The numbers from last year are in, and influencer marketing ROI is stronger than ever. With an average 6 ½ times return on investment, it is no surprise that influencer marketing is poised to double its worth to $15 billion by 2022.
As your brand seeks to launch its influencer program in 2020, we’ve decided to showcase our top picks for the 15 best influencer marketing campaigns from 2018-2019. Each brand’s approach sheds light on proven techniques that could work for your brand, as well.
In one of the most legendary influencer campaigns of the hospitality industry, Hilton leveraged travel influencers (specifically, micro influencers) to showcase their worldwide locations.
Hilton named its influencer campaign “Seven Urban Wonders of the World.” The campaign directive was simple: showcase the best attractions and food within an easy walk of one of seven Hilton locations:
Hilton tracked user-generated content with the @hiltonhotel tag, along with hashtags #RightHere and #SevenUrbanWonders. Intending to raise awareness for these seven hotel locations, Hilton achieved over 100,000 brand likes, along with thousands of positive comments and shares.
Brands that capitalize on the travel and hospitality space can keep their campaigns simple. With a catchy slogan – that included tags and hashtags – and a carefully-crafted team of influencers, Hilton was able to let their influencers flex their creativity for nearly a 5% engagement rate across an audience of 2.7 million people.
Also targeting travel micro influencers, Ancestry DNA inspired thousands to consider investing in a subscription that could help them trace their genealogy. Influencers followed their genealogies through travel destinations and shared their experiences with followers on Instagram.
Ancestry DNA also increases its influencer efforts around April 25 – National DNA Day. Influencers publicized their DNA findings and showcased their brand partner’s limited-time offers. Out of 1 million people targeted, Ancestry DNA achieved a 6% engagement rate last year.
Storytelling never fails. Ancestry DNA thought carefully about which niche of influencers could best tell a genealogy story, and they certainly made a profound impact on thousands by selecting Micro-influencers willing to take a test and divert their travels to their ethnic roots.
Among one of the most hands-off influencer campaigns we’ve seen, Nissan invited a handful of outdoor influencers to a 4-day Titan Adventure. The event featured the latest Nissan Titan, “The Every-Duty™ Truck.”
Nissan hosted outdoor and off-roading workshops, including the “Off-Road Snow School.” Without any influencer directives or agreements, outdoor influencers and celebrities documented their experience across their social media channels.
If you’re considering throwing a major event anyway, why not personally invite key influencers in your industry? If your event is a success – like Nissan – you could enjoy great user-generated content without investing a single dollar towards an influencer campaign.
Recently, Dunkin Donuts decided that they needed to raise awareness for their coffee and espresso beverages to Millennials. To reach its objective, the brand rallied a team of Nano-influencers on Instagram.
These Nano-influencers went about their daily routine while holding their favorite coffee drink from a local Dunkin Donuts. Not only did the brand raise awareness with a 5% engagement rate on Instagram, but the Nano-influencer campaigns were among the most significant contributions to a record $300 million in coffee purchases in 2018.
Dunkin Donuts knew that to reach a younger audience, they needed to approach social media differently. And by employing the help of Nano-influencers, Dunkin Donuts increased their likelihood of brand loyalty among the fastest-growing generation in today’s workforce.
Fueling up at Dunkin Donuts continues to be a growing trend among Millennials, and Dunkin Donuts has influencer marketing to thank for it.
Perhaps one of the biggest proponents of influencer marketing, Daniel Wellington – a watch company – has refrained from any traditional paid advertising on social media. Instead, it works with influencers. Not only that, but Daniel Wellington’s influencer program is responsible for making it a multi-million dollar brand in less than five years.
Nearly any influencer campaign that Daniel Wellington has launched over the last five years is worthy of a case study. Suffice it to say, Daniel Wellington teaches the other “big brands” how to do influencer marketing, even though the company is less than ten years old.
