Did you know that there are about 198 million people who actively use Adblock? This means that your banner ads aren't reaching these users at all. Between June 2014 and June 2015, ad blocker usage grew by 48% in the U.S. alone - and even more concerning, as of March 2016, more than 400 million people were actively using mobile browsers that automatically blocks ads, otherwise known as mobile adblocking browsers.
So what can you do to get past all this and reach your target audience? How will an entirely new audience base learn about your brand and how amazing your products are if you can't even reach them?
The answer lies in influencers.
Influencers are those individuals who have a certain level of impact on consumers' purchase decisions. An influencer can be anyone from a blogger, a celebrity, a YouTube star, or even a social media persona. The best part is that consumers trust these influencers and their opinions, meaning that they can directly impact how they feel about your brand, in addition to educating them about your products. Choosing an influencer that's relevant to your brand and your brand values can help you raise awareness about your brand to their band of followers.
Here's a look at some of effective ways for increasing brand awareness with the help of influencers:
1. Promote Your Partnership Through Account Takeovers
The idea behind having influencers take over your social media account is that they'll invite their network over to yours. Once you decide to have an account takeover campaign, the influencer(s) will promote the partnership to their audience and invite them to witness their experience through your account. Through account takeovers, you're opening your brand to an entirely new audience and also surprising your existing network with fresh content.
You can have influencers take control of your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Snapchat account for a day - or maybe even an entire week. Maybe they can showcase their experiences exploring your store or doing something related to your brand. If you own a hotel chain, for instance, you can have travel bloggers or celebrities take over your Instagram account, where they could showcase themselves lounging by the pool or enjoying a drink at the bar of your hotel.
American Express excels in social media takeovers in which they let influential members take over their Instagram account and showcase their unique journeys and experiences. They choose to work with a wide variety of influencers - from small business owners to designers and photographers.
Their partnership with New York-based florists, Putnam Flowers highlighted the journey of the husband-florist duo in creating a one-of-a-kind centerpiece.
During the takeover period, the American Express Instagram account was updated with posts that took followers through the process of sourcing the flowers.
They went on to guide the followers through the creation process up until they could display the finished product.
Before you undertake a social media takeover campaign, you need to be sure that the influencer is relevant to you brand and also expresses themselves in tune with your brand values. They should be able to produce content in a way that gets your message across to the right audience.
2. Stand Up for a Cause
If you're in marketing, it's likely that you already know about cause marketing and how powerful it can be - especially with Millenials. But influencers can help you take it up a notch and pull off your campaign in a genuine and relatable way. No matter how loyal your customers are, they're still going to see you as a brand and not as people. So whatever message you try to deliver - no matter how relatable - may seem staged for some of them. With influencers, you're able to promote the cause of your choosing through individuals that your audience can truly relate to, which can enhance the impact of your message.
Coca-Cola did an excellent job in partnership with Ogilvy when they launched the #OpenUp campaign with the help of influencers. The goal was to support Muslim consumers and build brand affinity on an international level, so they worked with Kuwaiti influencer Ascia AKF, creator of a line of baby slings and shoes called Desert Baby. They also worked with Saudi chef Badr Fayez. Both influencers opened up and shared their personal stories, which addressed the challenges of being a Muslim in today's world.
When Ascia shared the video through her Instagram account, the post received more than 27,000 likes and thousands of comments in no time. All in all, the #OpenUp campaign got more than 580,000 interactions, generating more than 11,000,000 impressions. But the most impressive result was Coca Cola seeing a 42% increase in its Brand Love score during the campaign.
Another excellent example of brands teaming up with influencers to promote a cause is how Boxed Water is building brand affinity with a combination of cause and influencer marketing. The company first partnered with the National Forest Foundation with the goal of planting a million trees in high-need areas by 2020. In an effort to promote this cause, Boxed Water then connected with some top influencers including Christen Press of the U.S. National Women's Soccer Team.
Celebrities like Alyssa Milano have also joined in on the mission, encouraging followers to share their own photos using the tag #Retree. In return for each tag, Boxed Water will plant two trees in the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon. As of today, the company has planted more than 250,000 trees through this project.
3. Create Sponsored Content to Encourage Word of Mouth
When you're looking to raise awareness about your business with an entirely new audience, you need to introduce your brand in a way that will resonate with them. Influencers can help you do just that by creating sponsored content that doesn't look staged or unnatural. They already know what kind of content speaks to their followers, so they can easily fit your product or service into a setting that feels natural and follows closely with their typical content. This will encourage their audience to share the content or talk about your product with their friends.
