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5 Unique Ways to Engage Influencers

Following consumer buying trends where social media content has increasingly become an important factor in purchase decisions, more and more brands are turning to influencer marketing as a way to reach engaged audiences. As more and more brands see the opportunity and get involved, however, we see a dark side of influencer marketing start to emerge. One that’s filled with inauthentic endorsements that, let’s be honest, aren’t influencing anyone, and low-quality branded content that receives a fraction of the engagement the same influencers organic content receives. 

At Carusele, we’ve watched influencer marketing grow and evolve over the years and found 5 tried and true ways to engage influencers to meet most brand objectives, while still staying true to the participating influencers’ true voice — ultimately creating the influence on consumer behavior brands are looking to impact. 

1. Influencer Media Programs — Authentic Content Amplified with Media Precision

Why choose this approach? High-quality content. Influential voices. Targeted reach. Efficient cost.
Consider this: Larger investments are needed to see a measurable difference in this approach. We recommend a minimum spend of $50K.

You might assume by this headline, I’m talking about the type of “influencer” programming offered by massive media companies like Time, Inc. or CondeNast. They’ll pitch you a few “premier” social influencers and then sell you page takeovers, interstials and sky scrapers on their array of media properties. Basically, they’re pitching you a banner ad buy and paying a few influencers to create content to wrap that banner ads around…

And no surprise, these companies continue to shut these programs down as brands continue to find them unable to fulfill expectations… 

That’s not what I’m talking about here. 

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I’m talking about using the precision of an IBM Watson powered influencer audience analysis tool like Tap Influence to select the perfect influencers to reach your particular audience. Individualized influencer assignments that result in high-quality, authentic stories, visuals and videos that are just as engaging as the non-branded content these folks produce organically.  Rapid social testing and real-time amplification of the top performing pieces of content from the group through a series of targeted syndication mechanisms.

This results in the most effective content reaching your exact audience in a way that is natural to your audiences’ content consumption habits. 

2. Influencer Marketplace Programs 

Why choose this approach? Generate massive reach for pennies on the dollar.
Consider this: Giving all influencers the same assignment can sometimes result in uninspired stories that followers see right through.

At Carusele we have a name for this more traditional approach to get as many influencers talking about your brand as possible. We call it, “Voices Everywhere” — the goal of which is to literally get as many influencers as possible talking about your brand to create the perception that “everybody” is talking about your brand, everywhere your audience turns. 

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It’s a strategy often employed by brands who are just getting their feet wet with influencer marketing and a great way to test out a large group of influencers, content angles and messaging before honing in with a more expensive, more targeted strategy like the one described above. 

The best part, these campaigns are highly efficient to run. We utilize an influencer marketplace of more than 50,000 contacts to offer up assignments to influencers who match our target audience profile, they choose to accept or deny, create and post the content, then voila! You’ve got real people helping spread your message to their followers. 

WATCH OUT: Many of our top influencers complain about the quality of assignments coming from traditional marketplace-style programs like this. Don’t be the brand that turns them off with an assignment that doesn’t clearly explain to the influencer why it would benefit them and their audience to participate in your program. 

3. Influencer Content Campaigns 

Why choose this approach? High-quality visuals and videos, created by 3rd party voices with influence, at a fraction of the cost of a traditional photo shoot or professionally produced video.
Consider this: You’re paying a premium for the creator’s “influence” and this method will always cost more than issue creative briefs to content communities like Snapwire or Flashstock.

Influencer-generated content campaigns are perfect for brands looking to generate content at scale, backed by the voices of real, influential people. Done right, your brand should get a content library packed with results and insights on audience-tested long-form, photo, and video content with an unlimited right to use and repurpose it in any way you chose. 

Consider this! When you commission a photo shoot you pay for studio time, props, models, photographers, creative directors, account directors, the list goes on. And you get 1 scene, in whatever city you choose to hold the shoot, sometimes resulting in just a single photo. And that’s going to cost you $10k, easy. 

