When it comes to content trends, influencer marketing tops the list as brands continue to boost their spending on social influencer campaigns.
One study conducted last March found that 59% of marketers planned to increase their influencer budgets over the next year.
Earlier this month, eMarketer reported that 67% of marketers are already using social influencers for content promotion, while 59% do so for product launches and content development.
One of the platforms best suited to influencer marketing is Instagram. The 5-year old social site boasts 400 million global users and averages 80 million new photos per day.
Social influencer marketing can help brands cut through the content noise to connect with consumers. It’s a shortcut to heightened reach; you may not have a mass of followers, but you can still get a branded message out there – one that reads more authentic than an ad.
But what of the brands that do have a following, and now need to compete with influencers for attention?
They face a growing problem. Co-created content can be naturally engaging, and since it’s well integrated into beloved influencers’ feeds, consumers are inclined to take notice. That means brands marketing on Instagram without the use of social influencers must be more creative than ever.
Ferrara Candy Company, makers of brands like Lemonhead and Jujyfruits, is among them. As part of its ongoing “Weirdly Awesome” campaign, Ferrara Candy Co’s sour gummi brand Trolli recently partnered with bearded basketball player James Harden.
The effort includes a TV spot, but much of the content is created for Twitter, Snapchat, and of course, Instagram.
Trolli has found a way to have it all: complete control over its branded content, and a brand ambassador with appeal enough to pull in potential customers.
At the start of February, Trolli kicked off the Harden partnership by launching a never-ending beard takeover on its Instagram page. The immersive, attention-grabbing collage included close to two-dozen different videos and animations.
Jill Manchester, SVP of Marketing and Brand Strategy for Ferrara Candy Company:
Instagram has become a priority platform for the Trolli this year. We’re always experimenting and are excited to be putting a weirdly awesome spin on a lifestyle approach that we believe will resonate not only with the essence of the platform, but what our audience is interested in seeing show up in their feed.
It’s about how Trolli fits into their every day life, communicated through fun, colorful, humorous, and random imagery.
In addition to the takeover, Trolli posted throughout the NBA All-Star 2016 exhibition game in Toronto.
All weekend long it gave followers a behind-the-scenes look at Harden’s activities through Snapchat, simultaneously posting exclusive images and videos to Instagram.
To maintain a consistent tone of voice on its feed, Trolli is careful to keep content on-brand. “We celebrate the little-bit-offbeat in bright and colorful ways, providing a break in our followers’ Instagram feeds for a little smile or laugh,” Manchester says.
Trolli has had success competing with influencer content in other ways as well, including sharing posts created by its followers. “Our brand has quite a few influential followers who have posted on their own, just because they love the product,” Manchester said. “We then re-grammed, because the content is just so cool!”
When asked what advice she would give to brands creating their own Instagram content, Manchester emphasizes the importance of authenticity. “Our original content has taken on the filter or lens of creating content just like an influencer or anyone artistic in our target demographic would,” she says.
The brand makes a point of asking: What’s cool about the product? How does it fit into every day life? What are people talking about and sharing that is relevant to Trolli?
She also notes that Trolli’s engagement strategy includes a loyalty component. The brand reaches out to fans who post of their own accord, offering product to brand advocates “in an effort to continue to grow our audience.”
The influencer marketing trend will only continue to expand as brands see the value in user-generated content. But companies like Ferrara Candy are proving brand-generated Instagram content can still be a tasty treat.
Tessa Wegert is a business and tech reporter, former media strategist, and branded content developer.
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