Influencer marketing continues to be an increasingly hot topic for brand marketing, while a saturated market has made executing campaigns even more costly and difficult. It’s time for all of us to accept that influencer outreach is now a pay-for-play industry wherein the higher the following and engagement, the more you can expect to pay. This is most often with good reason; massive followings and a proven ability to influence buying decisions of consumers is a powerful combination. And one that makes the marketing tactic appeal to many brands, especially within the beauty and fashion space.
However, brands and agency partners need to develop increasingly creative campaigns concepts to ensure their investments have the necessary return.
The traditional outreach with a gifting opportunity or a few dollars for a post aren’t going to work anymore; influencers turn down paid campaigns frequently and gifting typically provides no guarantee of a feature. So what’s next?
In a word, experiences.
Much like press tours, curated influencer trips, or activations, provide a seamless and organic way for brand integration, while offering guests a unique experience. This tactic takes creativity and many moving parts, but when executed properly you can expect an influx in impressions via organically-driven postings through social media.
Our agency has orchestrated many influencer trips, ranging from Hawaii to Amangiri…and we like to think we’ve learned a thing or two about what works. Below are a few best practices as it pertains to creating an influencer experience for your brand.
1. Develop a “can’t say no” concept
We always start with location. It’s important to know what locales are trending (Tulum, Cuba, Iceland) while measuring influencers’ collective wanderlust against the brand story and the intended visuals of a trip. If you’re launching a new makeup collection with desert-inspired colors… you guessed it… a desert escape like Joshua Tree may be your best, most organic fit.
Then, we start to think about who we want to invite. We find it especially effective to look for influencer friend clusters because let’s face it – who wouldn’t love a free trip with a few of your best friends! As you develop your ideal influencer wish list, look for groups of friends who naturally hang out together. Just make sure that your list has enough variance while meeting your follower goals.
2. Cut costs with partners
Your brand isn’t the only company who can benefit from the trip. Many hotel properties, restaurants and excursion companies are looking to build awareness for their properties and offerings through influencer activations.
Connect with the PR agency or in-house marketing team and present the opportunity with projected reach and mutually beneficial opportunities. If the hotel stay can be comped by influencer postings or geo-tags, for example, that’s a win for everyone.
3. Detail out – and pitch – the opportunity
Just as you would for a traditional media opportunity, investor meeting or event sponsorship, you need marketing materials to help illustrate your concept and get influencers on board. We prepare a deck and presentation with images and copy that provide an inside look at the benefits, experiences, and value of the trip. Be sure to include exact asks and requirements of the influencer as it pertains to Instagram posts, geo-tags, hashtags, and blog or YouTube content. It’s common to provide hotel stay, travel, and expenses as well in order to explain the estimated monetary value of the experience.
Bring the ask and deliverables into an agreement to ensure each party is aligned. Based on the influencer and their following, the trip can be a mix of payment and experience, or simply experience. Be prepared to negotiate the terms a bit (your planning budget should anticipate this).
4. Build out your itinerary with photo ops in mind
Prepare your itinerary and brand integration points. During the trip, you’ll want to provide influencers with mapped out activities that appropriatey tie in the brand. Keep in mind that you want to have plenty of “Instagrammable” moments (your local partners can help with this) and brand product/imagery, while still giving your guests the freedom to have their own experience.
It’s common to provide hotel stay, travel, and expenses as well in order to explain the estimated monetary value of the experience.
5. Invest in on-site management
The trip should be executed without a hitch and each influencer should have the time of her life; so make sure there are enough team members there to both ensure activities are running smoothly and that brand messaging and social media shares aren’t being lost in the mix. Anticipate issues ahead of time and have a plan in place before the crisis hits.
6. Follow up and Follow-through
After the trip, ensure guests receive a link to images, and fact sheets on the brand to ensure quality, in-depth reviews and coverage.
While an event is more leg work to get moving, it can pay off exponentially when executed correctly. And if the idea alone sounds more complex than planning a wedding, remember that top-tier influencers tend to be interested in brand experience trips, making the casting process less robust that it might be with smaller-scale campaigns.