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How Brands Are Using Influencers At Live Events

How Brands Are Using Influencers At Live Events

For two weekends, the grounds at Polo Fields in Indio, California were filled hundreds of thousands of music lovers for Coachella Music and Arts Festival. This event was a hotbed for brands to host lounges, activity zones, interactive artwork, and other branded areas at the festival and surrounding areas. Everyone from HP to American Express had some type of presence down in the desert. Whether it was on the actual festival grounds, at the campsite, a pool party, or the lobby of a hotel in Palm Springs, attendees were constantly being marketed to by various companies. The best part? The millennials in attendance love their presence. According to a study conducted by Momentum Worldwide and concert promoter AEG Live, 80% of those who they surveyed claimed that branded events and festivals were the best way to engage with them.

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Photo Credit: Don Idio

However, not just those who went to the festival get to share in the marketing extravaganza. Now through the popularity of social media, the activations at the festival are being spread to millions online. In 2016, posts with the Coachella hashtag (#coachella) reached over 1.8 million users. Brands have been capitalizing on this opportunity through the use of social media influencers. In recent years, there has been a new type of attendee amongst the young millennials in flower crowns and basketball jerseys. Influencers are individuals who are using their social media presence to help brands reach new audiences. These rogue advertisements are dressed like any other festival goers, but they are getting paid to us their perfect ferris wheel selfie to help promote a product. They are in attendance not only for the music but to serve as camouflaged promoters both in person and online.

Defining Influencers

The use of social media has risen dramatically over the past decade. One platform that has seen a particularly fast growth in users is Instagram. As of December 24, 2017 Instagram had 800 million monthly and 500 million daily active users on its platform. The growing popularity of this and other social media platforms have given birth to the emergence of a new era of online celebrity. An influencer is an individual who garners a large following online, despite not being famous in the traditional, Holywood sense. Many of them have cultivated their following by focusing on a specific niche like fashion or travel. They also represent a growing market share of digital marketing budgets. MediaKix predicts that spending by marketers on Instagram influencers could reach $2 Billion by 2019.

Because of their massive, and usually loyal following, many brands have begun to use them in order to reach their customers in a more personal way. Many brands like to work with influencers since they allow access to a specific demographic through a channel that they trust. According to a Nielsen study 83% of participants stated that they somewhat or completely trust the recommendations of friends and family. Since an influencer is a real person they are more connected to their audience, giving brands a chance to reach consumers in a more human way.

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Typically when one thinks of an influencer, they think a social media superstar that has hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers online. However, the online landscape has been changing in recent years. Today there are two types of influencers emerging: macro and micro. As previously mentioned, a macro influencer is one who has a massive following, typically over 100,000 followers. These individuals allow brands to have a high visibility and reach across a diverse audience. The cons of working with someone at this level is that their rates are usually higher and their engagement is typically lower. The use of micro influencers, those who have 1,000 to 100,000 followers, has been growing in popularity since it gives brands a chance to gain more engagement with a targeted audience. While their overall reach may be smaller, they usually have a highly engaged audience in a niche that is advantageous for the brand. They can also be more cost effective than a macro influencer.

Brands Who Had Influencers At Coachella

Peet’s Coffee had a major showing at the music festival. Not only were they a major sponsor, they also hosted various activations on the festival grounds, at the campsite, and at hotels in Palm Springs where a lot of attendees stayed. In addition to these they also hired on group of influencers to be seen at the festival enjoying the product as well as sharing their experience online. They used macro influencers like Youtuber Audrie Stormie who has 132,000 followers (@audriestorme), photographer Scott Borrero who has 375,000 followers (@scottborrero), and radio host Chelsea Briggs who has 87,900 followers (@chelsea_briggs). As well as micro influencers like Jennifer Kelleher who has 9,067 followers (@justjennthingz) and Stephanie Rosa (@sightsnsoundswithsteph) who has 6,686 followers.

HP was another brand that had a big showing at Coachella. In the middle of the festival stood their 11,000 square foot dome. The “Antarctic” could be seen throughout the festival grounds. It served as an air conditioned refuge and immersive audio visual experience for all who entered it. In addition to this, they had millennial influencers posting pictures on social media from their lounge showcasing interactive installations that highlighted hp products in creative ways. With the help of fashion influencer Maddie Greer who has 120,000 followers (@maddiegreer), USC student Markian Benhamou who has 149,000 followers (@markianb), and photographer Grady Brannan who has 137,000 followers (@gradybrannan), HP was able to create sponsored content that reached those not in attendance.

Influencers have become the new kind of celebrity endorsement at live events. Research has demonstrated that marketing to millennials at music festivals is effective. Now, brands can reach those not at the event by using influencers to post from their activations on social media. Whether a brand is leveraging someone to reach a wide audience or engaging with a targeted group in a specific niche, the use of macro and micro influencers has proved to be beneficial when it comes to connecting with consumers on a personal level.


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