When in-person plans have to shift online, brands have to adapt and find new ways to connect with customers and partners. Many companies that work with influencers use them for a variety of in-person events like product launches, master classes, and more. If these events are canceled, brands have to adjust the way they connect with both their audiences and their influencers. While digital events have unique challenges, the technology and tools available to marketers today are highly adaptable.
So, what does a digital-first influencer marketing strategy look like and how can you make it successful?
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram released live stories features in the last several years, allowing users to stream live video directly on the platforms. Live streams are fun and exciting for viewers because they bring a level of authenticity that’s not always present in pre-recorded videos. Influencers often use the live feature on their own accounts for product videos, big announcements, shout-outs to followers, or sharing an update on what’s going on in their life.
Instagram Live has become hugely popular as people are turning to social media to find personal connections, especially during quarantine. The rise in popularity makes Instagram Live a great platform for brands to leverage influencers. Fashion brands were some of the first to start live streaming and fashion is one of the industries best known for partnering with influencers.
Live streams can be a good way to announce a new product or drive sales, but they’re highly effective at building community and boosting engagement. Going live may not be a one-to-one replacement for in-person events, but it’s an excellent alternative when a live, in-person event isn’t possible.
Live streams are also versatile: you can stream an interview, a virtual workout or tutorial, a master class, and more. For brands that are just starting relationships with new influencers, they can be a great way to announce a partnership and show the new influencers some love. As you plan your content strategy, make room for live streams and work with your influencers to strategize how to get the most views and interactions.
A key part of running influencer campaigns is getting your product into the hands of influencers. Many brands and marketers handle shipping product in-house–from ordering the product to packaging and fulfillment. The benefit to doing it this way is that marketers can send unique, highly personalized products to influencers. However, it’s often not scalable and if supply chains or shipping processes are disrupted, your entire gifting program can fall apart.
Luckily, there are options to digitize this part of the process, too. With a platform like Octoly, brands can centralize and automate their gifting so all they have to do is confirm which influencers should receive products and track the shipments.
Adding in automation helps streamline the gifting process and helps brands scale their influencer marketing programs. It may not be quite as personal as a handcrafted gift basket, but influencers will still receive their products and your influencer campaigns can keep running.
Private video calls
Influencer marketing is so successful because influencers are seen as more authentic than glossy marketing tactics and their content is more personal. When in-person events or meet and greets aren’t an option, video calls can be an effective alternative. Unlike a live stream or public YouTube event, video calls are more exclusive.
Some brands have used video calls to host Q&A sessions featuring a panel of experts answering top questions and sharing product demonstrations. If you choose to host one of these events with your influencer community, make sure they have the product at home to test it along with the panel. Invite-only video calls are a great way to build relationships and foster a sense of community. They also give brands and influencers a chance to connect on a more personal level even if they can’t meet in person.
In an increasingly digital atmosphere, there are still lots of ways to have fun with events when you’re meeting virtually. From online happy hours with brand-specific (or brand-inspired) cocktail recipes to branded video backgrounds for attendees to use on the call and beyond, there are so many ways to use video calls to further build relationships and brand awareness.
While virtual work arrangements are becoming more acceptable out of necessity, the capabilities of today’s technology help us do more work online. In-person events, product launches, and meetings aren’t always possible, but pivoting to online solutions can keep business rolling. For brands and influencers, it’s all about building relationships with each other and with your fans and followers. From invite-only video calls for influencers to launch a new product or live-streaming Q&A sessions and interviews for fans, brands can adapt their influencer strategy to fit the digital landscape.
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