When it comes to the “how” of working with influencers, you have a ton of options. So many options, in fact, you might be tempted to fall back on the good ol’ “Hey influencer, want to post content about my brand on your social channels?”
No shame on that game. But with 59% of us marketers planning to increase our influencer marketing budgets in 2016, it wouldn’t hurt to experiment with a couple of other options to find an even better fit. In this post, we’ll detail seven ways to work with influencers, and the pros and cons of each.
Let’s get started.
1. Influencers sharing brand-related content
The first, most obvious type of influencer campaign is having influencers share content related to your brand on their channels. The type of content your influencers share can range anywhere from written content, to images or videos.
Here are a few examples:
- Photos with your product they share on Instagram
- A tweet announcing a new update from your company and tagging your brand
- A vlog or tutorial video where they mention your products or services
- A brand-sponsored blog post hosted on their own blog
Pros of this type of campaign: When the influencer is given creative control, these posts can blend seamlessly into the influencer’s existing stream of content, helping your brand build off the trust and authority that your influencer has already earned with their audience.
This is also one of the more versatile campaign types out there, and lends itself to well to even channels like Periscope, tumblr and Vine. This campaign type is also a way to capitalize on the rise of video.
For example, Pantelligent did this by reaching out to chef James Strange, providing him one of their smart pans, and asking him to do a YouTube tutorial/review.
By giving him creative control, they ensured that James could create the kind of recipe video his channel is known for, and as a result, Pantelligent’s sponsored video is garnering as many views as the average recipe video on his channel.
Cons of this type of campaign: If the content you provide your influencer isn’t authentic or convincing, or if your influencer is less experienced at promoting a brand through their own channels, you risk not only turning their followers off to your brand, but turning off those followers to the influencer. And if influencers lose fans because of your brand, you can better safely bet that your relationship with them will suffer.
Additionally, a lot of work will need to be invested in the front end when deciding which influencers to target. Your brand name will be associated with someone else’s, so you’ll need to make sure you know the full implications of how their brand will reflect on yours.
2. Co-creating content with influencers
Instead of leaving the burden of content creation up to either you or your influencer, why not split the load? Here at BuzzStream, we tried our hand at co-branded content by partnering up with Fractl to create “The Unfollow Algorithm.”
Other ideas for co-created or co-branded content could be a Q&A blog post, a video, or even a podcast segment.
Pros of this type of campaign: Since you’ll be working closely with your influencer to create the content, there’s much less risk that the end product will be off-brand for either your brand or your influencer’s.
Your influencer may also find this content easier to promote and better received by their audience, since their name is on it. Your brand name next to influencer’s name as a partner is a good look for both of you.
Cons of this type of campaign: To put it plainly, the more people involved in the content creation process, whether it’s written, audio, or video, the longer it takes.
To help offset this potential downside, you and your influencer can discuss and agree upon goals for the content, an outline of the editing cycle, and a timeline for completion. They don’t have to be set in stone, but establishing these guidelines can help make sure things are progressing as they should.
3. Using your influencers’ content
If your target influencers are creative types, you can use the photos, content and videos they produce on your own website or social channels. Of course, you’ll want to work with them to make sure it’s okay for you to do so.
Gap’s styld.by campaign is a good example of this campaign type.
Gap let their style influencers put together their own outfits, express their own senses of style, and take their own photos. Then Gap features the unique, completed content on their styld.by website. The result is that Gap and the influencer both benefit from the exchange, as both gain access to an audience they may not have reached otherwise.
Pros of this type of campaign: Time-wise, you won’t have to invest as much (if at all) on the content creation side.
Instead, your time will likely be spent curating the content you receive, but even then, it’s likely you’ll spend less time parsing through your influencer’s content than you would had you created that same content piece yourself.
This campaign type also requires less specialized work, which can save you time when it comes to assigning or acquiring these resources. In Gap’s styld.by example, Gap doesn’t have to worry about designating a specific designer or photo editor to work on this job, since providing original outfits and high quality photo’s is part of the influencer’s job in order to get featured.
Cons of this type of campaign: Depending on the way you pitch it to your influencer, cost and permissions can get a little dicey.
Going back to our Gap example, they paired this idea with another campaign type: the competition/giveaway/hashtag. By setting it up as a hashtag campaign, Gap was able to define the rules and compensation at the outset. If an influencer chose to submit content, he or she already understood the context in which their content would be used.
On the other hand, If you were to find an Instagram post featuring your brand and wanted to use the photo in some marketing materials, you’d want to contact the influencer by email and ask them.
