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  • The ultimate guide to influencer marketing for event professionals

The ultimate guide to influencer marketing for event professionals

  • Last Updated : August 18, 2023
  • 9 Min Read
Girl with a phone in her hand. The hand is stretched forward and the phone is pointed to the user, it also covers her face.

An influencer is someone who wields considerable influence in your industry or with your intended audience. They can be anyone from celebrities with millions of followers to regular people with just a few thousand followers but a lot of authority in your niche. With influencer marketing, you promote your brand through them. When they back your product, their credibility adds to yours and builds a trustworthy reputation for your brand.

The influencer marketing industry is a multi-billion dollar industry today. The current global digital population is a remarkable 4.57 billion. With every other brand vying for attention online, ad fatigue has set in, and more people are investing in ad-blocking technology; not to mention people’s inherent distrust in internet ads. So it makes perfect sense that most marketers would find influencer marketing to be the best alternative to other traditional digital marketing methods.

By leveraging influencers in your event marketing campaigns, you not only reach a wider audience, but you also get to boost your event’s credibility. This means there will be quite a bit of pre-event hype, and more curious people will find your event. Word-of-mouth marketing is pretty powerful, especially when it has influencers (people your audience trusts) backing it up.

How does influencer marketing work?

Traditional celebrities no longer have the center stage or the trust amongst consumers that they had even a few years back. The marketing landscape has changed significantly in the past years and people have been gravitating towards reliable experts and authentic content. As influencers have already built their reputation as “experts” in a particular field, they have a lot of clout with your audience. When you partner with them and get them to support your event, people will listen and believe.

In influencer marketing, you work with quality influencers to spread the word about your event. But keep in mind, influencers don’t work for you. While you do have to pay them or give them some incentives like free tickets to your event, you do not control what they say or how they say it. Consumers want to hear their opinions about your event, not your brand’s message. Remember, authentic content is what makes influencer marketing work. You want them to talk to their audience in their own voice. If it sounds like you’ve scripted the message, your efforts will backfire.

Typical ways an influencer would promote your event include:

  • Sharing photos of your event on social media

  • Talking about your event in their blogs and podcasts

  • Partnering with you to give away free tickets

  • Taking over your social media accounts for some time to publicize your event

  • Collaborating with you to create engaging content

  • Livestreaming your event and posting photos from your event

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What can influencers do for events?

While influencer marketing is common in all industries, most marketers prefer it for events. According to a study by Launchmetrics, 28.1% of marketers preferred to use influencer marketing as part of their event promotion strategy and 41.6% of them teamed up with influencers for product launches. It also helps that the ROI for influencer marketing is around $5.2 for every $1 that is spent, higher than most other digital marketing methods.

Here, we’ve listed three ways in which influencers can help you with your event marketing.

Generating pre-event buzz

With thousands of events being hosted every year, it’s easy for people to overlook yours. By talking about your event often, you can ensure that it’s not lost in the crowd. Influencers come in very handy here. As they engage with their followers on a daily basis, they can bring the conversation back to your event and keep people engaged with giveaways, contests, and strategically planned content.

If you’re hosting a product launch, you can invite influencers to a pre-launch party and have them blog about their experience. If you aren’t having a pre-launch party, invite them to go live with you to discuss the event or blog about what’s happening backstage. You can even ask them to spend a day with you to see how everything is going and vlog it.  When Boudin SF planned to launch a limited edition Summer BBQ campaign, they invited 20 influencers to a tasting preview. This not only resulted in a lot of pre-event buzz, bit also got them over 425k unique impressions at zero cost.

Targeting the right audience

How many times have you seen a banner ad on the internet that wasn’t relevant? We’ve all seen ads (both on the internet and on social media sites) about stuff we have no interest in. Just yesterday, I saw an advertisement for dog food on Instagram and I don’t have a dog, nor do I plan on getting one any time soon. I was never a potential customer for the brand. This is what happens when you market your events online. You don’t have a lot of control over who sees your ad.

However, this is not the case with influencer marketing. By partnering with influencers in your niche, you can be sure that you’re reaching the right, most relevant people. Comic Con India leveraged 57 Indian influencers who generated around 225 pieces of social media content to spread the word about the event. The response was amazing, with more than 31k people engaging with the posts and a total reach of almost 175k, most all of them comic fans. How cool is that?

Improving brand credibility

This is one benefit you cannot expect from traditional marketing methods. Influencers have a lot of cachet with your target audience. And as event marketing depends on immediate results (ticket sales), you need to build your brand’s credibility soon.

Around 49% of internet users count on influencer recommendations to make their choices. This means roughly half of your target audience is covered here. By working with influencers, you not only get to promote your event to an audience who shares your interests, but you also do it through someone who holds a lot of sway over them. They trust your influencers, which means they trust you (even if they don’t know you).

