Although things are starting to get back to normal, for the past few months, brands have been limited to what they can do outside of social. Luckily for them, that’s all we’ve been able to do. But for brands, there are always innovative and playful ways for them to reach their audience – by adapting what they know and creating a more authentic outcome.
Social takeovers have been somewhat of a formality in recent years, but during lockdown, and even before then, it seems brand and advocate collaborations have become more authentic partnerships. Let’s be honest, we’ve all seen that paid partnership tag.
But what is a social partnership? Primarily used on Instagram, brands will partner with customers, employees or influencers to speak to their audience about their brand or products through dual-livestreams, product demonstrations, social content and so much more.
Why should brands use influencers?
Partnering with relevant advocates on social will be beneficial for both parties with 51% believing that influencer content outperforms brand-led content. Audiences begin to associate your brand with your chosen advocate, inevitably boosting your social presence and vice versa. For users that may not be aware of your brand, it brings the opportunity for new consumers to connect.
Depending on your strategic approach and chosen advocate, engagement rates are likely to improve. Modern partnership and takeover approaches often consist of live streaming or Q&As, with livestreams likely to bring more engagement through a sense of trust in live responses. Although Q&As are effective, it can seem less authentic due to the consumers’ concerns the brand will pick questions they want their audience to know instead of legitimate fan questions. Ultimately, it all depends on who your advocate or influencer is, and how relevant they are – results show that influencers with a smaller amount of followers generate the best engagement compared to those with a larger following.
Putting a partnership into effect
Identifying your choice of platform is essential to its success. While there are various platforms to choose from, Instagram is typically the go-to. With options to upload short videos or photos while also being able to interact live with your audience on both the brand and influencer’s channel creates endless opportunities for results.
But everything relies on who that influencer is. When choosing your advocate or influencer, think of it as a job interview, but for the face of your company. No pressure.
The first choice for many brands is to pick an A-lister or ‘mega-influencer’. Obviously, if you pick a high profile celebrity, you’re going to generate interest across social, and although this brings association and recognition to your brand, being a known name isn’t necessarily going to bring the desired results you’re looking for. In the past year, engagement rates of influencers with over a million followers have fallen by 21%. Oh, and they’re also pretty expensive.
Which brings us to micro-influencers. As mentioned, their engagement rates are a lot higher than any other influencer, with accounts that have around 1000 followers delivering the most engagement. Another bonus is they’re much more affordable than other influencers. With this in mind, identifying the right one can be a difficult and timely task – but with the right tools, it can be done easily. SHARE can help with that…
While influencers can be great, there’s no-one better to enhance brand advocacy than existing customers and employees themselves; you can promote new products with real customer reviews or invite loyal customers to a brand event and experience it first hand. But nobody knows your brand as well as your employees, so you could get them on board by turning them into micro-influencers. You could give them access to your platform so they can show a behind-the-scenes look and give an insider’s view of the company while creating meaningful connections with the audience at the same time. Check out how Everlane utilises Transparency Tuesdays.
Promoting your partnership
Adding promotion to your partnership is essential for success at the beginning, but you don’t need to do this long-term.
If there’s a livestream, Q&A or other forms of exclusive content – you want to build momentum. But one post isn’t quite going to cut it. Over the course of the week, you could encourage users to ask questions and give them an incentive to tune in to the takeover with sneak peeks and teasers for what you have planned. It is important to promote your content on other social channels. This will increase the reach of potential consumers that have an interest in a brand but are not on their chosen channel.
Who’s doing it?
Mac host a mix of content within IGTV and Instagram Live. The majority of the content within their feed is taken from livestreams or dual-livestreams with someone from the brand themselves. This shows someone using the product live, while creating genuine, meaningful connections with the brand and audience. The video views are also quite good.
While many know the brand or YouTuber Zoë Sugg, what you may not know is that they host weekly takeover on Zoella’s Instagram Story. During Takeover Tuesdays, the brand puts the light on influencers and experts who could add value to Zoella’s followers. The guest is ‘taking over’ the account for a day and sharing their story, their journey, as well as also answering questions from the audience. While they typically align with the brand, the takeover can seem slightly disconnected from each other. I guess you could see it as more of a social spotlight rather than partnership.
A look to the future
With takeovers shifting to partnerships, who knows what could happen next. While Instagram is the preferred platform for brand partnerships, that doesn’t mean that brands shouldn’t experiment with new platforms to bring in new audiences. TikTok has been on the rise recently, with many brands and influencers tapping into a new algorithm and style of content. But the introduction of rival Instagram Reels could become a prominent feature within partnership strategies, and bring audiences back to the platform as brands look to collect and create all their content together in one place. This creates more exciting opportunities to enhance your partnership across multiple touchpoints on Instagram.
What to takeaway
While takeovers can still be used within influencer partnerships, consumers are more likely to trust a brand if they have someone that is consistently promoting a brand with authenticity and has genuine connections with their audiences. Brands want a real advocate that’s going to take pride in the brand, push them further and deliver their goals.
So it’s time to move away from the one-off social takeover with a high profile celebrity and really connect with both brand audience and the influencers, through authentic partnerships, with the right advocate. Think about the long-term and how to build the brand, together. Show your personality on dual livestreams and give a real voice to your brand. But it’s not just what your audience sees on the camera, to make it really successful it’s important to solidify that bond behind the camera as well. If you nail this, the results will speak for themselves…