Although influencer marketing is not a new phenomenon, it seems to evolve more quickly than other forms of marketing and advertising. As more and more creators enter the market, intent on becoming paid influencers, smart brands and the agencies they work with know that effectively partnering with an influencer takes more than just a large number of followers.
The key is to leverage the organic influence of the right people to create deeper engagement between their followers and your brand, and countless variables will affect your strategy. Here, 11 members of Forbes Agency Council look at some of the most original iterations of influencer marketing that brands can use to stand out to target audiences in unique and memorable ways.
1. Technical Subject Matter Experts As Influencers
For companies targeting technical audiences, influencers are smart, experienced engineers and other technical subject matter experts who routinely comment on industry trends and technical challenges with their unique points of view. Partner with these pundits, who are often found associated with industry groups or publications. Another option is to create your own influencer within company ranks. – Wendy Covey, TREW Marketing
2. Podcast Host Endorsements
Host endorsements on podcasts are a great form of influencer marketing. The most recent audience studies show that at least one in three Americans listened to a podcast in the month prior. Marketers and advertisers are taking notice of the host’s (influencer’s) unique ability to not only provide reach, but also connection and economic results. It’s an “opt-in” channel where show hosts have listeners’ undivided attention and trust. – Kurt Kaufer, Ad Results Media
3. Shoppable Influencer Content
Influencer marketing started as an awareness tactic, but the industry has truly matured. We’ve seen that influencers tell compelling stories that not only drive awareness, but can also generate purchase intent. And now, with click-to-cart companies such as SmartCommerce and new features in Instagram, influencer content can be shoppable, allowing consumers to go from interest to cart in just a single click. – Maria Sipka, Linqia
4. Influencer Marketing Efforts Tied To A Cause
Tie your influencer marketing efforts to a cause. Microsoft’s #MakeWhatsNext campaign, for example, encourages young girls to pursue careers in STEM. On International Women’s Day, the brand teamed up with National Geographic to feature photos of women scientists that generated millions of likes and spurred significant engagement. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove
5. Influencer Content As Paid Social Ads
We’ve seen a huge rise in using influencer content as paid social ads for remarketing audiences in the last 30, 60 or 90 days. This allows companies to avoid ad fatigue and leverage unique influencer content to build credibility, trust and desire for the product or service. – Brian Meert, AdvertiseMint
6. Turning Employees Into Influencers
A highly original form of influencer marketing is taking someone that works for you and making that person an influencer. We have clients that sell beauty products. Instead of paying someone on the outside, they’ve showcased their own people using the products. As they acquire a following, the company has an in-house influencer already on payroll. Better still, this is a repeatable step. – Danny Star, Website Depot
7. Brand Ambassadors Programs
Brand ambassadors programs as a type of influencer marketing sound more impactful and authentic to audiences who look at brand ambassadors as people with an emotional attachment to the brand, and adore it to an extent that they are ready to promote it. With an emphasis on brand ambassadors programs, consumers feel like owners of the brand and become fully engaged with it. – Elissar Hajj Zarwi, Comma Hub
8. Invitation-Only Facebook Groups
An innovative form of influencer marketing consists of private and invitation-only online Facebook groups sponsored by the marketer to create the sense of a safe and exclusive space for members of a community united by a shared interest to bond with each other. You need to request and be approved by the marketer to join the group. Once inside, the influencers keep the conversation alive with questions and participation that inspire others to engage. – Abigail Hirschhorn, Human Intelligence | H.I.
9. The Rise Of TikTok Influencers
TikTok is the wild west of influencer marketing and a fertile ground for brands to test and learn with branded TikTok videos. Compared to other platforms, the number of brands activating TikTok campaigns is relatively low, so your brand may be the first in your category to become established on the platform. Now is a great time to take advantage of the lighthearted content native to the platform. – Corbett Drummey, Popular Pays
10. Influencer Marketing On Instagram
Influencer marketing on Instagram is what I see as the most undervalued, high-return investment a business or brand can make. Pairing with the right influencer for your brand can not only generate sales and new customers, but also exponentially grow your business. An Instagram influencer’s loyal community of followers will try any product or service the influencer pushes as long as it aligns. – Tony Pec, Y Not You Media
11. Influencer Takeovers Of Brands’ Social Media
Having an influencer take over a brand’s social media channel can be a powerful collaboration that gives a brand instant credibility and reaches a new market. From fashion labels having celebrity DJs livestream on their channels to a celebrity providing an online edit of a magazine’s feed, this form of marketing is becoming more impactful by the minute. – Adrian Falk, Believe Advertising & PR