A recent study reported that in 2016 86% of marketers used influencer marketing and 78% cite determining ROI as their top challenge for 2017. We can assume there has been some development by now, but this feels true even today. Marketers are actively trying to figure out the channel by investing, experimenting and optimising their campaigns. The same study reported that the most common KPIs are CPC (Cost per Click) and CPE (Cost per Engagement).

Now, as much as we laud performance and metrics, these are just one side to the story. How about quality of engagements? How about brand advocacy? How about brand perception? There is probably a good reason why marketers turn to influencers, most campaigns today are Paid, and influencer marketing might seem like the cheapest and shortest way to more authenticity. Influencer marketing can be around USD5-6 CPM vs TV at USD17.

Influencer collaborations though are not just about a brand’s ROI and the variety of business metrics, but also include a much more complicated ingredient – synergy. Does the influencer suite my brand?

A study showed that 77% of influencers are more likely to work with a brand repeatedly if they have creative freedom. Similar sentiments have been echoed around the industry because influencers are not billboards and don’t want to be treated as such.

In the light of mixing performance and synergy, we’ll highlight a few examples where we believe there are some learnings for every marketer who engages influencers.

But before we get to the list, we need you to think about the goal you want to achieve. If you’re targeting existing customers, here is an article to help you. Alternatively, if you’re targeting new customers, this article will provide some good tips.

The biggest mistake marketers make in influencer marketing is expecting their shortlisted influencers to just follow orders. Many influencers these days care enough about their audience to reject such briefs and have even been known to publicly call out marketers. Don’t be that marketer.

ASOS – TAKING BRAND ADVOCACY TO A NEW LEVEL

Insight

Asos is a global beauty and fashion e-commerce store primarily for young adults. To target its audience, the company uses a list of influencers to initiate “ASOS Insiders”.

Campaign

These “insiders” are mostly lifestyle and/or fashion influencers. The company garnered a list of 20-somethings that fit its brand and carry their own unique style in different sections of the brand. For instance, Men’s Plus, Women’s Plus, etc.

In this influencer marketing, the influencers are required to create their own asos Instagram account so they can post pictures and their outfit of the days so shoppers would get to “shop the look”. In addition, their campaign doesn’t focus on one channel but uses Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest.

Result

This campaign helped Asos gain genuine long-term engagement and created looks/styles for its wide range of audiences.

AIRBNB – CELEBRITY FOCUSED INFLUENCER MIX

Insight

It is reported that Airbnb has racked up more than 100 million stays in 2017 and it is no surprise that the company is making its mark in the hospitality industry.

Campaign

Over the last couple of years, Airbnb switched up its influencer marketing strategy when singer, Mariah Carey booked her stay with them. Using the opportunity, the company collaborated with her. The sponsored post on Instagram tagging Airbnb received over 44k likes. The company decided to adapt this strategy by engaging with celebrities in their influencer marketing.

In each sponsored post, the celebrity/influencer will share a picture of their glamorous/luxury holiday and thank Airbnb. In return, the celebrity/influencer will receive free stays at some of the most expensive and extravagant properties under Airbnb.

Airbnb also sponsors celebrity stays for major events. Take Super Bowl LI for instance, the company provided Lady Gaga a USD 20 million estate in Houston. In the Instagram post, Lady Gaga thanks Airbnb for the stay. Not only did it reach her 24 million followers and garner more than 530k likes at the time but it also made headlines in major press like Vanity Fair, Buzzfeed and People.

Result

Over the last two years, Airbnb’s engagement rate has reportedly  increased 4% due to 37 sponsored posts. These posts received over 18 million likes and 510k comments. The brand’s reach is at 966 million on Instagram after it’s celebrity focused influencer marketing strategy.

DANIEL WELLINGTON – THE MORE INFLUENCERS, THE BETTER

Insight

Using mass influencers, Daniel Wellington went from a USD15,000 startup when they launched in 2011 to a company that generated revenue of USD220 in 2015 alone.

Campaign

As a startup, the company understood that they could not compete with bigger players in the market in spending big bucks for celebrities to endorse their products. They went into social media and sponsored “smaller” influencers to promote the brand. These influencers fit right in to their price point as well. The company hunted out influencers who were willing to promote Daniel Wellington for free watches and/or voucher codes that could be used by their audiences instead of rewarding influencers monetarily to save costs.

This approach was similar to Airbnb, albeit on a smaller scale, because the focus was on quantity in terms of the influencer list instead of their followings. Instead of getting major press to talk about the brand, the company got a huge number of influencers and since 95% of the content is user-generated, it created a community bond around the brand.

Result

The brand grew to a 4.2 million Instagram account with an average like of 35k per post. In addition, the hashtag, #danielwellington carries more than 1.9 million posts on Instagram today.

THE MORE INFLUENCERS, THE BETTER, OR MAYBE IT’S TOO MUCH WITHOUT CREATIVE FREEDOM

They certainly had some setbacks in terms of quality versus quantity. There is a 71% drop in engagement rate on an influencer branded post versus a non-branded post.

It is important to note that an influencer’s creative freedom allows influencers’ posts to seem more genuine and authentic to an extent.

TL;DR

  • Influencer marketing is not just about driving performance metrics and using influencers as just another ad channel.
  • Find the synergy through selecting the right influencers, enable creative freedom and build with long term relationships in mind.
  • 86% of marketers used influencer marketing in 2016. 78% cite determining ROI as their top challenge for 2017.
  • 77% of influencers would be more likely to work with a brand repeatedly if they are granted creative freedom.
  • ASOS have shown that using a group of targeted micro-influencers works great when those “brand advocates” create genuine long term engagement between the brand and its audience.
  • On the other hand, Airbnb focuses on celebrities in their influencer marketing by sponsoring stays for them during major events which has resulted in an increase in engagement rates for the brand.
  • Daniel Wellington grew from a startup to a business earning revenue of USD220 by using mass micro-influencer marketing to promote the brand and created 95% user-generated content.
  • The use of mass influencers can lead to a loss of control over quality so it is important to balance this against having too much reliance on sponsored posts that can seem too Paid.
  • Case studies shown that there is not only one way to approach influencer marketing and it’s always about synergy between the brand and the influencer to come up with an approach that fits both parties.