There are dozens of different ways that brands partner with influencers. Every influencer marketing campaign is different, tailored to meet the nuanced needs of different industries, goals, platforms, content, creators, products, and more. That said, there are some key types of influencer partnerships that brands use to promote brand recognition, products, and initiatives.
By now, much of the world is familiar with the #sponsored content phenomenon. We often use “sponsored content” as a general term to describe content that has some degree of brand involvement, but not all sponsored content is the same, nor does it achieve the same types of results. To learn more about how influencer marketing campaigns take shape and how different types of campaigns accomplish different goals, here are four ways that brands market with influencers.
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Not to be confused with the more general idea of sponsored content, sponsorships refer to content that’s sponsored but that steps outside of the brand itself or a single product. For example, a brand might sponsor an exciting travel series from an influencer that doesn’t necessarily involve a direct endorsement but that ties the brand name to high-quality, successful content. In turn, sponsorships may make series with larger budgets or logistic requirements possible.
Sponsorships take place on a number of different platforms and are common in the world of podcasts and web series. By sponsoring content that audiences are already looking for and seeking out, brands can associate themselves with popular pop culture fixtures. Sponsorships may or may not involve some degree of product involvement, meaning that in the case of a travel web series, a clothing brand might supply coats or garments, but it may also have a more hands-off role in terms of messaging.
Brands sponsoring popular content can be a great way to achieve significant brand lift and recognition. In the podcast world, for example, most listeners are now extremely familiar with brands like Blue Apron, Squarespace, and Stamps.com, which act as providing sponsors for a number of big podcasts.
Product-focused content covers a number of different types of content in which products play a direct role. Product placement, reviews, tutorials, unboxing, and more make products at least part of the focus, and while sponsorships may, in some cases, involve products and even a type of product placement, the difference is that in product-focused content, the primary goal likely revolves around a specific product. Sponsorships boost brand recognition, but product-focused content puts products front and center.
Product placement content typically involves influencers showing or using a product, reviews have influencers sharing their experiences and opinions on a product with viewers, tutorials may feature influencers showing audiences how to use a product, and unboxing videos show influencers physically opening packages and giving viewers a sense of what a product looks and feels like and how it functions.
Product-focused content is all about tangibility and about showing the purpose and performance of a product. This type of content works particularly well for sales-based goals, but brands and marketers may also see results in brand recognition.
As the name suggests, event marketing is focused on an influencer’s experience at or involvement with a specific event. Awards shows, branded parties, product launches, brand activations, and more allow influencers to share content that’s grounded in a particular place and time. Events allow audiences to feel as though they’re a part of something, and using a popular, trusted influencer’s voice can amplify brand messaging beyond the scope of the event itself.
At Coachella, American Express, Bumble, and more used influencers to draw attention to their perks and services in close proximity to a festival known for its young, hip vibe. Influencers also play a huge role in conferences and conventions like SXSW, E3, and San Diego Comic-Con. Leveraging specific niches like gaming, comedy, music, photography, and more, influencers draw attention to brand involvement in these events, whether it’s a branded party, a brand activation in a main expo hall, or a product reveal at a showcase or keynote.
Event marketing with influencers is a great way to increase brand recognition and to build a positive brand perception. By getting involved in exciting events and using influencers to amplify that excitement, brands can cultivate a cool, connected, and relevant perception among audiences.
A lot of influencer marketing focuses on an influencer’s social media channels, but many brands have found success in turning the keys of their own social media accounts over to influencers. Most popular on Snapchat, Instagram, and, on occasion, Twitter, account takeovers give brands a chance to draw audiences to brand channels through an influencer.
We’ve all seen the posts along the lines of, “Taking over @brand’s Instagram Story for the day. Follow me there!” With account takeovers, brands can build their followings organically by using influencer involvement as an incentive to follow. These takeovers boost brand awareness and also help brands garner more engagement and step outside of their typical content boxes and add variety to their accounts. The influencer takes over as a spokesperson and evangelist for the brand by sharing content through the bullhorn of a brand social account.
Social media takeovers are particularly effective for performance goals like increasing engagement, building a larger following, driving website traffic, promoting a giveaway, or preparing for a large announcement on social.