How to Build Brand Affinity with Influencers

How to Build

 

Brand affinity, brand perception, brand opinion, brand love—whatever you call it, the ability to positively influence how customers think and feel while they’re engaging with your brand is an aspiration for all marketers.

But, how do you do it?

We know for sure that it’s not easy to build brand affinity with ads—if people aren’t blocking them in the first place. Although many ads are effective at generating brand awareness, they’ve been known to backfire. Consider Michael Kors; the retailer generated massive awareness with its first Instagram ad, but that awareness came at a price to affinity.

We also know that the goals of brand affinity—long-term relationships, popularity, loyalty, likeability—map well to the outcomes of influencer marketing, which is why many top brands have turned to the strategy to get the job done. If you’re looking to put influence to work for your business, these six tips can help you get started. We hope this can spark ideas for how you can build brand affinity by tapping the authentic power of influencers.

Create a Digital “Hub” of Influencer Content

Affinity happens when consumers realize that you’re genuinely trying to help them, possibly at the expense of an instant sale.

Abbott—the diversified, global maker of branded generic drugs, medical devices, nutritional products, and more—uses influencer content to populate its magazine-style website, Life to the Fullest.

Although the brand also encourages user-generated content by asking consumers to share their definitions of a “full life”, it focuses most of its efforts on partnering with influencers such as Kelle Hampton and  Nadine Sykora. These partners create and share videos that build brand affinity and drive traffic to the Abbott site.

Another example: General MillsTablespoon, an online content portal that bills itself as “the place to feed your fix for recipes, food hacks, how-tos and party ideas.” Bloggers like  Karly from Buns in my Oven and Bob from BS in the Kitchen regularly create, test, and share recipes—accompanied by gorgeous photos and instructional videos, of course.

Promote a Charitable Cause with Influencers

Cause marketing is powerful, especially among Millennials and Gen Z. Influencers can help brands promote their cause efforts in a way that feels relatable to everyday consumers.

Boxed Water is a great example of a company combining cause and influencer marketing to build brand affinity. First, the company teamed up with the National Forest Foundation to plant one million trees in areas of high need by the year 2020. Then, to spread the word about its mission and partnerships, the brand connected with influencers like Christen Press and Aidan Alexander. The influencers encouraged their followers to share photos tagged to #Retree. For every post with the hashtag, Boxed Water will plant two trees in Oregon’s Deschutes National Forest.

Coke provides another example. To support and build brand affinity among Muslim consumers internationally, the brand, in partnership with Ogilvy, launched the #OpenUp campaign. The effort, which ran during the month of Ramadan, featured celebrity Saudi chef Badr Fayez and Kuwaiti influencer Ascia AKF, creator of the Desert Baby line of baby slings and shoes. Both Badr and Ascia opened up to share their personal stories, addressing complications of living as a Muslim in today’s world.      

You can read more about the #OpenUp program and see the influencers’ touching videos here, but in addition, we’d like to draw your attention to what Ogilvy called the most exciting result: A 42 percent increase in Coke’s Brand Love score during the campaign.

Promote your Customers as Heroes with Influencers

Deluxe, one of the largest check-printing companies in the US, turned to influencer marketing to celebrate its centennial and to raise its share of voice and build brand affinity through the 100 Small Business Stories Across America campaign, designed to help the brand connect with small businesses by featuring their stories.

The idea? Offer people across the country the chance to win a $100 gift card by nominating a small business in their community that they thought deserved to win $25,000.

The influencer? Small-business advocate and influencer Robert Herjavec from SharkTank partnered with Deluxe and promoted the campaign during Small Business Week.  

According to a video on Herjavec’s website, the campaign generated 35 interviews with top-tier media, such as Good Morning America, Forbes, and Fox Business, and resulted in 47 stories.

Further pointing to the campaign’s success, a follow-up program called Small Business Revolution on Main Street (also promoted by Herjavec,) will award one winning town a $500,000 Main Street makeover in May, 2016.

