Unless this is your first day in the marketing/business world, chances are, you’ve heard a thing or two about influencer marketing.
Now, the concept of influencer marketing has been around for many, many years. In essence, it’s simply the practice of working with a credible figure in a certain community to talk about a product or service in a positive light. Back in the 1940s, doctors put their expert stamp of approval on smoking Camel cigarettes.
In the 1970s, Puma worked with Pele on a very subtle campaign promoting their shoes.
Fast forwarding to the present day, social media has made the concept of influencer marketing much more accessible to businesses of all shapes and sizes. Nowadays, we see this practice at work each and every day. Whether it’s a sponsored Instagram post, inspirational video, ect., working with influencers has become a staple in marketing strategies across the world.
With so much opportunity comes a whole slew of lessons that can be taken from previous examples. Here are three big ones from some recent campaigns.
Stand for Something – Stella Artois and Water.org
Today’s consumers are a fascinating bunch. This is truly the first generation of buyers to live in the era of “constant connectedness.” One of the most interesting observations of this bunch is that the majority is very socially conscious. In fact, a recent study by Cone/Porter Novelli found that 77% of Americans feel stronger emotional connections to purpose-driven companies. Many brands are utilizing this trend for win-win results.
In the early months of 2018, Stella Artois partnered with Water.org for a campaign aimed to provide people living in the developing world with access to clean water. In terms of influencers, they had to go no further than the co-founder of Water.org: Matt Damon.
The original commercial aired during the 2018 Super Bowl. The call to action was for people to purchase a branded Stella Artois chalice; of which the proceeds from each one would go directly towards providing five years of clean water to one person in the developing world.
In addition to the commercial, Stella, Water.org, and Damon ran a series of videos geared to bring attention to the issue. Many of which were incredibly powerful in raising awareness to the cause.
Overall, the global impact of the campaign was a roaring success. To date, Stella and Water.org have helped more than 1 million people in the developing world gain access to clean water. Additionally, the campaign raised over $8 million in donations to Water.org. The goal is to reach 60 million people by 2022.
In many ways, this influencer campaign did wonders to transform the traditional model of cause marketing into a platform for global impact.
Businesses across the world can learn a great deal from this example. It not only proves that supporting a cause can reach people on an incredibly personal level, it shows that a simplistic call to action paired with socially-geared motives can bring a brand to global recognition while making the world a better place.
Don’t Ignore the Micro-Influencers – Fyre Festival
Oh, the Fyre Festival. Honestly, what didn’t go wrong with the Fyre Festival?
For those who don’t know, the Fyre Festival was promoted with a handful of hugely popular Instagram influencers as a luxury music festival taking place on an island in the Bahamas in 2017. Patrons were promised a number of top-tier musical acts, 5-star meals catered by a celebrity chef, private geodesic villa accommodations, and more. The festival was dubbed as “The Coachella of the Caribbean.” Ticket packages costed up to $12,000.
When people started arriving on the island, it was immediately clear they had been duped. The festival site looked more like a muddy construction zone. Many of the musical acts backed out of the event days before the festival upon hearing rumors of total disorganization. Instead of geodesic villas, the accommodations were actually disaster relief tents – of which there were no housing assignments whatsoever.
Sometimes, the best marketing lessons come from the catastrophic failures. In this case, one of the many failures of the Fyre Festival stemmed from its marketing strategy. Organizers of the festival reached for the very top shelf of the influencer pool; including big names like Emily Ratajkowski, Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, Kendall Jenner, and more. All of which have well over 1 million followers on Instagram. It has even been reported that organizers spent as much as $250,000 for a single post by Jenner! Based on what the festival actually provided to the guests, it’s a fair assumption that they blew most of their budget paying high-authority Instagram models to promote the event. As a result, they significantly under-delivered what they originally promised.
So what can brands take away from this?
You don’t need to spend huge amounts of money on the biggest influencers to get awesome results. In fact, a study by Experticity found that 82% of consumers are “highly likely” to act upon recommendations from micro-influencers (figures with followings under 100,000).
In addition to being substantially cheaper to work with, the major difference between micro-influencers and big name influencers is the engagement. Even though the number of followers may be smaller, the communities that micro-influencers hold sway in are typically more focused and receptive. Another study produced by HelloSociety (reported by Adweek) found that content produced by micro-influencers is 6.7 times more efficient at engaging audiences than bigger names.
By using micro-influencers in your marketing strategy, you can do a lot to build more personal relationships with your target audience and get them more involved in your messaging; all while keeping your budget in check. When it comes to influencer marketing, bigger is not always better.
Showcase Real Stories – National Geographic, Microsoft, & STEM
STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, has been a proud initiative to get the younger generation (particularly women) more involved and excited about careers in these fields.
In 2017, Microsoft partnered with National Geographic to create the “Make What’s Next” campaign. The campaign was launched for International Women’s Day with the goal to encourage young girls to get involved in STEM. They leveraged a number of famous Instagram photographers/influencers (affiliated with National Geographic) to support the initiative. 30 photos were posted across five of National Geographic’s Instagram channels. The major element in these photos was that each featured a real story of a woman adventurer or scientist.
The results of this campaign were amazing. Collectively, these photos generated 3.5 million likes in one day and reached approximately 91 million people! Currently, there are nearly 3 thousand pieces of content created under the hashtag “MakeWhatsNext.
This campaign goes back to the roots of what makes influencer marketing so powerful. By showcasing real stories from real people, audiences can connect with your messaging on a deeper level. When building out an influencer campaign, the most important component needs to be a fully authentic message that highlights the best attributes of your brand. During the creative phase of your campaign, try to find ways the influencer(s) can not only use your product or service, but do so in a way that provides actual value to viewers. Using real stories is perhaps the best way to accomplish this.
Influencer marketing is a tactic that has long stood the test of time. Being as how there is no magic formula set in stone that guarantees success, the best thing you can do is keep an eye out for the best (and the worst) campaigns and use them as inspiration.
About The Author:
Manish Dudharejia is the President and Founder of E2M Solutions Inc, a San Diego Based Digital Agency that specializes in Website Design & Development and eCommerce SEO. With over 10 years of experience in the Technology and Digital Marketing industry, Manish is passionate about helping online businesses to take their branding to the next level