The concept of influencer marketing isn't new.
For decades, brands have been profiting from the influence of top celebrities in the entertainment and sports industries - as of late, however, there have been some changes in the ways in which brands are using influencers to expand the reach of their message.
Instead of just focusing on mainstream celebrities, social media influencers like YouTubers and Instagrammers are now making a big impact. Expanding from billboards and TV ads, brands are also now looking to social media platforms to boost their influencer marketing strategies.
Combining the traditional and new media channels together, however, can be extremely effective and can help you leverage your marketing efforts and take your promotions to the next level.
If you're new to influencer marketing, you might face a few challenges in integrating the two channels, so here are a few ideas that'll help you seamlessly integrate influencers into your social media marketing plan.
1. Co-create Enagaging Content
Social media influencers are influential for a reason. They may not be top celebrities but they know what kind of content their followers want to see. Because of this, it's worth using their creativity to produce content that'll resonate with their audience.
Social media platforms make for an excellent channel to distribute content and make it go viral. Sadly, creating viral content is no easy feat, particularly if you're not sure of exactly what it is your target audience wants to see. As such, working with influencers is a great way to create unique, shareable content. They know what kind of content your audience likes and can help you promote that co-created content to their own host of followers.
An example of effective, co-created content is how travel vlogger Jack Harries of JacksGap recently helped Marriott create a series of unique travel videos. Each of the videos showcases his tour of one city, where he experiences the best of what each has to offer within just 24 hours. With more than 4 million YouTube subscribers, JacksGap was able to bring the Marriott-branded content to a large audience and the "24 Hours in..." series of videos averaged at around 800,000 views.
The videos also showed the inside of the rooms he stayed at in the various Marriott Hotels and ended with him going back to each hotel room to get some quality rest. Their "24 Hours in Tokyo" video even managed to get more than a million views and around 3,000 shares.
2. Let Them Feature Your Product
One of the easiest ways to work with influencers on social media is to have them post images which feature your product - you send them freebies and samples of your products, witch which they can create posts featuring your product and tagging your brand. It could be images of the influencers using or wearing the product but it could also be images of your product positioned in a well-designed setting.
When an influencer vouches for your product, it can have a huge impact on what your target audience feels about the product. Even if they don't verbally praise the product, showing it in a beautiful setting can help boost purchase interest.
An excellent example is how blogger Paulina of @deer.home uses her Instagram account to showcase products in a clean and inviting setting. The screenshot below displays a phone case and a day planner from Nunuco Design.
In another one of her posts, Paulina showcases herself wearing a watch from Square Street. As you can see in the screenshot below, the watch is placed in a natural setting that simply shows two people having ice cream. Her posts often manage to get thousands of likes, eneabling her to generate big exposure for these brands.
Before you blindly send out freebies to the influencers, make sure you conduct thorough research on them and see if they do sponsored posts. You should also reach out to them first and see if they'd appreciate getting free stuff from you, otherwise, your efforts could go horribly wrong and may damage your brand reputation.
3. Create and Promote Unique Discount Codes
It's not just an assumption that discounts drive sales, various case studies have established that discounts help retailers in getting more people to convert. However, some marketers might find it risky to provide discounts on a large-scale basis. If you're not so keen on providing discounts to each and every visitor on your site, influencer marketing on social media channels is your solution.
The idea is to create discount codes unique to each influencer you're working with. For example, if the influencer's name is John Smith and you're giving a 10% discount to his followers, you can use the code JSX10. While the code can be anything you want, making it unique to each influencer will make it easier for you to track their contributions to your campaign - the number of customers using the code can be considered as the number of converted leads the influencer has sent you.
Once the code is created, the influencer can then promote it amongst their followers and fans. A good idea is to accompany this code with attractive images, preferably featuring your product in a setting that stays true to the influencer's usual style. YouTubers can add the discount code in their video description, which can work really well, especially if the video features your product in some way or the other.
Here's another example from Square Street partnering with Instagram influencers to promote a special discount code. In the screenshot below, you can see an influential travel account @exploresaurabhya displaying a photo featuring one of Square Street's watches. The description mentions a special code for a 20% discount on the watches.
Qupid Shoes worked with blogger Karlee Andrews who posted an image of herself wearing a pair of shoes from the brand along with a special discount code. This helped expose the brand to her 16,000+ followers and encouraged them to make a purchase.
