It may seem like Halloween is a holiday that will really only benefit snack companies and brands like Costume City or Spencer’s Gifts, but that’s not the case!
If you think about it, Halloween is the one day a year when droves of people go gallivanting into the night posed as anyone other than who they really are. So, your marketing should follow suit.
If you’re marketing a brand that is anything but Halloweeny, it’s time to think outside the box. Believe it or not, this particular holiday is giving you the opportunity to really stand out. You won’t be fighting every other brand in your space for customer attention (at least not the way you will in the next couple of weeks).
There are all sorts of marketing tactics available for you to use - banner ads (super-popular with Internet users back in 1998), billboard/subway ads (a nice, cheap option whenever you want to blend in with the doldrum of everyday life on the L train), social media, paid social, Google ads, and the list goes on. You’re probably aware of the basics, and maybe even employing some of these mediums in your current marketing efforts.
Influencer marketing, on the other hand, is an option we don’t see many brands utilizing during Halloween. But Halloween is the perfect event to tap into the creativity that only influencers know how to bring to the table.
So… while the first few days of October have come and gone, it’s not too late to do some last-minute influencer marketing for Halloween. You just need the right strategy. If you’re not feeling up to the challenge, you can always consider outsourcing your campaigns to a partner who’s able to execute quickly, effectively, and creatively.
What we cover in this Influencer Marketing post about Halloween
This post will walk you through the two major stages of influencer marketing:
PART 1 - Strategy: This is everything that happens before your campaign starts, plus some crazy-creative ideas for you to try out in your own campaigns.
PART 2 - Execution: Everything you need to roll out your campaign in a way that will generate the highest possible ROI.
So, let’s get to it.
PART 1 : A Whole Bunch of Strategy Possibilities
We’ve run hundreds of influencer marketing campaigns over the years, and strategy has proven time and again to be the most important part of your campaign.
Your strategy reaches well beyond whatever theme you choose. It sets the tone, as well as the outcome, of your entire influencer marketing campaign.
Here’s the first set of questions you want your team to answer to help shape your campaign.
Who exactly is your target audience? Are there other, less obvious, audiences you can target that will be just as receptive (and potentially much easier and cheaper to reach)?
What types of posts will get your target demographic excited?
What types of posts will have the ability to stand out amongst an influencer’s feed?
Who are the influencers that you need to target? Who currently has the attention and trust of your target demographic?
Which social networks do they spend the most time on?
The above list of starter questions will help us build the foundation of your campaign. You can use this same list to start building any influencer marketing campaigns you run in the future.
Now, with a holiday like Halloween, developing the right strategy is a bit more complex than just putting your wares in front of customers because Christmas is upon us and they’re already shopping. Plus, most brands sell products that are not readily associated with Halloween purchases. If that’s you, you must be strategic about how to be interesting, creative, and engaging without looking like a just another sponsored post.
You shouldn’t be fretting right now. If you are, stop it. This is a pretty exciting problem to solve. And developing more intricate strategies like this, is one of the things that we really pride ourselves in.
We always think outside-of-the-box.
Probably because we hate boxes…
And the office rescue-pug is literally terrified of them. No joke.
For brands with non-Halloween products, we want to offer a short list of influencer marketing options for you to consider. Each of these options are meant to integrate your products into Halloween posts without them feeling inorganic and "sponsored".
Strategy #1: Make your products cool by association
People who wear costumes will don certain clothing items and accessories that aren’t really Halloween-specific. For example, most people aren’t buying shoes for the sole purpose of completing their Halloween ensemble. Aside from weddings, no one is really trying to buy shoes that only have a lifespan of one night.
Look at the picture below by @hieucow. She has taken a pair of strappy sandals and paired them with a kick-ass costume. The shoes instantly become as enchanting as her costume.
This method of integrating your products is a relatively easy option, and would be applicable to almost any fashion, shoe, or accessory - even bag brands… for toting around all that candy.
The only part of this strategy that will become time consuming is the process required when selecting your influencers. You need to select influencers who not only match your brand image, but who are also planning to wear a costume that will really make your products pop. If you’re a brand selling sexy dresses, you don’t really want to be working with an influencer who has decided it would be funny to dress like Bojack Horseman, right?
Thing is – we’re pushing the Halloween deadline. Millennials all over the country are already combing their social feeds and eyeing a product or two on Amazon to find the perfect inspiration for an epic Halloween 2017 costume. You need to make sure you have access to tons and tons of perfectly matched influencers, who are also planning a suitable costume. And you’ll also need to make sure you have the manpower to find and reach out to everyone in order to perform this amazing feat of matchmaking in October… for an October campaign.
