There's no shortage of influencer-related content to be found online. Due to the nature of this growing (and increasingly saturated) landscape, many brands are also setting their sights on opportunities to work with influencers in an offline capacity. This article will explore why it's worth considering experience-based influencer marketing, address different avenues for activations, and highlight how a few leading brands and retailers have cultivated holistic influencer marketing programming that considers both online and offline opportunities.
Despite the accessibility of digital content, there's something to be said for truly special connections that can be made offline. As the experiential marketing craze continues to heighten, it's important for brands to consider how offline best suits their business. On the one hand, if your brand or company has a retail or storefront component, this provides a natural opportunity to create truly ownable moments in a space that is already branded. But even if you don't own a space or store, there are still a myriad of ways to capitalize on this opportunities:
Happy Hours + Seated Dinners: Planning casual happy-hours on a seasonal basis around product launches or brand milestones at a beautiful (and of course, Instagrammable) restaurant is a great starting point to get influencers in the room. These kinds of events are also good opportunities to initially test how influencers respond to your product/brand and can provide a starting point to plan more fleshed-out dinner parties, salons, and other seated engagements. Depending on whether these events are open to the public or not, there's even an opportunity to invite certain influencers to co-host the event which 1) reinforces the relationship your brand has with that individual and 2) provides an opportunity to capture that influencer's audience further.
Event Series + Conferences: After testing one-time happy hours or dinners, a good next step would be to explore putting on longer-term or seasonal get-togethers.
Many influencers often end up in one place around specific events (i.e., New York Fashion Week, SXSW, etc.) so it's essential to keep these critical time periods in mind when planning influencer-centric events.
Whether it's a seasonal panel series or traveling pop-up shop tour, an event series is a fantastic way to keep both the momentum and conversation going amongst your influencer community. Taking this even one step further, popping-up or partnering with conferences is a great way to get even more eyes on your brand AND partner with key influencers. A fantastic example of this is Create & Cultivate. This particular conference caters to the blogger and influencer community, but the team has also done an amazing job of creating opportunities for brands to partner on sponsorship and co-branded opportunities. While you may be sharing the floor with other companies, something like this is still an excellent opportunity to network and to be seen by leading influencers in a pre-designed space.
Influencer Trips: Finally, if you're looking for a large-scale activation, you can always go the route of influencer trips.
These trips can range from a summer day trip to a long weekend abroad, but no matter the circumstance, throwing travel into the mix always presents an interesting opportunity from a content perspective as well.
If you're in need of more examples or insights, this section outlines a few key players in the space who not only prioritize influencer marketing but are creating genuinely memorable (and photo-ready) experiences. Our first example is a fashion retailer that has used one of their main hashtags and digital pillars to inspire fun and relevant offline events. Enter Shopbop. For their Spring 2018 launch, the online retailer took their #StyleHigh tag to a new level with an experiential preview in NYC. They transformed Milk Studios into an Instagram dream by designing a few different "vignettes" in which influencers could take photos. They took this experience to the next level by also setting hair and makeup and allowing influencers to wear the clothes from their Spring assortment for these photo moments. As a result, Shopbop was able to connect with key NYC influencers in a fun and casual way while also providing a ton of original content and UGC opportunities. And following-up from this event, it's evident that the team has taken this #StyleHigh activation one step further with a series of events around the world in key markets including Los Angeles, London, and more.
This next section speaks more to event series and features the leading fashion retailer, Club Monaco. Over the years Club Monaco has evolved from a mall-brand to a fully- fledged lifestyle label (one that has embraced the influencer marketing movement). From their recent #NowYouSeeMe NYFW campaign to their ongoing use of influencers like Alyssa Coscarelli in their social media imagery, Club Monaco has become one to watch. In the case of this article, they have started to really utilize their gorgeous 5th Avenue flagship to host intimate events featuring influencers from fashion, beauty, tech, and more. As a result, they've kicked off a series of in-store events which has included a wellness-focused panel in partnership with The Buff and featuring influencers including Lauren Caruso, Molly Dickson and more. They also hosted a "Speed Mentoring" event in collaboration with Bumble Bizz featuring Olivia Perez of Friend of a Friend, Sarah Larson Levey of Y7, and Elyse Fox of Sad Girls Club. Additionally, Club Monaco also live-streamed parts of the event from their Instagram channel which opened up the experience to their digital community as well. This example demonstrates Club Monaco's prowess as they have not so much focused their events on one particular industry, but have tapped into the key networks of both leading NYC influencers and like-minded brands. This winning combination shows the immense opportunity that comes with influencer events that aren't so much about taking photos but providing a sense of purpose for all involved parties.
Our last example dives deeper into the impact of influencer marketing trips. Enter REVOLVE, a California-based online retailer. REVOLVE is arguably the leader of experiential influencer marketing with their blow-out, fully immersive trips featuring top- tier fashion bloggers, content creators, models, and even actresses. One of the company's more recent trips #RevolveSummer included sending influencers to Bermuda to style and capture content around summer pieces available on REVOLVE. From exclusive musical performances to brunch on the beach, the brand provided what would essentially be the equivalent of an Instagram playground for influencers to connect with one another, and of course, capture rich content. This particular activation provided REVOLVE with a ton of content aggregated from influencers who attended the trip along with photo and video content created internally by the brand. While this is an example of a larger-scale activation, it proves that painting a picture of the lifestyle is just as important as putting a brand's products first — which in turn leads to more dynamic (and in some cases, multimedia) content as opposed to a usual #OOTD.
No matter what route you take with offline influencer marketing, creating social media- friendly experiences will increase your chances of influencers sharing content from these events. But more than that, remember to also use these gatherings as an opportunity to build REAL relationships with the influencer community in your industry. If you have more questions about how to do this effectively, and about influencer marketing in general, be sure to follow @stylelink.it and keep your eyes peeled as we unveil new tools and features here on PLANOLY!