Influencers. It’s a word we hear more and more in marketing circles in recent years. It might feel new but in truth they’ve been here for decades.
The big difference now is the type of influencers that brands look to. Rather than exclusively hiring athletes and celebrities, they’re smaller in scale and much more specifically targeted, especially when directing a brands focus on millennial audiences whose interests and followings are extremely broadly spread.
For instance, brands like Thomson Holidays, ASDA and Johnson & Johnson have all recently sponsored content produced by Hannah and Stefan Michalak – a couple who produce high-quality weekly vlogs, mainly surrounding their 2-year-old son Grayson and their everyday adventures.
These three brands and many more all share the same goal: targeting aspirational young couples & families who resonate with the Michalaks’ lifestyle and content. The partnerships they created with the channel tried simply to add to and blend in with their normal content, making it seem as though that’s something they would normally be doing anyway. It’s quite easy to imagine a young, fairly affluent family going on a cruise holiday, or using Johnsons baby products at bath time for their toddler.
That was the key to success; finding someone who represented all the aspirational ideals of their target audience in a marketable way. The message given off by all parties aligned very comfortably and the channel has a significant following. To date, The Michalaks’ YouTube channel has more than 240,000 subscribers and an average weekly viewership of around 120,000 views. Add to this their now-proven experience in working with brands in this format. This makes brands a lot more trusting and comfortable in placing their brand in this territory.
However, using influencers in this manner doesn’t always guarantee success. Krave’s summer 2013 campaign brought mixed results when they presented challenges to a number of YouTube influences, encouraging viewers to ‘play along at home’ with these challenges to win prizes. It was run in conjunction with an owned media campaign across other social media platforms that presented daily challenges.
Kellogg’s found that consumers engaged with them a lot more through that owned media than through the vloggers, some of whom had followings around 2 million subscribers at the time. Part of the analysis stated that the content felt out of place on the vloggers’ channels, in contrast to the blended associations mentioned above.
Sometimes it’s also about picking the right moment. Campaigns should aspire to be as reactive to their environment as possible. If that means taking advantage of a recent development, then so be it. Here’s a prime example:
Footballer and renowned mischief-maker Mario Balotelli famously set his house ablaze in 2011 by setting off fireworks from his bathroom window. A few days later, he helped his team beat Manchester United 6-1, bringing out the famous ‘Why Always Me?’ shirt. Within a week, he had been made Greater Manchester’s Firework Safety Ambassador. It made for fantastic PR for the campaign, and was done at a time when public favourability and awareness for Balotelli was relatively high.
So in summary, the best influencer campaigns pay close attention to the synergy between the brand’s message and the influencer. It also concentrates on the delivery method and the execution of the campaign.
Written By Andrew Thomson