We brought together influencer marketing experts from the Upfluence team and Social Styles, a marketing agency in the health & wellness industry, to share their tried and tested strategies for success with seasonal campaigns. They offer insights into the best strategy for influencer discovery, building authentic long-lasting influencer partnerships, and give examples from current campaigns. Over to our experts: Paul Kahn, Senior VP Sales at Upfluence, Celena Danahy, Solution Architect at Upfluence & Kate Oakley, Account Executive at Social Styles.
We’re preparing for a holiday season like none other. What are the changing consumer behaviors we should know about as we close 2020?
Paul We can expect it to be a big moment for eCommerce. 76% of shoppers will be doing their holiday shopping online, and online only. We’re also going to see the general period of holiday shopping start earlier, with 51% of people planning to start shopping earlier than normal this year. Finally, 57% of people intend to ship gifts directly to the recipients, as there’ll be fewer in-person gatherings around the holidays this year.
What’s the optimal planning timeline for brands and agencies running holiday influencer campaigns?
Celena There’s a lot of preparation that goes into planning a campaign. You should always start off by defining your strategy and taking the time to do your research. See what your competitors are doing, see what products you’re currently selling that do really well, and figure out what your main objectives are.
Then it’s about finding the influencers you want to work with. If you want to work with the top influencers, you have to go to them ahead of time. They take their photos months ahead so you need to make sure you give them enough notice. I would say as a rule of thumb, contact 10 times the number of influencers that you actually want to work with. When you’re contacting a lot of people, be mindful that there are ways to automate this and be efficient while still keeping it personalized. With Upfluence software there is a workflow tool that guides you through the process that allows you to set up things ahead of time. Be sure to factor in time for negotiating too!
Before influencers begin to post for the campaign, I would recommend that all eCommerce brands use the Live Capture tool from Upfluence. Whenever someone visits your site, Live Capture will launch a pop-up to collect their social media handles. So when someone visits your site you not only know their email but now you have all of the social media data that will allow you to see who your most influential customers are. As the campaign progresses and more people are visiting your site, you’ll be able to collect influencer data about even more of your customers to help grow your network of influencers.
Kate A lot of people might think ‘oh I can throw a campaign together in a week and we’ll be fine’, but in reality it’s a very lengthy process, from creating a strategy, to bringing that strategy to the client for their approval, to talking about sourcing the influencers, to reaching out to them, waiting to hear back and then the client has to send the products over. There’s a lot of moving pieces so you really have to get ahead of that, months ahead of that, not weeks.
Kate, when you’re looking at creating a new campaign what are the types of things that you think about to find your best influential partners?
Here at Social Styles, we take a very holistic approach to influencer marketing. We love Upfluence, it really supports what we are trying to do. First, before we do anything, as far as finding the influencer or determining keywords to use when finding those influencers in Upfluence, we really have to understand internally who the target market is. If our client is not 100% sure we like to work on that prior to starting any sort of influencer outreach. Then we establish specific keywords and Upfluence compiles a list of well-rounded influencers for us to choose from.
Our biggest concern is not the number of followers typically, we really focus on quality engagement. We go through our list of influencer profiles, we want to see that people are genuinely engaging with them. We always look for quality of content, quality of imagery, quality of video. When I say quality of imagery it doesn’t necessarily have to be a professional image, but we look for bright imagery, we look for video content that is creative and unique.
Celena, can you share what the approach at Upfluence is regarding influencer identification?
I really think tapping into your existing networks and nurturing those relationships is important. You are going to really save yourself a lot of time if you reach out to people who are
already in alignment with your brand in one way or another because although influencers like money, don’t get me wrong, they also like working with the brands that they respect and that they like. I think it’s interesting to look at our Live Capture tool for influencer identification. With the social media insights collected by the tool, you can really learn about who your existing customers are. I think your customers are the absolute best ambassadors. They are already fans of your brand, they know the value of your brand, you don’t have to prove it to them. These people are more likely to do long-term partnerships which are the best, most authentic kind of partnerships.
Kate, can you tell us how you’re working with RGI on their holiday influencer campaign this year?
RGI home is a home decor company, they sell products primarily in TJ MAXX and Home
Goods. They are really focused on their philanthropy efforts this year as they always have been. We really wanted to put more focus on giving back during the holidays since that’s so important to them, and it’s really a part of their brand philosophy. The influences are going to be showcasing the products in their posts and talking about RGI’s mission and supporting local communities. They’ll be driving the ‘giving back’ theme of the holidays, especially right now when people have been struggling through Covid-19. RGI will be donating a dollar for every like on their campaign posts to a dedicated charity of their choice.
This year especially we’re hearing a lot of conversation around Giving Tuesday. Do you have any clients that have spoken to you about that?
Kate Yes, we have clients that are interested in Giving Tuesday for sure. With this campaign for RGI, we are going to be running it for several weeks and it will overlap with Giving Tuesday. We will most likely be doing a larger post that day, sharing some sort of exciting news, how much money we’ve raised so far for the charity. We’re excited to incorporate that kind of national day into this larger campaign.
How do holiday campaigns differ from a brick-and-mortar store to an e-commerce brand?
Paul I think if you’re a retail store and you’re still alive at this point in 2020 you’re an e-commerce brand! The stores that are out there are surviving based on their e-commerce work. I think most stores really need to be thinking about how they drive traffic to their website, how they drive sales from their website, and how they drive awareness in the digital space.
These same techniques are also going to drive people to go into the store. There was this moment when we went from computer-first to mobile-first, and I think the same sort of thing is happening in the retail space. We’re going from brick and mortar first to e-commerce first. Ultimately, retail is going to be an extension of e-commerce.
Our expert panel came together to discuss working with influencers during the holiday season during a recent webinar. You can hear their discussion in full by watching the webinar replay.