Influencer marketing platform Tomoson recently conducted a survey and found that nearly 60% of marketers plan on boosting their influencer marketing budgets in 2016. That’s a pretty hefty percentage, and the newcomers are joining the ranks of major brands, such as Calvin Klein and Mercedes, who have been experimenting with influencer campaigns for some time.
But what is an influencer? Today’s definition covers a lot of ground: it can mean anyone and anything from Justin Bieber to ‘King of Snapchat’ DJ Khaled to Loki the Wolf Dog. We tend to think of influencers in the digital content space as people who have a certain number of blog or social media followers – in reality, the definition is much more elastic than that.
Brands are starting to understand that finding the right influencer is significantly more important than finding the biggest or most popular celebrities. Sure, you can get Kim Kardashian tweeting for you and pay her a millions of dollars to do it. But if you do that, are you really reaching the the audience you want? Once the buzz dies down, are you making the smartest long-term investment of your marketing dollars? Probably not. Pick more fruit from halfway up the tree and you’ll find that it can be even more bountiful than the stuff at the top.
Another tactic? Focusing on platform-specific superstars, taking into consideration the unique pros, cons, and demographics of each social media site to let influencers do the legwork for you. When it comes to influencer marketing, one-size-fits-all is decidedly not the way to go.
Here are 5 examples of on-brand influencer campaigns in 2016:
1. I ____ in #mycalvins
Image: Calvin Klein Twitter
Calvin Klein’s #mycalvins influencer campaign is hands down one of, if not the most, successful user-generated campaigns of 2016. According to Google Trends, the term ‘my calvins’ has sustained growth since its debut in February 2014, peaking when Justin Bieber and Lara Stone shot a provocative billboard ad, which trended on Facebook and Twitter for 48 hours after the launch.
The campaign started with influencers on Instagram and Tumblr taking selfies in their gifted Calvin Klein sports bra and underwear, often times in provocative poses, with a hazy filter and simple, white background. With the onset of the ‘athleisure’ fashion trend – wearing sportswear as casual clothing – influencers started pairing Calvin Klein sports bras with everyday clothing, often times peaking out under a bomber jacket or the band of underwear showing above their jeans.
Women’s Wear Daily reported that over 600 influencers worldwide were employed to promote the brand’s line of underwear, and the public responded. In one year, Calvin Klein’s social following increased by the millions and user-generated content reached to over 25 million brand interactions globally. Users can post images to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #mycalvins, and the best content is reposted on Calvin Klein’s microsite where visitors can browse thousands of submissions and easily click through to the brand’s ecommerce site to purchase more Calvin merchandise.
Catering to the young, fashion-conscious consumer with a large disposable income, Revolve is a high-end e-commerce retailer that has relied on nurturing relationships with the world’s most sought after influencers to spread their reach across social media. On Instagram alone, Revolve boasts 1.2 million followers, and the image friendly platform is where Revolve curates most of their content. Whether it be daily posts of influencers wearing outfits purchased from Revolve, shots of bloggers taking part in branded destination trips or event coverage, Revolve ensures their followers are engaged with 170 to 250 pieces of content a month.
Every year, Revolve invites famous celebrities, models, and fashion bloggers to the Hamptons for their annual #RevolveintheHamptons campaign. This year was no different. Dozens of famous celebrities and bloggers from around the world joined Revolve in the Hamptons, including celebrities Nicole Richie and Kendall Jenner, while bloggers Victoria Magrath of InTheFrow and Chiara Ferragni of The Blonde Salad exposed their seven million followers to the brand.
Revolve’s Instagram influencer strategy allows them to engage directly with consumers by encouraging them to upload user-generated content. Images consumers post of themselves wearing Revolve merchandise along with the hashtags #RevolveintheHamptons and #RevolveMe are filtered for the best content then uploaded to the Revolve Me section of their website. Here, users can browse photos by hashtag, influencer, and product category. Each image is shoppable, allowing Revolve to track which influencers and products are performing the best, allowing them to prove ROI on their strategy efforts. Their influencer marketing strategy is particularly important to measure, as Revolve is projected to grow its $440 million dollar revenue by 50% in 2017.
