Don’t you just hate those people who have millions of followers on social media and get thousands of retweets and shares on everything they post? And to top it all off, they’re not even a celebrity! When Beyoncé gets all that interaction, it’s understandable, but how did all these Average Joes manage to build up such an annoyingly impressive following on social media?
“They probably bought all their followers,” you say, to make yourself feel better about your 565 Instagram followers. The truth is most social media influencers had to work, and work hard, to build their following. They consistently created content that was useful, interesting, entertaining and shareable.
If you don't have the time, will, or the skill to do it yourself, you're in a good position. Influencer marketing allows you to leverage the hard work, diligence, and creativity of existing influencers for your own benefit. And if you're thinking of launching a big, bold Valentine's Day campaign, this post is definitely for you.
A Few Quick Tips for Influencer Marketing in 2018
If you're going to feel some the love on the biggest love day of the year, there are a few crucial things you need to know about the state of marketing in 2018.
People don't love ads
One big change in the paid advertising industry is the rise of ad blockers. Once upon a time, a banner ad could generate endless clicks. Today, your target customer may not even see your paid ad if they use ad block software, as nearly one in three internet users do. Now, more than ever viewers have control of what they see and what they don't see. If they want to skip your million-dollar 30-second spot, it's as simple as fast-forwarding through it.
Or, better still, they can skip the live broadcast and binge watch an entire season commercial-free on a streaming service like Netflix. The point: You have to get creative about how you will get your message in front of your audience.
Social Proof is the ONLY Proof
Celebrity endorsements used to be the holy grail of paid advertising. Getting a well-respected or the trendiest celebrity to vouch for the quality of a product was everything. But as consumers became savvier, they began putting less and less stock in celebrity endorsements. Of course George Clooney is going to tell you how amazing Nespresso is if he’s being paid millions of dollars to say it!
Now, consumers look to their networks to find people who have actually used products, and shared their experiences - whether good or bad. Recommendations from family and friends sway people’s buying decisions. In the same way, buyers rely on online reviews and recommendations from their social network to make purchasing decisions. Influencer marketing in the brand's way to recruit allies to their cause.
Brands build relationships with influencers online to get their products in front of the influencer's blog, vlog, or social media followers. A well-placed product in a well-targeted campaign can effectively align a brand or product with the authority and trust of the influencers. Influencer marketing works when an influencer can extend his or her credibility to your brand to build brand awareness and get their followers to take steps toward following you. If a beauty vlogger on YouTube uses a MAC lipstick in their makeup tutorial, the vlogger's credibility and skill can convert into more product sales for MAC, sometimes even better than an expensive TV ad.
Influencers deliver an authenticity to their followers that most corporate marketing teams can't seem to replicate. That is true even when influencers are paid to promote products. Most influencers will not promote products that may damage the integrity of their own brands, so they will undoubtedly focus on products they can support, products they actually think will be useful to their audience.
You can learn more about the basics of influencer marketing in this post. Now, let's get to some strategies.
Strategies for Owning Valentine’s Day
Brands will be pulling out all the stops to win the hearts (and the credit cards) of their customers leading up to Valentine’s Day. They’ll put on sales, create online ads, and maybe even TV and radio commercials. But only those ahead-of-the-curve, pioneeringly creative brands will be turning to influencer marketing to promote themselves on Valentine’s Day.
Influencer marketing is still an emerging strategy for a lot of brands, so the space isn't crowded and you can get fantastic results with the right strategy.
Let's take a look at the V-Day holiday staples:
- Greetings cards – Lovers all over the world will be exchanging Valentine’s Day cards, so companies selling these don’t even really need to try very hard, especially the big names. Greetings cards companies can boost their sales with effective influencer marketing.
- Jewelry, flowers, and chocolate – All of these are popular gifts to give to your partner on Valentine’s Day, so brands selling any of these products are likely to strike gold during this holiday. Promote your products as the ideal gifts to give on Valentine’s Day, targeted especially at male shoppers.
- Clothing – Some people may give clothing as a gift on Valentine’s Day, but just be sure to get the right size! Still, people want to look nice for their significant other on Valentine’s Day, so they’re likely to be in the market for a new outfit (and maybe even some lingerie).
- Makeup – Following the same train of thought, women want to dress up and look nice for their big date, so they may be in the market to freshen up their makeup supplies.
- Date night – Restaurants, cinemas, bowling alleys… wherever you think couples might be spending their time on Valentine’s Day, those businesses should look to influencers to promote them as the perfect Valentine’s date idea.
