Melanie Cohn

Influencers And Advocates: 3 Strategies For Instagram

Video Transcription

Hi everyone and thanks so much for joining me. Today I will be talking about leveraging influencers and advocates specifically on instagram. I will discuss three key strategies that you can use in your tool box but the key about instagram activation for your brand or your client. Also, please feel free to tweet me throughout the presentation using @SocialMel with the #OutreachMarketing. I would love to hear from you. Let’s go over the topics I will cover. First up, we will start with the intersection of influencer and advocate. I will talk about finding that sweet spot for your instagram initiatives. Next, I will go over the three key strategies for working out the influencers and advocates on instagram.

The first is to influencer partnerships. I will walk through an influencer partnership case study in the results from one of my clients. Next, we’ll talk about surprising and delighting influencers and advocates. Instagram is a great tool that make your customers feel special. Now share some examples on tactics of how I’ve used it to do just that. Finally we’ll talk about making the most out of User Generated Content from your influencers and advocates on instagram. I will discuss ways to leverage UGC beyond simply rewarding fans and plus promote them, but instead I will talk about how to use it for brand insight as well as purchase drivers for your business.

So, why are influencers and advocates so important to us? Let’s go over a few key facts to lay the ground work before diving in. A word-of-mouth recommendation is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. Simply encouraging your fans and advocates to talk about you and creating tools for them to do so is important because of this fact alone. Next, social chorus found that influencer marketing campaigns drive 16% more engagement than paid or owned media. As a marketer, deciding which initiative takes priority is important and it’s also difficult but here are the great case for influencer marketing. Next, brand advocates spent two times more than the average consumer on their favorite brand.

By engaging with brand advocates we are securing their bond with the brand for life and increasing their customer value generating an increase in the brand bottom line. Finally, super fans generate messages with four times greater impact on purchase decisions. When a brand advocate talk, people listen and it’s our job as marketers to incentivize that conversation and continue to create formal programs for these influencers and advocates to take part in. When you combine this with the powerful stats on instagram now at a 150 million monthly active users, receiving 15 times the engagement of Facebook along with 55 million photos shared each day, the mix of instagram influencers can lead to great results.

A recent 2014 study by social bakers actually found that only 19% of brands they survey said that instagram was a high priority for them this year. Many of these brands likely aren’t thinking of the ways instagram can be capitalized on to reach their biggest fans and serve as influencers but to also provide brand insight. This is where you as a marketer can get an edge. That edge can be gained when you find targeted influencers for your brand. This leads me into that sweet spot that I was talking about earlier with influencers that we at GYKAntler try to fold into all of our initiatives which is the influential advocate.

Influential advocates are individuals who provide both authentic fan advocacy and real influence. The ability to sway the actions, behaviors or opinions of others. When these two traits are combined they can create the ultimate voice for your brand. With the decrease on organic reach on Facebook, the increase in brands reaching out to involvers and the content market place across social media, it’s important to embrace new thinking to foster customer loyalty and empower fans do the talking for you, and that’s where the influential advocate comes in.

For example, with our clients sweet barberries barbecue sauce, we’re only working with influential advocates. These are people who have already organically created a recipe in sweet barberries in the past and have influence either through their blog or social media channels based on key criteria that we have identified. We’re simply creating a more formal relationship to spread the advocacy even further. Working with an influencer or an advocate is also extremely powerful but the influential advocate is really a winning combination and instagram has become a great space to find them and leverage of their content.

How do we find this influencers advocates and influential advocates and what programs do we create with them? First, it’s important to see that influential advocates in a way that nears your brand DNA while also tapping into the genuine passion that an individual has for your brand. To begin the search we recommend looking for people who are already talking about your brand or fit into your brand’s lifestyle. Then research their reach and ability to influence. Here are the few helpful steps that you can take. First is to identify those people talking about your brand by using social listening tools such as Curalate, which is what we use as an agency or you can also use Precollar, Engager, Radian six and a multitude of other social monitoring tools. Next is research their influence in the reach using tools such as Groupie, Cloud, TweetReach or among others. Finally, you want to create a program that are engaging these influential advocates and rewarding them. You can use tools that are actually made for managing ambassador programs that rewards an incentive structure such as SocialToaster, Crowdly or Splashcore or of course, you can do this on your own.

