Influencer Marketing was an event that connected Top Marketers, Agencies, Brands, Influencer Networks and Content Creators. Attendees included: Google, Twitter, Facebook, Studio 71, Bell Media, Kin Community, Goji, and Jungle Creations from the U.K.

The goal for the event was to have speakers share their expertise on the state of Influencer Marketing and to connect networks with brands, agencies with creators.

I took this opportunity to learn from these panels. How I can apply their teachings to the Cannabis industry? This is what I learned:

An Influencer Marketing Plan:

1) Know and research your target market: In my case let’s go with Cannabis Entrepreneurs (mainly millennials) in North America. Social listening tools such are a good way to start.

2) Identify and set goals for your campaign; i.e. Growing your followers, content promotion, lead generation, brand awareness, etc…

3) Define and identify the right influencers to match your goals.

4) Build an overall influencer and content strategy, such as a theme. However, the content strategy alone can allow the influencer to create it themselves.

5) Write contracts, set delivery expectations and have rewards.

6) Track data analytics and key performance indicators.

Case Study: Destination Canada – Far and Wide Campaign

Goal: Generate content that would inspire people to travel within Canada.

Influencers: Searched for blog, YouTube, Music and Instagram influencers.

Influencer Network: Bell Media and Much Digital Studios.

Campaign Strategy: Destination Canada created a sub-brand called Far and Wide. They put influencers in comfortable and uncomfortable environments. For example, they brought a YouTube comedian into a comedy show, but they also had him go surfing. They grouped different musicians in a traveling van together.

Marketing: After they created a “hub” on Much Music’s website, the media buys-in (such as TSN), and the Digital Media legs have influencers post content in real time (i.e. Snapchat, Facebook Live, Instagram Stories), boost social media posts, connect editorial content partners; promoting content and social sharing.

Result: All Key Performance Indicators were met and beyond exceeded.

Tips from the Influencer Panel: 

1) Be as authentic and true to who you are as possible. There are so many ideas, so your personality will help separate you. Be unique.

2) Choose the brands wisely, don’t get caught up in the money. It’s just short term; think long term. You have to say no to brands that don’t align with your vision or goals, you’ll start losing your audience if not.

3) Genuinely engage and interact with your audience.

4) Listen and respond to your audience. They will guide the way.

5) Full disclosure to your audience is very important. Your audience is smart, don’t lie to them. Share the message of the brand and that you’re happy to work with them.

6) Provide value to your audience, it’s about them. Why would they want to watch?

7) Haters and trolls are just part of being an influencer, it’s a lot of younger audience members aiming to get attention. If people don’t like what you’re doing, there are a lot more people out there enjoying it.

8) Network and collaborate not just with brands, but with other influencers.

9) Find more than one platform, but not all. See which ones suit you best. Try new emerging platforms. (i.e. jumping on Facebook Live, Instagram Stories). Different platforms have different purposes.

10) Find a way to stand out. Viral content is what will help boost your career.

During breaks, food and beverages were served. Luckily, it was a beautiful sunny day— Toronto had been getting hit by a lot of rain prior to this event. Conversations carried out to the patio outside the District 28 Studio.

I asked one of the panellists (who works with Facebook) about posting Cannabis content on Facebook. She told me the rules are pretty robust. I have checked them before, but still had a couple of my posts rejected. So I asked, why there are some brands still geting away with Cannabis posts? I see them show up so often on my feed. Some of these Cannabis Facebook pages have over a million followers too! She responded that it might not be flagged now, but it could still happen in a couple weeks, months or even years down the road. You just have to test it out for yourself to see what works and what doesn’t, but the rules are clear. It will eventually catch up. What I did realize is that you have to be creative and find loopholes, maybe by posting news, discussions, or help groups; things that are more indirect. I’m sure someone at Facebook doesn’t want to tell you that these loopholes exist, (lol) I understand.

The guys from MotivIndex probably shared the most mind-blowing information. Their company researches ethnographic data on social and consumer behavior. Their ideas are so complex… I’m just going to take the information from their website:

Imagine if we could observe and analyze thousands and thousands of people and look at their past few years of behavior, understand their values, and uncover their purchase motivations. All without them even knowing it. 

Using teams of Ph.D. Social Scientists, MotivIndex analyzes 7000 to 8000 people in a given category as they bare their souls online and reveal their true beliefs, intentions, and behaviors. Our method allows us to immerse ourselves into online communities and understand human motivations with detail and certainty. And the best part? All this is done in just 4 weeks.”

By looking at consumer behavior, you can have a better idea of their purchasing trends. As Cannabis moves forward, what will shape consumers’ decisions? How will it change with legalization? What about the new customers? These are all ideas that should be explored as you grow your brand.

The evening ended with more drinks and networking. Overall, InfluenceThis was an amazingly well-organized event. I also loved that they used a networking tool called Brella which allowed attendees to set up meetings with other people they would like to connect with. The panel speakers were phenomenal and provided a wealth of information. Finally, what I enjoyed most was the overall atmosphere and vibe of the event. Everyone was there to learn and grow in a friendly, positive manner.

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

To find out more about InfluenceThis you can check out their website here.