If you were considering building an entire growth strategy on a robust influencer program, you wouldn’t be alone. Daniel Wellington continues to illustrate how influencer ROI can easily perform as well – or better – than all other marketing channels.
Deviating from its usual strategy of sponsoring celebrity endorsements, Buick recently adopted an influencer strategy on a less-common social platform: Pinterest.
Buick turned to a handful of Pinterest influencers in fashion, food, and design. These influencers became participants in Buick’s “Pinboard to Dashboard” contest. The contest asked each influencer to build a pinboard that would spark more color creativity in Buick designs.
Influencers published their pinboards and used blogs to narrate their experience. In the end, there were millions of new visitors to Buick’s website and branded social media pages.
Though Instagram is hands-down the most popular social media platform for influencers, nearly every social media channel has something to offer. The key is knowing your objectives and selecting influencers that can leverage that channel on behalf of your brand.
Last year’s March Madness event found its way onto Instagram, courtesy of Buffalo Wild Wings. Using Macro and Micro-influencers (and several former college athletes), Buffalo Wild Wings’ message motivated Instagram users to drop their phones and run to the nearest location to watch “the game.”
Influencer creativity turned the campaign into quite an ordeal, and some influencers shouted at Instagram users, “Why are you on social media when you should be watching the game!” While this kind of verbal chastising wouldn’t be appreciated in most situations, the campaign was a big hit, and the mood proved contagious among March Madness fans everywhere.
There’s no doubt: Buffalo Wild Wings’ approach to influencer marketing was unusually bold. If you’re considering a bold message to your audience, we strongly recommend that you employ the help of niche influencers. They will be able to deliver your bold message in a way that might have a much different effect than if you were to try it yourself.
When Naked Juice decided on a new product launch for a juice that contained only “half the sugar,” the brand recruited health and wellness users on Instagram. Naked Juice knew that they needed credible voices in health and wellness to showcase the healthier alternative to their product line, and they chose their influencers carefully to enhance their product launch.
Naked Juice knew that a branded ad promoting “50% less sugar” would only have moderate effects (at best). Its team of influencers was able to turn an ingredient fact into a story that touched large audiences.
Small and big brands alike are finding that influencers have an extraordinary knack for introducing new products. As it happens, product giveaways naturally lend themselves to influencer campaigns.
When it comes to mental and emotional health, many are unwilling to admit that they need help. Like Naked Juice, Headspace targeted Mid-tier Influencers to raise awareness for lifestyle changes and mindfulness.
Headspace asked their influencers to try the app and be vulnerable with their audiences. In their unique, creative voices, influencers did just that. As a result, Headspace received over 100,000 social media followers, along with 2,000 positive comments and post shares.
When you know your audience is less likely to try a product/service unless someone they trust does it first, that can be an opportunity to build a team of influencers willing to be the guinea pig. Headspace knew to target influencers that were willing to be transparent. Further, these influencers were authoritative voices on topics related to stress management and mindfulness techniques.
Gillette had had enough of losing to new players in the shaving consumer goods industry like One Dollar Shave Club. In a surprising comeback, the veteran shaving brand employed a team of Celebrity and Micro-influencers for holiday influencer campaigns.
Gillette had two goals: to redeem lost brand excitement and to inspire great gift ideas. Through Celebrity endorsements, heart-warming father influencers, and female influencers suggesting fitting holiday gift ideas for husbands, Gillette achieved a 3% engagement rate across an audience of almost 13 million people.
Holiday influencer marketing campaigns are especially lucrative. More than merely generating more sales during an overly-commercialized time of the year, influencers can more effectively connect gift-giving to a meaningful experience with the ones you love.
“Don’t wait for people to find you, find them.” In an industry where female participation is low compared to males, the Bumble dating app leveraged a celebrity influencer and a Super Bowl event to boost female confidence.
Serena Williams partnered with Bumble for the first-ever, all-female Super Bowl ad production team. Serena told a compelling story of “being told to wait” and rebelling against those voices to achieve success. In a genius conclusion, Miss Williams challenged her female audience to #makethefirstmove.
