The exponential growth of social platforms and online communities blurs the line between what's a brand and who's a friend. Everyday people find fame on Vine, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, and their fans and followers trust their opinions and recommendations. Slowly, celebrity endorsements have taken a backseat to the creation of integrated content from these influential internet stars. Brands seized the opportunity to access these active and niche fan bases in unique (and lucrative!) ways -- and the influencer campaign was born. Although the philosophies of how to utilize, engage, and evaluate influencer campaigns vary, the most important steps are universal:
- Define the relationship: Influencers aren't a one-off band-aid solution. It's never successful to just "bring in the influencers!" Influencer integrations work best when built into the campaign from the start.
- Build the relationship: Build and invest in your relationship with the influencers before, during, and after the campaign. Don't fall into the trap of undervaluing influencers -- treat them as you'd treat any other valuable organizational partner.
In our experience in the live event and entertainment space, there are four common types of influencers that we use to support our brands:
Brands use The Promoter's platform to deliver a sales message or to push branded content out to their audience. The relationship between the brand and The Promoter is more transactional and less about common interests.
- Metric: Conversion.
- Challenge: Unlike other types of influencers, the content and message being pushed out by The Promoter can feel less genuine and organic.
- Example: Utilizing The Promoter's email list for direct access to their audience to push an exclusive offer or content.
The Artist is brought on board for their artistic talent and perspective to produce content that matches the aesthetic of the campaign. The relationship between The Artist and the brand requires extensive discussions and meetings to ensure a consistent brand message.
- Metric: High-quality content that both the brand and The Artist's audience can enjoy and appreciate artistically.
- Challenge: This is a play for quality content and awareness, so the responsibility is on the marketer to support the content to achieve the greatest reach.
- Example: A street artist reimagines a brand's logo or key art.
An influencer whose audience matches the brand's desired audience. Through and through, the influencer's digital presence reflects the lifestyle of the brand's audience.
- Metric: Audience growth and brand engagement.
- Challenge: The Look-Alike's audience may not necessarily have affinity for the brand. While a brand may want to reach a certain audience, this does not mean the audience will react in the desired way.
- Example: An alcohol brand aligns with a local "mixologist," a popular bartender whose Instagram feed features the neighborhood hotspots, cuisines, and hobbies favored by the brand's desired audience.
An influencer who has genuine affinity for a brand and talks about it willingly and often. A relationship with The Cheerleader happens organically and naturally.
- Metric: Frequency.
- Challenge: In order to identify a true Cheerleader, marketers must constantly be listening. Once a Cheerleader finds a new interest and they move on, that's it.
- Example: A superfan or celebrity that is consistently engaging with a brand because of a natural affinity.
A successful brand-influencer relationship is constantly evolving. Someone who is brought on board as an "Artist" may one day become a "Cheerleader." A "Look-Alike" may seize the opportunity to share brand content like a true "Promoter." When you build a relationship with the influencer as an individual, natural opportunities for further partnership abound.