Instagram cultivates creators. Creators build communities. Smart brands utilize those creators also know as influencers to tap into new communities. Adidas is an example of how working with influencers can shape a brand and expand into new communities. Jon Wexler, Vice President of Global Entertainment and Influencer Marketing at Adidas, explained that Adidas has the mindset that brands that try to tell you they are cool, aren’t cool. He shared that Adidas lets influencers share their honest opinions with their communities, which in return lets those communities decide what is cool.
The honesty of influencers is a key detail. Instagram is often used to display the best parts of a person or companies story. Taj Alavi, Global Brand Marketing Lead at Instagram shared that the most successful people on Instagram show their successes and failures because it allows for people to connect to the real story. The authenticity of influencers is what allows them to gain traction on social media and in return be successful ambassadors for brands like Adidas.
Two of the influencers Adidas works with, Robin Arzon and Hannah Bronfman, have both cultivated communities of followers in which they share their true-life stories. They both talked about an idea Arzon coined the virtual circle. She explained that her followers let her know she inspires them to be active and live a health lifestyle and in return they tell her how they have changed their path and she becomes inspired to continue. The mutual inspiration forms because of authenticity. Portraying an authentic lifestyle on social media creates a familiarity and level of comfort between the influencer and their audience. This relationship between followers and influencers is the perfect recipe for brands.
The most important part however, is the relationship between the brand and the influencer. Wexler shared that Adidas structures their relationship with influencers as a cosign. Adidas gifts the product to the influencer in order to broaden the audience that sees the product. The influencer needs to already be associated with Adidas by wearing the product and living the lifestyle before the relationship can make sense. It would be inauthentic to have an influencer who never wore the brand before participate in promoting the brand. The millennial generation specifically is aware of marketing and they would see right through an inauthentic spokesperson.
Once the brand has built a solid relationship with an authentic influencer they indirectly reach associated communities. In return the brand gets energy from an influencers community. Similar to the virtual circle Arzon discussed, the connection between brands, influencers and influencer’s communities is very interconnected. Brands recognize and select specific influencers, which makes them feel special. In return influencers support the brand on their platform, which reaches new communities. Those communities then have the decision to make a brand cool, when the community decides the brand is cool, it pays back in ten-fold. The cycle is dependent on the authenticity of an influencer to make the relationships successful.