Get Outside (Your Vertical) with Influencer Marketing
Angela Seits has written this article. More details coming soon.
There’s a funny myth that has developed in the influencer marketing space that I’d like to dispel: brands should only partner with influencers in the same vertical. It’s hard to pinpoint how this idea took root, but you can see the trend in the majority of branded content: Apparel brands partner with fashion influencers; cosmetic brands partner with beauty influencers; and grocery brands partner with food influencers.
Let’s face it, staying in your lane is boring. It’s also an incredibly limiting way to look at the content marketing opportunities available within influencer partnerships and is holding your brand back from making stronger connections with your target audience. Why? Well, simply because people are multi-faceted human beings and don’t just follow influencers in one category. Let’s take foodies, for example. They’re a group of people who are incredibly passionate about food – cooking and recipes, gourmet ingredients, chefs, and kitchenware.
But if you’re passionate about food, you know that food is an integral part of all of our lives. Interest in food spans the gamut from how food is grown and sourced around the world, how it’s prepared by everyone from celebrity chefs to everyday folks, to why certain restaurants are hot right now, to which national food holiday is suddenly generating the most buzz.
Expand out a bit more, and you see that passionate foodies have wide-reaching interests in travel, lifestyle hobbies, home decor, comedy, sports, and more — and they’re engaging with content creators who represent all of these topics. If you’re a grocery store brand, why not inject some personality into food topics by crossing verticals?
This is the perfect opportunity for you to delve into audience insights and differentiate your brand from the competition by partnering with unexpected influencers who can highlight your products from a unique angle. For example, if your target audience is passionate about knowing where ingredients are sourced, try partnering with a travel influencer who can take followers on a video tour of smallholder farms in the Sava region of Madagascar to show how vanilla is sustainably grown and harvested. You’ll engage your audience with visually-rich, informative content they won’t find anywhere else and reach new potential customers in the travel category.
In the cosmetics space, beauty influencers are some of the most successful in the industry – but can also be the most competitive and expensive to partner with. There are only so many sponsored posts available on the calendar in a month. The industry has responded by advocating for partnerships with beauty micro-influencers, which can be a successful tactic, but it’s not the only avenue for producing effective cosmetics content.
Given the insight that Gen Z and Millennials are experiencing fatigue with the aspirational nature of Instagram beauty content – with its highly curated, model-like shots- why not take a different route and partner with comedic influencers to showcase beauty in a fun and relatable way? Creators such as Arielle Vandenberg and Inanna Sarkis are beautiful and aspirational, yet more importantly, they’re hilarious, talented comedians and entrepreneurs who write their own scripts, perform their own sketch comedy, and can talk about products with light-hearted irreverence. What do you think will lead to better engagement? The 100th static photo of a beauty influencer applying picture-perfect highlighter or a :15 video of Arielle having fun applying makeup, complimented by a relatable and comedic commentary? Her recent “everyday makeup routine” tutorial on Instagram received more than 1 million video views. Of course, this content approach needs to map back to your overarching goals and objectives, but it’s worth exploring in your creative testing strategy.
Outside of creative testing, how can you ensure upfront that an influencer in a different vertical will align with your brand and product offerings? The first step is to research audience insights and understand the affinities and interests of your current followers and target. Through image and keyword analysis and social listening, you can identify the topics, brands, and personalities your audience is most engaged with. Be sure not to limit this research to your current audience, but also to expand it to understanding your competitive audience in order to identify whitespace opportunities. This is where influencer partnerships can be the most powerful – when you identify insights about your target audiences’ interests and behaviors and can partner with influencers that authentically connect your brand to their passion points.
The second important step is to understand that influence is dynamic and always changing. Who and what is influential today won’t be the same tomorrow. Your brand needs to commit to continuously monitoring shifts in the influencer marketing space to understand who is influential and who will best resonate with your audience at any given time. But key criteria will still include creators who are great storytellers, have expertise in a topic, are successful across multiple platforms, and are genuinely interested in your brand.
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Step outside your vertical, (safely rooted in audience insights and influencer best practices), and you’ll see that there’s an endless number of creators who can help bring your brand personality to life through content your audience will love and engage with.
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