The buzzword all over live event marketing in 2018 is “influencer.” Left and right more and more live events are using them to help promote. An influencer is someone who usually has a large following on social media, is an expert in a specific niche, and typically has power over other's purchasing decisions. It is someone who people trust to give them advice. A study done by Nielsen in 2015 reported that the “most credible form of advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust. Eighty-three percent of online respondents in 60 countries say they trust the recommendations of friends and family.” This is why the trend of using these kinds of individuals to market has grown significantly in the past year. Consumers feel like they have a strong, personal connection to influencers, as if they were actually friends.
A study done in 2017 by Influencer Marketing Hub found that the average earned media value per $1 spent on influencer marketing was $7.65. That is a massive return on investment for marketers. Live events, like Coachella, are already leveraging influencers to promote their events in big ways. The key is not only to bring the right influencers onboard, but to also make sure that they are marketing the event in the best way possible. This is why having a dedicated team, one who is solely focused on influencer marketing, can give an event’s marketing strategy an edge. An influencer relations team can help to choose the right influencers, maximize their experience on site, and ensure a timely delivery of content. Event organizers and marketers have enough on their plate already so having a team focused on influencers will make sure that nothing falls through the cracks.
The team can either be in house or outsourced from a growing number of companies who focus on helping events and brands with influencer relations. Regardless of where the team comes from, putting a priority on influencers can have numerous benefits when it comes to live event marketing. A better selection of participants, more engaging campaigns, and an overall more successful marketing plan can result from a devoted team.
Choosing the Right Influencers
When choosing the right people to promote your event, the key is quality over quantity. It is important to not only look at the number of followers a person has but also their engagement on various platforms. Engagement looks at the number of likes and comments that a page's content receives. The more love a post gets, the higher engagement that page has. For example, if an Instagram page has over 100,000 followers but each post gets less than 1,000 likes or comments, then that person has low engagement.
There are many influencers out there, making it very important to make sure that person’s content is aligned with your brand. Diving deeper into the page's demographics and target audience is one way to determine whether or not they are the right fit. It is also important to evaluate their values and messaging to make sure that it matches your branding as well. Be sure that you agree and understand what that person stands for and the type of opinions they promote before selecting them for your event.
The right influencers might not always seem like the most obvious choices. By having a team dedicated to influencer marketing you ensure that your resources have the time to not only choose the right candidates but to also think outside of the box. The right influencer for your live event can come from a variety of niches. Maybe an young Olympic Snowboarder, a mind boggling magician, or someone who makes videos of themselves whispering can have the following you want to attract to your event. Having a team that can brainstorm, research, and determine ideal and creative partners can give your event an edge when it comes to utilizing influencers.
Maximizing the Influencer Experience
An influencer relations team serves as a liaison which ensures an influencer partner has a positive experience from start to finish. The team is there to do warm outreach, build a relationship, create contracts, provide logistics, and work directly with the influencer on the campaign. Whether outsourcing, or building a group in house, having a dedicated influencer relations team can help to maximize the experiences of those you choose to work with to promote your event.
In 2017 Electric Forest, a music festival that takes place in Rothbury, Michigan over two weekends in June, decided to hire an outside team to aide with their influencer relations. They hired Ideaison to craft personal and creative content strategy utilizing influencers to promote the event. The first weekend they had five influencers and the second weekend they had six. They gathered a team of musicians, trans activists, actors, health philanthropists, punk rock feminists, entrepreneurs, and tech mavens. It should be noted that there is no “correct” influencer for an event. There is not magical formula or database that one can input an event and be told who will be the right fit for the campaign. It is up to the team to strategize and research the ideal candidates. Ideaison had to carefully evaluate the lineup of influencers that it would deploy at the event. Not only that, but the team would also help to aid these partners in crafted engaging and personal content.
“At the core we strive to make festivals and events a more diverse creative playground for creators/influencers — ranging from LGBTQ activists to feminists to actors. Everyone has a POV and a story to tell. As festivals aim to recognize women by adding more female talent to their lineups, we too seek to empower women as the vehicle to positively change the landscape of the festival space to be more inclusive and appealing,” Lauren Kashuk, Founder and Creative Director at Ideaison LLC tells XLIVE. “We create custom influencer programs for festivals and events that feel as authentic as the experience of the festival/event itself. Pulling from our experiences as music lovers and fans, talent managers, creatives and marketers, we’re able to navigate and understand the nuances and differences of the music space.”