5 tips for planning your event’s influencer marketing strategy

By launching an influencer marketing campaign around your event, you can leave a significant impact on your intended audience and get the registrations rolling without having to break the bank on costly marketing campaigns. In recent times, the disastrous Fyre Festival is an example of how events need more than a large budget to run a successful influencer program and draw attendees. Despite a seemingly endless budget, they were only able to sell around 8000 tickets, just 20% of their goal of 40,000 tickets. The lesson here is that you need a sound strategy to back you, otherwise it’s just a waste of money.

Let’s talk about some ways you can run a successful influencer campaign even with a small budget.

Choose the right people

There are over 150k influencers on Instagram alone. Most of them will not be of any benefit to your event despite their large following. So do your research and select people who are part of your industry or a similar vertical whose audience might benefit from your event. You can also use tools like Awario, Traackr, Upfluence, or a similar one to find influencers. Most of these tools come with a large database and social listening features that you can use to shortlist your influencers. Once you’ve made a list of potential influencers, you can then do more research and select influencers who best suit your event and your brand.

Some questions you should ask yourself when choosing influencers are:

  • Do they have similar values to your brand?

  • Are there any controversies attached to their name?

  • How high is the engagement rate for their posts?

  • What type of audience do they attract?

  • How many social media platforms are they a part of?

  • Do they create authentic, compelling content?

  • How much reach do they have?

  • Have they collaborated with similar events in the past?

If your event already has a significant following but you want to take it a step further, you can have a signup form for influencers like Beauty Con. But whatever you do, make sure you do it with the right people.

Leverage micro-influencers

A micro-influencer is someone who has followers ranging from 1000 to 100,000. They are usually industry experts and as such have more credibility amongst their followers. They may not be as popular as the Kardashians, but they’ve built an intimate relationship with their audience, not to mention they are way cheaper. You don’t have to pay them upwards of $250,000 for a single post. That was how much Kendall Jenner was reportedly paid to post about The Fyre Festival.

Also, in influencer marketing, famous does not equal influential, though we tend to mistake one for the other. A study by Mediahub found that micro-influencers with 1,000 followers were 85% more effective at driving engagement than influencers with 100,000 followers or more. So your micro-influencer might not be famous, but they’ve got an audience that trusts and responds to them. And that matters more.

Set a goal

Equally important to choosing the right influencers is setting a goal for your campaign. Without one, the campaign will be pretty aimless and you won’t have a definitive way to measure its success. Some common goals for your campaign could be:

  • Visibility or reach: The number of people who visit your event website

  • Engagement: The number of people responding to the influencer’s posts through likes, comments, shares

  • Conversions: The number of people who actually buy a ticket

  • Content: How many times the influencer talks about your event and what type of content they use

  • SEO boost: Get influencers to add links to your event website in their blog posts

Once you’ve set your goal, you can form a partnership with influencers to work towards it. Also, by having tangible goals, you can better measure the ROI from each influencer’s campaign and invite influencers who had the most success at drawing your audience to be a part of future events too.

Host an event that entices influencers

When you want influencers to promote your event, you’ve got to give them something to promote. As influencer marketing is built on a foundation of trust and authenticity, influencers will not be part of an event that’s vacuous or lacking substance. By backing such events, they lose their credibility and all the hard work they’ve put into building their reputation. So make sure you’ve got a good event before getting influencers to back you.

At the same time, you can make it easy for influencers to talk about your event by sharing all your event details with them, giving them an idea of your brand. Also, make sure your venue’s lighting and decor allow for a lot of Instagram-worthy photos. Influencers have an image to maintain and that requires good quality photos. They will not be okay with murky lighting and drab decor. Give them an event worth sharing.

Decide on appropriate incentives

Influencers need something in return for backing your event. And while money might be the first thing that comes to your mind, there are so many other ways you can pay them back for the time and effort they’ve put into your event, especially if you’ve got a small marketing budget. Some common incentives include:

  • An all-expenses-paid trip to your event

  • A booth at a discounted rate or even free

  • Invitations to VIP sessions and the post-event party

  • An influencer-only swag bag

  • Product samples or discount vouchers

  • Access to behind-the-scenes action

  • An exclusive post recognizing their efforts

The idea here is that you give them something worthy of their work that makes them feel valued and appreciated. By giving them a pleasant experience and good incentives, you also ensure that they’re willing to work with you in the future.

We get that driving an influencer marketing campaign could be a tricky endeavor and you’ve got to put a lot of effort into it. However, the benefits far outweigh the risks. And while your event does need other forms of marketing to reach its full potential, influencers can help you target an audience that might not be possible to reach otherwise. 

If, like us, you're more of a social person, let's connect on Twitter (@ZohoBackstage) and we'll keep you up-to-date with all the latest event news.

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  • nisha

    Marketing and content at Zoho Backstage. Cultural misfit. Armchair traveler. Productivity geek. Sometimes, I write poetry. Sometimes, it rhymes.


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