We’ve got you covered.
Strategy #2: Atypical Product Integration
We see a lot of brands working with DIY Influencers as well as creators lately. It’s an interesting approach because this group of influencers is especially good at showing their audiences unique and effective use cases for products they would normally never pair together.
If you were to utilize this particular tactic, your goal would be to showcase your non-Halloween products in a way that makes them an absolute must-have for a specific Halloween-related DIY project. So, you want to enlist influencers who have demonstrated the ability to effectively nail this type of campaign in the past, then challenge them to incorporate your products into something Halloween-themed.
Check out the example above by @aww.sam. When you think of Halloween pumpkins, you probably visualize a big orange pumpkin with the traditional face carved into it. These pumpkins however don’t look anything like that image you just pictured in your head. These are painted in punchy colors and decorated in jewelry and pins. They have a modern flair that most people would never be able to dream up if tasked with decorating pumpkins in a creative way.
Be warned: Influencers who would crush it in a project like this are hard to find. But when you find one, they’ll do all the heavy lifting. You’ll simply give them the challenge and the supplies and they’ll handle the rest.
You can use Strategy #2 for many different products. Decor is sort of the obvious choice, but we saw a TON of amazing costumes last year that influencers made just by using everyday items. When you go the DIY route, the possibilities are endless.
These types of DIY costumes are very popular around this time of the year. Last year @studiodiy encouraged their audience to use the hashtag #studiodiyincostume if they have a post featuring a costume that was made using their costume-making tutorials. More than 1400 people submitted photos, like the one below by @kathrynmichel.
This is a fabulous way to get your non-Halloween products (like the dress, the shoes, and even the pink balloons) shared with the world.
Another cool example of this approach can be seen in party-planning and the post below by @abeautifulmess. A Halloween dessert that is decorated with DIY cake toppers. There is nothing particularly special about the cake… other than the fact that it’s a BOSS idea for a Halloween party. If you want THIS spooky cake at your party, you need the supplies featured in the picture to replicate it.
In the next example by @jamiemba, you can see the same approach being used in this cocktail recipe. For a liquor company or glassware company, something like this would be perfect. This influencer’s post takes a normal recipe and incorporates the dry ice to create a spooky looking drink that would be a killer feature to have at any Halloween party.
Strategy #3: The Unsung Hero
The Unsung Hero is very similar to the example above. The difference is, the products featured here are not going to be in the limelight as much. The Unsung Hero approach takes your product and makes it more of a foundational element incorporated within a DIY/how-to style post.
Think of it like underwear. Underwear is important, but it’s not really a clothing item that people put on display for all to see.
At least not most people.
In the cookie example above by @workingmommag (as well as the bubblegum costume that’s further above) the unsung hero product could be the company who sells the fabric glue that adheres the embellishments to the dress. The glue isn’t shown off within the photo, but it’s an integral product needed to complete the ensemble. Whenever you can make your post, picture, or tutorial compelling, the products being featured, as well as those unsung hero products that make the outcomes possible, will do well.
Another example is a makeup brand that sells foundation. If this brand were to enlist the help of makeup artists who specialize in costume makeup like the example below by @paulinhasampaio, the foundation would not even be visible by the end of the tutorial, but… if it’s presented as a necessary product required to make the makeup stay on properly, it becomes a must-have for anyone wanting to replicate the look.
Strategy #4: Holiday Backdrops
Many brands who do holiday advertising hire influencers to create a festive backdrop in which to place their products. Take for example the Izze post featured below by @studiodiy. The drink is simply placed within a Halloween party context in order to promote it as a go-to product for your Halloween party planning.
While this approach is a bit on the nose, there is something to be said for simplicity. A campaign like this would be very easy to implement and your influencer targeting strategy wouldn’t have to be as sophisticated, compared to some of the other concepts we’ve talked about.
Admittedly, this one is also not an earth-shattering, game-changer of a concept. But the post itself is really cute, and when featured in the right influencer’s Instagram feed, this post would most likely catch the attention of your intended audience because it’s bright and eye-catching. Your audience will see your watch. That’s what’s important.
Strategy #5: Magical backdrops
A variation of the above “festive backdrop” approach would be to target influencers who have a history of posing within magical-looking settings. And the most likely candidates for this theme would be travel influencers because of the variety of amazing settings to which they have access. Check out the below example by @alisonsadventures. A photo like that would really stand out in a feed, especially for a brand who then reposts on their own feed.
Orchestrating a campaign like this might take a little more upfront planning as well as large pool of influencers, because the posts will need to coincide with locations (and the influencer’s travel plans) that are also a good fit for your brand and product.
