Influencer Marketing is complex. It involves balancing the needs of multiple stakeholders, understanding the different technologies at play, and applying a large dose of creativity. When done right, it can bring a sense of intimacy to your brand communications and build a community of people eager to follow along with your journey.
To support marketers in creating compelling influencer campaigns, we’ve created a taxonomy of the five main types of influencer marketing programs. We’ve created this taxonomy by analyzing more than 200 influencer campaigns produced from 2016 to 2019 and consulting with some of the top influencer marketing agencies in Canada.
We’ve also applied the learnings taken from producing Canada’s leading Influencer and Social Marketing Conference for the past three years.
Below is a list of the five main types of influencer marketing programs with examples to illustrate the benefits of each:
- Gifting & Sampling
- Brand Ambassador Programs
- Branded Content
- Experiential Activations
- Integrated Campaigns
1. Gifting & Sampling
What’s great about gifting or sampling is that you get your product in the hands of potential consumers, who will share their excitement across their own social networks.
The key to any good gifting or sampling program is generating excitement and enough of a ‘hook’ for creators to successfully build rich content for their audiences.
To match the Fire and Ice theme of their game Legend of Solgard, King created a frozen unboxing program along with a custom-made hot sauce for gamers to try during their reviews.
2. Brand Ambassador Programs
Brand ambassador programs are great for raising profile, reaching larger audiences, and building a community around a product or service. They also offer an opportunity to develop ongoing relationships with ambassadors and reward your most loyal customers. Ultimately, brand ambassador programs generate attention, content, reviews, and product suggestions.
Celebrity Ambassadors can help raise your brand’s profile and reach.
Shawn Mendes and Gwyneth Paltrow are both Celebrity Ambassadors for Flow Water, to help the brand grow in the US.
John Hamm is a Celebrity Ambassador for Skip the Dishes, also to help the brand grow in the US.
Community Ambassadors tend to be more accessible and generally have a more organic relationship with their audience. We’ve seen Community Ambassador programs that have leveraged superfans, employees or creators who share common values and aesthetic.
Lulu Lemon’s ambassador program involves more than 1,600 ambassadors globally.
Warby Parker works with creatives who love the brand and have showed their support in the past.
Canadian Tire’s Test for Life campaign works with 15,000 Canadians to test products and provide reviews.
3. Branded Content
Branded Content involves collaborating with a creator, to co-create content which is then shared on social media. We have separated branded content into two parent categories: Image Content and Video Content.
Away Luggage works with creators to produce approachable image content for their social channels.
Snapchat’s #RealFriends campaign worked with motivational “quote influencers.” These creators were asked to share words of optimism and friendship, and then associate those concepts with the social media platform.
Old Spice’s Dream Runner Campaign was an Instagram challenge, where users could win prizes by posting photos of their exercise routes in the shape of prizes they wanted to win. The challenges were promoted by some of the top creators in the world.
Tik Tok’s Food Challenge #SAVORTHEFLAVOR offered an all-expenses-paid “foodcation” to New York City’s Restaurant Week for uploading a winning food video.
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CHEESE SKILLET 😍 | Win an all-expenses paid trip to NYC Restaurant Week 🤤 #ad 🍕 Download @TikTok (Link in bio) and post a video using #SavorTheFlavor, #TikTokCreators, and tag us! 🍕 TikTok will be selecting 7 creators with the best food videos 🍕 Tagging @dcfoodporn , @everything_delish and @miami_foodporn to kick off this challenge!
With Gym Shark’s #66daychallenge, fans were asked to choose a personal goal and upload an initial photo. Sixty-six days later, the user uploaded the initial image with an updated photo, which gave them a chance to win a year’s supply of Gymshark goods.
BarbaQ x FGTEEV put together an entertaining sponsored video with popular YouTube gaming channel The Family Gaming Team (FGTeeV).
The Will It Clog Campaign was a one-off idea that morphed into a series because of the overwhelmingly positive online reaction it received.
4. Experiential Activations
People don’t want to connect with brands exclusively online, they want opportunities to connect through live experiences. That’s what makes experiential activations a fun and creative campaign strategy for brands. With the ability to capture video, gather user-generated content, and share the experience across digital platforms, experiential activations are a great way for brands and creators to form close partnerships and connect with their audience.
Here are a few different types of experiential activations:
Stand Alone Pop-Ups
The Beauty Bay Carnival was an immersive pop-up event in the UK that allowed creators to discover the extraordinary online beauty retailer.
Chanel invited Instagrammers to their production facilities and flower fields to get an inside look at how they make their perfumes.
Create Your Own Festival
Boots worked with Glamour Magazine to host Glamour Beauty Festival 2019, a three day festival that took place at London’s Saatchi Gallery.
Be Part of a Festival
Mini joined Milan’s Furniture Fair to demonstrate its minimal footprint creative use of space.
To celebrate the launch of Song of Style, Revolve whisked a group of creators to Lisbon, Portugal, where they documented their time exploring the city, all while dressed in pieces from the collection.
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This morning, @songdani came down to my room and showed up in the same @songofstyle dress. I’m SO happy I get to travel with my sister again. Last year was so hard for both of us and Dani stopped traveling and working because she had to ‘heal’ and I’m so grateful she came on this trip to celebrate the launch of #SongofStyle. Today is such a special day for me. Thank you everyone who purchased pieces, who rooted for me, kept us in your prayers and for always just being there, leaving me comments, likes, messages. I appreciate all of you so much and I’m so humbled by all of the support. ❤️ #songstersareback #revolvearoundtheworld #lisbon Photo by @emmabella_
5. Integrated Campaigns
Integrated influencer marketing programs combine a number of the different types of programs above. They might also combine traditional media channels like television, out of home and print.
Diesel’s Ha(u)te Couture Integrated program combined celebrity ambassadors with live events, branded content, and product innovation.
Amex Canada’s Cobalt Card launch combined live events with community and celebrity ambassadors, and traditional PR, all tying to new card activations.
Submissions Open Until Oct 4th
As we continue to develop this taxonomy, we are thrilled to launch the influenceTHIS Awards, an awards show that recognizes the best in influencer marketing across six different categories:
- Best in Branded Video Content
- Best in Branded Image Content
- Best in Experiential and Events
- Best in Contests, Challenges and Giveaways
- Best in Brand Ambassador Programs
- Best in Integrated Influencer Marketing Campaigns
A judging panel of Canada’s top marketers will be reviewing entries. Submissions are open until Oct 4, 2019. If you have a great campaign that you want recognized, be sure to submit for review!