Kim Benjamin
Jan 10, 2018

How to leverage social media influencers

An influencer brings an automatic social following and a dedicated network of fans to an event.

How to leverage social media influencers

An influencer brings an automatic social following and a dedicated network of fans to an event—and if an influencer loves what they see, they won’t hold back on spreading the word.

“Although free mentions aren’t guaranteed, and some influencers charge cold, hard cash, the positivity and interest generated for the event is more valuable than one would expect,” says Charmaine Wong, business development manager at BCD Meetings & Events.

“Work with influencers to co-create preview pieces, live event coverage, and post-event recaps. With the right target audience and message, they could expand the potential attendee database and leave a larger digital footprint on social media.”

Selene Chin, managing director, at digital studio Pico Pixel, a member of the Pico Group, advises choosing alignment over reach.

Authenticity is also crucial. As Chin points out, you want to leverage your influencers’ clout, but you also want to carefully select influencers whose ideas match the theme of your event. This is where micro-influencers can play a valuable part.

While they may not have as wide a reach as your top-tier influencers, Chin says, they do tend to be more authentic.“If you have to choose between a top-tier influencer who may have little in common with your event and one who has a stronger alignment but with lesser reach, always pick the latter,” she says. “You want your influencers to validate your event—it’s hard for you to do that if they cannot talk knowledgeably about it.”

Last year's Fyre Festival disaster can also serve as a lesson to event professionals on how to manage social influencers.

Fyre reportedly spent millions on high-profile social influencers


Fyre built its marketing strategy around social media and used ‘influencers’ like models Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid to market its event on Instagram. By mid December 2016 general admission tickets were sold out, despite the hefty price tag (tickets were priced between US$1,000 and US$125,000) and before any performers were announced.

Darren Kerr, show director and executive producer, says: “This confirms to me what many in the pro events world have come to realise—key opinion leaders (aka influencers) coupled with a targeted social media campaign are very powerful tools within the event marketing mix and it’s here to stay. Without a programme confirmed, clearly they were pitching on an expectation, which can be a dangerous thing to wrangle.”

“The big failure here is not the use or effectiveness of influencers—it is the management, education, and monitoring of them that’s troubling,” he says.

“The failure of the event was not so much ticket sales. It was clearly extraordinarily poor cash flow management, poor vendor management, and a failure to adhere to basic event management fundamentals.”

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