If you’ve spent more than two minutes on Instagram at any point in the last few years, you’ve probably noticed a LOT of influencer events. These events are usually super Insta-worthy: think floral backdrops, perfectly set tables, ocean or poolside — the works. But beyond the bells and whistles of these events, taking a step back and asking yourself, “What’s the point?” should be in the back of each consumer’s mind. We follow brands for a reason — we should be getting something out of each post. And as for the brand, if you’re putting on these events, the question should be, “Is this influencer going to do their job and create awareness for my brand or product?” I decided to dig a little deeper.
Brand Social Media
I worked in the fashion retail space for about four years, so deskside visits and magazine editor events were a staple in that industry. I ALMOST got to have a full-blown NYC editor event with MY bells and whistles, but the budget got cut. Womp womp. At any rate, when I was there, I had the opportunity to see what other brands were doing in the space. Two winners: Old Navy and Aerie.
First, Old Navy does an editor/influencer event several times a year to kick off its new season. Not only do they invite influencers, but its Instagram stories are updated that day, and archived via story highlights for easy access. They showcase vibrant colors and fun — very true to their brand. They also incorporate influencer posts and call out when and how to shop these looks. I also like how they do sponsored content, too. This example from 2017 and their #sayhi campaign LOVED that) from Pop Sugar incorporates the influencers and how to style the pieces.
Aerie KILLS their events. They have amazing aesthetics, food and drink, and always some type of activity like a custom hat station, as an example of its last event. I like how they showcase their PR team, then move into the event and showcase not only the influencers attending, but what they are posting, adding that content to their stories as well. At the end of each, they always have a swipe up to actually shop the merchandise, too, so the consumer can get the experience, then make an action. And they keep the theme going for the entire season. Not only that, but they have amazing events (after this “Squeeze the Day” preview, they did a Q&A on how to be a better friend) with some inspirational people, staying true to their brand message.
Influencer Social Media
A few months ago, I was in a hotel room on a work trip mindlessly scrolling Instagram, per usual. All of a sudden, I saw a few fashion bloggers posting about Pittsburgh and got instantly excited! Whenever I see someone travel here, it makes me happy. At any rate, I was trying to guess what they were in town for. There are limited retailers here, so I had about four choices. I first thought Aerie, but they always do their events in LA and NYC, and I then learned it was another brand based here (a fitness apparel line). The brand did all the logistics right — each influencer stayed at the Hotel Monaco, and they took them to an amazing-looking dinner at Bar Marco, one of my favorites. The actual event was held at Slate, which is a space that’s a “blank slate” so brands can come in and work with a clean space. They had pieces for the bloggers to try, yoga and more. It was really nicely done. But as I was watching the blogger stories I noticed not many of them were actually talking about the pieces or the brand. They were all saying they were in Pittsburgh, posing with one another, but then it was done. I barely got to learn what makes the product good. Would it be a piece I could wear to yoga? Great leggings for running? I will never know. Not many of them posted about the brand — there was a tag or two but the execution from their end was weak. I am not even confident the brand did any Instagram stories. This was in April, and the one blogger I follow regularly JUST did a post on the brand last week or so. Then in her stories a few later she was already talking about a competitor, Lululemon. What was the point?
In the complete opposite, I want to call out an influencer who did it right. I’ve talked about Jessica from How Sweet Eats many times (she’s from Pittsburgh so that just makes her automatically good from the start!). But Jessica has some of the best content in the game. A few months ago around the same time as that last Pittsburgh event I mentioned, I saw she flew to NYC for a So Delicious influencer event. She posted a few glimpses into the beautifully done event, but since then, I’ve seen her post multiple times about the brand, and did a custom recipe to promote their new Oatmilk Frozen Desserts. She mentioned she’ll be working with them more in 2019. It may be easier for food influencers to do this, but Jessica I’ve noticed picks brands to work for more than just a “one and done” post. Fashion influencers, on the other hand, post ALL the brands. Her posts are more quality and have more longevity, and now I associate her with that brand. Super well done, on both the brand and influencer parts.
One Week, One Month, One Year Later (+Budget Considerations)
One thing that’s difficult to do is to measure your event beyond that day — but isn’t that the point? Brands are spending lots of money to rent space and fly people in (plus pay hefty influencer fees). I have to think the team has to deliver a post-event report to the CMO or other executives. What does this include? What are their goals? I think more brands need a longevity plan. Yes, the Pittsburgh brand had a few posts done post-event, but during the event felt completely lackluster and I learned nothing about the products.
How could they have changed this?
- Establish goals far in advance
- Plan your event around the goals
- Devise a contract with your influencer(s) that outlines their exact deliverables and not just before and during the event, but long after. If they come back with a price that’s too much, consider a lower-follower, higher-quality influencer (think: micro or nano!). Nano influencers may even naturally post about your product long after, especially if you’ve made it a good experience for them (even if it’s not part of the contract).
- Don’t just think about the influencers at the event. Think about your brand’s audience or customer. What do you want them to get out of an event? Yes, tapping into an influencer network is important, but if the consumer doesn’t get anything out of it, chances are you’ve wasted a lot of time, and a lot of money. And your influencer has quickly moved on to the next paid partnership.