Shocking demonstration of influencer marketing from Volkswagen UK

We’ve all heard of influencer marketing, right? You find out who the key influencers are within your target market and use them as a vehicle to get to the people you are aiming at. Great in theory, but not many companies are really doing it right (if they are attempting it at all!).

To begin with, you need to understand the difference between an influencer and a brand advocate, as was expertly described by Aaron Lee recently in his iStrategy blog post. Whilst I don’t agree with his overall point that the brand advocate is ‘always’ more valuable (I think that really depends on how you interact with them – as per the Volkswagen example I will discuss later), his infographic does illustrate how each could be used, and where the strengths are in building on these relationships:

Influencers versus AdvocatesIn my experience, the real difference lies in how you choose to engage them. Writing a piece on how great your company or your product is and then farming out to the influencer – no matter how relevant their audience is – is not the best way to execute what could be a very valuable ongoing relationship. You need to work with them, understand their motivations and plans for the future. In the case of bloggers, what are their future plans for content and growth? What are they motivated by? Is it about volume of content, or about the quality and relevance? Just how influential are they really – are they interacting with their audience and really helping to steer people towards a solution?

In most cases influencers will be crying out for help with regards creating brilliant and relevant content – it’s not an easy thing to generate on a regular basis – and if you take the time to understand them and find out how you could fit in with their plans in a mutually beneficial way, you will end up with a much more effective influencer marketing strategy.

Having said all that, Volkswagen have just done something completely different with an influencer, but which I also think is great…… 🙂

In the UK it seems that around 500k  people have accidents every year due to applying make-up whilst driving. Yes. It’s true – there are that many people desperate enough to top up their foundation and lipstick that they will do so whilst driving and therefore put themselves and others lives at risk! As part of their social responsibility charter (and no doubt secondary brand message around their own vehicle safety levels!) Volkswagen looked to where people who are most interested in make-up tips go – YouTube.

Working with NikkiTutorials, a young woman who has been offering video make-up tips for several years and has built up quite a following,  they filmed this great video which really brings the message home:

This is going to hit people who would not actively select a ‘warning video’ – arguably, just the people they needed to get the message to. Creating a video for their own YouTube channel just could not have done this.

Now, with my ‘Global Marketing’ hat on – think about how you could roll this type of strategy out internationally? Not an easy task!

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5 thoughts on “Shocking demonstration of influencer marketing from Volkswagen UK

  1. Richard Jones says:

    Thanks Emma, really thought provoking stuff and I agree it’s how you engage with them that matters. Agree with James though – video made me jump!

  2. Gotta love how VW aint scared to make a point. Delightful.

    The struggle I’ve experienced is choosing between Influencers especially as they may rise and fall in prominence depending on the product cycle. In considered categories like Automotive the “most Influential” can switch from best friend to boyfriend/girlfriend to parents depending on the stage. Arming all Influentials with suitable content to convince them – and then convince their audience – can tax most budgets. We’ve certainly not cracked it but it makes for a critical debate to have with colleagues and clients.

    Thanks for the post Emma.

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