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What Is Influencer Marketing? 5 Creative Ways to Use Influencers in Your Advertising

Want to know how to create a killer influencer marketing campaign? From choosing the right influencers to driving UGC creation, learn how to boost your brand with influencer marketing.

Posted 7 Sep 2022
Influencer advertising

Businesses and brands constantly need fresh ways to captivate their customers and stay ahead of their competitors. Whether you’re a small start-up seeking innovative ways to enter the market, or an established entity wanting to prevent stagnation, we’ve got you covered with a list of creative ways to boost your brand with influencer advertising.

What Is Influencer Marketing?

Traditional advertising relies on legacy media, yet more and more of us are turning to social media to inspire and validate our purchasing decisions. 

Influencer marketing is a form of affiliate marketing that harnesses the power of online influencers to promote businesses and brands. Worth just $1.7 billion in 2016, influencer marketing has now grown into a $13.8 billion industry as of 2022 – and it’s only projected to grow

Influencer marketing campaigns can include sponsored posts, ‘shoutouts,’ and user-generated content (UGC).

How to Create a Successful Influencer Marketing Campaign

Influencer marketing campaigns are a modern strategy that leverages influencer reach and existing (loyal!) fanbases to create content-driven collaborations. Partnerships can be formed with nano to celebrity-level influencers to drive unique and engaging campaigns focused on your business needs. 

Perhaps you have a new product launching or wish to publicize a lesser-known service. Maybe you need to captivate a waning audience or transmit brand messaging. The right influencer marketing campaign will be able to deliver all this and more.

The key to a successful influencer marketing campaign lies in its relevance, reach, and resonance. Influencer advertising works because influencers have built trust with their followers in ways that brands can’t replicate.

Influencers are replacing traditional celebrities, with 70% of teens trusting influencers more than traditional celebrities and 86% of women turning to social media for purchasing advice. It’s therefore essential to find the right influencer for your brand.

It may be tempting to pursue a relationship with a macro or celebrity influencer because of their large followings; however, you may be surprised to learn that nano and micro-influencers offer a higher level of engagement. 

A table showing influencer engagement by following

Influencer content is all about emotion and entertainment – the right influencer campaign will combine the two in a way that resonates with your target audience. Knowing where to start can be daunting with thousands of influencers across multiple platforms.

How to Find the Right Influencers

It’s a good idea to search their content for mutually beneficial opportunities – many influencers will feel protective of the relationship they have cultivated with their followers and won’t jeopardize that trust for shallow and self-serving promotions. One of the best things about influencer marketing campaigns can be innovative, fun collaborations that engender genuine enthusiasm in audiences. 

Regardless of the campaign type, there are different compensation models. Establish whether you will provide a product or service in exchange for influencer promotion, pay a percentage of sales or a flat rate per post, or create a performance-based arrangement. Make sure you have decided on your budget before reaching out. 

There are a variety of influencer marketing campaigns: sponsored content, reviews, product and content collaborations, competitions and giveaways, ‘takeovers’ on your platform, and long-term ambassadorships are among the most common. 

5 Creative Ways to Use Influencer Marketing in Your Advertising

So, what do successful influencer marketing campaigns look like? Influencer marketing has been around for years, so there are plenty of examples to learn from! Exploring successful campaigns is a great way to drum up ideas and inspiration, as well as to discover the ‘dos and don’ts’ when it comes to effectively implementing influencer advertising. Here are five foolproof ways to use influencers in your advertising.

1. Drive UGC Creation

User-generated content (UGC) is any form of published online content created by individual people instead of brands. UGC is a great way to spark brand awareness and popularity as a real person (rather than a celebrity) showcases the product or service, inspiring consumer trust

Dunkin’ Donuts delivered one of the most successful influencer marketing campaigns of 2020-2021 when they partnered with the number one most followed TikTok creator Charli D’Amelio. 

