More marketers believe influencer marketing is an essential part of their media plans. Activate reported in April that 62 percent of marketers say they are growing their influencer marketing budgets this year. Some 61 percent of influencers say they saw an increase in sponsored partnership opportunities from 2016 through 2017.
With no signs that influencer marketing will diminish, the current challenge for both brands and creators is to come up with new ways to stand out from the pack. Creating fun, visual experiences is an effective strategy for brands looking to take their influencer marketing to a new level. Brands have always sought to invest in events that allow them to develop deeper relationships with their fans and customers. Live branded experiences present an opportunity where creators can develop engaging stories for both themselves and the brands they represent.
By integrating their events and influencer marketing strategies, brands can take a decent sized event and transform it into a global one with tens of millions participating, in real life and online. It also helps prove ROI from often costly in-person gatherings, a major hurdle for marketers to overcome. Previously, the success of an event might have been measured with foot traffic or earned media. When influencers become a bigger part of brands’ event strategies, it allows marketers to receive guaranteed event results through impressions or engagements, bringing digital metrics to a traditionally difficult-to-measure experience.
Inviting influencers to participate in a branded event full of activities, photo opportunities and highly engaged, even rabid, fanbases also allows brands to have greater control of the messaging within the influencer content they are sponsoring. With direct insight into the preference of their fanbase, influencers are uniquely positioned to incorporate and promote a brand’s message authentically. Creators will use these events as the backdrop for their content, engaging with the brand at a much deeper level than simply appearing in a random commercial, and inspiring millions of followers to do the same.
Electronic Arts (EA), produced several exciting live experiences for influencers and consumers in the earlier part of the summer. With some of the largest franchises such as FIFA, Madden and SIMS, EA has been an early adopter of influencer marketing that capitalizes on in-person experiences. During its EA Play event in June 2018, the company gave 350 creators hands-on gaming, capture and streaming experiences. As a result of working with top gaming influencers who are deeply connected to their audiences, the experience generated 925 videos from participating influencers and amassed over 35 million views. EA replicated this strategy at its FIFA ’18 Creator’s Cup, which pitted relevant influencers such as Juanpa Zurita, Lil’ Yachty, Caspar Lee and King Bach head to head in front of a live audience. Timing of this event could not have been better planned, as it aligned with one of the biggest moments in international sporting: the World Cup. Using its popular FIFA franchise and teaming up with influencers who posted Instagram Stories as they played, the event generated over 41.4 million views on IG.
Revolve Clothing is another company successfully leveraging in-person experiences to power influencer marketing campaigns. Utilizing one of the hottest events in the music industry, Revolve Clothing threw a party at Coachella with major influencers such as Shay Mitchel and Emily Ratajkowski, with performances by ASAP Rocky, 21 Savage and Snoop Dogg. The party reportedly generated five times more social impressions than Coachella’s main sponsor, H&M. The benefit of these events is not lost on influencers. Beyond gaining exposure from the event itself, they are also provided with a backdrop to create content that they can repurpose beyond the experience. This means an experience is so much more than one event but can live on in digital content for weeks and months after the live experience.
Crafting these live extravaganzas delivers brands with a multiplier effect in regard to creating buzz. It also allows marketers to quickly scale campaigns by employing not one, but many influencers at the same event. In addition to being more efficient, having multiple celebrity passions and personalities offers a wider range of engagement points for fans, who are also the brands’ customers.
For brands looking to break new ground with influencer marketing, they need to look no further than creating experiences tailored to the social media creators they are partnering with on their upcoming campaigns. VidCon demonstrated the success creators can have when using events and experiences as inspiration for content. With CES and SXSW coming up in the next few months, brands have even more opportunities to leverage this desire to drive greater scale and virality in their campaigns.