Brand affinity? Boosted. To replicate this idea yourself, consider how you can champion your consumers while unobtrusively promoting your brand.

Partner with Influencers to Answer Customer Questions

Influencers played a major role in Canon’s Maxify Mentors program; part contest, part engagement effort designed to build brand affinity and support the launch of the Maxify printer series. During the campaign, small business owners used #MaxifyContest to submit questions to and chat about their largest business challenges with five business influencers, including Barbara Corcoran from Shark Tank and Ivana Taylor from DIYMarketers.com.

The influencers promoted the Mentors program through their blogs and social media channels, encouraging business owners to participate.    

This set off a widespread conversation, spreading word of the campaign among people thinking about Canon and its products.

Staples is running a similar brand-affinity-building program, sans sweepstakes. To help small-business owners kick off a successful 2016, the company unleashed its #MoreSmallBiz squad, a group of business influencers who answer consumer questions submitted with the hashtag. As part of the program, influencers Chris Brogan, Melissa Stewart, and Melinda Emerson hosted a Twitter chat, and continue to create blog posts and other content to promote the effort.

build brand affinity

Ask yourself: What questions do your consumers have? And which influencers could help you build brand affinity by answering them?

Make Life Easier 

Influencers can create or promote content that helps your audience do more with less, look better, feel better, or become whatever it is they aspire to be.

Retail giant Target provides a great example with School List Assist, an online hub where parents can purchase one or more items from a curated list of must-have school supplies. Target either holds pre-purchased orders for in-store pick-up, or ships them to customers’ homes.

build brand affinity

The hub is one component of a larger back-to-school campaign that, in 2015, featured child actor Maddie Ziegler and YouTube star EvanTube. It’s designed to make life easier for parents during the busy, stressful back-to-school season.

Bring Positive Change to a Community

Food brand Betty Crocker set out to make a positive difference by integrating influencers into its #SpreadCheer holiday campaign. They engaged a multitude of bloggers to spread cheer in their own hometowns by giving the gift of freshly-baked cookies while documenting their experience from shopping to baking to gifting. Bloggers encouraged followers to #SpreadCheer as well by providing a coupon for Betty Crocker cookie mixes.  

M&M’s used a similar strategy with its #MakeMLaugh campaign, a program to support Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day, a biennial fundraiser for children and young people living in poverty.

The goal was to prompt consumers to make someone laugh, and to capture and share that moment. M&M’s, in turn, donated one dollar for every laugh shared using the hashtag during the campaign period.

To promote the effort, the brand partnered with celebrity influencers such as Howie Mandel and Josh Groban, and professional influencers such as Mikey Murphy and Sean O’Donnell.  

build brand affinity

After donating $750K to kick off the campaign, and after influencers helped generate 2.9 million engagements and 78,000+ hashtag uses, M&M’s had boosted the balance of the Red Day fund by $1,250,000.

How to find influencers to help you create positive change?

They’re out there, and many are actively looking for brands to partner with on those types of efforts.

Blogger Cathleen Slagle is one such influencer; in January 2016 she shared an article on Blogger Babes (a network by and for female bloggers) expressing how she and other teens like her now have an unprecedented opportunity to use their influence for good.

How stupid would it be to take this power that we teen influencers have, then sit back and just watch things happen? Maybe you don’t understand just how easy it is to actually help. There are over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations out there and even more campaigns through big brands, corporations, and even smaller companies and businesses. It’s easy to donate earnings to a good cause. What’s holding you back from changing the world?

If you’re ready to get out there and start building brand affinity with influence, we can help. Our Lokal Link network has access to 1000+ influencers who are eager to help you forge a positive connection with your consumers, and our complete Influencer Marketing Agency can empower you to execute potent influencer marketing campaigns at scale and with ease.

Want to learn more? Get in touch today.

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