How to run a successful wine influencer partnership

5 Tips for Running a Successful Influencer Marketing Partnership

How do you run a successful wine influencer partnership?

Once you’ve selected the right influencer partner for your wine or spirits brand, and developed goals, then you’ll dive into executing your campaign. Here are some suggestions.

Choose your Campaign Type

What will you ask the influencer to do? Here are some options (not mutually exclusive):

  • Sponsored social media posts: they post about your brand on their social channels
  • Sponsored blog posts: they blog about your brand on their site
  • Sponsored giveaways: they run a consumer contest or promotion sponsored by your brand
  • Social media takeovers: they create all content for your social channels for a day or more
  • Hosted events: they create an event with other bloggers that features your brand
  • Guest blogging: they write blog posts for your website

Your campaign goals and budget will influence the type of campaign. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Want more fans and engagement? A longer-term partnership with a series of social media posts will work better than just a few posts. So think two months and not one week.
  • Want to educate new, prospective consumers? Then a sponsored blog post will reach their followers.
  • Want to increase your digital footprint? A hosted event can reach your partners as well as other bloggers who attend (because they will also post about it).
  • Want to freshen up your social content? A guest blogger or takeover can really jazz up photos and text.

And don’t forget that influencer marketing partnerships can creatively address business opportunities using outside-the-box ideas. Here are two initiatives we conducted last year with clients:

Outline a Campaign Brief

After you’ve chosen an influencer whose work aligns with your brand, it is vital to provide a written campaign brief that includes content guidelines. Don’t assume they know your brand! Provide clear direction and expectations, such as:

  • Campaign timeline
  • Number of content pieces
  • When the content will be submitted for approval
  • Approval turnaround timeframes
  • When and where the content will be published
  • Campaign goals
  • Metrics to be reported during and after the campaign

Pro Tip: Sometimes we include a report template – such as an excel chart with all relevant KPIs and spaces for them to fill in actual figures – so that we can more easily measure results against goals without having to translate their reporting. 

Create a Contract

Is your partner contractually obligated to meet or exceed your key KPIs? They should be. Create a written “scope of work” or “memo of understanding” that covers the campaign obligations and make sure both parties sign a copy before the campaign begins. Include a requirement that all influencer-created content is a “work made for hire” and you own the IP, whether it is used in posts or not.

Review, Approve, and Watch the Content Go Live

It’s your brand, so protect it!  Your influencer will submit content for your final approval – review it carefully and provide timely, clear and constructive feedback so you both are aligned. As we discuss in our blog “8 Tips for Selecting a Wine Influencer Partner”, your brand may be held responsible for any content published through your partnership. Ensure your partner’s content follows industry guidelines and legal regulations.

Once the content goes live, interact with it! Share it. Comment on it. Like it. When your brand engages with the influencer partner’s content, it further strengthens your association.

Gather Data, Analyze, and Adjust

Once your campaign is live, dive into the metrics early in the campaign. If you are not hitting your KPIs, you can make mid-course corrections. Look at engagement numbers and types of engagements – do they make sense? Is the tone and voice supporting your brand identity?  Read some comments and see if those people fit your target demographic group(s).

At the end of the campaign, document a post mortem.  What worked? What didn’t? What will you do differently next time? Use the results to refine future campaign strategies and follow our recommendations for making the most of the post-campaign benefits.

Hopefully, we’ve provided some practical tips for executing a campaign. In our fourth and final post in this series, we will address how to really spike your results with post-campaign actions!

In case you missed it, here are links to the first two posts in the series:

Part 1 – 6 Reasons to Use Influencer Partnerships

Part 2 – 8 Tips for Selecting a Wine Influencer Partner

For more tips, tools and solutions, sign-up for Benson’s periodic email newsletter.  We include best practices and ideas for social media marketing, digital advertising, PR, brand strategy, and more. 

Wine Influencer Promotion for Hahn Family Wines

8 Tips for Selecting a Wine Influencer Partner

Now that we’ve shared why you should partner with a social media influencer, here are top tips for researching and vetting potential partners. We implement these steps for clients like Hahn Family Winery, Wines of Languedoc, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Geyser Peak Winery, and others.

