If we say that 2018 will be the year for influencer marketing, it wouldn’t be too far off the mark. In the last few years, influencer marketing has grown exponentially. From being a mere tactic to being an important part of a company’s marketing budget. A study by Linqia found that 39% of marketers are going to increase their influencer marketing budgets in 2018.

Whatever the traditionalists say, influencer marketing is booming. It was one of the top trends in 2017. And why shouldn’t it be when research shows that influencer marketing can provide a 960% return on investment.

No wonder that, wherever you go, this powerful tool is being hailed as the next big thing in marketing. The biggest advantages of influencer marketing are that it looks more authentic, and through social media, it can be highly effective. Its reach becomes substantially greater, and it also has a more targeted approach.

But an idea that everyone is talking about can misfire if you don’t choose the right influencers. Let’s take a look at eight of the most inspirational influencer marketing case studies. They’ve been handpicked so that you know what to do, and what not to do when it comes to using influencer marketing for your brand.

#1. Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has been in the influencer space for more than a decade. The 2016, #ThatsGold campaign, was one of Coca-Cola’s largest social influencer marketing campaigns.

Goal

The idea was to make sure that “gold moments” from the torch-bearing ceremony to the last sprint of the Olympic games, were shared so that no one was left out.

Execution

To target teens during the Rio Olympics, Coca-Cola began hiring influencers 18 months in advance. An Olympic sponsor since 1928, Coca-Cola devised a year-long campaign which was divided into three phases. They focused most of their activity on Facebook and Instagram.

Coca-Cola kicked off their #ThatsGold campaign a year before the Rio games. They came out with a two-minute video featuring their mascot, a polar bear, who on the “road to Rio” befriended many social media influencers and athletes. That video received 1.9 million views, 1,400 comments, and over 100,000 reactions on Facebook alone.

A Brazilian Instagram account for the bear, @oursoofficial, was also started to share videos, pictures, and posts for the 2016 Olympics. That account had 144,000 followers at the time.

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The focus of the second phase of the campaign was to cover the Torch Tour Relay in real-time. Torchbearers travelled through 200 cities across Brazil in 95 days, starting April 21st.

On August 5th, the third phase of the campaign began as the games started. A team of 105 people managed Coca-Cola’s Olympic station in Rio. The space hosted fans, athletes, and was also the venue for their various events.

Result

#ThatsGold was a phenomenal social media success. All marketing features on social media platforms like Instagram Stories and Facebook Live were used. Various videos, pictures, and posts from the campaign received millions of views.

Their accuracy rate of targeting teens was 88%. Their tie-in with various athletes gave a tremendous push to their campaign. Their existing large number of followers made it easier for them to capitalize on their marketing strategy.

#2. ASOS

ASOS is a global beauty and fashion store, primarily for young adults. They are headquartered in Camden Town, at the Greater London House.

Goal

Ecommerce giant, ASOS, wanted to communicate with their customers in authentic way. They did so with their influencer marketing initiative “ASOS insiders.”

Execution

Through “ASOS insiders,” the influencers posted pictures of themselves on Instagram wearing ASOS clothing. Their posts included links that helped their followers “buy the look.”

The “insiders” were mostly fashion or lifestyle influencers with a good social media presence. So without spending big bucks, ASOS has managed to make its campaign authentic with a greater reach.

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Result

This influencer marketing campaign for ASOS worked wonders for the brand. The “insiders,” an eclectic mix of 20-somethings from around the globe with their unique styles, have thousands of followers between them.

And not just on Instagram. The “insiders” used others platforms such as Pinterest, Twitter, and Snapchat to spread the word as well.

The campaign helped ensure that ASOS offers a style for everyone, with their main focus being an organic following and a long-term engagement. This makes it one of the top marketing campaigns in recent times.

#3. Airbnb

Airbnb is a hospitality service provider with more than 100 million stays, making it one of the top choices of travelers.

Goal

The credit for Airbnb’s tremendous growth in the last few years goes to none other than their influencer marketing strategy. Their goal was simple, to revive the startup and make it a global phenomenon in the hospitality industry.

