Influencer Marketing: A Love Story
Influencers are a driving force for brands looking to grow audience and sales through social media. Like any great love story, when the right brand and influencer connect, it’s fireworks. The search for that marriage between advertising and audience has brands doubling down on influencer marketing in 2019. And events designed with this in mind are part of this equation.
Influencers solidify messaging and create trust with the audience.
Influencer marketing is popular for one reason — it works, especially when you create that perfect moment of trust. But there are no guarantees. Simply paying someone with 50,000 followers to share your post on Instagram won’t automatically bring in waves of sales.
As with any relationship, it works best when you treat influencers as partners rather than a means to an end. When influencers feel you’re invested in them and genuinely care, they’re more likely to be loyal to your brand and promote it with more enthusiasm.
What is the best way to promote event or your event business using influencers?
Building a Relationship
First — who are influencers? They are people and brands that consistently bring authenticity and commitment to their online content and relationships.
There are many ways to build a connection between an influencer and your brand. In the event industry this is as simple as creating an authentic experience around your own brand or event, building in photo-worthy moments, inviting those people who are influential directly or not, and giving them something to talk about. This works especially well when the event matter affects them an emotional, professional, charitable or educational level.
For instance, working with my client, Warner Bros. Special Events, and Natalie Fulton, WBSE Sales Manager, we produced an exclusive showing of Wonder Woman around the time of its theatrical release. It was the perfect opportunity to celebrate the many strong and wonderful women in the Los Angeles event industry.
Images like this one were shared by the top female event influencers in Los Angeles and were seen nationally. In the case of this event, we didn’t impose any guidelines on the posts as these were invited guests and acting on their own. We simply made sure to provide the most powerful, shareable imagery. To me, this is the most effective use of influencer marketing.
However, if you are paying an influencer, it’s important to set guidelines on what that person will say, how long the content should be, what hashtags to use, and so on. And it will need to have the hashtag #ad or something close to it on each post.
While you will no doubt monitor the content on the day of the event, it’s also important to do so for a short while after. Why? The FTC has imposed rules to create transparency between the brand and the consumer. In most cases, making sure that the content mentions #ad upfront, or #Xpartner (the X being the name of the brand) satisfies the requirements for consumer awareness. But it can’t be stated just once. Each post needs to be explicit about the relationship.
Great love stories aren’t always perfect. There are often hurdles to jump and barriers to cross. That’s true in the marketing love story between influencers and brands. But when the right two connect, it’s magic. And like love, it’s worth all the effort.
Before You Get in Bed with an Influencer: 4 Things to Know
If you are thinking of reaching out to influencers for an upcoming event, here are four important things to know.
Follow FTC Guidelines
To be clear, when you simply invite influencers to an event they are free agents. They can write what they want but you can mitigate that by creating shareable content that is worthy of a photo and a post.
However, if you have made a formal agreement that they will post about the event, then you need to follow FTC rules that the influencer clearly discloses they are promoting your brand when they post.
It can be as simple as #ad although the FTC has realized that there are less “spammy” ways of doing this. You can use something like XPartner (X being the brand’s name, the partner being yours).
Disclose every paid piece of content. If you signed an influencer to create five posts next month, you can’t just have them disclose that you’re working together in the first post and not the other four. Even if the content seems like an obvious ad, you need to disclose the partnership in each paid post.
Check each paid post. Don’t assume that just because you asked the influencer to put #sponsored in their Instagram caption that they’re actually doing it. Review each paid piece of content and make sure they’ve noted that they’re being compensated. Otherwise, you put your brand at risk.
How to Find Your Influencer Match
In the case of the Warner Bros. event, we knew the top influencers in the market. But if you don’t, the process of finding influencers roughly consists of browsing Instagram looking for people who might be a good fit, sending them a DM, going back and forth on negotiations, sending the payment – or an invitation to the event — waiting for the influencer to post, and finally coming up with some way to track the partnership.
And, if you are promoting a product, and have a bigger budger, there are a growing number of platforms and influencer marketing tools that can help you find the right influencers. Two such tools are Tapinfluence and Upfluence.
Create Useful Content, Not Ads
As with anything else on social media, it’s all about creating great content that entertains, educates or invokes some level of emotion from your audience. Keep that in mind as you go through the steps. Ask yourself: What story do you want to tell? How can I creatively convey my message? What benefit does my audience get from the content I’m going to produce with the influencer? I’ve shown several great examples in this post of really effective influencer-brand relationships.
Consider Micro Influencers
Although many brands look at the number of followers an influencer has, micro-influencers – those people with a range of 2,000 to 50,000 followers on social media — often have a specific niche audience that is highly engaged and connected to them. Finding a relationship here can be much more cost effective for small businesses or brands (ranges vary greatly but it can be as little as $75 per post up to $500 depending on follower size), and they are known to be much more flexible throughout the negotiation process.