This weekend – 4th of July in the US – an incredible thing happened. I was selling tickets at CSz Seattle, a local improv comedy theater, when Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher walked up to me to buy tickets. CSz Seattle had unexpectedly arrived at needing an influencer marketing plan.
I am sure you can imagine what a huge surprise this was. The cast expected a lighter crowd on the holiday weekend, and truly the last thing I anticipated was two A-list celebrities seeing a sandwich board outside the theater and deciding to inquire within. But that is what happened.
From a marketing standpoint, the fact that Mila and Ashton were in the theater was only as good as what CSz Seattle could do with that. An event like this will of course create excitement around a brand for the duration of the show, but how do you continue to build that buzz to make a lasting impression?
Not every business owner will be graced with the random luck of one – let alone two – influencers patronizing their establishment. When an opportunity does arise to engage in influencer marketing, it is important to create momentum. CSz Seattle has successfully achieved local press, radio mentions, and national TV spots and online articles in a matter of four days.
There is a lesson in this for all of us. From a best practices standpoint, here are 7 things that CSz Seattle has done right in leveraging this opportunity for influencer marketing:
- Getting the influencers to experience the product. Walk-ups are great, but you have to close them. Knowing whether your product is right for them is important, because ultimately you want the stories they tell to be positive.
- Being discreet. Influencers are asked for a lot of things. Wouldn’t you be much more likely to do a favor for someone if a little time was taken to build a relationship first? Ashton and Mila were treated like any other audience members. The team had an hour and a half to make them laugh, make them think, and amaze them with their classic quick-thinking, fast-paced, high-energy improv style.
- Getting documentation. Mila and Ashton were in the theater unannounced, but as the audience cleared out the cast approached them for a photo. With the rapport that was built throughout the show, this was now an easier ask.
- Tagging. Photos are wonderful. Social media is wonderful. But photos are most impactful on social media if you tell the internet what the photos involve. Well-placed posts on the CSz Seattle social media pages was a solid start to telling the world about the exciting night, but tagging the people involved and using appropriate hashtags for the influencers made it significantly easier for the sites that look for celebrity news to find out.
- Having brand ambassadors. One advantage that this comedy club has is a cast of dozens of improvisers. News of the visit quickly spread within the team, and everyone was advised of the best way to share the news to help the social media posts explode.
- Sharing from the CSz Seattle page. Of course it was thrilling when articles started to pop up in People and E! News online. The natural inclination is for the brand ambassadors to share straight from these popular sources to show everyone how big the story has become. However – on Facebook in particular – engagement and shares are credited to the source page. So, actually, the best strategy here was for the post to be shared first to the CSz Seattle page with the appropriate messaging. THEN, the brand ambassadors could share informative posts from the company page, giving credit to all parties and still counting as traffic for the CSz Seattle site. Once they reached a critical mass of shares, the impressions exploded to quadruple the size of their following within a matter of hours.
- Saying yes. Once the story was out there, it could be picked up by any outlet – and now the job is to be available for follow-ups to continue to build the momentum.
It is a rare occurrence to have an influencer fall from the sky in this way. However, as a business owner or a marketer, you have to think beyond the moment and stretch your influencer marketing plan, creating avenues for the story to continue and for the attention behind your brand name to build.
Want to see an example? Check out this post from CSz Seattle for a case study in effective ways to leverage influencer marketing and social media: https://www.facebook.com/ComedySportzSeattle/posts/1033483393413956