1. Determine your campaign goals

You won’t achieve your goals if you don’t define them. That is, make sure your campaign is optimized to meet your goals. Determining realistic benchmarks will depend on the size of your current social media accounts, as well as the metrics for your influencer partner. Set the following goals before choosing an influencer:

  • Social Media Follower Growth: 25%? 50% this year?
  • Impressions: Need to reach a mass or micro target audience?
  • Reach: Maybe, like some of our clients, you want to reach wine buyers who don’t necessarily read about wine?
  • Engagements: Want to increase shares, likes and comments?
  • Target demographic: Want to reach more Millennials? Consumers in New York? Luxury buyers?

Once you have identified these goals, you’ll be able to identify an influencer(s) with the right follower count, as well as the key questions you’ll need answered in order to select the best partner.

2. Ensure the influencer’s visual identity is a good match for your brand

Influencers grow their audiences by building, and fiercely protecting, their personal brand. As you scroll through the feed of a potential match, take note of their photo styling. Does their look align with your brand? An influencer known for their richly textured food and wine styling wouldn’t be an appropriate match for a winery with a crisp and clean visual style. Although your marketing team will provide guidelines for content creation, don’t expect a potential partner to dramatically change their style. At the end of the day, you’ll have to trust this person to speak on your behalf. And you’ll reaffirm your brand identity by working with an influencer whose imagery and tone of writing aligns with yours.

Hahn Family Winery partnered with “Drinking with Chickens” — a perfect visual partnership. Read our case study here.

 

Wine Influencer Marketing Promotion with Hahn Family Wines

 

3. Review the influencer’s past partnerships

Evaluate previous paid content on the influencer’s page. This will allow you to see both how the influencer presents sponsored products as well as what types of products they promote. If you’re a luxury wine brand, you should ensure that the potential influencer frequently advertises premium products.

Pro tip: Don’t be scared off if an influencer has worked with your direct competitors. This could be a great sign that their audience will be interested in your brand.

4. Consider the influencer’s audience location

Make note of where the influencer and their audience are located. Consider if you need to coordinate an in-person event or photoshoot. Make sure you can legally ship wine to the influencer. Look at the language in the comments section and at the profiles of engaged followers to determine audience location.

5. Check for fake followers

A primary goal in selecting a partner is choosing one with an audience who will be interested in your brand. Fake followers are an increasing concern. Follower count is meaningless if the audience isn’t real; it defeats your marketing objectives and might even damage your brand’s integrity. Have your marketing team or agency vet potential partners for fake followers by checking for warning signs like a sudden spike in followers. Another cause for concern is a nearly 1:1 follower-to-following ratio which indicates the use of automation services to spur follower growth – real influencers do not follow thousands of accounts.

6. Make sure the influencer follows guidelines for industry responsibility 

In the court of public opinion, and potentially the court of law, sponsoring an influencer can be seen as condoning their behavior. Evaluate the way partners run their accounts. Here are some red flags:

  • Promoting overconsumption
  • Promoting drinking alone
  • Claiming alcohol has health benefits
  • Not clearly indicating sponsored content — an #Ad should be in the caption of every sponsored post
  • Running alcohol giveaways
  • Drinking alcohol while pregnant
  • Promoting consumption by minors
  • Featuring people that appear under 25

Everyone working in social media on a wine brand should review and adhere to the Wine Institute guidelines for digital marketing and advertising.

7. Your budget will determine the right influencer

Every influencer sets their own prices, and costs will vary depending on their follower count. Consider your budget and campaign components when determining where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. While a macro-influencer partnership is likely to spur larger follower growth in a shorter amount of time, we often recommend partnering with a micro-influencer to reach a niche audience (engagement rates can be much higher).

8. Request Media Kits and Proposals

Normally, we vet prospective partners to create a shortlist of 10-30 influencers, and request media kits and proposals from 5-15 identified as the best potential matches. Next, request a media kit. Influencers should be able to provide:

  • Audience breakdown by location, age and gender
  • Time of day their audience is active (to identify time zone)
  • Average impressions per social media post
  • Average engagements
  • Unique monthly page views to blog
  • Timeframe for production
  • Breakdown of fees for photography, blogs, videos, events, etc.

Now that we’ve discussed why to use influencers and how to research and vet them, we now turn to best practices for executing a campaign.

