In a world where the general public is constantly bombarded with ads, commercials, or pitches about a good or a service, it becomes increasingly difficult for companies to reach their target customers. After years of perpetual sales inundation, it all morphed into white noise and people learned to tune out on-the-nose sales pitches. In order to more effectively reach this discriminatory customer base, companies scrambled to discover new sales methodologies.
Enter influencer marketing.
Today, a marketing campaign that fails to utilize influencers in some capacity would be considered outmoded at best. According to Big Commerce, “over the last five years, brands have collaborated with social media influencers across channels to generate awareness, and influencer marketing grew from an ancillary marketing tactic to a $5-10 billion dollar industry.” One of the best tools in the influencer marketing arsenal is known as campaign drops.
Below, we’ll discuss what those are and why they’re so effective.
What is an Influencer?
Before we can dive into the specifics of campaign drops, it’s helpful to understand what influencers are and why they’re particularly valuable. Simply put, an influencer is someone who has a loyal audience that they’ve nurtured and grown over time. They’ve built up audience trust in their opinions, authority, and knowledge on certain subjects. As a result, they are able to sway their audience’s purchase decisions. Common influencers include:
- Industry experts or thought leaders
- Content creators
Typically, a brand will seek out an influencer with an audience that consists primarily of its target user. They partner with the influencer who then promotes their brand on social media platforms such as:
What is an Influencer “Campaign Drop?”
Your average influencer marketing campaign involves a gradual roll out or an extended partnership. The influencer becomes a brand ambassador and regularly posts about a company’s good or service. An influencer campaign drop, on the other hand, is an advertising blitzkrieg wherein a company engages several influencers to drop all of the related media content at the same time and date. This deluge of content is meant to build up hype, start trends, and create a conversation around a specific event.
- 4th of July
- New Year’s Eve
- New product launch
- Video game
- Clothing line
- Technology release
- App drop
- Big events
- Sporting events
- Music festivals
How it works is simple. Each influencer agrees to post on the same day to create momentum. The goal of this is to create a flurry of social media activity with influencer partners that make a big impact on a single day. With all content going live the same day, it allots repetition to influencers who may have some crossover audiences to make an even bigger impact.
How to Measure
Being that it’s difficult to chart clear metrics as to the efficacy of a campaign drop, it’s important that you’re measuring your influencer marketing campaigns beyond simply brand awareness. Although influencer marketing is a top of funnel tactic, it can and should have a direct impact on revenue too.
Ideally, it will result in several KPIs, including:
- Sales lifts
- Return on relationship
- Social media trends
- User-generated content
You can measure influencer marketing through custom UTMs you create for each unique influencer. This way, any linking opportunity within your campaign—Instagram Stories, blog posts, YouTube, Facebook—can be tracked through Google Analytics. You can easily look at the campaign level to see which influencers are driving traffic, conversions, and ultimately revenue.
Beyond referral traffic and revenue, campaign drops make it easier to measure impact because you can observe overall search trends during that specific time period (to see if there was a lift in interest and search volume).
The time in which it was dropped becomes your anchor for metrics.
How to Get Set Up
There are simple steps you can take to set up an effective influencer campaign drop.
- Set your goals and budget – Your ROI from this drop will heavily depend on what your specific goals are. It might be to increase downloads and purchases or to start a conversation and generate buzz. Some KPIs simply can’t be measured, so it’s helpful to know what you’re looking to accomplish.
- Find the right influencers – Your goal is to not only create impressions but engagement surrounding the drop. It’s essential that you work with an influencer who’s already geared to your target user or audience. For example, if you were Mike’s Hard Lemonade trying to build hype around your new spiked water, Whiteclaws, you’d be wasting your time if you advertised with beauty bloggers whose average user was under the age of 21.
When searching for the right influencers, consider the following categories:
- Relevance – How aligned are they with your messaging?
- Engagement – How active is their audience? Do they respond, comment, share, buy? What percentage of the user base is engaged?
- Reach – How many users do they have? On which platform? A fashion brand will find far more success with an Instagram influencer than they would with a podcast influencer.
- Frequency – How regularly does the influencer post or engage with their audience?
- Authenticity – How often does the influencer sell things or partner with brands? If they are constantly working with brands and selling things, their audience may begin to tune them out.
