Providing your influencers with an even balance of direction and creative freedom can elevate your creative strategy.
As Influencer marketing becomes a more common practice, brands and agencies are beginning to recognize the need to create real and ongoing relationships with the right influencers. The days of opt-in programs are over for brands wanting to see real engagement, and the process of hand-selecting influencers has begun to thrive.
This strategic shift is the result of more and more brands and agencies relaxing their creative strategy briefs and recognizing that their influencers are more than just contractors, they can actually be creative partners, a development that benefits both the brand and the influencer.
Influencer marketing works because influencers know their audiences. They have developed their followings by producing content that’s relevant to their own personal brands and, as a result, their audiences become familiar with the topics they typically write about. In identifying and working with influencers whose followings match their own audience demographic, brands have discovered an unexpected bonus: these influencers can actually help guide their content and creative strategy.
Of course, brands need to provide guard rails. There will be mandatories and specifics that must be included in every campaign. But in allowing influencers the freedom to tell an authentic story in their own voice, the likelihood that the audience will positively react to the content significantly increases. Brands not only benefit by successfully reaching the influencer’s audience (an audience that may have been previously difficult to reach) with a message that comes from an objective third party, but they are able to glean insights from the way the content performs and incorporate these learnings into their ongoing strategy.
A good influencer program doesn’t contract groups of the same type of influencer and have them replicate the same story. The best campaigns have influencers with different niche specialties taking different approaches to the same creative idea. And, when you utilize an appropriate methodology for scoring the dozens (or even hundreds) of pieces of content, brands can begin to see which content is going to be most successful moving forward.
Below are examples of client influencer marketing campaigns where a combination of hand-selecting the right creative partners and the right balance of creative freedom proved overwhelmingly successful – for the brand and influencers alike.
Two years ago, we ran our first Grandparents Day campaign for Hallmark and sought out a variety of influencers that would fit the brief. We included one very specific influencer we knew would make a lasting impression. Katie Manwaring, of Katie’s Bliss, is a content creator we had partnered with on multiple occasions and had come to know quite well. So well in fact, that our team knew she was raised by her grandparents.
Katie was so grateful for the opportunity to talk about something that meant so much to her that she went above and beyond the request. Her story was heartfelt and unique, and the reaction from her audience was better than we could ever have imagined, generating almost 75 percent of the entire campaign’s engagements.
When we began working on the Homedics campaign this past year, we understood that the brand was seeking influencers in the lifestyle and fitness space, and that’s exactly where we began.
We started with a specific influencer who we knew was an avid runner, hence her handle SoCal Runner Gal, but we also knew from keeping in close contact with her that she was recently experiencing some issues with flexibility and training. When we invited her to partner on this campaign she was not only enthusiastic about something that fit within her lifestyle so well but thrilled to try out a new product that would help her with personal issues. As a result, her content was the highest performing content across the board, garnering approximately 70 percent of engagement across one social channel alone.
Not every influencer marketing campaign is designed around product purchase. Many of our clients are trying to stress the importance of the services they provide. In the case of VSP, they wanted to educate their audience about the importance of vision insurance. We not only sought out partnerships with influencers who regularly spoke about the importance of their own health but those with families who also needed attention.
Kelle Hampton was one of the first influencers we approached for this campaign, knowing that her entire blog focused on her family’s life, and some of the struggles they faced with a daughter with Down Syndrome. Her daughter’s health was a top priority for her family and a passion point that her audience connected with, including the multiple trips they make to the eye doctor every year.
The three examples above gave these brands content that was proven to work. Without the unique perspectives offered by these clever influencers and the ability to monitor their content to see what was the most engaging to their audience, the brands may have struggled to get their message through. Instead, their message was delivered in an authentic and passionate voice by a believable person and the brand got unique insight into a different way of promoting and talking about their product or service that they can incorperate into their creative strategy.