More brands than ever want to tap into influencer marketing, but few know where to start. Some companies make reaching out to influencers look so easy, while others struggle to get a response. If you want to be the best, it helps to learn from the best. Check out these four influencer marketing campaigns that impressed us over the past year, and make note of the lessons your brand can learn from each one.
Sephora Creates Beauty Talk
Image via Flickr by freestocks.org
When most people think about influencer marketing, their first example is Kylie Jenner promoting fashion brands or perfume for thousands of dollars. There are hundreds of beauty bloggers who will happily accept free samples and payment in exchange for promoting a brand. However, this saturated influencer industry also leads to misinformation. After all, not every single product out there can be “the best ever.”
To combat this problem, Sephora created the Beauty Talk community where a group of insiders leave honest product reviews and engage with customers. People can ask questions, like “how do I get rid of sunspots after a vacation?” and a group of industry influencers will give their pro tips and suggest their favorite products. Instead of tapping into influencer marketing to get bloggers to sell a brand, Sephora created a space that attracted influencers. This strategy helped boost their value by creating better-informed customers.
- Influencer marketing isn’t just advertising on social media pages. Brands should try to engage influencers in something they care about.
- Brands that create something of value instead of just pushing their products will have a greater chance of success, as customers are increasingly wary of promoted posts.
- You don’t have to engage influencers on social media channels. Consider creating your own platform that customers and influencers find attractive.
Hallmark’s #KeepsakeIt Posts
Hallmark has shifted its budget away from traditional advertising and toward more digital campaigns, especially during the holiday season. In 2016, it tapped into influencer marketing by reaching out to mommy bloggers and other family-focused social media influencers to share their #KeepsakeIt moments. These moments might include a funny story from a past Christmas, traditions unique to that blogger’s family, or tender moments the blogger wants to share. Along with the story, Hallmark promoted their unique Keepsake ornaments, which can be customized to preserve that memory forever.
This campaign was successful because it tapped into an emotional season where audiences are already turning to their families for the holidays. The combination of family bloggers, Hallmark, and the Christmas season flowed together naturally to create a memorable fit and promotion that didn’t feel forced.
- Tell a story with your influencer campaign. The bloggers were sharing their memories as content marketing, not just as a branded ad.
- Find activities that influencers are already doing. Most bloggers were already sharing memories for Throwback Thursday, so they didn’t have to change their brand to accommodate Hallmark.
- Choose natural influencers. You don’t have to pick celebrities to promote your brand. In fact, determining the right influencer type for your campaign can set your campaign up for success before it even begins.
ASOS Insiders Builds a Brand Hub
Typically, influencer marketing involves reaching out to people with large social media followings and asking them to promote your products for a price. Today, that influencer is promoting your brand, tomorrow they could be promoting your competitor. While some companies create “do not compete” contracts with influencers, it doesn’t stop them from promoting other brands outside of one industry. Even Lebron James promotes both Nike and Sprite.
To prevent brand cannibalism through multiple influencer promotions, ASOS created influencer accounts for the people it contracted and called them “ASOS Insiders.” The premise is relatively simple. The Insiders wear ASOS and upload photos of their day-to-day lives interacting with the brand. However, because ASOS created the account, there are no other brands featured.
ASOS works with influencers who already have an existing follower base. This means the fashion company was able to build its Insider following relatively quickly as fans from the influencer’s main account also liked the new one. By creating a community of ASOS insiders, the company was able to define its brand around people who wear it.
- Make a note of the other brands your influencers promote. You don’t want your brand to be associated with something unseemly if they’re promoting something you disagree with.
- Look for ways to block out the noise of other brands. Customers don’t just want advertisements when they follow influencers and will tune out if there are too many ads in a feed.
Boxed Water’s ReTree Project
Boxed Water strives to replaced plastic water bottles with cardboard cartons — not unlike the ones used for milk. While plastic takes hundreds of years to break down, cardboard can start to decay within a few weeks. It’s also less harmful when ingested by local wildlife.
To promote its green intentions and raise awareness, Boxed Water launched the ReTree Project. In a partnership with the National Forest Foundation, Boxed Water vowed to plant two trees for every Instagram photo with the #ReTree hashtag. The company tapped into influencers like Julianne Hough and Alyssa Milano to get users excited about drinking Boxed Water to save the trees. As of writing this, the hashtag has more than 12,554 posts on Instagram; the company will plant more than 25,000 trees, thanks to social media influencers and users.
- Consider using your influencer campaign for social good. This strategy will boost organic sharing and help you create content for your brand.
- Your influencer campaigns don’t just have to drive sales. Some companies use influencer marketing to raise awareness about their brands or drive traffic to their websites.
You’re likely to face some of the challenges these brands face but not others. While you might struggle to find the right influencers, others will struggle to be noticed. By keeping these top takeaways in mind, you can avoid rookie mistakes that derail young influencer campaigns and frustrate marketers.