- Settle on the right date – Timing is everything. Planning an influencer rollout when no one’s likely to be paying attention would be a waste of time and money. Ideally, you want to find a date where your target audience is more receptive. Typically, this will fall on a holiday or weekend when people aren’t already busy with work or school.
- Create a campaign agreement – It’s important that you clearly outline what you want and then work with your influencers so that they know:
- What to post
- When to post
- How to post
While some companies prefer to set a rigid script, it’s better to work with the influencer and let them flex their creative muscles. They know their audience better than you do and understand how to best reach them. Encourage your influencers to think of fun and exciting ways to promote the campaign. Feel free to vet their ideas and approve the content, but don’t stymie them. Also, make sure to give them plenty of time so that you can ensure that you’re in alignment.
- Create a unique campaign hashtag – Hashtags give you a metric that’s easy to monitor. By creating a totally unique campaign, you can watch the trends throughout the day and measure your campaign’s success in real-time.
An Influencer Campaign Drop Case Study
In theory, an influencer campaign drop may seem like a simple thing. In practice, it’s anything but.
There are so many moving pieces that it’s easy to lose track and run off course. To avoid this, it’s helpful to study a successful campaign drop. Today, we’ll briefly discuss EA’s rollout of their free-to-play battle royale game, Apex Legends, which managed shapeshift from unknown to blockbuster thanks to their influencer campaign drop.
At the time, the game Fortnite had spent the previous year commandeering a pop-cultural phenomenon, spawning dances, breaking records, and raking in hundreds of millions of dollars. Along the way, several gamers experienced a meteoric rise on the game streaming platform, Twitch, wherein millions of viewers tuned in daily to watch them dominate their particular game.
The Apex Launch
Seeing that battle royales were the current trend in the gaming world, EA Games sought to bring their own version to the marketplace. Their approach to this was different than previous game launches. Instead of utilizing influencer marketing as a facet of their marketing campaign, they centered their campaign solely around influencers.
According to News Whip, “Influencer marketing is often a smaller part of the entire strategy, rarely center stage as the entire plan for a release. Their key to success here was Twitch, the live video streaming platform, which pulls in 15 million daily viewers on average and its 2.2 million daily broadcasters stream directly to their target demographic. Fortnite alone accounts for 14 percent of views and 14 percent of viewing hours on the entire platform.”
So, EA approached and enlisted some of the biggest name streamers, paying them large amounts of money to exclusively play the game on the release date. This diverse set of influencers included personalities such as:
- Ninja (Fortnite)
- Dr.Lupo (Fortnite)
- Shroud (Counter Strike)
- Seagull (Overwatch)
- DrDisrespect (Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds)
In what is now deemed a “risky move,” the game was both announced and released on February 4th in conjunction with the influencer campaign drop. All at once, you had millions of teenage and adolescent boys watching their favorite gamers play this cool new game that had seemingly come from nowhere. This cataclysmic push rung a siren across gaming communities, ushering them to come to watch these personalities navigate this “brave new world.”
Naturally, this encouraged millions of impressionable gamers to try it out for themselves, resulting in a campaign far more effective than one focused on a theatrical trailer.
In just a single day, 2.5 million players downloaded and played the game.
Within a week, the player base reached 25 million active users.
Within a month, it reached 50 million active users.
Utilizing Influencer Campaigns Drop
When done right, as with Apex, an influencer campaign drop can create a buzz the likes of which traditional advertising could never match. It can be an incredibly effective tool, but it requires that you find the right people for the job (influencers) and craft a unique campaign drop. It might require some substantial upfront spending, but metrics indicate that the ROI is more than worth it.
Bailis, R. Big Commerce. The State of Influencer Marketing: 10 Influencer Marketing Statistics to Inform Where You Invest. https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/influencer-marketing-statistics/
Influencer Marketing Hub. The State of Influencer Marketing 2019: Bench Mark Report. https://influencermarketinghub.com/influencer-marketing-2019-benchmark-report/
Ellis, K. News Whip. How influencer marketing made EA’s Apex Legends release a success. (2019). https://www.newswhip.com/2019/03/influencer-marketing-apex-legends/#DjboFTiR6S1SvxrX.99