If you haven’t noticed the rise of influencer marketing campaigns, you haven’t been paying attention. Influencer marketing is the cousin of celebrity endorsement — updated for today’s consumer.
With traditional celebrity endorsements, you’d have a well-known person appear in your TV commercial or ad. With influencer marketing, you’re playing more to authenticity by getting well-known figures to integrate your product into their daily lives and share the result on social media, YouTube, and in blog posts.
The end goal of both is the same — selling through social proof. But the difference is palpable — 92 percent of people trust an influencer over an ad or traditional celebrity endorsement. As a result, influencer campaigns are going to become more and more important in the coming years. Savvy marketers need to strategize a plan of action.
If you’re not sure where to start, take a page out of the book of these three successful influencer campaigns and the lessons they teach us.
Glossier is a beauty brand that’s seen exponential growth since its launch in 2014. Four years prior to its launch, the brand’s founder, Emily Weiss, began building a content site — Into the Gloss — which is a destination for reviews and profiles on all things beauty.
The brand has used the power of their content platform to turn everyday people into influencers. Using the hashtag #ITGtopshelfie, Into the Gloss asks its audience to share a glimpse into their beauty cabinet or bag via a photo on Instagram. The best shares are turned into blog posts that highlight the person’s story and beauty picks. Regular people are elevated to celebrity status and each of their individual networks are tapped as a sphere of influence.
Glossier also has influencer marketing campaigns with well-known individuals and these two approaches in tandem have been the main driver of their growth thus far.
Takeaway: You don’t have to have a Kardashian on speed dial to create a successful influencer campaign. Certainly, the bigger following an influencer has the bigger the impact, but marketers know that targeted is better than broad. Sometimes putting your own audience members in the influencer seat can drive authentic connection that yields results.
Blue Apron is a meal-in-a-box delivery service in an increasingly saturated market. Most of these services offer similar pricing and models, so Blue Apron needed a way to stand out.
They started as most influencer campaigns do — with blogs and social media (nearly half of marketers using influencer campaigns use blogs and 87 percent create content on Facebook and Instagram). Posts of everyone from former contestants from The Bachelor to Olympians such as Michael Phelps cooking Blue Apron meals became so ubiquitous, that brand awareness couldn’t help but grow. And by providing each influencer with a unique promo code, Blue Apron created a low barrier to entry and the ability to track each influencer’s impact.
Most recently, Blue Apron has started turning to podcasts to find their influencers. They not only sponsor the content, but get the hosts excited about the product and talking about it in their own unique way.
Takeaway: Influencer marketing campaigns aren’t one and done. Repetition is the key to memory so plan your campaign to build upon a customer journey. The more they see your product, the less they’ll be able to ignore it. Covering multiple channels at the right intervals will require the power of a marketing automation tool, so be sure to have the right one in place before embarking on your campaign.
I Am a Witness by Ad Council
In 2015, the Ad Council called upon the power of influencers to spread the word about their anti-bullying campaign, I Am a Witness, and the related emoji keyboard that participants could use to call bullying.
The creators of the campaign were targeting teens, 88 percent of whom have witnessed online bullying, so they looked for strong influencers with that demographic. The cornerstone of the influencer campaign was a video in which influential YouTubers read aloud the meanest comments they had received online then talked about next steps to combat bullying. They also had individual YouTubers post to their own channels with videos that mentioned the campaign, like this one, in which Grace Helbig paints her face like the “old man” emoji then talks about the I Am a Witness emoji.
In less than four months, the videos got more than 19 million views and the emoji keyboard was downloaded nearly 20,000 times.
Takeaway: The power of influencers is that they can speak in the voice of your demographic — a voice you may lack. Don’t be over-instructive when working with influencers. Instead, let them take the lead with ideas. The video example above may not make a whole lot of sense to a marketing manager more than 10 years out of college, but it clearly spoke to teens.
Influencer campaigns are everywhere. To get inspiration, you only need to open your favorite social media profile, turn on a podcast, or read a blog. Think about your audience, ask the influencers for input, use a marketing automation tool, and plan for the long-term and you’ll be set up for success.