All I Really Need to Know I Learned on Instagram

By Daniella Platt

Breaking down the influencer mystique

Brands have so many ways to get their message out. Using social influencers as a channel to pivot a message has exploded, as everyone knows. What continues to evolve, however, is figuring out the right roadmap for a result-focused influencer collaboration.

How does a brand craft an attractive, results-focused peer-influencer campaign? What about a campaign with an influencer campaign with a celebrity influencer? What will tomorrow bring?

Here are insights from college-students — women on-campus — as well as insights from iconic retailers and prolific influencers who tend to dominate each of these emerging industries.

What’s effective on college campuses to influence 18- to 22-year olds?

Micro-influencers, meaning an audience of 5,000 or more, have shown to be the most impactful on campus, according to a panel of college students speaking at the Marcum Symposium in Los Angeles. An engaged, smaller community can spin your message into gold.

People buy feelings, connections — products they can emotionally identify with. Peer marketing at the local level has been able to create these feelings, generate a higher engagement for brands because of the ripple effects of the influencer living the lifestyle and being seen in alignment with the product values on campus. They simply influence friends with discount codes and fun offers to “swipe up and make an online purchase” instantly, rather than shopping down the street.

What attracts a micro-influencer to collaborate with a brand?
No. 1 is authenticity. Being in alignment with your core purpose will create meaningful content. Give influencers the creative freedom to share their voice within a set of brand guidelines. Next, gift the products that are accessible to their following, at the right price point and aesthetic.

One example was a sneaker collaboration. Two pairs of sneakers were gifted, one to the influencer, and a second for a friend, to make the imagery and engagement have a natural, photographic, playful look.

How can a brand tap into the college market micro-influencers?
“It’s important for brands to allow a sense of creativity, not just dictate what you want,” said Cindy Krupp, founder of 28 Row and CEO of the Krupp Group a firm that works with both brands and influencers to execute campaigns. “We provide guidelines and structure, but we want it to look like it would normally be on your feed, not something fabricated.”

Retailers are using social media successfully to influence clientele.

“We make our influence,” said Wendy Freedman, owner of the iconic Los Angeles clothier, Polkadots & Moonbeams. “Instagram is the most influential. We post our styles, and immediately, people are calling in to purchase.”

In fact, when influencers shop at Polkadots & Moonbeams, Freedman and her team set up photo shoots right then and there — on the spot, in the store, on its wall, in its neighborhood (with Collette Miller wings only steps away) so that both the influencer and Freedman can benefit from the photos showcasing Polkadots & Moonbeams’ new arrivals.

How can you create a partnership with a prolific influencer and drive sales?
Consider long-term contracts with influencers who already fit your look and style. Avoid one-off’s; they feel random and awkward. Know also, there are content creators with large followings with no engagement. Make sure to select an influencer who treats their platform as a business by being responsive with their audience, engages in stories, creates fun captions, and inspires people to go their page.

“Swipe-up links are the best way to drive sales,” said Courtney Halverson, an actress and blogger known for her PrettyLittleFawn blog. “It takes people from a story directly to the website.”

Swipe-up features are available to those with followings of more than 10,000.

What should a brand have before approaching a celebrity influencer?
“Have a plan and sales funnel, a solid campaign to promote,” shared Rachel McCord, celebrity and entrepreneur with more than 500,000 IG followers. “Put together a dream outcome.”

For example, she suggested, create an event that will get approximately 500 million impressions. You can then build a value proposition around it.

“Have a mobile-optimized website, a beautiful social media channel, a sign-up form with a giveaway, and be ready to engage back on social media,” she said.

What’s next for the new wave of influencer talent that’s emerging?
McCord also advises to “build sustainable business models monetizing on their content through products,” she said. The McCord List develops e-commerce sites at no cost for talent looking to step into true entrepreneurship.

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