You will have no doubt heard someone who works in marketing, whether it’s a colleague, industry resource or thought leader, harping on about influencer marketing and why it is ‘the’ thing to add to your comprehensive marketing strategy in 2016.
With the rise of social media platforms as an avenue to influence consumer purchasing decisions, influencer marketing has become a trending topic that is rapidly gaining momentum.
While many marketers understand why they need to add influencer marketing to their digital marketing strategy (if you don’t, find out more here), many don’t know how to incorporate influencers to complement their other marketing and advertising efforts, both online and offline.
To spark some ideas and inspire you to add influencer marketing to your strategy right away, here are 13 different ways your brand can work with influencers to communicate your message, increase exposure and awareness, support your content marketing activities, drive traffic to your website and ultimately, generate more sales.
1. Discount Codes and Affiliate Marketing
If your goal is specifically to drive sales via influencer marketing, your campaign needs to be structured with an incentive for both the consumer and the influencer.
Encourage consumers to make a purchase with an effective call to action accompanied by an exclusive discount code (or gift voucher coupon) that is too good to refuse.
In addition, provide the influencer with an affiliate link to really get them behind your product and/or service.
Unsure what we mean by an affiliate link?
An Affiliate link is a specific URL that includes the affiliate’s (the blogger or influencer) ID or username so brands and advertisers can attribute sales directly to their campaign and pass on any commissions earned from sales they converted, as per their affiliate agreement.
As influencers love passive income and affiliate links can be quite lucrative when used properly, it’s a win-win for both the brand and influencer when it comes to finding a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Keep in mind though that affiliate marketing only works if the influencer and their audience is a good fit with your brand, and there is a lot of engagement on their platforms.
On a side note, discount codes and affiliate marketing will also help you track and report on the success of each campaign and attribute the sales that were generated from the engagement, giving you a better understanding of the ROI.
2. Competitions and Giveaways
So you want to increase brand awareness and exposure among your target market?
Collaborating with an influencer to host a competition or giveaway is a great way to expose your brand to new followers and potential customers.
Competitions and giveaways also get everyone involved and engaged with the brand and product (and when people don’t win the prize, they often feel inclined to make a purchase anyway for fear of missing out).
Warning: before hosting a competition or giveaway with an influencer, be sure to check the local and national laws and regulations on the subject and also abide by the competition guidelines set by each individual social network.
For more information on running a competition or giveaway, check out this blog post by the team at Social Media Examiner.
3. Long-term Ambassador Roles
Much like celebrity endorsements, long-term ambassador roles with influencers have the potential to lift a brand from drab to fab quite rapidly.
If you’ve dabbled in influencer marketing and discovered one particular influencer who really resonates with your brand and target customers, why not engage them in a long-term campaign and see the momentum build on from your original engagement.
Long-term ambassador roles are great because they ensure the influencer does not promote any competing brands for the collaboration period, and it also appears more authentic and genuine when an influencer supports a brand that they genuinely love over a long period of time rather than the week (or day) of the one-off campaign.
4. Sponsored Blog Post
In saying that, there is still a place for the humble blog post, even with the rise of social media influencers and proliferation of video content on the web.
While influencer marketing in the form of blog posts is great for a number of reasons, the greatest benefit is more technical than anything else.
Blog posts are indexed on search engines, so unlike social media mentions, they can be searched and consumed by web users for months, and quite often years, after the original publication date.
Blog posts also support your SEO strategy and backlink profile, as influencers will often include a link that points back to your website, simultaneously driving traffic, increasing sales and improving your search engine rank.
Now that influencers are turning their personal brand into a business, often sponsored fees may be involved as compensation for their time and effort, so be prepared and expect a fee if you want to collaborate with top and middle tier influencers in your niche.
Not sure what blog content about your brand would look like?
5. PR Stunt
The PR stunt can be a risky exercise because there is no guarantee that your activation will generate the coverage and achieve the intended goals (whether that’s brand exposure, email sign-ups or increase sales).
It’s risky business, but it can reap some big rewards if executed by the right team and at the perfect time.
Coverage is essential to a good PR stunt, so before you go ahead, research your audience and curate a list of target influencers who are a perfect fit for your brand and campaign message so you can include them in the PR activation and maximise your reach.
Some PR professionals will argue that traditional media is the best outlet for a publicity stunt, however if your target market is millennials, influencers are certainly more effective.
6. Social Media Mention
Influencers are becoming super savvy with their social media platforms, and only mention brands, products and venues they genuinely love, or that they have a working relationship with.
To be featured on an influencers social media platforms, it is best if you personally engage them first (via email is best) to introduce your brand and talk about how a collaboration might look. If you’re not sure where to start, follow the template below and customise the fields in red.
Hi (Influencers real name),
I wanted to reach out and introduce you to (Your brand/business) as we would love to collaborate with you. We are a (1 x sentence about your brand and what makes you special) and would love to (Send you a product/invite you to an event/facilitate a relationship etc) as we think you will really love our (Product or service that fits their style and aesthetic).
Of course, we would be thrilled to be feature on your (Platform – Instagram, Youtube, Blog) if you think it’s a good fit.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on (your brand/business) and look forward to chatting to you further.
Hope to hear from you soon!
(Your name, email signature, title, contact details and website/social media platforms).