D’Amelio already featured the brand’s beverages in her viral dance clips and offered an organic opportunity. They entered an official long-term ambassadorship which saw D’Amelio’s signature order being added to the menu nationwide as ‘the Charli.’

'The Charli' - Dunkin' Donuts' TikTok Campaign with influencer Charli D'Amelio

Launch day saw a 57% increase in Dunkin’ Donuts’ app downloads and a 45% increase in cold brew sales the following day. The viral hashtag campaign (#CharliXDunkinContest) offered the chance to win a virtual hangout with D’Amelio herself, followed by a social media platform takeover, collaborative merchandise, and the release of a second ‘remixed’ edition of the inaugural drink. 

'The Charli' - Dunkin' Donuts' TikTok Campaign with influencer Charli D'Amelio

Dunkin’ Donuts has now amassed an impressive TikTok following – 3.1 million followers and 22.4 million likes – with its strategic influencer marketing campaign with D’Amelio being a critical factor in its success.

2. Harness Micro and Nano Influencers

Remember the adage ‘quality, not quantity? Well, it’s also relevant when it comes to influencer advertising. Nano and micro-influencers average 1,000 to 100,000 followers yet garner the highest engagement rates, so getting creative with them can lead to exponential results.

When the pandemic hit, and mass lockdown ensued, global ice-cream brand Häagen-Dazs quickly pivoted by partnering with Secret Cinema and leading influencer agency TAKUMI to deliver a reimagined multi-platform immersive film experience straight to people’s sofas. Between April and June 2020, thousands of people participated in the #HaagIndoors campaign. An iconic film was announced each Friday, with audiences roused to dress in thematic costumes and indulge in the paired ice-cream flavor. 

Partnerships with Amazon Prime Now, Sipsmith Gin, Piper-Heidsieck Champagne, and Jack Daniels assisted the brand’s success. The real key, however, was TAKUMI’s clever use of 24 nano and micro-influencers who created weekly UGC around each film and flavor, building a highly engaged digital community and generating invaluable brand buzz. Nano and micro-influencers undeniably bring credibility that converts consumers. 

HaagenDazsuk's influencer marketing campaign

The multi-platform influencer marketing campaign was the longest and first of its kind for Häagen-Dazs. It saw the brand debut on TikTok and receive almost three times more engagement than the industry benchmark. They not only saw their Amazon Prime Now sales double weekly but achieved 3 million content views across TikTok and Instagram, with engagement rates of 18.9% and 4.15% on both platforms, respectively. The campaign also inspired 13,000 Facebook community members to share their user-generated content. 

Facebook highlighted the campaign as a best-in-class study, and participants across the UK heralded it as the “highlight of their lockdown.”

3. Partner with Complementary Brands

As we saw in the above example, partnering with complementary brands is a brilliant way to extend your reach and create unmissable content. If you’re a tech-based business, you could consider partnering with an electronics company, or a restaurateur might partner with a bespoke alcohol brand.

But why not go big, and create a multi-brand partnership? Think outside the box, just like Uber Eats did when they partnered with Chipotle Mexican Grill and Match Group’s Hinge dating app to create the ‘Chipotle “Cuffing Season” Menu’ campaign in 2020. Cuffing Season is a colloquial term for the phenomenon of single people pursuing short-term relationships to weather the winter months. 

All three brands targeted a millennial demographic, with the campaign intended to increase revenue after pandemic-related declines. The campaign centered on an Uber Eats exclusive Chipotle menu, featuring special discounts for those who ordered one of three menu items – the Day-Date, Date Night, or Hinge Date. Hinge added new prompts to their profile selection, encouraging users to connect over their unique Chipotle orders. Comedian and celebrity influencer Rebel Wilson was on-boarded to provide dating advice to 10 potential winners who ordered from the secret menu to help drive engagement. 

