How To Use Influencers In Experiential Marketing In 2023

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In an oversaturated digital landscape, brands strive to create moments that breakthrough. Experiential marketing has stepped in to fill this engagement gap through immersive, shareworthy brand activations.

Meanwhile, the meteoric rise of influencer marketing penetrates audiences at scale while driving conversions higher. There is no denying the combined potential in blending these interactive strategies.

This guide will unpack how to architect breakthrough experiential influencer campaigns that pay dividends. Follow along for creative inspiration, actionable tips and real-world proof of ROI.

The Rise of Experiential Influencer Marketing

Before diving into tactics, let’s ground ourselves in why this pairing works and its increasing prioritization.

Over 75% of brands will increase experiential marketing budgets in 2023 according to Forrester. Meanwhile, influencer spends surpass $20 billion globally.

Experiential and Influencer Marketing Growth

Influencer and experiential marketing see increasing investment

It’s no coincidence investment surges simultaneously across both strategies. Their combination drives higher engagement and conversions compared to isolated efforts.

After attending branded events, over 80% of consumers have more positive brand perceptions and purchase intent.

Furthermore, surveys found 49% of attendees interact with brands on social media after live activations. Influencers only amplify this effect generating FOMO through exclusive behind-the-scenes access.

Brands also reap benefits post-event as user-generated content gets repurposed across social and digital advertising. Compared to studio photos, this authentic imagery pulls 4x higher engagement on Instagram according to TrackMaven.

With proof points stacking up, let’s explore best practices for blending experiential programming with influencer content creation.

Crafting Breakthrough Experiential Activations

All great events start with clear vision and objectives. While creative elements grab attention, anchors like goals and KPIs prevent drifting into spectacle without substance.

Define Event Goals and Success Metrics

Start by outlining the overarching purpose for hosting an experiential activation. Consider which brand pillar to highlight or what audiences to target.

Common goals include:

  • Increase product trial and purchases
  • Spotlight new product launches
  • Generate press around announcements
  • Grow email subscriber lists
  • Improve brand sentiment

With goals defined, identify quantifiable key performance indicators to track. Example event KPIs include:

  • Event registration or attendance rates
  • Product samples distributed
  • Content views and engagement
  • Email sign-ups collected
  • Referral or discount codes redeemed

Outlining success metrics tailored to goals keeps initiatives on track. It also helps demonstrate ROI across key budget owners and stakeholders.

Determine Optimal Event Format and Location

With goals set, refine potential event formats and locations that help achieve them. Consider physical events like concerts, conferences, pop-ups as well as virtual/hybrid executions.

If launching a new product line geared towards college students, an influencer campus ambassadors program could drive organic chatter through key micro networks.

For goals around press coverage though, an extravagant venue hosting keynote speeches and VIP guests garners wider scale media pickup.

If particular regions present expansion opportunities, send sampling trucks and brand ambassadors to immerse consumers experientially.

No matter the format, ensure venue capacity, interactive elements and programming allow personal engagement between influencers, consumers and the brand.

Map Out Interactive Zones and Moments

With the stage set both metaphorically and physically, envision how guests will journey through experiential spaces. Identify interactive zones, shareworthy moments and takeaways tailored to campaign goals.

Rotate trending products through Instagram-worthy displays like at ComplexCon. Highlight artist collaborations via rotating murals and graffiti walls. Feature giveaways or product customization stations to drive booth dwell time.

What about ultra-niche communities needing education on technical products? Brands could host dedicated lounges for hands-on demos and 1:1 advisory time rather than traditional trade show booths.

Build depth across programming and environments so that diverse influencer interests shine through organically.

Example Event Blueprint

Example zoning of an experiential product launch event

Activating Influencers For Maximum Impact

With stunning environments in place to capture attention, influencers Ready their spotlights. They drive anticipation among existing audiences while attracting new eyeballs once inside events.

Tapping creators both digitally and physically drives deeper, more viral engagement cycles compared to each channel alone. But first, brands need access to their amplifying powers.

Identify Relevant Influencers Within Marketplaces

Rather than relying on antiquated PR lists or manual Google searches, smart marketers access expansive influencer networks with guaranteed transparency.

Influencer marketplaces like Ainfluencer simplify activation by centralizing over 2 million creators spanning various niches, tiers and locations.

Searching for influencers on Ainfluencer

Filters identify the optimal creators matching campaign goals whether launching in Houston or needing parenting experts specifically. Robust profiles provide historical rate cards, engagement metrics and content examples for due diligence.

