THE BLOG

The 10 Best Influencer Marketing Campaigns of the Year

10/14/2013 05:56 pm ET | Updated Dec 14, 2013

So digital marketing is dead? Here's what I have to say to that, and I am positive P&G's Global Brand Building Officer Marc Pritchard will agree, Great! I couldn't be happier that it's dead. It's now the era of creative campaigns, of engaging people with authenticity and building brands. It's a new venture of getting closer to the customer, of connecting her to the brand in innovative ways.

If that sounds like some kind of a Rube Goldberg advertising model, you wouldn't be far off. But this new model is brilliant and the results are astonishing. So how are the best companies delivering on it?

If there is any endeavor whose seeds are bearing fruit, that endeavor is surely influencer marketing. Harnessing the power of word-of-mouth and the trust that consumers have in their peers, colleagues, thought leaders and local-celebrities can translate to immense marketing power.

Targeted influencer marketing in targeted niches drives 16x more engagement than paid or owned media, according to a recent SocialChorus report. So it should come as no surprise that top brands are paying attention to this powerful new marketing method.

Recently, Huffington Post contributors and influencer marketing experts Sam Fiorella and Ekaterina Walter joined Chris Heuer (CEO/founder at Alynd), Erich Joachimsthaler (CEO/founder of Vivaldi Partners Group) and me to better understand this new method of marketing. In an era where advertising is floundering, marketers need to understand who's doing influencer marketing best, what experiences they are creating for their audiences, and what's coming out of it.

The 10 influencer marketing campaigns we've identified below are all creative, results-driven examples of how brands can adapt to the new marketing landscape, and they serve as powerful lessons for any brand looking to incorporate influencer marketing into their mix.

Why Should Cookies Have All The Fun? by Collective Bias for Tyson Foods.

Last Christmas, dozens of mommy bloggers helped Tyson Foods clear out its entire inventory of Chicken Nuggets in a matter of weeks by decorating the nuggets as Christmas trees, reindeer and snowmen and sharing their creations across their social networks. The nugget decorating extravaganza sparked 8.8 million impressions on the social web - Twitter, Facebook, blogs and YouTube - beating the initial goal by 70% -- and demonstrating the path to influence is directly impacted by key social influencers sharing their genuine experiences across social media channels.

#WeekwithILX - Acura ILX Influencer Campaign by Brand Influencers

Late last year, Acura gave LA Foodie, Curves and Chaos, RedCarpetCloset and three other influential millennial bloggers a new ILX for a week to drive around and share their experiences in the form of blog posts, pictures, videos and other multimedia across their social profiles. The four-month campaign drove 750% ROI and boosted sales across the region.

According to Jason Metz, founder and CEO of Brand Influencers, social data was the most important piece of this campaign. "We identified trending influencers within each of [Acura's] consumer segments, and based on an analysis of social data, we worked with those influencers to create experiences that we were confident would excite each influencer's audiences, based on what was proving to influence their behavior."

People StyleWatch Style Hunters Program by BRANDERATI

Branderati invited 1,000 StyleWatch loyalists to join the Style Hunters network, where they receive exclusive content, fashion insights and product offers.

These brand ambassadors share content with their networks on an ongoing basis, with campaigns averaging an exposure rate in the seven figures. Recently, for example, Garnier provided 150 full-size "Curl Calm Down Cream" products, which Style Hunters used and then provided feedback via social media. This campaign drove more than 6 million impressions in a month through hundreds of social sharing's on social networks, as well as original influencer blog posts. From there, the Style Hunters Team analyzed the tone of the shares, and determined that a large majority of the Style Hunters posted a favorable opinion about the product.

StyleWatch is a great example of taking your existing relationships to the next level by rewarding top brand fans to make a measureable impact. Done correctly, the fans who love your brand become mini-celebrities in their own right and can move the sales needle. (Note: Ekaterina, as a partner at BRANDERATI, did not weigh in on this campaign)

Style Spotters by Emisare, Inc. for High Point Market

High Point Market boosted attendance numbers at the furniture industry's largest and most successful event by inviting interior décor and fashion bloggers to attend as VIPs. Through the Style Spotter campaign, they were encouraged to snap pictures of their favorite furniture finds at the event, share the pics on their social networks, and get their audience to vote on their favorites. Clearly, dialogues within communities "create an energy that just can't be obtained by broadcasting monologues."

Innovating for the Connected Home, Living Room And TV by MWW for Verizon FiOS

Verizon FiOS invited thought leaders and early technology adopters in the innovation and technology communities to mix and mingle, share ideas, and explore new ways to optimize today's connected home during two major real-life events in Boston and New York - as well as to continue their networking online. During the two meet-ups, Verizon FiOS expanded its database to over 1,000 members of the innovation and technology communities, with more than 20 potential partners and over 400 attendees. Verizon didn't have a community prior to these events and Alberto Canal, Vice President, Corporate Communication at Verizon is certain that finding the right combination of ongoing social outreach and in-person events is key to building the strongest community possible.

Five other influencer marketing campaigns that rocked 2012/2013 included: "British Airways; influencer Innovation Lab in the Sky" by Text100, during which 100 of Silicon Valley's more influential science and tech minds brainstormed solutions to the talent problem and presented them to the UN ITU at the DNA Summit; "Sprout it Backyard Takeover" by Geben Communication which encouraged homeowners to snap a photo of their back yards, share them with their networks, and potentially win a back yard makeover; "TNT's Dallas VIP Visit" campaign, which invited 100 Dallas "super influencers" to an exclusive network and rewarding those who shared the most Dallas content with a trip to meet the cast ; "The Warner Sound Captured by Nikon" at SXSW 2013 by MMW, a campaign that gave Nikon cameras to SXSW Music attendees and asked them to upload their video, ultimately seeing 5x longer viewing times than industry average; and Bing's "Summer of Doing", during which people were encouraged to search for obscure and quirky terms, and share their results with one another on social media.