Now that you have identified your targets and what their reach is, you can create a plan for your influencer outreach on instagram which includes the brand goals for your business, the audience benefits, the influencer perks and incentives, the influencer relationship plan that you will use to start interacting with the influencers and of course the measurement which includes the mentions, share of voice, content amplification, hashtag usage, cross-channel content that you’re able to use and much more, all depending on your goals of course. To show that it’s all in actions I will be sharing a specific program I created with instagram influencers for our client Boston Harbor Cruises. Boston Harbor Cruises is one of the most popular tourism destinations in Boston for new in landers and visitors alike with 43 vessels offering Boston harbor sight-seeing cruises, the viewing on the aquarium whale watch, fast ferries to province town and sailing in Godzilla which is a high speed thrill ride among many others.

Our goals for BHC for the summer of 2014 were to increase Boston Harbor Cruises instagram presence and drive awareness for BHC’s core and new cruises. Being that that is such a visual brand to do this, we decided to partner with influencers in Boston to share BHCs great cruises from a new point of view. We took a unique approach. With a few different tactics we were able to create a small yet impactful program. The first thing we did was work with a handful of local instagram enforcers to go out on a day out with BHC and share their experience on their own instagram channel to their large audiences. Next, we worked with an Instagram group called Igers Boston to set sailing the cruise and snap photos of their adventure also to their on large channels. Finally, we worked with bloggers throughout the entire season to go on a day out with BHC and blog about it while also posting photos on instagram the day of their cruise.

By doing all of this instagram initiatives around the same time, we had all cylinders firing at once. Regarding gathering quality, targeting impressions and visibility for BHC. We were able to jam up a lot of excitement for BHC and this significantly grew their instagram following rate over 25% in a short period of time. Here is one of the instagram take-overs from an influencer that we chose to work with to increase BHC’s awareness in Boston. We chose this influencer because she lives in Boston, runs a local blogging group, has a significant following and an extremely high engagery on her Instagram profile. She also loves all things travel, nautical and beaching which is perfect for a nautical brand like BHC. She has created a name for herself on instagram and we felt like there is a natural fit between the two. We gave her two tickets to province town which is in Cape Cod and she went on a fast ferry and we also gave her a gate card to enjoy her day.

Each of our influencers posted their day out on their own channels and to seat in the port they let their followers know that if they followed Boston Harbor Cruises on instagram that weekend, they too would have the chance to win their day out. This increased followers significantly for BHC and gave the Instagramer a unique opportunity to provide for their own followers. We promoted this across our channels by interviewing each Instagramer prior to their trip to share instagram tips and what they are most excited for about their cruise. We also did a post trip interview sharing their photos from the day and we posted Facebook albums in order to leverage the content that they created. The next thing that we did was work with the Instagramer group called Igers Boston to set sail on the sunset cruise and snap photos of their adventure. Here is some of the amazing shots they took. As many of our photographers on instagram enthusiasts.

Here is a pro tip, if you want to work with an Igers group in your city, there are actually all over the country in the world. All you have to do is go to and click on cities to find which one is located in your city. They are all great photographers and instagram enthusiasts who really do enjoy working with brands and meeting other instagramers in their city. There are actually more than 330 groups worldwide as well. In addition to working with the Igers Boston group we also worked with top bloggers in Boston who went out on cruises, took instagram photos during the cruise and also wrote a blog post about it afterwards.

