Word-of-mouth is recognised as the most powerful of all marketing mediums. For that reason, big brands are increasingly using influential individuals online to help spread their messages.

Just one social post from a respected blogger or vlogger can give brands a big boost; raising awareness, enhancing image and ultimately increasing sales. But how can influencer marketing be put to work around a live event? We spoke to Philip Brown, Head of Influencer Marketing & Brand Advocacy at Come Round – the Social Influencer Marketing Agency, for a real life example with Mazda Motor Europe.

Last month, Come Round sent 10 influencers from around Europe to the Tomorrowland electronic music festival in Boom, Belgium to create coverage on behalf of event sponsor Mazda. Brown explains how the right influencers were selected and the impact their endorsements had…

What was the brief Come Round received from Mazda?

“The idea was to send 10 influencers to Belgium to enjoy the Mazda brand through some immersive experiences around its #MazdaSounds campaign. The influencers were engaged to increase overall brand awareness and familiarity through the campaign, in collaboration with Tomorrowland and endorsed by Belgian DJ, Lost Frequencies.

“Running now for its second campaign year, #MazdaSounds campaign’s message to consumers around Europe is centred on the slogan “A car should feel like the extension of your body; music, and extension of your soul”. Mazda believes a car should feel like a natural extension of your body, in the same way DJs become one with their decks. Mazda teamed up with Tomorrowland to create the opportunity to experience the emotional connection and oneness through both music and cars.

“We focused on a mix of micro and macro influencers, ranging from a follower count of 44,000 all the way up to an influencer with 2.2 million followers. The main channel focus was Instagram, with a combination of static Instagram content as well as Instagram stories. In addition, our Dutch and Portuguese influencers have also created YouTube content. We aimed to get as many European countries involved and ended up sending influencers from Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and the UK, all slightly different, but reaching a similar audience in terms of gender, age and interests.”

What immersive experiences did the influencers enjoy?

“The influencers were flown out to Brussels and put up overnight in a hotel. The next day they were taken to a Mazda space before the festival where they enjoyed a sound workshop by Bose, a Mazda drive experience as well as meet and greet with international DJ and Mazda ambassador Lost Frequencies. They also were shown the all-new Mazda CX-5 SUV and MX-5 RF Roadster, before heading off to the festival.

“After this, they all travelled by bus to the Tomorrowland festival where they could enjoy the festival from the Mazda VIP Mainstage Skybox, providing a bird’s eye view of the performances. They were free to enjoy the festival and were free to create content they felt comfortable with. The experience was a mixture of brand and product and also focused on the influencers having a great time.”

How did you choose the influencers?

“We try not to let ourselves be influenced by an influencers’ appearance and focus on data as much as possible. We have a partnership with a third-party tool that enables us with insights that go beyond provided historical audience figures on Instagram, but instead focuses on engaged audience analytics. This means that when we scan through potential influencers, the API pulls in their posts from the last month and lets us know exactly who has engaged with that content as opposed to just seeing who follows their account. This is very important, considering that only a small percentage of followers actively engage with content. The majority of those (for example) 100,000 followers are inactive. By honing in and focusing on their engaged audience, we provide our clients with a clearer and more transparent picture when it comes to the influencer’s true audience.

“An important aspect of the identification process was making sure that each influencer had a significant engaged audience within the country they are based. What our third-party provider is showing us, is that in some cases – historical audience data is different from engaged audience data. We’ve found that engaged audience analytics make it easier to scope out fake audiences.

“Sometimes, we use the tool on an influencer after looking at an influencer’s content and thinking they’d make a really good fit, only for the tool to tell us that the majority of their engaged audience is actually in Russia or Brazil. For us, those are red flags and mean that we will not proceed with that influencer. What does worry me, however is when I look at some of the red flagged influencers’ feeds and see big brands happily working with them – not being informed that they are reaching an irrelevant audience.”

 

Were the influencers obligated to create a set number of posts?

“We often work with contracts that stipulate output and payment, but we try to keep the content as organic as possible. For this campaign, we focused on static Instagram content, in combination with Instagram stories focusing on their experiences throughout the day.”

“What we saw is that influencers predominantly opted to create static content around the Tomorrowland festival, with the Instagram stories being used more as a vehicle to tell the story around their experiences with Mazda.”

Was the influencer campaign a big investment for Mazda and how did they measure ROI?

“All the influencers were provided with payment for their content, in addition to free VIP access to the Tomorrowland festival. What we did see is that because this was a shared-value proposition, and we could offer the influencers a one-of-a-kind, money-can’t-buy experience, they were more than willing to lower their normal rates.

“Whilst we cannot disclose exact figures, this influencer marketing campaign has performed exceptionally well in terms of media value, engagement rate levels and cost-per engagement, performing above the industry benchmarks on all counts.

“The main KPI was engagement, we have generated over 350,000 Instagram engagements in total, with an average engagement rate of 26% (based on reach) and 5.9% (based on follower count). In addition, we have generated over 1.8 million impressions on Instagram, reaching 1.3 million people, and generated over 280,000 YouTube views (see video below).

Do the initial figures and feedback indicate the campaign was successful?

“Both figures and feedback have been really positive so far; Mazda had the opportunity to talk to each of the influencers in person and get a feel of who they really are, potentially opening up the door for future partnerships.

Are live events good vehicles for influencer marketing?

“I think any type of event that enables a consumer to really familiarise themselves with a brand and experience it face-to-face is the most powerful vehicle for influencer marketing, as it cultivates future brand advocacy. Simply sending product to an influencer along with a monetary transaction in return for content is not enough in today’s influencer marketing landscape.

“Providing influencers with a personal or live experience gives them the chance to genuinely fall in love with your brand and product and become brand advocates, rather than a mercenary smash-and-grab, content creation exercise. We always recommend our clients focus on a strategy with either in-home or live experiences playing a big part.”

Conclusion

Having the right people post about their experiences at your event can dramatically increase your audience. You can use influencers to help drive ticket sales for future events or provide your sponsors with a big value-add.

Screening influencers carefully to ensure they have a genuinely engaged following among your target demographic will increase your ROI. And if you can offer influencers a truly great experience, turning them into brand advocates, your initial investment could go a long way. Discover how to find and engage influencers for your event.

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