If you think influencer marketing was a big buzzword for 2015, all signs point to continued growth in this highly effective form of social media marketing. Indeed, this past year was the big break for many social media influencers, both in terms of their independent projects as well as working with big brands.
Here are some of the most creative brand-influencer collaborations in 2015:
1. CapitalOne On Instagram
When Instagram opened its platform to advertisers this summer, CapitalOne was among the first to take advantage of the opportunity to take the “What’s in your wallet?” slogan to a new audience. But instead of just repurposing branded visuals on Instagram, CapitalOne took a different approach -- for five weeks, the credit card company gave control of its Instagram account to five influential users to share snapshots of what was in their wallets. Some of the images from those five weeks were turned into ads and posted to both the influencer and Capital One accounts.
This kind of campaign from a finance company is very rare in influencer marketing, but the results speak for themselves. According to AdWeek, ad recall among Gen X and Baby Boomers increased 16 percent, and 25 percent among those 45 and older. Among millennials, Capital One brand favorability rose three percent.
2. Volvo Under The Radar
Volvo is no stranger to social media marketing. In fact, last year the commercial featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme went viral and won a Webby award. This year, Volvo sought out car enthusiasts to help promote its 60th anniversary event in the U.S. Rather than focusing on the most popular social media influencers, Volvo targeted experts, or “validators,” across multiple social media platforms who had “real influence on purchasing.”
To make this campaign work, Volvo dived deep into social media data to identify influencers by location, demographic and other relevant profile info, including an affinity for Volvo cars. Then they chose approximately 200 influencers to seed content and let the influencers put their twist on it. The result was a multi-channel campaign that spanned Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr.
3. Cisco Targets Influencers On Vine
Vine is largely the domain of funny shortform video. However, this year, Cisco teamed up with the social video site to tell accessible stories about the complex topics of data security and technology. Instead of working directly with influencers, Cisco’s goal was to use Vine as a platform for reaching a new audience of tech influencers.
While not in the typical comedic style of Vine, Cisco’s campaign included short animated videos that included characters like “Analytics Man.” Cisco also used the campaign to direct people to useful and relevant content about security and analytics.
4. Reynolds’ Clever Cookbook
If there’s one thing people love on Instagram, it’s food porn. Reynolds took advantage of this fact to turn its account into an “Endless Table” by piecing together a set of stunning food photography. Each image is linked to an influencer account with ingredients, recipes and step-by-step instructions. Since launching the “Endless Table” on Instagram, Reynolds has turned its entire account into an endless stream of interconnected seasonal dinner tables with dishes both unique and traditional. And to pull it off, Reynolds worked with popular bloggers and Instagrammers including Joy Baker and April Bloomfield.
5. Wendy’s On Epic Livestream On YouTube
Livestreaming rose to the fore of digital and social media this year, thanks largely to the influence of mobile streaming apps Periscope and Meerkat. However, instead of experimenting with the new platforms, Wendy’s teamed up with popular YouTubers, Rhett & Link (of Epic Rap Battle fame) to promote its summertime drinks.
The campaign was made for engagement: People visited a microsite where they were asked questions about their favorite food, colors and music, and the YouTube duo churned out 30-60 second skits based on the answers. The campaign was so popular that viewers whose questions got booted from the queue turned to Twitter to complain. Yet Rhett & Link didn’t miss a beat -- they went ahead to create videos just for this group of people.