For more tips, tools and solutions, sign-up for Benson’s periodic email newsletter.  We include best practices and ideas for social media marketing, digital advertising, PR, brand strategy, and more. 

Benson France Retained by BIVC

Benson’s French office has been retained for a domestic PR campaign for the the BIVC, the Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins du Centre-Loire. The program is designed to reinforce awareness of the Centre-Loire’s white wines – the birthplace of Sauvingon Blanc – as well as to encourage discovery of the “new” appellations and the region’s red and rosé wines.

Founded in 1994, the BIVC brings together 8 AOC and 2 IGP: Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and Pouilly-sur-Loire, Menetou-Salon, Quincy, Reuilly, Coteaux du Giennois, Châteaumeillant, Côtes de Charity, Coteaux de Tannay.

Why Work with Wine Influencers?

6 Reasons to Use Influencer Partnerships

Why work with a wine influencer?

Influencer partnerships reinforce your brand’s identity, introduce your brand to prospective customers,  build your Instagram base, and can even improve search engine results.

These campaigns are increasingly successful for our clients, so we decided to share some insights in a four-part series.

First, for the sake of this series of posts, we define influencers as bloggers who create photos, videos, and posts, as well as run events and giveaways. Many are small media companies with subject matter expertise and attract a loyal following. In other words, we are not defining influencers in this series as sommeliers, retail buyers, journalists, etc.

So why work with influencers? Here are six reasons.

1. Amplify your brand identity

You are the company you keep. By partnering with reputable influencers whose visual style and tone (i.e., their point of view, syntax, level of formality, etc.) complement your own brand, you strengthen your brand’s identity.

But first, make sure you vet potential partners to ensure their photography and writing style aligns with your brand. For example, a traditional, iconic Napa Valley luxury brand won’t benefit by partnering with a sassy, irreverent blogger.

2. Increase awareness with targeted, prospective customers

Our client campaigns are often designed with goals such as targeting potential customers in their late 20s and 30s or reaching wine drinkers who don’t read wine columns but do follow home décor or home entertaining influencers. Based on an influencer’s followers, your brand can get exposure to these “pools” of future customers, often at a competitive CPM (cost per thousand impressions), and in an editorial environment that isn’t saturated with your competitors. (And, by the way, these programs can complement a targeted PR campaign, but that’s a subject for a future post.)

Case study: By partnering with female influencers, we helped a client in 2018 increase the percentage of female Instagram audience from 65% to 72%.

3. Influencer opinions are more trusted than ads

Followers are attracted to influencers who inspire new ideas and serve as an “editor” of current topics, trends and products. Good influencers are the Sherpas of their domain. By providing valuable insights, experience and practical advice, they drive loyalty and trust. And people trust endorsements. According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Report, 66% of the consumers in the U.S. trust recommendations from opinions while only 46% trust ads on social networks1.

4. Grow your Instagram audience

Fanning ads on Instagram, unlike Facebook, are not an option. But influencer partnerships can reach large audiences of prospective customers and help boost follower acquisition more quickly than “organic” growth alone; that is, just relying on followers engaging with your posts. Put another way, influencer-created content has a better opportunity of being discovered than organic content or traditional social media advertisements alone.

Case study: One of our winery clients doubled their Instagram audience from 3,500 to 7,000 followers in 2018 as a result of influencer partnerships.

5. Rank higher in search results

Both the quality and number of links to your root domain positively affect your SEO value. It might be an unexpected reason to work with social media influencers but doing so can increase your search engine rankings. Additionally, keyword optimization in your influencer partner’s content can also affect your brand’s ranking. Both of these benefits help drive more traffic to your website, which could drive more email signups, online purchases, winery visits and more.

6. Create new content for your brand

Influencers are in the business of creating content. So, the terms of your partnership contract should include usage rights for their photos, texts and posts. Tap their creative energy to refresh your image library, because your in-house team probably doesn’t have the time!

Now that we’ve made our case for why to partner with an influencer partner, read our second post in this series: how to select a wine influencer partner.

For more tips, tools and solutions, sign-up for Benson’s periodic email newsletter.  We include best practices and ideas for social media marketing, digital advertising, PR, brand strategy, and more. 

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