Spend that same money with influencers and you could get many scenes, from across the country, each producing many photos, unique points-of-view, and the added benefit of 3rd party credibility.

WATCH OUT #1: Not all influencer programs are created equal. Make sure your unlimited right to use the content is built into your contract. If not, paying for sponsored content gives you no additional rights to use it later. 

WATCH OUT #2: It’s always good to give credit where credit is due. So PLEASE mention the influencer in your owned version of the content. Even though you won’t likely be contractually bound to do so, crediting the influencer will not only continue to build goodwill between you, but you might even get a little free promotion as a thank you. 

I got word from @jamiepaigebeauty and her friend Taylor yesterday evening that some work I did with @revlon for their 'Love Is On' campaign was being featured as an ad on their billboard in TIMES SQUARE (I've been losing my shit all over Twitter, if you've witnessed that, I hope you enjoyed?)!!! My best friend lives in the city, so I asked him to take a picture, and he went all the way down there from the UES and got this! He's a fucking gem. I have been crying on and off for a day over this entire situation, it is COMPLETELY surreal. If it were not for your support of me, I would very likely have not been asked to do this campaign. This moment would not have happened. I am so grateful for all of you, you're helping me make my dreams come true. I'm so humbled and honestly at a loss for words, all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! ?

A photo posted by Mariah Leonard (@mariahlleonard) on

4. Influencer Syndication Campaigns

Why choose this approach? Maximize reach of a killer piece of content you created.
Consider this: Your content does in fact need to be awesome!  Influencers have a brand to protect and those with real influencer have worked too hard to build a following who trusts them. Sorry, but they won’t share your bad content just because you pay them to.  

We find this approach to be most effective when a brand has content that people would want to share anyway, if they just knew it existed. Remember those Hershey’s videos about care packages sent to Olympic athletes this past summer? Did they make you swell with pride for America? Maybe you teared up thinking about your own kids’ accomplishments? 

It’s content like this that resonates and influencers were happy to give it the boost it deserved. 

Hot Tip: So maybe you don’t have an Olympic athlete, a touching story and world event to feature in your video but you still need to get the word out? Consider how influencers might make your story part of their own, embedding your content within a large piece their create. Giving them the flexibility to create relevancy for a piece of content that otherwise doesn’t stand on their own with followers gives you a better chance of getting your content featured on their channels. 

5. Influencer Ambassador Programs

Why choose this approach? Unmatched levels of engagement and authenticity, added value abound.
Consider this: Jumping into an ambassador program too quickly is risky; publicly tying your brand and your wallet to folks who haven’t yet proven themselves and their communities a good fit can be an expensive mistake.

Ambassador programs are a big commitment, with big payouts in terms of added value and audience engagement if done right. You’ll become a true partner with the participating influencers, training them on your brand and brainstorming together content angles that will make your brand relevant to their followers. 

Layer in social promotions and the targeted syndication approach I mentioned at the beginning of this post and we’ve seen brands like Hallmark double, then double again, engagement levels year over year after switching from one-off influencer activation to ongoing ambassador programs. 

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It's that time of year for Holiday Cards! Found this card @Walgreens and was so pleasantly surprised because the @Hallmark Signature line is so pretty ? This special card is going to "harmoni and haraboji" which means grandma and grandpa in Korean. It'll meet a few more crayons and markers before making its way down to Georgia ? Only grandparents would appreciate a card with crayon markings everywhere ?? Hopefully they keep the ornament intact because yes! this card turns into an ornament ??#hallmarkatwalgreens #noordinarycard #sponsored . . . #handlettered #handlettering #watercolor #watercolorblending #watercolorlettering #alphabet #learnbrushlettering #learncalligraphy #lettering #calligramom #watercolorcalligraphy #brushlettering #brushcalligraphy #손글씨 #캘리그라피 #calligraphy #moderncalligraphy #hyperlapse #calligraphyvideo #holidaycards #christmascards

A video posted by Jennifer Song Kim (@jenmanship) on

Note: The campaigns and examples displayed throughout this article were developed and executed by Carusele, an Ignite Social Media Company.

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