4. Competitions / Giveaways / Hashtags
Competitions, giveaways and hashtags are tried and true influencer campaign methods, and you have multiple options when it comes to executing them. Some ideas are holding your own competition, then asking your influencers to promote it to their audience, or providing your influencer with your product so they can hold their own giveaway while boosting your brand.
Pros of this type of campaign: Giveaways are inherently shareable, and can be easily modified to best target your audience and the kind of information you want to collect.
For example, if your goal is to increase brand visibility and your audience doesn’t like to give much information out, you can run a “Like to win” campaign. However, if your goal is to increase engagement, asking for a like isn’t enough. You’ll want to instead look at a contest that is a little more involved, like Wistia’s StartPup competition, which asked entrants to shoot a video of their office dog explaining why their pup is so great. Side note: Opie, one of BuzzStream’s own office dogs, is a pretty swell guy.
Depending on how you setup your campaign, you’ll likely get multiple benefits from it, like exposure to a different audience, increased traffic and larger followings on your social media channels.
And, for those heftier campaigns, you can use the entry form as an opportunity to ask the entrant if they’d like to hear from you more often by subscribing to your email list.
Cons of this type of campaign: Deciding what information to ask for and what type of competition to run will take a lot of thought. You’ll need to clearly define your goals and your audience, as well as how long you’ll run the campaign for. (Though, keep in mind that the successful contests tend to be either 25 or 60 days in length.)
You’ll also have a little extra legwork to do in terms of checking local and national laws and regulations on online competitions, as well as reading over your chosen social media platform’s rules around competitions.
5. Event marketing
If your brand holds events, whether in-person like local meetups, or online like webinars, they’re a great opportunity to invite your influencers and encourage them to let their followers know they’ll be there. Likewise, if some of your influencers are hosting events of their own, sponsoring or participating their event gets your brand in front of their audience.
Pros of this type of campaign: Nothing can replace face to face contact. If the event is in-person, this gives you a chance to solidify your relationships with your influencers.
Cons of this type of campaign: Although all influencer marketing require financial investment, this campaign type has the potential to be much more expensive, especially if booking any travel is involved. However, not all influencer events have to cost you money.
Chelsea Krost, a brand consultant and millennial spokesperson, hosts a wildly successful Twitter chat called #MilennialTalk.
Although it costs money to sponsor the chat, it’s free to participate and offer good insight that her audience would see and could respond to.
6. Affiliate links / Discount codes
The good ol’ discount. This campaign type works well in conjunction with other campaign types, like giveaways/competitions/hashtags or when influencers share your content on their social channels.
For example, this makeup review video by YouTuber Laura Lee effectively combines posting brand-related content and discount codes by listing her discount codes in the description of her video multiple times.
Pros of this type of campaign: If posted on a blog, it can act as a form of passive advertising and possibly even revenue for months to come. This campaign type also makes it easier to gauge its success since you can measure straightforward metrics like clicks and conversions.
Cons of this type of campaign: A lot of brands are likely offering your influencer discount codes since it’s fairly low level of effort for the brand, so it can be tough to stand out and encourage your influencer to promote yours. Depending on how deep your discounts are and how many influencers you give them to, they can potentially affect margins and profitability in a negative way or attract only one-time customers.
Having an influencer take over your social channel or blog for a set amount of time is one of my favorite influencer campaign types. There’s something so cool about getting to expose your audience to drastically different, but still on-brand content, while getting access to a new audience as well.
Pros of this type of campaign: Social media takeovers drive engagement, add a sense of authenticity to your brand, strengthen your relationship with your influencer, and are very versatile and can be used on any platform.
Cons of this type of campaign: There are a lot of details that need to be thought through before a social media takeover can be executed. For example:
- Which social media platforms will your influencer be taking over? Just one platform, or all of your platforms?
- Who will be actually posting the content? Will it be the influencer? Or will it be your social media manager posting your influencer’s words (and emojis) verbatim?
- What are your influencer’s goals when producing your social content? What are some do’s and don’ts for them to keep in mind?
- How frequently are they expected to post content? Does post frequency requirements differ from platform to platform?
- Will your influencer be replying to comments? Or will your social media manager handle that?
You’ll also still need to have your social media manager on hand in case things get a little busier than expected.
There are a variety of ways to work with influencers, seven of which we’ve covered here. However, the best campaign type for your audience will ultimately boil down to your goals, your pitch, and your relationships with your influencers.
Which campaign type do you think would work best with your audience? Are there other campaign types or combination of campaign types that have worked well for your brand in the past? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.