There are loads of tips and guides these days espousing how to run effective influencer marketing campaigns and get the best bang for your buck.
Some of them are fairly elementary: use a shareable, clever hashtag, activate contributors with high social reach . . .
Others are a little too specific, touting campaigns by corporate behemoths as success stories – like last summer’s Lord & Taylor campaign – without giving much insight as to how an unrelated or much smaller brand could replicate.
Take these tips from actual successful influencer marketing campaigns we’ve conducted and become more well-versed in the influencer marketing space.
1. Let blogger creativity reign
One of the hardest things for clients who are used to disseminating detailed briefs to do is to have faith in user-generated content and allow bloggers to flex their creative muscles. A great example is our recent campaign with Old Navy, showcasing their recent “Pop Preppy” and “Holiday Shine” product lines.
Rather than give specific guidelines or articles of clothing, the Old Navy team entrusted Tidal’s top fashion bloggers to not only style their own outfits but to utilize virtually anything from the store. The results were varied and diverse with bloggers in the Northern states sporting cute wintertime outfits and the southern ones still dressing in skirts and short-sleeve tops.
The content garnered 177,000+ pageviews in large part because the contributors weren’t bound by rigid requirements but also because they were excited to show off their looks.
2. Focus on audience more than author
Often, clients will come up with a very specific blogger in mind when in reality, the blogger is just the conduit for the content and the audience should be the main consideration.
Our network of 60,000+ contributors varies greatly in terms of age, gender, location and style. We have some male bloggers who have a mainly female readership, some young bloggers with an older fan base, and of course the inverse in all cases.
Financial experts at Edward Jones wanted to engage potential customers but instead of looking for the typical financial-minded bloggers, they tapped food bloggers from our Epicurious Community Table. They knew that interesting stories about “Personal Touches in the Kitchen” would reach readers (more than 120,000 of them, by the way) who care about great food just as much as they care about making savvy investment decisions.
3. Promotion is a two-way street
The ultimate goal for most clients is to have contributors and bloggers promote their products, offerings, announcements, or events. But there’s a lot of value in turning promotion into a symbiotic relationship.
Fashion brand Piperlime sent articles of clothing to hundreds of bloggers to craft head-to-toe outfit posts. But they also pulled imagery from their Instagram accounts onto the Piperlime homepage to show off and use as more “real” modeling photos.
Consumer brand Reynolds commissioned some of our top food bloggers to create videos showcasing their product “Ah-ha moments”. The videos are hosted on the Reynolds landing page and also feature some of the best recipes in an online e-cookbook.
Bloggers were thrilled to see this type of cross-promotion and it encouraged them to further share their involvement. This type of organic brand affinity is hard to replicate.
4. Hedge your bets
Some of our most fun campaigns have been with Old Spice, who have partnered with us for several activations for new products like their bar soap, nature-inspired scents, spray deodorant, and hair gel.
Rather than going after the typical grooming bloggers, Old Spice, true to their irreverent advertising campaigns, decided to tap male contributors from tech, lifestyle, grooming, fashion, and urban blogging worlds.
We often recommend activating a wide variety of contributors with varying audiences, reach and genre. This way, you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket with content and get more varied results.
While you may think you want to target one subset of bloggers, the content that’s produced could surprise you and help you pivot to something markedly different.
5. Test and re-test
As with most things and especially with the tech world, it’s important to test, analyze and re-test. Whether a campaign is meeting expectations or not, there’s always room to iterate.
We’ve run several different campaigns with GAP Factory. Initially, they wanted to feel out how user-generated content would work for their brand. After seeing positive results in terms of quality, they decided to try and on-board fewer but higher-reach contributors for more traffic. Then, with more specific goals in mind, decided to continue testing different methods.
Some campaigns may be smashing successes initially while others may need to be amended for round two.
While this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of tips, these are some things to keep in mind when embarking on an influencer marketing campaign. Remember each campaign is different, so always have your core objectives in mind and don’t be afraid to take chances. The best results are often unexpected.