- Food – Food brands should market their products to couples who opt to stay in for a home cooked meal (or takeout food) rather than going out to a romantic restaurant. Netflix could get in on the action here, too, by providing the perfect films and series for low-key Netflix-and-chill nights.
So, how can you turn these V-Day connections into hot influencer content? Just partner with any influencer that’s celebrating Valentine’s Day and have them feature your products in their own creative way. We’ll look at some examples of great Valentine’s influencer campaigns a little later on, but here are a few starter ideas for now:
A recipe box company could partner with an influencer who’s cooking a Valentine’s meal at home. A foodie blogger would be a great match as they could blog about the recipe for their followers. Or, any Instagram influencer could make a great post with a pic of the meal set out in their own way.
A fashion blogger, or any stylish lifestyle influencer on Instagram, could post a pic of their Valentine’s Day outfit, shouting out the brands that provided their clothing and footwear.
Makeup brands could target beauty bloggers who create popular makeup tutorials who can show their followers how to use the products and what the end result could look like.
Valentine’s Day Marketing for Non-Lovey Dovey Brands
If your brand doesn’t fit neatly into any of the above product categories, then don’t worry. You can still get in on the festivities. It might just take some out-of-the box thinking, which is our forté!
If your products aren’t a typically romantic gift, think about how it could work its way into a date or a Valentine’s Day-themed event. For example, a credit card company could push the fact that their products help people pay for big dates. Partner with creative influencers like DIY bloggers who can be photographed using your products in uniquely holiday-inspired ways.
In addition to Instagram, Pinterest is another great platform for getting DIY inspiration out there.
Maybe your partner would prefer a bouquet of Doritos roses over a bunch of flowers, so this limited-edition gift was made available in Canada in 2016.
You could even create an influencer marketing campaign that’s not particularly related to Valentine’s Day, but still uses a loving (and probably attractive) couple with a lot of sway on social media. This article lists some of the hottest couples in Instagram-land that you’d love to get your products involved with.
If your brand has absolutely nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, like, even if you thought all year you still couldn’t figure out why anyone would want your brand on a date, then still don’t panic. You could still create a Valentine’s themed influencer campaign for your products and services that have zilch in common with the holiday.
Take inspiration from Canadian ad agency, Evans Hunt. In 2016, they created a series of ads featuring custom-made love hearts with advertising-related messages written on them. This may sound strange and a little dull, but the execution was brilliant. Love hearts featuring messages such as “Be My KPI,” “Twist My Headlines,” and “Talk Copy To Me” were sent out to their clients and then turned into print ads like the one on the right.
The service they are selling is still completely unrelated to Valentine’s Day, but the promotion surrounding the holiday was brought expertly in line with what everyone was focused on at that time.
Targeting unconventional Valentine’s Days
Not everyone has a romantic partner to celebrate Valentine’s Day with, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the day. More and more single people are taking the day to celebrate being single by making V-Day plans with themselves, their friends, or even their pets!
That’s right! Animal-centered businesses can get in on the Valentine’s action, and that’s definitely not a category you’d typically associate with the holiday. If your business sells accessories for pets, then partner with an influencer who is always showing off their fluffy friends. They can make their pet their Valentine and dress them up in your products, for example.
You could even go for an influencer who is a fluffy friend, such as the famous Doug the Pug with more than 3 million followers on Instagram. This post from @itsdougthepug on Valentine’s Day 2017, displaying his love for food, gained more than 100,000 likes! And I’m sure any brand would love to get in on that action.
If you’re targeting an audience that will be spending Valentine’s Day by themselves or with their friends, then your product definitely doesn’t need to be related to Valentine’s Day. Your influencer marketing campaign could, instead, be that refreshing content that gives people a break from all the mushy love stuff clogging up their timeline.
Think about how these people might be celebrating the day to find an angle your brand could use. Maybe they’ll be spending a night out drinking and dancing with their friends, so brands like Uber can promote themselves as the perfect solution for a V-Day night out.
If I’m spending Valentine’s Day alone, then maybe I’d like to run a nice hot bath with my favorite products, put on a relaxing playlist, all with a glass of wine in hand (don’t judge!). Who could market to me for these plans? Well, Spotify could provide the music with an “independent ladies” playlist, beauty brands could advertise their at-home spa products for me to pamper myself with, and Kleenex could sell me tissues as I cry over all my failed relationships (just kidding…kind of).
