This article was originally published in the WOMMA All Things WOM blog.
As social media continues to empower consumers with new tools for self-publishing and self-expression, the fight for brands to capture the attention, interest and imagination of digital influencers becomes increasingly difficult. For brands to stand out amid the noise – to provide real currency to today’s new generation of influencers – they will need to explore emerging media channels that are often anything but traditional.
Successful brands are navigating the ever-changing social seas by leveraging influencer partnerships to captain their ships. Influencer partnerships could mean a variety of things, from having influencers post on their personal blogs reviewing their experience with a brand, to working on larger partnerships with influencers and inviting them to capture memorable moments with the brand via a photo-sharing platform.
Here are two examples of popular startups that brands should pay attention to in the context of their influencer marketing program:
With more than 80 million users, and (semi) recent Facebook acquisition, Instagram is undoubtedly one of the top photo-sharing platforms around. Brands can leverage influential users within the platform by forming partnerships with Instagram power-users who command sizeable followings of their own. These partnerships arm marketers with the ability to communicate authentically, without sticking out like a sore thumb in a non-branded playground.
By working alongside influential Instagram users, brands can take a natural and relevant position in conversations occurring within the network. Sticking to the rules of the road and delivering value through partnerships further establishes creditability and keeps the brand top of mind with an extremely active and passionate user base.
An Instagrammer captures this shot as part of Coca-Cola’s #SummertoRemember program.
Since this is a new territory, marketers will want to carefully hand-pick the influencers they choose to work with, keeping in mind that the selection process can be tricky. There are methods beyond simply scanning the “Popular” page for well-liked users. Free tools like Gramfeed and Statigram can be used to assess the public Instagram feed to gain insight into what users are talking about and sharing on the platform. Marketers can also identify which users are talking about their brand, and potentially engage them should they fit the criteria of a well-suited brand representative.
Another well-known startup with influencer marketing potential is Pinterest. Just this month, the platform finally allowed for their massively popular platform to be open to the public. Although the network is generally used for pinning and sharing inspiring photos and links, there are ways to integrate brands through the use of influential Pinterest users.
As part of the #SummertoRemember program, Coca-Cola tapped popular Pinterest users to create boards like the one shown above.
The Pinterest platform itself certainly recognizes the power of influencers, and just featured a DIY blogger interview on its company blog, along with a Q&A investigating why that blogger used their platform. There are also sites out there devoted entirely to identifying influential users and popular content, such as PinReach and PinPuff.
As the media landscape changes, marketers face new opportunities to reach new kinds of influencers. Similar to the rise of bloggers, brands will want to adjust their strategies to consider influencers across platforms like Twitter and Tumblr, and even more emerging spaces such as Instagram and Pinterest. Remember, within new and established platforms, the golden rules of influencer marketing remain the same: first, be relevant, and second, always use proper disclosure.
Gather more disclosure insight with WOMMA’s updated Social Media Disclosure Guide or follow the conversation on Twitter at #SMDisclosure.