There is a difference between an influencer mentioning your product and an influencer promoting a discount code for your product. The first technique may create a desire to purchase, but it may not necessary compel followers to buy the product. By giving a special discount code, they're helping you achieve both goals of creating desire and encouraging purchase.
4. Let Them Take Over Your Social Media
Successful influencer marketing goes hand-in-hand with building meaningful relationships with influencers - when your relationship with an influencer is more authentic, it's going to resonate through the content they create on your brand's behalf. They're going to feel more compelled to truly promote your product in a genuine and convincing manner, and as a result, you may be more successful in establishing trust with the influencer's loyal fans and followers. This is why many brands have started implementing influencer takeovers into their social media marketing plan.
An influencer takeover is where you hand over the reins of your social media account/s to an influencer relevant to your niche. There are plenty of benefits to this technique. First, you're surprising your audience with fresh, unique content. At the same time, you're also exposing your content to a new audience if the influencer is promoting the takeover through their own social media account. Basically, influencer takeovers on social media can build brand awareness, win over a new audience, and intrigue an existing audience.
Mumbai Metro partners with local artists, poets, and other creatives who are micro-influencers in their own niches. An excellent example is their partnership with Mumbai-based artist Deeganto for an Instagram takeover. The artist intrigued Mumbai Metro followers with images that showcase his artwork in a setting that's relevant to the account.
This interesting take on Mumbai Metro gives you a clear idea how influencers can enrich your content and give your audience a fresh and unusual look into your product or brand.
Here's another example - Wilton Cakes, who got Flour Shop's Amirah Kassem to take over their Instagram account.
The baker described her favorite part of baking and asked the audience to share their own stories. This particular image received more than 12,000 likes and generated plenty of engagement in the form of comments. This example shows how social media takeovers by influencers can be an effective way to engage your audience.
5. Host Contests and Giveaways
If your goal is to increase your engagement rate, hosting contests and giveaways through influencers is a highly effective tactic. It may not be enough to simply advertise a giveaway contest to your existing audience - with an influencer promoting your brand's giveaway contest, they not only help you build awareness about your brand but also encourage their audience to engage with your brand.
The key to making this work lies in setting up rules for entering the contest. Maybe you could have users follow your brand's social media account if you're looking to increase your reach. You could also encourage people to like and comment on your posts if you're aiming for an increased engagement rate. No matter how you do it, make sure the influencer clarifies these rules when they're promoting the contest.
Zoggs partnered with fitness influencer Jill Irons to promote a giveaway contest. The rules to enter the contest weren't too complicated - all users had to do was to like the post and follow her and Zoggs on Instagram. Users could further improve their chances of winning by tagging at least three people, in which the contestant gets an additional entry for each person tagged. Reposting the contest earned them an additional five entries.
Another good example is this giveaway from Glo FX promoted by style influencer Brittney Buccat. The giveaway was conducted a week before the famous Coachella festival, which proved to be an excellent stimulant for the giveaway. The rules to enter this contest were simple as well - users had to follow the influencer along with Glo FX and then tag three of their friends in their comment describing where they'd wear the shades. They could get an extra entry by reposting the contest with a unique hashtag.
If you make the rules of entry to the contest too complicated, you're less likely to drive the desired outcome. Keep it simple like the example shown above. You can make some of the steps optional but encourage contestants to follow those steps by giving them an incentive to do so.
6. Feature Them in Your Posts
If you're looking for effective techniques to impress your audience, featuring influencers in your posts is the way to go. The main idea is to show them using or wearing your products or even experiencing something through your service. This can help showcase the authenticity of your claim, since influential people like them are vouching for you. If they share the feature with their own followers, you'll also be improving the visibility of your brand.
Let's say you sell clothing and you want to showcase how those clothes look. Instead of having a model wear those clothes, a style influencer modeling them for you could be a much better choice. The influencer probably has a massive following already with thousands of loyal fans who look up to them for style advice. With such a reputable and trustworthy persona advocating your brand, you can not only increase brand exposure but also improve brand trust.
Consider a Qupid Shoes example again. The brand launched an influencer marketing campaign using the hashtag #qupidbabes. Through this campaign, they worked with multiple style influencers, who featured their shoes in their posts. The brand also got influencers like Michelle Sun and Brittney Buccat to model their new line of shoes. These influencers have a collective reach of more than 50,000.
Now you have a clear idea of what kind of techniques you can use to integrate influencers into your social media campaign - but before deciding on using any of them, make sure you carefully consider the goal, or goals, you wish to achieve. This will make it easier for you to choose a tactic that aligns with that focus.