Speaking of fun and creative collaborations, one campaign nails the brief and proves that you don’t have to stay in your lane regarding brand partnerships. The Benefit Cosmetics x Crocs collab saw the explosion of the #BenefitOfCrocsChallenge campaign, led by influencer Manny MUA. The successful make-up artist already had an organic affinity with both brands and was a canny choice to drive the launch of the Benefit-bedazzled Crocs range (hot pink glitter jelly clogs – what’s not to love?).

The challenge invited TikTok and Instagram Reels users to upload a video of themselves doing their beauty routine while wearing Crocs on their hands. It achieved 6 million views on TikTok in addition to selling out the limited-edition line.   

Benefit x Crocs campaign

4. Make an Influencer Your Campaign Ambassador

When designing your perfect influencer marketing campaign, you may discover an influencer who isn’t just a good fit but an ideal match – someone with existing brand affiliation, substantial multi-platform followings, and an ethos that echoes your campaign message. Such opportunities mustn’t be squandered with one-off shoutouts or uninspired posts but are maximized – this is where making an influencer your campaign ambassador can actualize your campaign’s most significant potential. These opportunities are always better approached from a relationship-building standpoint, you want to focus on making sure that you have a long-term relationship in mind. Make sure that they’re comfortable working with you, iron out contractor payment terms well in advance, and aim to create a space where they feel comfortable raising issues they might have.

When Levi’s launched its Buy Better, Wear Longer campaign, it did so with sustainable fashion influencer Emma Chamberlain. Chamberlain not only brought a whopping audience of 11 million YouTube subscribers and 16 million Instagram followers but was also a well-known advocate for the cause Levi’s was promoting, making her involvement with the brand’s campaign feel genuine and authentic. The campaign aimed to inspire shoppers to buy quality, sustainably sourced clothing and encourage vintage and thrift shopping. 

This is also a great example of how macro and celebrity influencers can be used to meaningful effect. Chamberlain’s followers expected and loved her fashion and sustainability-based content, which made them much more likely to trust her endorsement throughout the aesthetic, consistently branded campaign. Also, this campaign could be further moved offline, and adding a social media QR code can help you direct more shoppers toward the campaign

5. Demonstrate Authority With an Expert Influencer

How can you give your brand the edge in an oversaturated market? Well, most influencers and content creators have gained their status by proving themselves experts in their niche, so enlisting an expert influencer can quickly establish authority in your space. 

Sustainable beauty brand Biossance did this when they headhunted globally adored Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness to become their ambassador. The sustainable skincare market has surged over the last decade, with consumers favoring natural ingredients that promote radiant complexions and minimal environmental footprints over the toxic chemicals of decades past. Van Ness is a renowned grooming guru who has built an empire upon decades of experience in the beauty industry, and as such, fans pay heed when Van Ness endorses a brand or product. 

Biossance's influencer marketing campaign with celebrity Jonathan Van-Ness

Biossance gained recognition as a trusted beauty brand that values sustainability and inclusivity by partnering with Van Ness while also gaining exposure to his millions of followers and network of industry connections. 

Expert influencers are more likely to be well-versed in existing social media trends and are an asset when brainstorming your influencer marketing campaign. 

Get Started with Influencer Advertising

Getting creative with influencer advertising is the best way to succeed in your marketing campaigns. Find opportunities with appropriate influencers who already love your product or brand. Relinquish some of the campaign control and trust your chosen influencers to create UGC in their signature style – remember, authenticity is key to consumer trust.

Nano and micro-influencers hold credibility with their audiences and are a clever resource for far-reaching and highly engaging campaigns. Partner with brands that complement your campaign and innovate fun ways to target a shared audience. Maximize macro and celebrity influencer collaborations with ambassadorships, and carve a corner of the market by partnering with an industry influencer who lends authority to your campaign.

Now you’re ready to create an influencer marketing campaign bound for success! While here, brush up on the top social media trends gracing our feeds this year, or learn how to successfully build your brand.

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