to create all of the content for your campaign. By allowing them to determine the direction of the campaign, both the campaign and the subsequent audience engagement will grow more organically.
For an influencer campaign of this proportion, be ready to spend some big bucks. Working with influencers of this caliber doesn’t come cheap, but if you have the budget, the benefits can be great. For brands that haven’t partnered with influencers on a campaign like one of these, don’t worry. This tactic is growing in popularity, but unlike other trendy marketing strategies, influencer marketing won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Refer to our Stealworthy Strategies, get your Benjamins ready and we’ll see you in the Winner’s Circle!