Unboxing videos, tutorials, and reviews are some excellent ideas for sponsored content if the influencer's content largely comprises of similar content. This approach is especially useful because it gives the audience a closer look at your product, helping them understand the features and benefits - they're basically taking a tour of your product with the guidance of the influencers, which means they're going to know a lot more about your brand than they did before watching the video or reading the review.
For example, Target recently partnered with young Youtuber EvanTubeHD, who has more than 3,000,000 subscribers on main channel, to create unboxing videos of their toys. The partnership between them has helped Target raise more awareness about their store and their products - the unboxing video for The Force Awakens Surprise Box alone had more than 8,000,000 views with a little over 27,000 likes.
Some influencers even combine review and tutorial content, as DramaticMAC did when she recently reviewed some Primark Makeup and provided a tutorial for the same. DramaticMAC is a beauty vlogger with more than 400,000 subscribers on YouTube.
Primark Makeup have also partnered with several other beauty vloggers and makeup artists, like Kate's Beauty Salon, who has more than 50,000 YouTube subscribers. The makeup artist also tested and reviewed the makeup range while providing a tutorial at the same time. Her video generated more than 200,000 views, boosting awareness of the brand.
One thing to remember about creating word-of-mouth through sponsored content is that you need to determine the kind of audience you're marketing to, their interests, and the influencers they follow. So marketing video games or tech products would naturally mean you will need to create sponsored content with video game reviewers, gadget reviewers, etc. The content should also provide useful information that helps the audience learn more about the product in order to further strengthen affinity towards your brand.
4. Host Giveaways and Competitions
One of the most effective methods of creating brand awareness is by hosting giveaways through influencers. Influencers can promote a certain giveaway campaign to their followers and encourage them to take a certain action that will help them win some freebies or discounts.
For example, the influencer could introduce a branded hashtag and give instructions to their followers on how to use the tag for a chance to win some goodies from your business. A good idea is to introduce the giveaway products in the image, so participants know exactly what they're getting. The influencer could also encourage their followers to follow your brand's social media account and Like your posts for a chance to win the giveaway contest.
Zevia soda worked with influencers like artist Jade Sheldon to promote their brand through branded hashtags and giveaways. Sheldon posted a high-quality image in which Zevia sodas were poised in a natural and appealing setting. The caption gave instructions about a giveaway, where participants could win $500 Visa gift-cards from the brand - all they had to do was to follow the brand on Instagram and then tag three of their friends in any one of the brand's posts.
This type of influencer marketing campaign not only creates awareness about your brand but also engages the audience. Since they need to undertake a certain action in order to win something, you also end up with a lot more user-generated content.
5. Celebrate an Event or Brand Milestone
Working with influencers to celebrate a brand milestone or a special event is an excellent way to raise awareness about your brand to those who aren't familiar with it. You could celebrate an anniversary or achieving a milestone of gaining a certain number of followers. You could even celebrate special occasions like Mothers' Day, Fathers' Day, or Earth Day through influencers, while encouraging your new audience to celebrate with you.
There are a number of ways to celebrate an event. For example, you could have a huge party with a bunch of influencers and brand advocates. This is what Hellmann's did to celebrate its 100th year milestone. The celebration involved a huge party in New York City and was hosted by celebrity chef Mario Batalli. There were more than 2,000 attendees including top celebrities like Katie Holmes and basketball legend Paul Pierce.
In addition, Hellmann's reached its fans across the nation by hosting a customer-radio contest. They invited fans to participate for a chance to win a trip to attend the Blue Ribbon event. The brand even managed to set a Guinness World Record for assembling the largest ever picnic table.
One of the most noteworthy influencer partnerships is the Birchbox partnership with Christina Zilber, who is the founder of Jouer Cosmetics. Zilber participated in one of the Birchbox Instagram takeover campaigns and created a Mothers' Day special giveaway. She invited followers to share beauty tips they learnt from a special mom in order to get a chance to win some products from Jouer Cosmetics. The post generated thousands of comments and more than 3,500 likes.
Through this campaign, Birchbox made use of influencer marketing in three different ways - social media account takeover, giveaways, and celebration of a special occasion. Similarly, you can also customize your own campaign and combine a couple or more of these strategies to take your influencer marketing campaign to the next level.
Now you have some excellent ideas for creating brand awareness through influencers and you have the examples to help you understand the process even better. Remember that in order for your campaign to be successful, you need to work with someone whom your audience looks up to and who can naturally express your brand message.