How do we launch an influencer marketing campaign?
That’s one of the questions our clients ask us often. They might have crystal-clear business objectives, typically awareness, engagement, or conversions, they know their target audience and customers inside out, and have a rough idea of the budget. But not that many marketers have built successful influencer marketing campaigns on the web.
What would be scarier than launching a new initiative? There’s always a risk that it fails - and we humans tend to stick to methods that have been proven to work in the past.
And let's get one thing straight:
Sponsoring an Instagram post or two of a celebrity mentioning your brand is not influencer marketing. It’s a one-off advertising campaign to increase awareness, and where the medium has simply changed from a handful of TV and radio channels available to your business, within a specific location, to a new multi-channel approach with a global audience.
At Flockler, we define influencer marketing as a long-term activity closely aligned with the content marketing plan and all other marketing activities online and offline. Typically brands are using one or multiple influencer groups: employees, celebrities, and consumers, to increase the reach of branded content and, ultimately, conversion rates on digital services.
Ok, I’m sure I’ve got you terrified. Not only will you have to convince your boss (and yourself) of the new initiative, but it’s a long-term activity. Must be expensive!
Take a deep breath.
Here are four ways to launch an influencer marketing campaign that do not require a huge budget:
- Create a competition
- Use employees as a launchpad
- Celebrities leading by example
- Create a tribe of the most influential customers
Create a competition
Ok, now you must feel confused. The rant about the one-off approach and then the first thing I suggest is a competition.
Competitions are a waste of time when not aligned with your products, target audience, and your business goals, and if the whole purpose is to get quick wins. Talking about quick wins, I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of Facebook posts lately where people are asked to mention their friend in a comment for a chance to win?
Don’t do that – Facebook demotes Pages using these ‘engagement bait techniques’, and other social channels will follow suit.
But competitions can be extremely useful if you immerse them as part of your product, service and feedback. Instead of a silly contest, ask your audience to give feedback and share ideas for new products. Add a call-to-action to your email or on your website. Reward customers with something tangible like additional materials to help them get more value from your product, or provide them with a coupon to purchase additional services at a discount.
These are a few ideas. But let’s admit one thing straight, with a long-term approach to competitions, getting a lot of entries is not going to be easy. Your customers are busy with their lives, and you’ll need to fight for their attention. There are at least three requirements for the launch of a successful competition:
- It needs to provide an impeccable benefit/incentive for customers
- It needs to be targeted at a specific audience. If you are gathering ideas, it might include people outside your current customer base and you could consider working with a third party with access to the ideal audience. On the other hand, the audience might be just a key segment of your current customers.
- It needs to be aligned with the buyer journey and objectives. If you aim to increase the awareness of the product, think about different methods that make the content more shareable. If the aim is to increase conversions then ask customers to do something more product-related, such as sharing images that feature your product and show how they use it.
To dig in deeper into this topic, learn how to use giveaway campaigns and content upgrades to improve the conversion rates of your content marketing.
Use employees as launchpad
An often forgotten group of influencers, your employees, can provide an enthusiastic launchpad for your influencer marketing initiative. Your employees already have a relationship with you and they should have a long-term incentive to help your brand grow.
But guess what, just like your customers, your employees are busy as well! To help you to get their attention, here are a few tricks we’ve learned from our customers over the years:
- Cakes in the canteen: It does not really matter if you are offering cakes, beers or virtual goods, but a great way to kickstart your influencer marketing with employees is to provide a freebie in exchange for an action. This action can be as simple as learning the guidelines of an initiative and answering a quiz or sharing a piece of content on social media with a specific hashtag. To make it more fun and competitive, launch a team challenge between different functions of the organisation.
- Digital displays: Most companies have a lot of unused space and walls available so why not use them for promotions? Set up screens displaying the latest content created and featuring the most active employees.
- Stickers: It might sound silly, but share stickers promoting your hashtag. Seeing colleagues with a hashtag glued to their laptop is a great reminder.
- Weekly / monthly reports: Champion those who have been able to create engagement and send weekly/monthly emails. Encourage employees with concrete examples of what type of content works the best and why.
Those are a few tricks to ignite the process. To learn more about a long-term approach, read how Valio, one of the largest dairy producers in Northern Europe, have created employee advocacy program with the farmers supplying the company.
Celebrities leading by example
Here's a challenging one. Quite a few brands are sponsoring posts of celebrities and see influencer marketing as a one-off activity. And don’t get me wrong, using celebrities to spark the attention of your audience can surely help you to promote a new product and business – just like any other traditional advertising campaign. But you’d like that spark to ignite an eternal flame, right?
Some brands are getting this right. They use influencers to spark attention and guide the audience towards what type of content to create. Not directing what would be ideal content, just leading the community by example. Recently, we helped UEFA to build #WePlayStrong campaign where the football association collaborates with professional footballers to inspire young girls all over the world to try football. Similarly, Malteser, a German charity, is working with some of their most influential members to promote the organisation and attract more people to become volunteers.
What’s the common theme? To get long-term results, you’ll need strategic thinking. Here are a few questions to consider when selecting an influencer:
- Are the values and communication style of the influencer aligned with our brand?
- Is there an overlap with customers and the audience of the influencer? Can the influencer help us reach “lookalike audiences”?
- Are we able to genuinely create a long-term content plan aligned with our business objectives?
Do you see why we said this is challenging? The best results are achieved when there’s a natural relationship with your influencer - and they are active users of your products and services. It leads us to the next point...
Create a tribe of most influential customers
Yes, your customers are the best influencers! They are already using your products, and it’s very likely that they are surrounded by like-minded people online and offline.
When you are asking people to share the content on social channels, you can use social media aggregator tools like Flockler to gather the content in one place and, all of a sudden, you’ve got a whole new asset in your hands: data about your most engaged and influential customers!
To turbocharge your influencer marketing, analyse the social content that your most influential customers are sharing – not only the content about you but also the other content that they share. Are there common themes that all those customers seem to be interested in and are those themes aligned with the brand’s values? Could you create a tribe of engaged and influential customers and kickstart the campaign with them?
At the time of decreasing organic reach for brands, championing the most loyal customers will be the key to success.