In today’s hyper-connected world, social circles have expanded into networks whose communities and influence span the globe, online and off. Word travels especially fast for Millennials, who on average spend more than three hours a day on social media. As such, influencers who drive conversations and engagement are increasingly important to brands because they play a significant role in consumers’ purchase decisions. This is especially true for Millennials.
Millennials trust friends and peers for information far more than they trust traditional advertising. And when it comes to product suggestions, they trust YouTube stars over TV/movie stars. That’s quite an impressive shift considering the massive role that the latter still play in the brand spokesperson arena.
At the same time, Millennials do not trust just any influencer or brand based on content alone. Marketers need to work diligently to identify influencers who (1) have reach within the target, (2) authentically love the brand, (3) are relevant to the audience and (4) are adept at creating content that drives engagement and — the ultimate goal — conversion.
Brands can’t haphazardly formulate programs and simply cross their fingers that influencers will be inspired to participate and engage their audience to take action. Brands must be innovative, constantly researching ways to activate the most highly relevant influencers on their behalf. The best brands are using a combination of techniques to achieve great returns. Here are some examples worth exploring:
Either brands or influencers host fully immersive events with hand-selected influencers that reach the target. This results in authentic, shareable moments that spread publicly across blogs and social networks. Events are perfect opportunities to capture real-time content on social channels such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Vine.
Tip: Consider unique opportunities and experiences that are most meaningful for influencers and will elicit authentic emotion that will compel them to share.
For years, the press has been on the ground covering events. Now brands can partner with influencers to publish content on their own channels (e.g., YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Vine and Snapchat) for third-party credibility, mass reach and entertainment. While this can be done on any scale, many top brands have done this successfully at nationally televised events.
Tip: Consider long-term relationships with influencers to grow a close connection between the brand and influencers’ audiences.
Influencers host sponsored conversations before or after television shows. Consider prominent shows that are highly relevant to your audience and theirs. This can be done through Twitter and/or, even better, a video chat “after party.” For influencers well-known for live tweeting specific TV shows, this can be a great way to engage audiences who may not be familiar with your product or service.
Tips: Don’t bother the audience too much with your product during the show or they will be turned off. Consider amplifying with in-person events and paid media (e.g., Twitter targeting).
Curate and publish high-quality influencer content on your brand’s website and product pages. Influencer content can serve as product imagery on-site and often receives higher engagement and conversion rates than brand-generated content.
Tip: Contract influencers ahead of key product launches and seasons to get the photos when you need them most, rather than relying only on organic user-generated content.
Brand-Sponsored Video Programming
Collaborate with YouTube stars already reaching the target audience to create high-quality entertainment aligned with the brand. This approach enables brands to gain mass attention and engage the target in a meaningful way.
Tip: Empower influencers to create content they know their audience will like; collaborate on the creative direction (e.g., extreme stunts, music videos, how-to videos, cooking shows, exercise demonstrations, live interviews, etc.).
Product Development Collaboration
Brands collaborate with influencers for product lines. Influencers are highly in tune with their audience’s tastes, which makes them the best collaborator for brands. They also have a built-in promotional network to share a brand’s message.
Tip: Focus on trends and products that are most closely related to the influencers’ content.
Top brands see influencer marketing as an opportunity to connect with the Millennial demographic and social media enables them to do so in many ways, online and off. Those brands that continue to innovate and identify the most highly relevant influencers for their business will continue to win in the space.