Chances are you’ve heard a lot about Influencer Marketing by now; its basic principles, its importance, and the ways to identify and contact influencers are clear to you. The consensus, however, is that there are only two ways to work with your influencers: pay for a sponsored article or post on their blogs and social media channels, or offer them free stuff so they can give it a try in front of their audiences.
These are very good ways to leverage your influencers’ networks and reach an audience you generally don’t have access to, but they’re certainly not the only ones. Here are 3 creative examples of what you can do to beef up your influencer marketing strategy, and win the blogosphere in an unexpected way that gives you the edge.
1. Energize your events
If you’ve ever been involved in organizing a corporate event (new product launch, annual user conference, launching in a new market, etc.) you have certainly come across the difficulty of inviting press to cover it. After all, you’re spending a sizable amount of money to make it impressive, your industry and customers might as well acknowledge that it ever happened! But what you usually get is two polite negative answers and a lot of unanswered invitations. Journalists are used to being offered the VIP treatment, they won’t show up just because they’re invited.
How about offering this treatment to bloggers, instagramers and popular twitterati who cover your industry ? Not only will they show up, they’ll diligently report everything about it to their audience and you might well be all over the web in the next few days. Not to mention that you’re creating long lasting relationships with your industry’s opinion leaders by meeting them in person, which is far too rare in digital marketing.
Identify the right influencers in your industry, invite them to your events and offer them what you’d offer important journalists: interviews, product testing, mini quiches, whatever! This is a great way to use influencer marketing to energize your event!
2. Promote your product indirectly
Ideally, your product is good enough on its own to give every writer in your industry the trembling urge to cover it and become your brand’s advocate for the foreseeable future. In reality, gaining the trust of your industry’s opinion leaders is likely to be a hassle that you’ll have to deal with. That’s when you resort to influencer marketing, and you’re right! But how do you efficiently show brand value without just paying your influencers like each competitor you ever had? You offer them something nice that their audience needs by leveraging other marketing material.
Let’s look at a business case here: Aptamil is a brand of baby milk made by Danone. Sure it might be the best baby milk in the galaxy, and they might pay mommy bloggers a good amount of cash to try it out and cover it, but chances are the competitors will do the exact same thing. How do you get the edge?
Aptamil developed a simple mobile application that helps moms choose their future newborn’s name, and used influencer marketing to promote the app instead of their milk. What happened next? Engagement, downloads, shares, conversations (including this one) with Aptamil name all over it. This is marketing 101 of course, but the idea of using digital influencer marketing to promote something else than a particular product is fairly new. Use it to your advantage.
Having devoted influencers is also an easy way to get your brand featured on different social media platforms without having to handle everything yourself. People convinced by your product are your best advocates and will definitely show their community the fanciest/best way to use them. If you are a newbie with Instagram, Pinterest or other social media platforms, let your Influencers use them for you. They’re probably better than you at this game!
3. Raise Awareness with well crafted contests around experience
You’ve been told it’s all about engagement, right? It’s true! So why not use the opportunity you have to reach someone else’s audience to push one of the most engaging marketing vehicles of all: contests.
The principle is simple to understand: if you’re going to reward an influencer to talk about your product, why not reward her readers as well when they share or start a conversation? You know your potential customers and can certainly come up with a reward that will appeal to them and get the word out about your product.
Microsoft used influencer marketing to reward readers who shared the most with a brand new Surface tablet.
Regarding the rewards, it doesn’t need to cost you a lot of money. Realize that you’re not advertising in a magazine anymore. You’re going to be featured on a publication that feels like a safe place to its community members. You should design your contests to feel more human: don’t throw products at people’s faces, what works best on blogs is an “experience reward”. Invite the winners to your headquarters, show them around, make them meet your team, make them feel important and part of your operation. This will inspire many more conversations overtime than simply mailing your latest gizmo. And it’s much more fun for you too!
Because there’s the word “marketing” in “Influencer Marketing”, the natural tendency was to consider influencers as another platform to push a marketing strategy that had been working on other channels. This might have produced results in the past if you were a first mover on this new way of advertising, but chances are the competition has caught up. In order to maintain or gain an edge on others in your industry, you need to understand what appeals to people who write about something for the sheer passion of doing so. Acknowledging the power they have is great, but being the brand who understands them is better! Try to figure out new and creative ways to create and maintain relationships with your industry’s opinion leaders. What’s at stake is nothing less than your brand’s reputation.