3. Becca Cosmetics + Jaclyn Hill
In the realm of beauty bloggers and YouTube, a simple product placement or sponsored video is no longer. Today, the biggest and brightest beauty stars have begun collaborating with brands by producing their own product lines with global beauty labels, such as Too Faced and Becca Cosmetics. This level of engagement transcends the celebrity endorsement. Instead of consumers getting a product endorsement from an influencer they know and trust, they are purchasing a product they believe their YouTuber had full creative control and say into the packaging, performance, and look of the products.
Want an example of how an influencer produced product can increase a brand’s sales? Take a look at Jaclyn Hill’s collaboration with Becca Cosmetics. The famous beauty blogger boasts a staggering 3 million YouTube subscribers and 2.9 million Instagram followers, receiving as much as a million views per video and over 100k likes on Instagram.
An influencer with this level of engagement proved valuable to Becca Cosmetics, as highlighted in the company’s infographic showing the ROI of their product, ‘Becca x Jaclyn Hill Champagne Pop.’
4. DJ Khaled + Las Vegas
In an effort to launch their first Snapchat channel, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority hired DJ Khaled, hailed “The King of Snapchat,” to show his 6 million followers all his favorite, exciting spots in the city. Launched on May 29th 2016, the Snapchat takeover lasted two days and served to promote @VisitLasVegas, Las Vegas’s new Snapchat account. Viewers watched Khaled as he traveled to the Las Vegas Strip, The Venetian, and even getting a mani-pedi at the Canyon Ranch Day Spa. Within two days the channel received 400,000 views and 25,000 new followers.
DJ Khaled was chosen for his large, young following – an audience of 21 to 30-year-olds that Las Vegas wanted to reach. In addition, his devoted followers watch him for his unabashed authenticity, an important factor when considering an influencer. The main takeaway? Millennial consumers will respond positively to an endorsement from an authentic, trusted source rather than traditional advertisements.
5. Loki the Wolf Dog + Mercedes
An Instagram-famous dog and virtual reality technology might seem like unlikely bedfellows for a marketing campaign, however luxury car dealer Mercedes tied them both together beautifully for a segment of their #MCPhotoPass campaign, which involved creating cinematic video content for the Mercedes-Benz YouTube channel, while professional photographers produce inspiring imagery for Instagram.
Mercedes invited Loki the Wolf Dog, who boasts over a million Instagram followers, and his owner Kelly Lund to drive a 2017 Mercedes GLS through the snowy mountains of Crested Butte Colorado with 3D cameras attached to give viewers the experience of Loki the Wolf Dog running through the snowy turian, while the other cameras give an inside look into the new GLS interiors.
The strategy for the #MBPhotoPass campaign was to produce videos that bring together a variety of different influencers to give fresh perspectives on Mercedes-Benz cars, from world class chef Chris Coombs to Loki the Wolf Dog, the campaign reflects the change in perspective through VR and the different consumer segments of Mercedes’ audience.
The second component of #MBPhotoPass was handing the keys over to Instagram’s best photographers to capture the excitement and glamour associated with the Mercedes-Benz lifestyle and convey these brand stories through Instagram. Instagram alone generated 173 million impressions, 2.3 million like/comments, and $4 million worth of earned media – all together creating 1,700 brand assets still being used across MBUSA.com, CRM emails, and print advertising. This campaign worked because Mercedes choose to capitalize on the rising popularity of VR devices, and of course, making cute count with pets.
Brands must constantly innovate their marketing campaigns to stand out in an increasingly competitive market. Influencer marketing should be viewed as a great add-on to any of your existing content marketing efforts, and finding the right person (or animal) to work with is half the battle. Utilizing influencers is an effective way to build trust with your audience and increase brand awareness with their followers, especially since they can help maximize the reach of your content and message. It’s a win-win-win situation, for influencers, for consumers, and for brands.
This article was written by NewsCred’s Ashley Karhoff
Originally published on Aug 18, 2016 8:15 AM, updated Nov 8, 2016