Execution

Airbnb collaborated with some famous celebrity influencers to increase their reach and maximize exposure.

The campaign began in July 2015, when Mariah Carey became the first influencer to book her Malibu accommodation through Airbnb. It was then that Airbnb’s marketing team got in touch with Carey’s managers and put the strategy in place.

Carey, with over 6 million followers on Instagram, posted a picture taken at the luxurious beach house in Malibu that she stayed at. She tagged Airbnb in the picture, as well as the caption. The post received 45,000 likes.

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Airbnb centres a lot of their marketing campaigns around major events. During the Super Bowl in 2017, Airbnb provided Lady Gaga with a $20 million estate in Houston to stay at. Lady Gaga thanked Airbnb in her sponsored Instagram post, in which she posed in front of the house.

Not only did the post reach out to Lady Gaga’s more than 27 million followers on Instagram, but it also got a lot of coverage from the press, with features in Vanity Fair, Buzzfeed, and People.

Result

In the last two years, Airbnb’s engagement rate has been 4% due to 37 sponsored posts by various influencers. The posts have received 18 million likes, and over 510,000 comments. The combined reach of the brand’s Instagram initiatives has been 966 million.

#4. Mercedes Benz

Mercedes Benz is a leading manufacturer of automobiles specializing in luxury vehicles, coaches, and buses. A division of Daimler AG, they are headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany.

Goal

The Mercedes’ #MBPhotoPass campaign was aimed at giving a fresh perspective to the luxury brand. The brand’s influencer marketing strategy was to let the influencers tell the own stories using the brand’s vehicles in order to target different segments.

Execution

Mercedes used the storytelling talents of various influencers in their campaign to give consumers some fresh perspectives on their cars. The influencers were also given access to the Mercedes Instagram account.

They worked with over 40 photographers and influencers. One video from the campaign that got a lot of attention was that of Instagram star Loki and his owner Kelly Lund. Using 3D cameras, Loki and Kelly can be seen driving the 2017 Mercedes GLS through the snowy mountains of Crested Blue, Colorado. The 360-degree video uses virtual reality to give the viewer a glimpse through Loki’s eyes.

Result

The Mercedes’ #MBPhotoPass social media campaign went viral. What worked was the fact that it was different from the brand’s previous campaigns of short videos of their vehicles. In this case, the keys were in hands of influencers with different personas and in diverse locations.

From Chef Chris Coombs to a a journey through South Carolina with two toddlers, the influencers captured and showcased the excitement and glamour associated with Mercedes.

#5. Glossier

Glossier is one of the fastest growing beauty startups in the world. They specialize in skin care and cosmetics, and are a very popular brand today.

Goal

Glossier was literally born out of social media. As a fashion assistant at Vogue, Emily Weiss blogged about makeup on her website, “Into the Gloss.” Within a year, she quit her job and launched Glossier in 2014. Since the time of their launch, the brand was in search of more fame in the beauty industry.

Execution

The beauty startup did not become an overnight mecca for women looking for the best beauty products by hiring big names. Instead, their ever expanding network relies on regular women endorsing the brand. Cecilia Gordon, for example, has just 8,500 followers, and she has been successfully promoting the brand.

These influencers, referred to as “Glossier girls,” closely follow the brand’s new product launches, social media posts, and shares them with their followers on social media.

The brand also engages with their target audience through social media, be it in the form of makeup tips or comments on new products.

Result

Glossier invited 13 influencers for a 2-day trip to New York, and all of them took to social media to talk about the brand. Even though they only had 1000+ followers each, all of their followers added together gave Glossier a decent sized audience.

CEO Weiss’ social media engagements led to Glossier’s 600% growth between 2015 and 2016, and helped them achieved their current cult status. She regularly uses her website and social media accounts to help her figure out what consumers want from a particular product.

#6: Boxed Water

Boxed Water is a company that focuses on sustainability and eco-friendliness. They sell packaged drinking water in eco-friendly boxes, replacing plastic bottles.

Goal

Using influencer marketing, Boxed Water wanted to encourage environmentally conscious consumption.