From working with a handful of influencers, a group of about 10 Boston bloggers and the Igers Boston Instagram group, in just over one month, we were able to gather a 25% increase in fans. Nearly 200 photos in Instagram tagged @bostonharborcruises. Over 17 000 actions taken on that photo content. Over 10 local targeted blogger write-ups which included reader ticket giveaways in the turn of great comments and the action on social media. Along with 4 BHC blog posts that were created out of the influential partnerships as well as tons of great social content that BHC will be able to use for the rest of the season and future seasons to come.

When asks what makes a successful and tailored partnership for her on instagram, one of the instagram influencers we worked with, Kate of @Domestikateblog said, “Instagram is a really personal medium. The most successful partnerships with brands happen when the brand trusts you enough to let you interpret the project so that the resulting images are cohesive with your aesthetic and instagram personality.” She also added that, “there is usually a reason that you have selected a particular Instagramer to work with. Letting them give creative input and freedom helps me to feel much more authentic.” I think one of the reasons that the BHC-instagramer partnership worked so well for us was because we really gave them full control over their postings and simply asked them to use specific hashtags and mention BHC. We really let their instagram personality come out which is why we chose them in the first place.

One of the best things that you can do is build a relationship with influencers before you actually need anything from them. We did this at BHC by interacting with them on instagram before hand, you can also do this through surprise and delight tactics. We will go over a few example of how I’ve done this through instagram. We have done a few surprise and delight tactics with our client, Barbara’s who makes delicious puffin cereals and snackimal among other things. This example shows how influencer advocate efforts don’t have to be large scale but instead can be done simply with a finite purpose. For the Barbara’s unwrapped campaign, which celebrated the unwrapping of their all new packaging and new non-GMO status. The Colina campaign that consisted of a three-teared strategy to spread the message, I think we did. This included a Facebook landing page and ad strategy, a unique “unwrapped” content series across the social channels and an influential advocacy program to surprise and delight people who have already talked about Barbara’s in the past year and who have significant social followings.

To do this, we sent personalized gifts and notes based on the influential advocates’ interest and past specific tweets or instagram posts about Barbara’s. We referred to those posts with a personal handling card that included actual photos of their original tweet or instagram posts along with a personalized gift we created just for them. Here is an example of one of the instagramers who posted her surprise gift on instagram, you can see the enthusiasm is pretty clear. Over 90% of the influential advocates that we reached out to through instagram and sent gifts to reposted their gifts throughout their social media channels multiple times spreading unwrapped message further and strengthening their loyalty even further for the brand. We surprised them by showing that we not only heard what they said but wanted to take it one step further for the personal thank you. Now Barbara’s has a deeper relationship with this influencers and advocates and can work with them in the future to help spread the word on the campaign and initiatives.

Instagram direct is another great way for thanking your fans on a personal matter. Have you ever received an instagram direct message? My guess is that majority of the people will say “no” as it is truly an under-utilized feature on instagram. Therefore, when you do get one, it’s super exciting and different. To follow online with the influential advocacy strategy we just talked about for our client Barbara’s, another tactic we used to promote their partnership with the Lego movie was reaching out to influential advocates again but this time through instagram direct.

As a part of this, we researched over 100 people on instagram, all of whom have already talked about Barbara’s and who have mental large size audiences with high engagement on instagram. We sent them each an instagram direct message on Valentine’s Day that featured a Lego rose with Barbara snack cookies along with a personal message thanking them for their support this year. This is a great way to warm the lead, it connects with influencers before you reach to them formally. It’s important to develop a social relationship first in order to build a foundation of trust and to build a rapport. You can then refer back to those interactions in your outreach which I found really helpful in my own outreach efforts.

We received great reaction from our fans and these examples show a few of them. On the left, you’ll see a regram of our direct message and on the right, we even had someone send a direct message photo back to us with a Barbara snackimal and flowers of their own. It was a fun and personal way to say “thank you” to our fans and I think it is something that they will remember for a long time.