Bumble took their Super Bowl ad to Instagram, where Serena’s message exploded into an incredible display of user-generated content.
Social change is an effective angle when using influencer marketing to generate brand awareness. More than ever before, consumers want to see brands stand up for values. Bumble aligned their dating app with a message for female empowerment, and it worked.
@morganrmoroney Mid handstand snack @gymshark ♬ Castle on the Hill (Throttle Remix) – Ed Sheeran
Having mastered influencer marketing with Instagram Influencers, Gymshark – a fitness clothing brand – decided to scale their influencer program into TikTok.
TikTok was the most popular new social media download in 2018 and is gaining ground on YouTube user numbers. Gymshark selected fitness influencers on TikTok and promoted its “66 Days | Change Your Life” challenge.
As both a music and short video social platform, influencers masterfully incorporated fitness dance routines and workouts synced to music, all the while wearing Gymshark workout clothes. By the end of the challenge, Gymshark enjoyed an 11% engagement rate on TikTok alone.
If you like your results on one social media channel, it may be time to expand your influencer marketing efforts into new territory. Gymshark paid attention to emerging social media channels. As a result, they were able to showcase influencer potential on a new channel, earning prime engagement results as an early adopter.
Each year, Warby Parker eyewear builds a dream team of fashion micro and nano influencers. Artists and lifestyle influencers showcase their Warby Parker frames in their “native environments.”
Apart from being dedicated brand advocates – Warby Parker only selects their influencers out of those that first mention the brand of their own volition – influencers must demonstrate creativity in their Instagram posts.
In one of the most elegant displays of social media authenticity, last year’s “Wearing Warby” campaign produced over 50,000 brand followers and a 3.5% engagement rate.
In the world of influencer marketing, authenticity wins the day. Warby Parker is no rookie to influencer marketing. With its creative voice and impeccable influencer recruitment approach, Warby Parker continues to increase its market share and raise awareness across the globe.
Oakley’s recent “What do you see?” influencer campaign is undoubtedly one for the books. To promote its new Prizm lenses, Oakley recruited athlete influencers of every category except Nano.
Additionally, Oakley included athlete influencers from more obscure sports such as motocross and surfing. Each athlete posed for an Instagram pic in their Prizm shades and declared what it was they were able to see “clearer through my Prizm lenses.” Some athletes saw something abstract – like success – while others saw something tangible – like sushi.
Out of nearly 5 million social media users, Oakley generated an engagement rate of over 7%.
Brands like Oakley have learned how to convert a product into a vision for better performance in life. Using influencers that overcome challenges for a living allowed Oakley to connect with its audience on an existential level. A new pair of sunglasses soon became a symbol of ambition and personal drive.
Our last inspiring influencer marketing campaign belongs to Rescue, a product line of homeopathic remedies. To increase brand awareness and sales, Rescue formulated a compelling BOGO offer and collaborated with a team of health and wellness influencers to spread the word.
Commissioned Micro-influencers created blog posts in the form of product reviews and supplied promo codes tastefully within their content. Rescue experienced its desired boost in sales and more than doubled its social media following at the same time.
When your primary drive is conversions and sales, product reviews by influencers in your niche can be a powerful solution. To make these posts more valuable, adding limited-time or first-time-customer discounts – as Rescue found – not only drives initial sales but nurtures long-term brand loyalty.
And there you have it. Don’t be afraid to borrow some of the unique approaches demonstrated from our list of inspiring influencer campaigns. More importantly, don’t forget to add your unique spin and then trust your hand-picked influencers to get the job done.
As you look to scale your efforts into 2020 and beyond, remember that a campaign is only as useful as the influencer management tools at your disposal. The best in IRM software will ensure that you attribute all campaign results to the right influencer in a timely manner without forcing your team to pour over spreadsheets as in the early days of influencer marketing.
Learn more about influencer marketing: Influencer Marketing 101
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