What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from the Best Influencer Marketing Campaigns of 2015

With the rise of social media influencers and much-improved analytics to measure the success of campaigns, influencer marketing has become a powerful force across all industries, boosting name recognition, product awareness, loyalty and ultimately sales for brands as varied as Capital One, Jaguar and Oasis Fashion — all of whom made influencers a core part of their marketing strategy in 2015.

With more brands poised to benefit from Influencer Marketing in the next year, here are the top lessons from last year’s campaigns:

Think Beyond Millennials

Brands often think of influencer marketing as a tool for the younger generation, but those conceptions are now changing. In a recent Instagram takeover for Capital One, photographers Kimberly Genevieve, Paul Octavious and Zach Rose showed their followers (more than 750,000 in total) momentos from their wallets in personal settings, often while traveling. Capital One tied the project to an ad campaign on the platform, which yielded a 3 percent increase in overall image perception, according to an Instagram case study. Perhaps more importantly, the brand saw a 25 percent boost in ad recall among ages 45 and older.

Key takeaway: Be willing to explore influencer marketing across a range of audiences. It is not necessarily just for millennials. Find the common thread among your customers and choose influencers who will appeal to their mindset.

Be Unexpected

Perceptions are first shaped by peers. Jaguar used this knowledge to refresh an overall brand image still tied to older, wealthy, British drivers by tapping Instagram star Jaycie Duprie, the 29-year-old fashion blogger behind “Damsel in Dior,” to promote its F Type coupe. Posing in a white cocktail dress to match the sleek coupe, Jaycie instilled the idea of Jaguar as a car for fun, young Americans to her more than 265,000 followers. The move went against Jaguar’s traditional branding and caught the attention of more than just Millennial drivers. Jaguar reported its best September sales month ever for its F Type following the summer campaign, including an 8% boost in sales.

Key takeaway: Be experimental. Sometimes the best person for your brand is exactly the opposite of what your consumer might expect. Shake up your strategy and choose your influencers based on how you want your customers to perceive you, rather than how they might already.

Think More Influencers (Not Mega-Influencers)

Knowing what types of content will convert to sales is an important part of influencer marketing that some brands surprisingly overlook. Oasis Fashion found that it can take different kinds of content from a range of influencers rather than just a few — and that sometimes brands get the best results with a little guidance and direction to the influencers they work with. To engage more American buyers, the brand launched an Instagram-focused collaboration on Shopping Links with the hashtag #upmystreet, directing bloggers from Los Angeles, Miami, Brooklyn, Dallas and other key markets to capture moments at their favorite neighborhood hangouts wearing Oasis outfits. The campaign averaged more than 400 likes per post, while Oasis’ own Instagram following rose to more than 116k followers. Its United States web traffic meanwhile increased 6 percent in the last three months, according to data from Alexa.com.

Key takeaway: Your customers are as varied in personality, interests and style. Working with a group of influencers that can relate to different audiences in a meaningful way can be more effective than choosing one or two “mega-influencers.”

Engage Your Customers

Sometimes your best advocates are your customers themselves. Approaching influencer marketing on a micro scale, Lululemon found that tapping the enthusiasm of its most active consumers can lead to inspiring results. Using platform Olapic to aggregate photos tagged with its #TheSweatLife hashtag, the company seamlessly pulled together inspirational photos from more than 7,000 influential customers, attracting 40,000 views in nine months. The campaign contributed to a successful year for Lululemon, which posted double digit year-over-year increases in net revenue every quarter in 2015.

Key takeaway: Everyone likes to feel like they’re a part of something, and your viewers are more likely to share content that feels personal. Engage your customers by giving them an opportunity to participate in your campaigns, and reward them by showing off their contributions.

With collaborations that were effective as they were creative, the best influencer marketing campaigns of 2015 demonstrated how brands can tap into the world’s oldest yet most successful form of marketing — word-of-mouth — by sparking genuine relationships with influencers and real conversations with customers.

[Kim Westwood] [Read More]