Their major success and viral moment came from when they captured actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who is most well known for his role as “McLovin” in the movie Superbad, with a giant poster of his face at the festival. In the video, he walks up to the person holding the poster and begins dancing with him. The person had no idea who he was dancing with until later when the actor reveals himself. This completely unstaged moment went viral, collecting over a million views on YouTube. While the team did not plan for it, they were there on site with the influencer ensuring that this moment was properly leveraged.
That is another key to a successful influencer liaison team, most people do not know they exist. They work behind the scenes to help craft unique content that helps to tell a story. Without having a dedicated team for this kind of marketing, Electric Forest may not have captured this viral moment. “We inserted Electric Forest into the digital conversation and put it on the map. With a little creativity, a positive attitude and a whole lot of faith, we had done the seemingly unthinkable and made the impossible, possible,” says Kashuk on the success of the first year.
Ensuring Delivery of Content
The main problem with influencers is that many of them are not professional marketers. Sometimes they have in depth backgrounds in marketing but not always. This is why it is important to have a team that tracks their content to ensure that it is getting posted in timely matter and that the quality is on par with expectations. Another thing to note is that while the team is helpful to check that the deliverables are done, they should not put too many creative constraints on the influencer. Balancing guidance and deadlines with engaging and unique content is key when it comes to managing influencers.
A great example of allowing creative freedom comes from Mazda at Tomorrowland festival in Belgium, through the use of influencer marketing agency Come Round. They gathered ten influencers, who’s following ranged from 44,000 to 2.2 million, from countries all around Europe. Instagram and YouTube were the two social platforms that they focused on. The agency used a third-party tool to analyze candidate's engagement on social media. They selected those whose engaged audience was the right fit for the brand. Those who were selected were then flown to Brussels a day before the festival where they were treated to a Bose sound workshop, a Mazda drive experience where they were shown all-new Mazda CX-5 SUV and MX-5 RF Roadster, and enjoyed a meet and greet with Lost Frequencies. Then they went to the festival where they were free to roam and enjoy the Mazda VIP Mainstage Skybox. As of August 2017 the campaign generated over 350,000 Instagram engagements and over 1.8 millions impressions as well as 280,000 views on YouTube.
“I think any type of event which enables a consumer to really familiarize themselves with a brand and experience it face-to-face is the most powerful vehicle for influencer marketing, as it cultivates future brand advocacy. Simply sending product to an influencer along with a monetary transaction in return for content is not enough in today’s influencer marketing landscape,” Philip Brown, Head of Influencer Marketing & Brand Advocacy at Come Round tells Eventbrite. “Providing influencers with a personal or live experience gives them the chance to genuinely fall in love with your brand and product and become brand advocates, rather than a mercenary smash-and-grab, content creation exercise. We always recommend our clients focus on a strategy with either in-home or live experiences playing a big part.”
More Success Stories
SAP Ariba is an American information technology and software company that has their own Global Influencer Marketing Department. Every year the company hosts their annual SAPPHIRE conference and helps market it with the use of influencers. In exchange for a chance to meet with top SAP executives, the company utilizes Facebook Live to interview influencers and create engaging content from the conference. In 2017 they hosted 15 influencers who accounted for 25% of the event's social media presence
“For one, people often think that influencer marketing is all about celebrities hawking a product. It’s truly not about that—especially in the B2B realm. It’s about highlighting experts who have real experience on the business challenges a brand’s audience faces. Secondly, it’s not always about the number of followers or connections an influencer has. Some people think: ‘Oh my God. We have to work with this person. They have a million followers.’ Your influencers have to be able to relate to your audience and that skill isn’t necessarily determined by a large following,” Ursula Ringman, Head of Global Influencer Marketing at SAP tells Top Rank Marketing.
Not only does the company look to use influencers for their annual event, they are aiming to build long term relationships with those they partner with. Even when not working on a specific project. Ringman makes sure that her team is finding targeted influencers at least quarterly in order to forge deeper ties.
Utilizing influencers is becoming essential when it comes to live event marketing. As more organizers begin to take on this added task, employing a specialized team can be highly beneficial. A successful influencer marketing campaign requires a lot of attention in order for it to be properly executed. A team can put in the needed hours in selecting the right and unique candidates for a campaign. They can also serve as a liaison from start to finish to ensure that the influencer not only has a positive experience, but also delivers good content in a timely manner. Overall, a dedicated team can give a live event a leg up when it comes to influencer marketing.