Influencer marketing. It’s all the rage, but like many newer (or new-again) marketing efforts in the digital age, it isn’t often well understood or well implemented. Part of the problem lies in the diversity of “influencers” out there and the myriad ways their positions of authority can be tapped into by different brands.
Here are three quick looks at influencer marketing efforts that helped a few campaigns in the consumer tech niches go viral—note the differences and the similarities, and start building your influence today!
- Samsung, Ellen, and the 2014 Oscars
In case you somehow missed it, last year’s Academy Awards event was brought to you by Samsung—and the consumer electronics giant missed no opportunity in telling the millions tuned into the live broadcast.
One moment in particular caught America’s attention, though, and continued to make the Internet rounds for weeks following the evening of celebration. Host Ellen DeGeneres took a selfie with her Samsung smartphone and squeezed in as many other celebrities as she could. The photo went on her official Twitter account on March 2, and two days later it had 3.2 million retweets and at least 14,000 site embeds.
All told, Ellen’s influence and the rest of the star power in the photo was worth a $1 billion ad spend, but it came at a fraction of the cost. Playing the influencer market as a pure numbers game paid off; celebrities have wide reach, and the simplest endorsement can work wonders.
- GoPro, Kittens, and Firefighters
At the other end of the spectrum is GoPro’s unplanned viral video featuring a fireman from Fresno, CA trying to revive a kitten suffering from smoke inhalation.
Cory Kalanick has absolutely no claim to fame other than putting his life on the line putting out fires and rescuing residents—including those of the feline variety—from certain doom. A video he captured with his helmet-attached GoPro camera caught the attention of influencers in the animal space and in the cinematography/prosumer camera market, and he racked up 1.5 million views in a couple of weeks. GoPro’s edited version of the video, uploaded to their own YouTube channel, hit the 5 million view mark even faster.
There was no celebrity cachet to cash in on here, but it caught on with influencers and their audiences because it was emotionally-charged content that showed the real-world importance of GoPro’s innovative products. This unintentional campaign helped propel GoPro to one of the most successful IPOs for a hardware-oriented tech company in recent memory.
- Sprint, Mergers, and the FCC
Other than T-Mobile customers, no one was more worried by the recent prospect of an AT&T/T-Mobile merger than perennial third-place cell phone provider Sprint. Further consolidation in the already-tight industry could have made it nearly impossible for Sprint to compete with giants AT&T and Verizon.
What did the company do? It reached out to influencers in the tech world and to key business analysts and publishers, hoping to bring their fears to the masses and push an already-wary public into action to prevent the merger. Though Sprint stayed quietly in the background as far as much of the media was concerned, the company made concerted efforts to control the dialogue and encouraged influencers to whip their audiences into a frenzy about the horrors of the anti-competitive merger.
The result? When the FCC opened up to public input on the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile by AT&T, comments against the merger quickly broke the inbound message record for any single issue the Federal Communications Commission had ever taken up. The merger, quite famously, didn’t go through, and Sprint retains strong ties to its influencer network.
Adding it All Up
Celebrity, compelling content, insider info—there are plenty of ways to make your influencer marketing more effective. The only thing these campaigns have in common is that they made use of the right influencers for their particular purpose, and they reached out to influencers in a way those particular influencers responded to.
The better you know your space, and the better the stuff you’re creating to fill it, the more successful your influencer marketing will be.