You can also use instagram direct to reach out to influencers to gain press exposure on a timely topic. Hyatt hotel is one of the first brands to use instagram direct right after the feature emerged. They combined the timeliness of the feature with the holidays and use it to create a unique Christmas card for their employees. They sent it to influential marketing bloggers and writers who they knew would be looking for brands using the tool hoping that they would be impressed enough to cover it. Clearly, this worked as they were covered on most major and each marketing business blogs as one of the first brands to cleverly use the tool.

The third strategy for using instagram influencers and advocates is leveraging the user generated content. The first thing I’ll discuss is how you can use instagram listening and monitoring to gain brand insight and to directly influence your campaign development. Social media listening on instagram is an ongoing process and it’s important that in order to keep your strategy fresh and agile, you continue to monitor what people are saying on instagram. It also helps you find out how fans are naturally using your products or services to gain key insights for research and marketing message development. We used it for just that for client Wagamama, a Japanese inspired restaurant with locations all over the world. Through instagram listening, we noticed that consistently fans around the world had posted photos using chop sticks as fangs, ears, fingers and props in their photos on instagram such as these examples here.

Well, we want to be doing what our fans are doing. So, this directly led us to create a campaign called “wagamamamonster” capitalizing on the natural UGC from our fans. We asked fans to post their creative chop stick photos that we included up to Halloween for the hash tag #wagamamamonster to win various prizes. This was on all place mats in the restaurants, on their websites and throughout social media.

Instagram is a great visual channel to understand how consumers are interacting with your brand, an element you don’t necessarily see from twitter or Facebook listening. It’s important to make sure each month you are tracking the visual progress of your brand on instagram to find trance and implement them in your marketing plans. To kick it up a notch, you can use tools, whereas we use Curalate to track affiliated hashtags that are being used alongside your brand hashtag. This will help you understand the lifestyle associated with your brand as well as helping you see potential other brands or products who your followers have an affinity for to begin to use this as key words for your marketing and advertising or as potential future partners. With the wagamamamonster campaign, we were able to create great contact across our channels and we received a large spike participation generating nearly 400 actions in just one week in a bask in a local market. Here are some of the contest in pictures.

The next way to get more out of your user generated content is to make the content from your influencers and advocates shoppable. Early adopter brands integrating instagram UGC as shoppable content in the user experience on their website sharing how people just like you are enjoying their products. ModCloth, a woman’s clothing brand is one brand that is doing this. Here, they have a style gallery that posing nude see photos from ModCloth fans and also allows you to just upload their photos right on the page. Once you click on the photo, ModCloth provides the item pictured along with similar items you might like. I really love the user experience here. This is a great way to attribute sales directly to your participation as a brand on instagram. So we shared a thing about how you get a product or service to benefit from UGC such as this.

With that I would like to do a quick wrap up of what we talked about today. When playing a program with influencers and advocates on instagram, first, use tools such as groupie or Curalate to search for people who have talked about you in the past. Then find influencers that are specific to your brand’s lifestyle. Next, similar to the Boston Harbor Cruises example try working with different types of influencers from individuals to instagram groups like Igers, groups in your city along with bloggers who will also post it to instagram it will really hit all of your angles at once. Next, by using tools such as instagram direct, you’ll stand out and make people feel truly special especially if your content is personalized. Also, by finding advocates who talk about your brand in the past and treating them to something special like a surprised gift, you will be able to lay a foundation for an ongoing relationship that will help in your future outreach.

Next, using instagram to find out how your brands are interacting with you, how your fans are interacting with your brand can help spark creativity for a contest, promotion or marketing message. This helps you react quickly and keep up with what’s trending. Finally, make user generated content work harder by integrating it into the shoppable experience and combining it with the options to view your service through a new lens and to see how others are using it in order to inspire and insight action and ultimately purchase.

I would love to hear your thoughts on using instagram to connect with, to gain insight and create relationships with influencers and advocates so please feel free to tweet me @SocialMel with the #OutreachMarketing.