Direct outreach and collaboration tracking maintains organization at scale. Meanwhile earned media agreements provide legal protections regarding content usage post-activations.

Activation costs often get inflated when juggling contracts across disparate influencers and agencies. Marketplaces enable transparent rate comparisons, often saving 25% compared to traditional influencer commissions.

Set Clear Expectations and Guidelines

When briefing influencers on campaigns, clarity drives better execution alignment. Begin by outlining:

  • Campaign Goals: Sample products? Drive app downloads? Boost fundraising?
  • Messaging: Key themes or values to incorporate organically.
  • Deliverables: Number of posts, stories, IG Live sessions required.
  • Hashtags: Campaign unique hashtags driving social aggregation.
  • Legal: FTC sponsorship disclosure needs.

Provide shot lists spanning portraits, venue shots, videos, boomerangs and more to inspire dynamic perspectives. Suggest experience zones for influencers to interact with and cover.

While giving direction, still encourage creators to infuse authentic tones and production styles. Their creative lens spotlights underutilized event components often going unseen otherwise.

Setting expectations also means forecasting time investments required. Schedule planning calls regarding logistics, managing content creation days-of and post-event follow-ups.

Structure Pay Packages Around Goals

With baseline expectations set, develop incentive structures reflecting desired outcomes. Common influencer event packages could include:

Fixed Price. Minimum posts required + extra incentives for strong engagement.

Impressions Based. Cost per tracked views or reach.

Performance Based. Bonuses for exposure driving conversions like sales using promo codes or survey completions.

While package structures differ per campaign goals, the unifying focus should be driving business impact beyond vanity metrics alone.

Executing Memorable Events

Months of strategizing actualizes across event days through stunning productions and social media buzz. Maintain momentum by empowering on-site teams and optimizing real-time.

Guide Day-Of Behaviors

Smoothly operating pop-up shops, intense conference schedules, and high-energy festivals require cross-functional staff rallying together. Create internal cheat sheets for staff detailing FAQs, venue maps, deployment schedules and their direct responsibilities.

Designate photographer and videographer roles to extensively capture event happenings beyond influencer coverage. Stream teams could then pull interesting B-roll or GIFs for social amplification mid-festivities.

Empower staff to make real-time decisions when needed in the dynamic live environment without top-down approvals slowing activations. However, centralize more strategic calls regarding talent cancellations, technical disruptions or public safety issues through an on-site war room.

Direct Influencers Kindly

Check in regularly with your influencer talent through a dedicated event concierge. Ask if they need additional gear, have questions on activations or want introductions to key guests.

Flag stand-out event moments they shouldn’t miss like giveaways unveiled or dance performances starting. Kind nudges organically push creators towards key areas without demands feeling transactional. They came excited to immerse themselves fully rather than post alone anyway.

If executions feel lackluster or participation drops, discuss tweaks with influencers to win back crowds. Let them shine as strategic partners, not just cameras.

Post-Event Amplification

Just as important as event execution itself is sharing recap moments amplifying awareness and engagement further.

Gather photo releases and UGC rights from necessary event registrants so curated content gets showcased legally across owned post-event highlight reels. Pull stills from staff footage or snapshots fans happily provide of their positive experience.

Feature influencer event material not just on their own channels but spotlighted prominently brand owned websites and social media as third party endorsements. Offer pre-approved influencers first access to co-branded merchandise available only post-event to help drive sales.

The most successful activations think holistically spanning weeks before and after events with compelling hooks always pulling audiences further into branded worlds.

Real-World Case Studies

Let’s see influential marketing in action by examining case studies from brands immersing consumers through clever activations. Identify what engages audiences as well as missteps to avoid.

Netflix’s Stranger Things Takeover

Stranger Things Pop Up

Driving hype for Stranger Things season 3, Netflix converted a Los Angeles mall into the fictional Starcourt setting from the show for three full weeks.

They launched in a nostalgic location filled with neon lights, unique eateries and endless backdrop potential. Guest influencers like James Charles then explored interactive escape rooms alongside fan opportunities to win VIP access.

Where It Worked

The extended duration and retro aesthetic driving immersive worlds made every visit shareworthy. Meanwhile, lining up mega influencers like Nikita Dragun balanced with micro-influencers kept new and localized excitement flowing through the entire stretch.