Strategy #6: Killer Humor
We’ve seen a lot of brands showcase a “procrastinator” theme wherein influencers put together concepts that make them look like they were just slack with their Halloween costumes like the below photo by @chrisellelim where she's even admitted that she's not much of a costume person in her post. These are relatively easy for the influencers to create and they can usually generate a chuckle or two from their followers.
Of course, humorous campaigns aren’t the best option for all brands. But certain ones - like the company selling sheet masks in the next example by @kristengracelam - can really capitalize on this holiday because influencers are able to create posts about their product in a way that organically made it a beautiful fit for Halloween.
And because of this Halloween tie-in, the post just seems less sponsored than it would if it were to show up within the influencers feed any other day of the week.
Weird products, like those sheet masks, are not the only ones that can benefit from a more humorous campaign… they’re just the easier option. Other products can certainly have a humorous campaign concept around which the influencers must build their posts. The concepts are going to be a little less obvious, but with the right partner to come up with the ideas, your campaigns can really stand out in an influencer’s feed and generate lots of engagement.
In the post below by @runwayonthego, the influencer uses a pretty clever costume idea by dressing up as a pink loofa. And the shoes in the picture are a nice way to promote a brand without being overly branded.
Strategy #7: The Cute-factor
We see time and time again that photos with kids in them typically generate better engagement. People love cute kids. So, try to find influencers who have kids… and get them on a damn porch! (Everyone with kids does porch pictures… not sure why. Porches + kids = happiness, like the post below by @mckinli.)
Dogs + kids are a killer combination for jumpstarting engagement.
Segue to Part 2
Part 2 of this post isn’t quite as riveting as the Part 1, so I’d like to do a quick bit of shameless self-promotion if that’s cool.
We are The Shelf. We’ve been doing influencer marketing for the last 6 years and we’ve run hundreds of campaigns for some of the largest brands out there. (You can check out a few of those clients as well as our offerings here.)
We’d love to be your secret weapon this holiday season! We will design a campaign for your brand that will knock everyone’s orange socks off!
In a nutshell, we’re different from other companies/agencies because we let data guide each step of the campaigns we run. And yes, I know that most influencer marketing companies talk about data too. The difference between us and them is we’re not lying. We use data that matters (e.g., are influencers buying traffic and followers, is Instagram the best platform for your product or should we use Pinterest?)
If you’d like to talk to us about getting a custom proposal, we’d be happy to show you how our data helps us build more creative, more effective, more profitable campaigns. We can even take a look at your past campaigns and perform an analysis.
As I was saying in Part 1 of this post, strategy is key. We rock at strategy. So, get in touch!
Now, to continue on, let’s talk about the logistics of your campaigns.
PART 2 : ROI-guided Logistics
Logistics are never fun, but there’s no reason why they can’t be ALMOST fun… or at least easy.
As most marketers know, influencer marketing is effective but also requires non-trivial effort to run an effective campaign. There’s no auto-pilot.
No turnkey solution.
No “buy a zillion followers and all your worries are over” plan.
If you want your campaigns to bring in crazy-good ROI, you need to make sure they are properly planned and executed by experienced and successful professionals.
The entire process is tedious. There are many pitfalls that can make your campaign go awry, so it’s super-important that you have a solid game plan for ensuring your team gets quality results.
Once your strategy is solidified, the next step is to hire influencers.
First, find the RIGHT people to work with.
This is a pretty key component. You’re not just looking for influencers who meet a certain follower size. You need influencers who are the walking poster-children for your brand. They need to actually BE your target customer.
And in addition to finding the proper matches from a branding perspective, you need to make sure that these influencers have the ability to develop incredibly creative content and who have the bandwidth to execute plans quickly. The posts they put together for you should not be run-of-the-mill posts that simply blend into the rest of their feed.
The goal is always to woo their followers with your posts... which you can’t do if their followers swiped right past your sponsored post. You need to stop them in their tracks.
Maximize your budget
One of the biggest complaints we hear from our clients is that they didn’t get very much bang for their buck. At the end of the day, the success of your campaign is determined by a few important metrics:
How many people saw your posts
How closely those people matched your intended target audience
How much they engaged with your post or brand
How many purchases came about as a result of the sponsored post
The key to maximizing your budget is:
Working with the right influencers (because this is directly tied to how well your posts are going to perform)
Working with the right number of influencers
Avoiding influencers who have "bought" followers
Asking influencer partners to create posts on platforms where they are most effective
Forget about the idea of there being a magic bullet, a one-size-fits-all influencer marketing campaign that you can have someone create one time and use over and over again. They don't exist. And if they did, McDonald's would have discovered it 50 years ago and saved us the trouble of having to endure the Lent-inspired Hula burger fiasco.
