Influencer marketing (or influence marketing) is becoming a buzzword, and it’s for good reason. Buyers are increasingly skeptical and rely more often on online reviews and recommendations from people they trust before they make purchasing decisions. As customers get more desensitized to advertising, brands are looking for new ways to engage audiences, which is where influencer marketing comes in.
Many brands are realizing the value of partnering with influential people online. Experts in a particular field who have earned an engaged audience can be powerful advocates for brands. When an influential person really believes in the work a brand is doing, they can fully endorse it to their audience. When influencers become brand ambassadors, they can generate online engagement worth millions.
But how do brands and influencers partner together in order to create the kind of engagement we’re talking about here? Whether you’re a B2B or B2C, here are five examples of events that can ignite a movement.
Enlisting an influencer to participate in a webinar can be a very valuable opportunity, especially for B2Bs. Webinars offer in-depth insight that audiences value. Particularly when webinar recordings can be saved and viewed later, they become sources of information kept on record for long after the event finishes.
Having an influencer join your webinar helps in a number of ways. Her name recognition can generate increased attendance. She will likely promote the webinar to her own audience, exposing your brand to a wider range of people. Her insight during the webinar will add depth and variety to your organization's contribution and expertise.
Google Hangouts allow participants to engage with your brand and influencers in an informal way. People can discuss important things as well as simply get to know brand representatives personally. While webinars might be perceived as more formal with a slideshow presentation and designated Q&A times, Google Hangouts focus on conversations where each participant has the option to show his face. This "round table" format can generate brand trust.
Having an influencer participate can, similarly to the webinar, draw a larger audience, expose your brand to more people through the influencer’s networks, and create extra interest as participants directly interact with the influencer online.
Twitter chats are powerful tools for creating online conversation. Schedule a time for your Twitter chat and announce the influencer's involvement. Make sure your messaging is consistent across all promotional posts and be sure to have a hashtag correlated with the chat.
Once the scheduled time arrives for the Twitter chat, participants can follow the conversation by using the hashtag. Utilize the influencer for Q&A with participants or as a host facilitating conversation. Either way, Twitter users will be excited to have the (somewhat) undivided attention of the influencer, mentioning them (and your branded hashtag) in order to ask questions and drive discussion.
CONTEST OR GIVEAWAY
Contests and giveaways are especially useful in a B2C environment where there are goods to be exchanged or purchased. Connect with influencers to offer complimentary products so that they can experience them and develop an opinion. For influencers who become excited about the product and believe that their audience would be interested, you can offer more product in order for the influencers to run a contest or giveaway.
There are many ways to run a contest or giveaway, which we won't go into here, but essentially, you're inviting audiences to interact with the influencer around your brand and product. You will generate excitement and conversation that will increase your brand reach.
Even though we're in a digital world, don't overlook the opportunity for an in-person event. Invite an influencer to appear at a product launch, promotional event, conference, or panel discussion. Have the influencer available for pictures and questions, or enlist them as the moderator. Their presence will spark excitement. As audiences attend the event, they will take pictures and share comments online, thus transferring that in-person excitement to generate Internet buzz.
Keep Your Goals in Mind
Before you launch into planning an engagement event, you should first identify your goals. What are you trying to accomplish? Do you want to increase the online conversation around your brand? Are you trying to increase signups for an event? Do you hope to increase sales for a product? The influencer you work with and the event that you host will impact your outcomes, so be sure that your planning process, communication collateral, and promotions are focused toward accomplishing your defined goals. And be sure to establish criteria for determining the success of the campaign, whether it is website traffic, brand mentions, or some combination of other activities.