Cheeky guard uniforms and era-appropriate props encouraged even visitors casually passing by to role play and snap their Stranger Things encounter. Drive-thru media channels also expanded reach and accessibility for disability groups.

Where It Could Improve

However, the mall takeover lacked product integration beyond show nostalgia that could have spotlighted in-app subscription offers or show merchandise increasing business impact. Also prior attendees didn’t see their event images featured heavily on exit driving FOMO recycling.

Mountain Dew’s Hotel Hangout

When launching their energy focused drink MTN Dew Rise in 2021, the brand wanted powerful campus influencer connections. So in partnership with Her Campus Media they hosted Hotel Hangout university events for students balanced with intimate influencer gatherings.

Her Campus Experiential Event

Image from @hercampus on Instagram

Top student reporters arrived at local hotels transformed by the neon green brand theming. Beats by rising DJs kept energy high as students refreshed with classic morning rituals from makeup stations to breakfast barrefuels.

Alongside consumer events, micro-influencer studios spotlighted the energizing perks of Mountain Dew Rise as the ultimate study companion. These smaller campus focused creators organically integrated drink sampling between homework tips or dorm room must-haves product unboxings.

Where It Worked

The events forged an authentic connection between the functional energy boosts from Rise and student lifestyles through relatable messengers directly on campus. Complimentary drinks, swag bags, and dance parties cultivated shareworthy experiences with the approachable brand.

Where It Could Improve

However, some critics called out overly aggressive sampling reaching 30 drinks per person. Responsible consumption limits could have maintained safety while preventing backlash. The shortlived program also lacked continuity to sustain connections in a crowded energy category.

Madewell x Suzy Shinn

Instead of assuming what shoppers want, fashion retailer Madewell collaborated with micro-influencer artist Suzy Shinn in 2021 to co-create an exclusive 20-piece collection combining soft fabrics with bold patterns.

Madewell Suzy Shinn Launch Event

Shinn’s signature vibrant paintings inspired flowing midi skirts and dresses with matching accessories pulling through complementary accent colors.

To unveil designs with personalized flair, Madewell shipped bespoke picnic baskets to influencer attendees. Inside, vibrant products paired perfectly with artisanal snacks and flower bouquets reflecting the artistic inspiration.

Top lifestyle and fashion bloggers unboxed beautifully packaged products for unfiltered reviews. They later slipped into several options against meadow backdrops for followers to help select favorites launching soon at stores.

Where It Worked

Madewell built genuine reciprocity through a collaborative launching pad showcasing the unified creative vision. The curated gifting experience pleasantly surprised recipients who gladly paid sentiments forward with honest reviews.

Shinn also hosted a livestreamed museum tour educating fans on key pieces in her abstract works inspiring certain prints and patterns. This behind-the-scenes connection made customers feel personally invested in the limited collection destined to sell out quickly.

Where It Could Improve

However, the intricate bespoke packaging felt less sustainable than Madewell’s eco-friendly ethos so exploring reusable shipping alternatives makes sense. With pieces produced in limited batches, restock update alerts should have been built into the launch sequence for impatient waitlists.

While Madewell integrated micro-influencers impressively, more diversity across spokesperson backgrounds helps some communities feel represented in campaigns like these.

Key Takeaways For Marketers

While tactics differ across events, common threads of effective experiential influencer marketing shine through case studies and industry benchmarks. Keep these core principles in mind when architecting your next winning campaign:

Immerse visitors across multisensory environments. Sight, sound, scents, and textures leave deeper imprints on participant memory compared to stationary objects alone.

Welcome niche communities often overlooked. Micro-influencers resonate in authentic ways feeling approachable as consumer advocates rather than celebrity shills.

Build assessments and improvements into debrief processes. Identify what creative formats spark conversation and what engagement barriers need troubleshooting for future events.

Maintain an agile mentality to direction shift. Be ready to tweak programming based on social conversations picked up or ground observations on-site requiring adaptation.

Maintain momentum through sustained connections Treat campaign launches and experiential culminations as beginnings of community bonds rather than one-off encounters quickly forgotten.

Brands blending digital creator collaborations with immersive physical spectacles capture wider reach through layered engagement channels.

The proven frameworks, recommendations and precautions outlined here provide guardrails to architect viral activations while achieving measurable impact.

Now turn inspiration into results for your 2023 event portfolio by putting these experiential influencer tips into play. Consumers anxiously await whatever memorable worlds your brand dreams up next once armed with this playbook.

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