A picture is worth a thousand words, except in the case of influencer marketing. For Michelob’s “The Extra Mile” campaign, one video was worth 300K social views in just a week’s time. This large success was due in part to “Instagram star” Dr. Mike, who shared the content with his 2.6 million social media followers. It’s clear that Michelob has a solid influencer marketing strategy in place, and for good reason.
Influencer marketing is powerful. In fact, its ROI is a whopping 11 times higher “than traditional forms of digital marketing.” This level of return means marketers are working hard to engage those with large, brand-relevant social media followings. And for the same reason that experiential marketing is highly effective in building brand loyalty with consumers, it is also a powerful tool in connecting with potential influencers.
Why Your Influencer Marketing Strategy Should Begin with Experiential
“Any brand knows that having a product in a consumer’s hands or creating an authentic interaction with a consumer is worth its weight in gold.” (Forbes)
Influencer marketing and experiential marketing are two of the most effective forms of marketing in use today. And together, they’re a winning combination. We know consumers need a personal connection with a brand to become customers and, eventually, brand loyal. Well, guess what? Influencers are consumers, too. They just might be a harder sell.
That’s because their followers, whether blog or social media, trust them to provide specialized, transparent and authentic information. In fact, “49% of people say they rely on recommendations from influencers when making purchase decisions.” Influencers expect the same level of communication from the brands they put in front of their audiences. Anything else could damage their own personal brand as a leader in their space. Your company can use experiential marketing to show these thought leaders what your product or service has to offer and how it can benefit them and their followers.
4 Steps to a Successful Influencer Marketing Event
Follow the four steps below to create an experiential marketing event that will elevate your influencer marketing strategy.
1. Identify your targets.
Attendee targeting is commonplace in any experiential marketing campaign. However, it is an integral focus when vetting and identifying prospective influencers. Look for influencers who can reach your target consumer but also achieve campaign goals. For example, Michelob, known for its “low carb beer,” used “The Extra Mile” campaign to reach athletes interested in healthy options and staying fit. Dr. Mike is an athlete and a medical resident who describes himself as “an avid explorer of life”. This makes him an ideal brand advocate for this campaign.
Consider what keywords your target audience uses in searches. Monitor social media for those particular keywords, as well as hashtags. This process can lead you to prospective influencers. In addition, a Google keyword search may prove fruitful in locating relevant bloggers. It is crucial you confirm influencers are good fit based on personality, values and reach. This is key to remaining authentic.
As far as how many influencers to target, there is no magic number. Yet, keep in mind, fewer may be better to help ensure your influencers are highly relevant. This may result in a handful or a couple hundred, depending on how wide or narrow your targeted consumer segment.[Tweet “Influencer marketing content can increase ROI by eleven times.”]
2. Personalize the pursuit.
Many businesses are attempting to woo influencers. Your brand must not only stand out, but sell potential brand advocates on how important they are. The first step is to invite them to your event in a way that feels both genuine and special. Mass emails or Facebook events aren’t the answer. A personalized invitation is necessary to get their attention and start a relationship. Send one directly from your email or better yet, mail a formal hard copy, a lost art that can make a great first impression. The more creative you are, the more enticing your event becomes.
3. Plan the experience.
Experiential marketing puts your products in attendees’ hands, but consider taking your influencer marketing event a step further. Give influencers hands-on education on product or service benefits and disclose “insider-only info” whenever possible. Give them freebies to take home and continue to use in their everyday lives (and when blogging/posting).
For example, if your brand is launching a new long-wearing lipstick at Christmas, host an influencer marketing event two months prior. Have each of your potential beauty influencers select their favorite shade upon arrival and sit down for a professional application (or even full makeover). Then send them off to enjoy refreshments and other activities to “test the staying power” of your product. This is a fun way to prove product value and quickly build trust. Have them check their lips’ status every so often and document it with a photo to upload to their networks. This is an opportunity to develop instant influencer content surrounding your event and brand.
4. Mind the details.
Speaking of content, make sure your event environment makes it easy and compelling for influencers to create and post their photos, videos and experiences. Include staged areas that feature props, ideas and opportunities for photos and videos. Have event staff assist by offering to take photos and reminding attendees of your custom hashtag. The latter should tie in with your campaign’s messaging and be easy to remember.[Tweet “Event staff can help your influencers create the content your brand needs to be successful.”]
The most important detail is clearly communicating what you want influencers to help you achieve. What is their call to action? If your goal is to increase brand awareness, your influencers can encourage followers to post images using your products with your custom hashtag. In the case of the lipstick launch, your event’s purpose may be to get pre-orders. In this case, have your influencers post an image with a URL for ordering and a code for a percentage off. Let the code be exclusive to each influencer to permit the best tracking of return on engagement (ROE).
Once you know which influencers were most effective, you can recognize them and plan future events, whether for product enhancements or new launches. In the meantime, stay engaged with them and let them know how important they are to your organization. Capitalize on all that great content as often as possible, and let consumers get to know your brand through the eyes (and lens) of their peers.
An Amplified Social Media Strategy
An influencer marketing strategy is one of the most powerful forms of word-of-mouth advertising. While a healthy social media presence and strategy is critical, employing influencers can take that strategy and amplify it in ways many brands never thought possible. By using best practices related to experiential to develop relationships and build content with influcencers, you will be well on your way to achieving your social media marketing goals.
It’s easy to see why influencer marketing events require forethought and attention to detail at every turn. At EPS, our almost 2 decades of expertise means that we can help you successfully navigate all aspects of staffing and execution for your influencer marketing event. Contact us for details!