Influencer marketing: do it right, and it can help your brand reach new audiences, increase demand, and gain a devoted following. Do it wrong, and you risk looking like an unlikeable trust fund kid who pays people to be his friends.
Influencer marketing can be a bit of a tricky business (that’s why we offer influencer outreach as one of our many digital marketing services). While some brands still struggle with the idea, there are others that are doing great, innovative influencer marketing campaigns that have helped them move the needle for their sales, their cause, and other goals.
Here are five of our favorite influencer marketing campaigns from the past few years.
Honest Tea’s #RefreshinglyHonest campaign
For five years now, Honest Tea has been engaged in an informal social experiment to find out how honest Americans are across the country. The company sets up unmanned, pop-up stands that offer Honest beverages for $1 – on the honor system.
After the pop-up event is completed, company personnel tally up the number of people who actually gave $1. This tally is included in their National Honesty Index, which rates cities and towns throughout America. (In case you were wondering, in 2015 Atlanta and Indianapolis won the honor of being the country’s most honest cities.) Info about the pop-up stands, the index, and more are shared across social media using the hashtag #RefreshinglyHonest.
So how does this tie in to influencer marketing?
Well, it does so in a really cool way: by having a unified physical and digital presence, the #RefreshinglyHonest campaign is able to work with local influencers in the various cities they set up in.
And there’s another aspect to the campaign, too. Honest Tea encourages social media users to share their own #RefreshinglyHonest moments – unposed, unfiltered, you get the idea – on their social media profiles. Among the influencers who’ve been spotted on Honest’s Instagram feed is Becca Tilley, a reality celeb from season 19 of The Bachelor.
Every industry can use influencer marketing, but the fashion industry is particularly suited to this marketing strategy. There’s a huge number of style bloggers online, many of whom have loyal followings, and smart fashion brands have realized that partnering with these influencers is a must.
That’s what the Gap has done with their online fashion hub Styld.by. The site consists of catalog-worthy posts by high-profile fashion bloggers – like Refinery29, Jamie Bauer, and Milli Midwood – styling Gap items.
There’s also a section called #styldby You where social media users can share their own Gap looks with the world by using the hashtag #styldby.
By partnering with bloggers and fashion influencers, Gap has been able to increase its reach exponentially. For a snapshot of what we mean by that, look at Refinery29 – they’ve got 969,000 Instagram followers that they’re sharing their styld.by posts with on a regular basis.
Birchbox’s Instagram takeovers
Birchbox, a beauty and grooming product subscription service, is a pro at influencer marketing – especially on Instagram.
They’ve started doing Instagram takeovers, which is when a brand gives an influencer control over the brand’s Instagram account for a day. Blogs have been using this idea for years, and print publications for much, much longer – it’s basically like inviting someone to be a guest editor.
Birchbox has partnered with several influencers for Instagram takeovers, like Christina Jilber of Jouer Cosmetics. She hosted a takeover for Mother’s Day 2015, where she posted photos of her life in L.A. and offered a giveaway of some of her products.
This campaign was able to give both Birchbox and Jouer Cosmetics a wider audience, plus promote higher engagement from both brands’ followers.
Tyson Foods’ Why Should Cookies Have All the Fun?
If you remember seeing pictures of chicken nugget snowmen online at some point, chances are they were from this campaign. This holiday-themed influencer campaign was aimed at mommy bloggers, and asked them to create fun, holiday cookie-style shapes with…Tyson chicken nuggets.
This is one of those ideas that seems kind of risky on the outset. Really? Are mommy bloggers really going to decorate chicken nuggets like snowmen and reindeer and then share pictures online?
The answer was a resounding yes. Tyson ended up with almost 9 million impressions across social media, not to mention a complete clear-out of their stock of nuggets within just a few weeks.
Toyota’s YouTube partnership with Rhett & Link
The redesign of a reliable, un-flashy car isn’t all that exciting. That’s probably why when Toyota redesigned its Camry, the company reached out to the YouTube comedy stars Rhett & Link to test drive the car – all on film, of course.
What they thought was just a test drive ended up taking them to a motocross course where they drove through a ring of fire while dirtbikes raced around them – among other things.
That video was posted on Toyota’s YouTube channel where it did fairly well. The real payoff, however, came from Rhett and Link’s mention of the video on six episodes of their daily YouTube show, Good Mythical Morning, which totaled 10 million views.
Johnnie Walker’s Instagram campaigns
Scottish whiskey and Instagram don’t necessarily seem like a natural fit for each other, but when you’ve got a budget like spirits label Johnnie Walker, anything’s possible.
The whiskey brand is famous for its epic influencer campaigns, which have involved flying Instagram influencers to places like Shanghai, Iceland, and Scotland to experience various aspects of the Johnnie Walker brand. The company has also invited Instagrammers on to its sailboat, the John Walker & Sons Voyager, to enjoy a day on the water and learn about whiskey.
According to one influencer who participated in the Johnnie Walker boat experience, one reason these campaigns have worked so well is that Johnnie Walker takes a respectful, hands-off approach to these excursions.
That’s a vital part of an influencer marketing strategy – you’re not hiring these people, after all, so you don’t get to tell them what to do – but it’s not always as closely adhered to when the campaigns involve the kind of money required for international flights, accommodations, etc.
Want to learn more about the basics of influencer marketing? Read our post “Influencer Marketing, Outreach, Digital PR: What’s the Difference?” and then move on to “How to Find the Right Influencer for Your Brand.”