Be open to gifting complimentary products and experiences in exchange for the mention (more info below on gifting and contra strategies) and give them everything they need to fall in love with your brand.
Although it might seem like an easy task, influencers take content creation very seriously, so give them time and the resources they need to produce the best image that combines their profile with your brand.
From our experience, we’ve found a social media mention is more effective when paired with a complete collaboration (blog post, Youtube video, multi-platform campaign) and/or a long-term relationship. Otherwise, your brand mention will get lost in the crowd after a couple of hours.
7. Event Activation
An event activation is a great way to engage a whole group of influencers and media at the same time, so it is a great opportunity to really maximise your coverage and brand exposure.
The most important thing about an event activation is having a guest list that is full of people who can spread the word about your brand, both during the event and in the weeks following.
To get a host of relevant influencers to your event, you should design an invitation and send it out to your guest list a couple of weeks in advance.
Canva.com and Snappa.io are two fantastic tools that can help you create professional invitation documents, especially if you aren’t design savvy.
Be sure to include the date, time, location, dress code and RSVP details, as well as an overview of the event and what to expect. It’s also a great idea to extend the influencers invitation to include a guest, as they are more likely to attend if they can bring a friend, partner or fellow influencer to accompany them.
To distribute the invitations, reach out to the influencers (or their talent managers) via email rather than social media comments or private messages, as it is more professional and you can attach the invite so they check their schedule, reply with their RSVP and archive the invitation information.
Influencers need good imagery for their platforms, so if you want them to share their experience ensure your event has good lighting, fun decor and lots of photo opportunities.
If the influencers can take great pics at your event, they’re much more likely to share them on their social media platforms.
After all, it’s all about the picture on most social media networks and a good picture sells your brand much better than a bad one.
Don’t believe us?
Check out these 37 visual content marketing statistics on how and why visual content receives more engagement than written.
8. Onsite Guest Blogging
If you’re working with a limited budget and want to kick-start your influencer marketing strategy with a few wins on the board, open your onsite blog to guest submissions from influencers in your niche.
It’s a win-win type of collaboration because you get new and exciting content for your blog and the opportunity to work with relevant influencers and be featured across their platforms.
In return, the influencer receives exposure to your audience and a great backlink to their website.
9. Influencer Takeover
Create a more meaningful connection with a key influencer in your industry and have them take over one or all of your social media platforms for a period of time.
It could be 24 hours, a couple of days or an entire week, whatever works best for your brand, your audience and the influencer.
Why does it work?
The influencer generally promotes the collaboration and takeover on their platforms, which drives traffic and new followers to your landing pages.
It’s also great for content generation and to attach your brand to a public figure for a period of time, much like a celebrity endorsement.
10. Contra Strategies and Gifting
Each week, influencers receive a large volume of requests for their mailing address which leads to a bounty of ‘gifts’ on their doorsteps, most with a not so subtle string attached to their arrival.
Marketers and PR professionals are getting sneaky with their tactics, offering to gift influencers a product or experience in the hope it is featured and promoted across their platforms.
Like PR stunts, contra strategies and gifting are risky business because there’s no guarantee that the brand will be featured.
In saying that, it is a great way to introduce influencers to your brand and generate some exposure without investing money in sponsored or paid collaborations.
Before approaching a contra or gifting strategy, it’s best to make contact with the influencer first to see if they are interested, and include an idea of your expectations/outcomes without putting pressure on the relationship.
Be guided by the influencers response and treat each collaborative opportunity on a case-by-case basis.
11. The “Creative Director” Role
This type of collaboration is quite creative and is most effective when implemented on a large scale, so it should be reserved for opportunities where you work with big influencers so you can really generate ROI and move the needle for your brand.
Make an influencer the creative director for a project, such as a capsule fashion collection or a bespoke range of health food products.
The options are limitless when it comes to a creative direction role, so brainstorm some ways you can have an influencer join your team (short-term or long-term) and create a new and exclusive offering for your customers.
Not only will your customers love it, but the influencer will too as it helps to build their portfolio and establish their skillset in the public eye.
12. The PR Approach
There’s never any harm in reaching out to an influencer or publisher to introduce yourself and/or your brand so they can keep you in mind for any editorial opportunities that are coming up.
It’s also a good opportunity to ask what they are working on and pitch some ideas that you could be a part of.
- Could they interview you for a profile piece?
- Can they feature your product in a seasonal round-up?
- Is your product a good fit for their upcoming home renovation or tropical island holiday?
Take on a PR approach to influencer marketing and foster a relationship with influencers so you can have an open conversation about what they’re up to and how your brand could naturally be incorporated into their content.
13. Banner Ads
Web consumers are becoming more savvy, so blatant advertising and banner ads are losing their appeal among digital influencers, and particularly bloggers.
However, for both influencers and brands alike, banner ads are an important revenue channel which cannot be ignored. Banner ads work best when the brand and the influencer align perfectly, and should be accompanied by other forms of digital advertising (blog post, social media mention) to ensure maximum exposure and interest.
While there are many options when it comes to collaborating with influencers in your niche, not all will be the right fit for your brand.
To ensure you hit your KPI’s, the collaboration must be mutually beneficial for both parties involved and one cannot take advantage of the other.
We hope that this list will inspire your next strategy meeting and spark some ideas for exciting influencer collaborations now, and in the future.
Have you used any one of these campaign types in your influencer marketing strategy?