Each influencer is as an individual with his/her own unique set of skills, specialties, quirks, and network-specific clout.
You can chat with us to learn more about this, and/or any of these steps.
Get your final influencer selections hired (and don’t forget to use contracts)
When we chat with our customers, we are always surprised to find how many of them have not been using contracts.
Contracts are important!!
In the earlier days of our campaigns, we, too, didn’t use contracts. And we were burned enough times to learn that they are a necessity.
One example of a contract-less-campaign-mishap happened on a campaign that we ran for a brand that sells pantyhose and accessories.
We sent the influencer products. She committed to everything over email. We paid her $600 bucks. And she created two Instagram posts, neither of which contained the product. One of her pictures was of her kids in a playground. The other one was of a Starbucks cup that she held up in front of a Christmas tree.
Both posts contained the disclaimer that they were sponsored by our client, though no one would have ever guessed why when looking at her content.
It was one of the most ridiculous things I’d ever seen. But this person (with the world’s worst work ethic) taught us the need for contracts. And since then, we have faithfully used contracts and we haven’t had any trouble.
In addition to making sure people don’t behave that way, contracts are also good for:
Ensuring you won’t get sued when reposting their content.
Ensuring that you won’t be held liable for any mishap that might happen while they are putting together your posts… like getting a weird rash from your hand cream… or whatever else; mishaps happen
Ensuring influencers are properly disclosing the sponsorship (read more about FTC requirements here)
And making sure that rates aren’t jacked up after the posts go up. (We’ve had this happen before too.)
Contracts are sort of a pain because they must be very customized to influencer marketing. They will not be your standard independent contractor contracts. Ours was constantly evolving for the first year or so as we rolled out more and more campaigns, but it’s gotten to a point where we’re really pleased with it.
In all seriousness, influencers like contracts too. It gives them protection against brands backing out of deals after content has been created.
Ensure your requirements are met
Influencers are typically working on many campaigns at the same time, so expecting them to remember each and every tiny detail of the campaign is unrealistic. To make sure that your campaigns go up without a hitch, you need someone to monitor the campaign's progress on a very regular basis… and to communicate deliverables, FTC disclosures, tracking requirements, scheduling, shipments/logistics… etc. And all of those reminders should coincide with the influencer’s personal posting schedules. There will be a lot of back and forth.
This is an important step in the campaign process and - oddly enough - we see most brands/agencies skipping it all together. If you wait until the end of the campaign to check out your results, you're way too late.
Don't make this mistake.
You can think of optimizations in the same way that you would optimize an AdWords campaign. You’ll want to monitor posts daily to ensure that no tweaks in strategy are required.
Case in point: I’ve been seeing a certain beauty cream product a lot lately in the feeds of huge influencers. (I won’t name the brand because I'm nice.) I noticed each and every post that has gone up for their campaign is receiving around a quarter of the typical engagements expected for the participating influencers, based on the amounts they usually receive... which tells me a few things.
First, the overly-sponsored feel that these posts have are probably causing the influencer’s followers to automatically ignore the posts. Second, a post that’s running too frequently is a sign of a flawed strategy created by someone who probably doesn’t know any better.
I’m 100% positive that this brand is outsourcing their work to an in-experienced agency. The setup and structure of the campaign have all the typical agency signatures. But if the agency in charge of running this campaign was on its game, a pivot should have already happened.
The data from the first few posts should have told them that they are under-performing by a factor of 4X. And the saddest thing about this campaign is, it’s been running for the last 6 months or so, AND the influencers who are participating are from the most expensive set of people on the internet.
(If the brand being discussed sounds like it might be your brand… get in touch. We know how to fix this for you!)
Analytics and Reporting
Last but not least, as soon as the posts start to go live, you need heavy-duty tracking in place. Some of the KPIs (key performance indicators) that we look at are the number of impressions, number of engagements (super important), number of clicks, amount of UGC produced, and which influencers/posts/platforms are performing the best/worse compared to our expectations. All of this data is important for the runtime optimizations discussed above, as well as shaping the strategy of your future campaigns.
P.S. If you want to read more about Halloween
Influencer marketing works, but only when done with the right strategy (backed by data). The campaigns we run for our clients typically over-deliver by 3x above what past campaigns yielded. Visit us at TheShelf.com to chat and learn more about how we can help you launch your kickass Halloween Campaign (and/or any other campaign... because despite what this post would lead you to believe, we're not that obsessed with Halloween). We just really like it.
P.S. If you want to read more about Halloween... you can check out our handy Halloween infographic.