Think Outside the Sponsored-Post Box

Creative Partnership Ideas for Online Influencer Marketing

Consumers have always looked to fellow consumers for insights around their interests, but today, this influence is happening digitally. They’re drawn to emotionally moving or entertainingly hilarious content from social media personalities, YouTube stars and bloggers who share personal anecdotes from their lives.

As brands look to connect with consumers, partnerships with trusted online influencers are helping to generate awareness and further extend their message. In a social media-driven world, influencer marketing is becoming a fundamental strategy within integrated marketing communications programs.

So, how should your brand work with online influencers? Influencer programs can take a variety of forms. Sponsored narratives or product integrations shared through blog posts and social media content can be valuable and often a good place to start. But, with changes in digital media occurring constantly and online influencer communities continuing to grow, don’t be afraid to think beyond these “traditional” engagement types for creative partnerships.

Here are three areas to explore when working with influencers:

1. Invest in creating long-term brand ambassadors.

Influencers often express that their top branded content comes from relationships that extend beyond a single post. When you take the time to invest in building the relationship, these influencers can become an extension of the brand team, embodying your mission and creating in-depth content on your behalf.

Brands may choose to select an ambassador council, engaging a group of online influencers for a long-term program to generate visibility for multiple initiatives over a period of time. For brands with a niche audience or that are focused on reaching a targeted community, another option is to select one social media influencer as the official brand representative for a specified time.

These ambassadors could not only create valuable content for their own platforms, but also assist with expert columns on a company blog, guest posts on brand social media channels and speaking engagements to enhance authenticity of the brand message.

2. Leverage emerging social media platforms and new features.

If a brand is looking to increase its following on a growing platform, use channel-specific opportunities to partner with influencers. This may include exploring new, emerging platforms or thinking differently about your content on existing channels.

If your goal, for example, is to increase video engagement, consider partnering with YouTube or Vine users that align with your target audience to assist in creating relevant, entertaining video content. Instagram takeovers are an interesting strategy to bring an influencer’s community over to a brand’s feed to pique the interest of – and hopefully gain – new followers.

Showcase live brand experiences – and even drive foot traffic among local followers – through event activations hosted by social media influencers. There are also opportunities for engaging in real-time conversations by co-hosting a Twitter party or Facebook chat and through newer live streaming video platforms, like Periscope and Facebook Mentions, which allow users to comment as the video is broadcasting live, and influencers can respond directly to their followers’ questions and reactions.

Screen Shot_HowToBeADad

Facebook Mentions example: Fahlgren Mortine client, Kidde, engaged HowToBeADad for a live video broadcast to highlight their booth experience at an event.

3. Create offline, engaging experiences.

Yes, we have been talking about online influencers, but there is still significant value with in-person engagements to create meaningful content. Consider taking your approach offline to provide engaging experiences for influencers to become more familiar with your brand or immerse themselves in everything you have to offer.

As the online influencer space continues to grow, conferences like Dad 2.0 and Mom 2.0 Summit for the parenting space or SNAP! for the crafting community are focused on empowering online influencers and connecting them to marketers. Engage in meaningful conversations with interested influencers about your brand to open the door for future partnerships.

Offer exclusive experiential opportunities for influencers to learn more about your brand. Invite them for a behind-the-scenes tour of your company or allow them to conduct interviews with internal experts. Within the tourism industry, destinations often host influencers for in-market immersion trips to share real travel experiences with their followers.

When it comes to influencer marketing, it’s time to think outside the box. Social media’s ever-evolving culture has given us a million different ways to engage with those who influence consumers. Get creative with your online influencer relationships – and don’t be afraid to ask them what they think will resonate with the audience since they know them best.


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