If influencer marketing were a climber, it would hold the record for fastest ascent up Mount Everest. As an industry, influencer marketing will be a $5-10 billion market by 2020. Around 70% of U.S. agency and brand marketers agree that influencer marketing budgets will increase in 2018. The exponential growth explains why influencer marketing was dubbed the fastest growing online customer acquisition method in 2017.
As more marketers hop aboard the influencer marketing train, many are increasingly overwhelmed with options. Aside from the most basic questions of “How do I find influencers?” or “How much should I spend on influencer marketing?,” marketers want to know “What are the different types of different influencer marketing campaigns I can run?”
Separating influencer marketing campaigns into different buckets is tricky. As both brands and influencers strive for more subtle, authentic sponsorships, the line is blurred between these campaign “types.” However, understanding these general categories will help marketers understand the various approaches that they can employ in an influencer marketing strategy.
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Generally, there are two main types of influencer campaigns, including product placement and sponsored content. Within those categories, there exist several different tactics:
From a brief product appearance to a full unboxing video, product placement is perhaps the most classic marketing tactic. In a product placement sponsorship, the influencer puts the
physical product on full display by opening, handling, or utilizing it within their content.
For example, in her video “Helpful Hair Tips for a Crazy Busy Day,” YouTuber Ingrid Nilsen walks her audience through a simple hairstyling routine for girls on-the-go. She introduces and uses several products, like Dove’s Dry Shampoo, which she also links to within the video description.
In this popular content format, an influencer unpacks a product and shows their viewers the contents within. In the above video, Alexandra Airene opens a box from subscription beauty service FabFitFun and walks through each of the items. This format is most common on YouTube but can be accomplished on Instagram and blogs as well.
For example, health, food, and lifestyle blogger Janae shares the experience of cooking a family meal with a Blue Apron box in this blog post. She clearly shows the box, the menu, and ingredients, and helps her readers understand exactly what they’ll get if they subscribe to Blue Apron.
This approach generally coincides with an unboxing, and is particularly common for highly anticipated technology products. In Sara Dietschy’s above video, she demonstrates and reviews new iPhone Xr and Xs a week before their release.
Sponsored content broadly refers to influencer content which is produced in partnership with a sponsoring brand. The degree of brand messaging will vary, as the influencer might only give the brand a quick “shoutout,” integrate the brand into their storyline, or simply wear clothing with the brand’s logo. Below are a few different examples:
This refers to sponsored influencer content which is “brought to you by,” “presented by,” or “sponsored by” a brand. For example, Lynda sponsored an episode of a popular music parody series by YouTuber Jacksfilms. Jack pauses in the middle of his video to briefly announce that “today’s music video was brought to you by Lynda.com” and provides some snippets of a Lynda video course in action after which he promptly returns to his normal programming.
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I’ve never really had a clue about my family roots. As far back as I could trace my family tree, I was American. Literally, “Daughters of the Revolution” American (something like 7 generations have lived in the USA!). I no longer have living grandparents and past generations weren’t really discussed in my family, so when I learned about genetic testing, I couldn’t wait to try it. ? •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• I got a @23andMe Health + Ancestry kit, and a few weeks later, I got my reports back. As it turns out, my ancestry is 99.4% European, which didn’t surprise me, but it was mostly of French and German descent, which I hadn’t known prior! Learning more about my DNA breakdown inspired me to plan a solo trip to France—something I haven’t done in quite a while—to delve a little deeper into French culture. This trip has been a whirlwind of hot summer sun, cobblestone streets, and a better glimpse into a culture that I feel more connected to now than ever! Check out my LINK IN BIO for more about my experience with #23andMe and why I chose to explore France this summer!
Here, the influencer weaves the brand or product into the content storyline, but in a more subtle or indirect way. For instance, you don’t see the DNA kit product in The Blonde Abroad’s sponsored post above, but Kiki integrates 23andMe into her personal story caption about why she was inspired to travel to Paris.
In another example, Meredith does incorporate a physical product (Motorola camera add-ons) into her Haunted High School storyline, but she blends it naturally instead of forcing it. While Moto Mods is clearly sponsoring the video, the narrative doesn’t revolve around the product and it’s evident the influencer led the creative storyline herself.
This tactic revolves around promoting a larger theme or hashtag across social media and is often driven by multiple influencers at once. For example, Chiquita bananas encouraged people to draw faces on their bananas and tag #dressmychiquita, and amplified the campaign with influencers like Marcus Dobre and Ellie Cham. This approach is most popular on sites where hashtags can go viral, like Instagram or Twitter.
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A “shoutout” is a way for brands to receive thanks or “props” from the social influencer. In Devin Graham’s (@devinsupertramp) video, he parachutes off a desert cliff from a custom slip-and-slide and adds “SUPER thanks to Subaru for making this dream project a reality!” in the video description. This brief approach can be applied on any channel.
Giveaways are another classic tactic for drumming up excitement about a product or service. Arhaus ran a furniture giveaway with The Every Girl blog, asking readers to comment about where they’d use their new dresser. More than 1,200 people commented in anticipation of potentially winning the furniture piece.
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?#Paid GIVEAWAY w/ @BobsRedMill! This fun and festive spider web design made w/ @BobsRedMill Organic All Purpose Flour will get you into the #Halloween spirit! p.s. We used black cocoa, not food dye for the icing! ? One lucky winner will win $250 worth of @BobsRedMill product. TO ENTER: 1) Follow @BobsRedMill & @thefeedfeed 2) Like this post 3) Tag a friend you’d make these for if you won! Each new comment + friend tagged counts as an additional entry. Sweepstakes will close November 1, 2018 at 11:59PM EDT ?Link to rules: thefeedfeed.com/bobs-spider-cookies-still-giveaway ?Get the full #recipe by clicking the link in profile or visit ff.recipes/spider-cookies #feedfeed #BobsRedMill #cookies
In another example, Julie Resnick ran a giveaway with Bob’s Red Mill using festive Halloween cookies to incentivize engagement and interest in the brand’s whole grain products. Running giveaways help brands expand the reach of their contest while driving engagement and generating more buzz and desire for their products
When showcasing a product or service, influencers can also provide a discount code for their followers. PewDiePie does this during his video where he offers 10% off Loot Crate with a custom code, which enables the brand to track conversions and ultimately the ROI of their sponsored posts.
Before building your influencer marketing strategy, it’s important to assess the type of content your audience responds well to, and plan to test out multiple tactics. Marketing requires constant experimentation and optimization, so don’t be afraid to test the waters with new approaches until you find what works.
It’s also important to remember that none of these campaign categories are set in stone—many of these tactics can be combined in new and creative ways. The lines are constantly blurring between influencer marketing campaign “types,” as are the boundaries of what’s possible. As the social landscape changes, so will the influencer marketing tactics that influencers employ to connect with their audience. For example, with the growth of livestreaming, more brands might experiment with live giveaways or interactive contests.
There is no question, however, that the focus will always be on finding fresh, creative ways to build excitement, be authentic, and provide the audience with value.