Do's and Don'ts for Influencer Marketing on Valentine’s Day
Ready to start your V-Day influencer marketing? Check out these top do’s and don’ts before you do anything. Many of these will help you keep your influencer marketing on point no matter what time of year you’re doing it.
Do target influencers wisely
It’s extremely important to find the right fit when selecting influencers for your Valentine’s marketing campaign. Don’t think that just because someone has loads of followers that they’ll help you reach your audience. Select influencers whose content is related to your brand or who has a following made up of the demographics that you target. It’s not enough to get your products in front of people; they have to be the right people.
Don’t limit their creativity
Influencers know what they’re doing on social media. They wouldn’t have made it to where they are today if they didn’t. So, when brands try to impose too many strict guidelines on the influencers they’re working with, it can restrict their creativity and affect the results of the campaign. Sure, give guidelines to make sure the post is in-line with your brand, but give them the freedom to be creative. This is likely to result in a post that’s beyond anything you and your marketing team could have come up with.
Do play by the rules
Now for the wholly unsexy part of the influencer marketing. Any time a brand partners with an influencer to promote certain products or services, the influencer’s post must state that it is sponsored by that brand. Otherwise, it could be seen as an attempt to deceive the audience of that post. As influencer marketing gains more traction, the FTC are coming down harder on posts that don’t adhere to these guidelines. Your brand could be found liable for any breach, so make sure you and your influencers are playing by the rules.
Don’t start too late
If you’re completely new to influencer marketing, then you can’t just jump in a week before Valentine’s Day and get your hot new campaign going. It takes some time, initially, to build relationships with influencers so that they know who you are and can judge whether you’re the kind of brand they’d like to feature in their posts. A lot of groundwork needs laying, so make sure you do this before approaching them with a campaign idea.
If you’ve already got these relationships in place, then most of the hard work is already done. But, you should still start planning your campaigns in advance of Valentine’s Day rather than bombarding influencers with just a few days to spare.
Do spread the word yourself
Your influencers have put your brand in front of a huge, new audience for you, and that’s great! But, don’t leave all the hard work to them. Hopefully, you have your own following on social media, so share the influencer’s post on your profiles. This will help to spread the post even further, which means more exposure for you and the influencer. It’s a win-win!
Don’t assume that bigger is always better
It can be tempting to go straight for the influencers with the biggest following, but this doesn’t always pay off. There are lots of micro-influencers out there that could be the perfect match for your brand. An influencer with 100,000 followers that suits the niche you’re targeting is better for your brand than an unrelated influencer with a million followers.
Brands that Have Nailed Valentine’s Day
Now you’ve got a good idea of what it takes to make a successful influencer marketing campaign, it’s time for some inspiration from the brands who have been there, done that, got the t-shirt, and then inspired thousands of others to go out and buy that t-shirt.
Learn from the experts with these examples of Valentine’s Day influencer campaigns.
For Valentine’s Day 2015, fashion brand, Chloé teamed up with various influential fashion bloggers to promote their ‘Love Story’ fragrance. The great thing here is that the content created by each influencer is completely different because Chloé gave them the freedom to incorporate their perfume in a way that suited their creative style and audience.
The blogs and images created by these influencers helped to boost awareness of and engagement with the brand as more than 1.4 million views of the content was gained in a month. The perfume was incorporated into the fashionistas’ content naturally in a way that fit with their style, rather than being overly promotional.
Here are a few of the images these bloggers created, and you can see the content that went along with them by following each link provided.
Fast forward to 2017 and Whole Foods won over audiences with their Valentine’s Day Menu blog. They encouraged people to stay home and cook for their loved ones using their fresh, quality ingredients. This blog features a 3-course meal that their readers could cook at home, with all three recipes contributed by well-known food bloggers. Each course had a list of ingredients and instructions for making the dish along with an appetizing photo of the end resulмt.
This is a great example of branded content using influencers because it isn’t overly promotional of Whole Foods. It provides useful information for their readers even if they choose to buy their ingredients elsewhere.
Over to you…
There we have it, a day full of love, laughter, and influencer marketing. There are a lot of bright, creative people out there who have built up an audience that really listen to what they have to say, so make the most of that by incorporating them in your marketing strategy.
With all the schmaltziness of Valentine’s Day still being pretty much unavoidable, your brand can really stand out with genuine, creative content that appeals to its target audience.
If this blog post has left you eager to get started with influencer marketing but you’re not sure how to put it into action, TheShelf can help get you up and running. Why not get in touch to find out how we can help.