Influencers can offer more to your brand than their platform with an impressive audience reach, especially when you approach influencer relationships with the understanding that they can also benefit from that relationship. With some creative collaboration and thinking outside the box, influencer marketing transforms from a one-way conventional sponsorship to a mutually beneficial reciprocity. Working with influencers doesn’t have to be just be about their influence on the market — it can be about opening creative ways for your brand to enter larger, more exciting discussions about ideas that expand your brand’s reach.
Influencer Marketing is Letting Others Talk Around You
We all know that the market is built on trust, and that trust comes from authenticity and generosity. Some of the magic of influencer marketing happens when you let others talk about you. The most genuine, effective advocacy your brand can garner is that from experienced word-of-mouth. However, in order to establish that genuine advocacy, it’s crucial to ensure that those who are talking about you have a clear connection to your brand’s community. Without relevance to the influencer’s audience, even the most subtle endorsement will sound hollow — or possibly worse, not sound like anything at all. Without relevance to the influencer’s audience, even the most subtle endorsement will sound hollow — or possibly worse, not sound like anything at all. Click To Tweet
Better than a subtle endorsement, however, is when your brand can be a fully-integrated part of your influencer’s creative production. And rather than having them talk about you, their message can circle your mission and your brand’s bigger value. With America’s Best Racing’s #RidingWithRosie promotion, retired jockey Rosie Napravnik tells the stories of her work to rehabilitate retired racehorses.
“…Social Tribe has brought a strategic mindset [and] as a result, we’re creating ambassadors who play a pivotal role in advancing our mission of attracting the next generation of fans to the sport and lifestyle of Thoroughbred racing.” – Stephen Panus, President of America’s Best Racing.
Napravnik’s first-person videos, which are filled with heart-warming tales of magnificent horses learning to overcome fears of things like jumping and water crossing, do not directly promote the America’s Best Racing brand or events. However, the stories do promote the brand’s message and mission, which is to generate excitement and love for the sport and the horses.
Influencer Marketing is Creating the Space for New Conversation
Remember that professional influencers are not only thought leaders but also complex, nuanced human beings. Few people are (in fact, no one is) laser-focused on one specific industry, field, or product! That’s what makes the landscape of social media exciting and robust. Therefore, another way your brand can imagine new ways for partnering with these smart creatives is to think outside the direct box of your core audience, and find ways that oblique discussions can incorporate your message and mission. The use case above offers an outside-the-box way to incorporate an influencer whose life and stories will clearly resonate with America’s Best Racing’s audience. But there are methods for creating similar discussions that are less directly placed inside your brand’s core community.Another way your brand can imagine new ways for partnering with these smart creatives is to think outside the direct box of your core audience, and find ways that oblique discussions can incorporate your message and mission. Click To Tweet
In America’s Best Racing’s partnership with Danielle Davis, the brand takes advantage of an unlikely — but also hugely successful —pairing that broadens their audience reach outside their regular community. Davis, a lifestyle blogger located in Louisville, KY, creates content that primarily surrounds fashion and culture, but also includes more personal discussions of family, fitness, and shopping. Her connection to America’s Best Racing only inhabits a small slice of her purview, in which she covers the Kentucky Derby.
In Davis’s creative partnered content, which talks her audience through the process of placing bets at the race track, she is self-effacing and down-to-earth. She admits she is no expert, but that “betting on the races is as much a part of the day as wearing a hat and drinking a mint julep. It’s part of the tradition and even if you’re not a big gambler, it’s fun to throw a couple dollars on your favorite horse.” Davis makes a genuine connection between her regular followers, who are looking for Davis’s outfit of the day or for her most recent shopping haul, and a discussion about how betting on a race can be fun for anyone, even those who are intimidated or unfamiliar with the process.
It’s in this authentic conversation that plugs Davis’s audience into America’s Best Racing. Her readers who wouldn’t otherwise consider horse racing interesting or entertaining are given an opportunity to see the value of the pastime — complete with photos of Davis in the fantastic fascinator. Had America’s Best Racing stuck to influencers who were already a part of their community, they would have overlooked the not only her immediate audience, but those small-world network connections that ripple outward, snagging eyes that might not ever otherwise have occasion to see them.
In other words, all successful influencer partnerships will necessarily exist somewhat outside the box of current knowledge and best practice, primarily because every partnership will have specific goals and outcomes, and every influencer will be a little bit different in their processes and expectations.
We’ve seen the model change from celebrity endorsement to micro-influencer to peer-to-peer; from #sponsored and #affiliate posts to building relationships before they’re needed. A nimble, forward-thinking team of creatives who have endured the changing landscape will be best equipped to see what’s on the horizon, to create opportunities where none were thought to exist, and to help your brand tell its story in a way that can reach far beyond the community in which it conceptually resides.