Execution

They launched the #Retree campaign in collaboration with the National Forest Foundation in 2015. For every Instagram picture posted with the hashtag “#ReTree,” Boxed Water promised to plant two trees.

Boxed Water partnered with certain celebrity influencers to spread the word about their campaign. Actor, Aidan Alexander encouraged his over 600,000 followers on Instagram to use Boxed Water by posting a photo with details about the  #ReTree campaign in the caption.

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Boxed Water also partnered with actress Jamie King, and YouTube star Megan de Angelis to promote the campaign through their respective social media accounts. The company also reached out to influencers like Alyssa Milano, and Julianne Hough to share their campaign on social media.

Result

Influencer marketing helped increase Boxed Water’s reach tenfold, despite the brand having a relatively small presence on Instagram with just over 71,000 followers.

Boxed Water has planted over 600,000 trees in the Sierra National Forest in California; in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah; and in the Stanislaus National Forest in California. Through their campaign, Boxed Water has managed to fulfill more than half of their commitment of planting a million trees by 2020.

#7. Microsoft and National Geographic

National Geographic is considered the #1 brand on Instagram, with more than 350 million followers. On International Women’s Day in 2016, Microsoft leveraged National Geographic’s enormous social media audience to launch their Instagram influencer marketing campaign, “Make What’s Next.”

Goal

The idea was to increase brand awareness, create a positive public perception, and also encourage girls to work in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, (popularly known as “STEM”).

Execution

30 photos of prominent female scientists and adventurers were posted on National Geographic’s five Instagram channels with their personal stories.

Each photo also included the caption: “@Microsoft - Empowering girls to change the world, stay in STEM, and be the ones to #MakeWhatsNext.” Most of the photos were taken by National Geographic affiliated photographers.

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Result

The campaign received around 3.5 million likes on the 30 photos in a single day. It also had a potential reach of over 91 million of National Geographic’s followers across their five Instagram accounts. Over 2000+ pieces of Instagram content have been posted till date with the #MakeWhatsNext hashtag.

The human element of the campaign connected girls to real-life heroines while reinforcing the importance of learning. The campaign that was launched in 2016 was picked up again in 2017.

#8. Craftsvilla

Craftsvilla is one of leading ecommerce websites thats sells ethnic, vintage, and handcrafted jewelry, clothes, and other accessories. Their products, which capture India’s unique and rich diversity, are natural and organic.

Goal

The major goal was to create brand awareness by leveraging fashion influencers

Execution

Craftsvilla partnered with Influencer.in to collaborate with 22 fashion influencers with a great social media presence.

The campaign ran from July to August 2016. Craftsvilla partnered with Aakriti Rana, Anshita Juneja, and Gia Kashyap among others for the campaign. They used the hashtag, “#LatestSeLatest” for the campaign on Twitter, Instagram, and the influencers’ individual blogs.

The influencers posted pictures sporting the different products and ensembles from Craftsvilla, including clothes, jewelry, and other art pieces.

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Result

The images posted with #LatestSeLatest hashtag, and tagged with @craftsvilla_dotcom got thousands of likes and comments. With the help of influencers, Craftsvilla managed to reach out to millions of consumers in their target audience.

Conclusion

More than just a means of communication, social media platforms have evolved into marketplaces with the advent of influencer marketing. They will continue to evolve in the years to come. This strategy has already surpassed print advertising in its effectiveness, and with the way it’s going, it will soon surpass TV as well.

These eight are just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to successful influencer marketing case studies. An increasing number of brands are using this marketing strategy because of its relevance, and its ability to speak directly to consumers.

If you know any other influencer marketing case studies with incredible results, please let us know in comments below.

Brandon Brown

Brandon Brown

Brandon Brown is the CEO of Grin, an influencer marketing software solution for brands. Grin’s software helps customers identify, recruit & activate the world’s most engaging influencers. Prior to Grin Brandon led marketing for the #1 energy drink market in the world, Los Angeles & Orange County, at Red Bull North America. He is an expert in consumer marketing and has extensive experience working with with the worlds largest brands to reach consumers through influencers, athletes, musicians and artists.

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