This summer I went to Vancouver to meet with the Canadian team of Telus Advocates. I’ve shared my love for Telus over the years but this experience was truly amazing. They flew in content creators from across the country to visit their Vancouver office, tour Telus Garden, create, eat, explore, and build relationships.
I’ve worked with heaps of brands but I truly admire the influencer program Telus has built over the years. Ok yes, I am a little bias because I chatted with the team before they created the program and shared my likes, dislikes, and brand experiences. They have set the bar high for what it means to work with a telecom company or a big brand. The experience (as an influencer) is tailored to each person’s style of content and audience.
In this post, I’m sharing a few of my tips for creating a great influencer program with Telus as my example.
The thing about being an influencer is that you’re usually sharing your real life, so when you work with a brand, it means authentically integrating their content into your own experience.
You have to get to know each other in order to learn what works and create opportunities that mutually benefit the relationship.
It’s cool when you work well together and even cooler when it becomes a friendship. I’ve worked with Telus for about 8 years now and we’re colleagues but also friends. I can text with jokes, links, or that odd time on the weekend when I
broke break my phone. (Sorry!)
Since we’ve built a good working relationship, we all reach out whenever something cool comes up like an event, giveaway, or content idea.
It really sucks when you’re scrolling Instagram and you see a sponsored post that seems kinda generic, but then you see another Influencer say almost the same thing, then another, and god forbid another. It doesn’t show personality, it’s not that creative, and it’s boring. Everyone is different and creates content (hopefully) in their own style.
Your influencer crew should be talking in their own voice and sharing photos that look like their real life, not just an #ad.
Telus is really cool about knowing what each of us likes and letting us create our own stories. At the start of the year, we have a 1-on-1 meeting where go through content ideas for the year. Each influencer picks out the events and ideas that speak to them, and we plan around that.
This means everyone has a unique story to tell that integrates with their life. In the past, I have talked about Telus travel plans, tech gifts, great coverage at the cottage, giving back, their use of VR, and more.
I am amazed that this doesn’t happen more. Brands have groups of influencers, sharing content around the same #hashtag, often in the same city, but they never hang out or have a chat. There are online platforms designed to help creators and businesses find each other like Socially Powerful, but I still feel more needs to be done. Bring your people together! It’s a great way to build relationships between client/influencer but also between the creators.
We like hanging out, taking photos together, meeting new people. It helps strengthen the team, give each other ideas, and the brand has an amazing opportunity to create original content.
Give Where You Live
If you have a great team of people you like working with who are sending out good vibes and great content, why not use that power for good? Telus gives $45M a year communities across Canada and half a billion since 2000. This year at TELUS Days of Giving events 35K employees will be involved in 2,000 events across Canada.
Our team is giving back a #MillionHours of volunteer time in our local communities to celebrate #Canada150. Our friend @CasieStewart is getting involved by volunteering with us at the Boys and Girls Club Food Truck Festival in Toronto, Ontario. Will you join us in reaching our #MillionHours goal? You can pledge to volunteer an hour of your time by visiting telus.com/millionhours (direct link in bio).
In Vancouver, the Telus Advocates (us) and a bunch of Telus employees joined forces to pack 200 bags with weekend snacks for Backpack Buddies. This charity was started by two women to help fill the weekend hunger gap for Vancouver kids in need. We went around the room in a circuit with people doing different jobs to hustle through packing. It was a lot of fun and it brought us together. Love to see more of this from other brands. See more at #GiveWhereWeLive.
If you’re building an influencer team or already have relationships, remember they’re good at what they do because they have experience. They work with multiple brands, agencies, timelines. You don’t need to get super specific but asking questions is a great idea. What do they like about other programs? Do they have ideas on how to make things better, faster, smoother? How could we use technology to tell stories in a different way? Asking questions helps you learn and when you learn you have more ideas, and everything gets better.
Bring Them In
I love learning about a program while it’s still in development and giving feedback or sharing a related experience. I usually have a different perspective and turn it on its head. Last year, Telus brought a few of us in to ask about a new program they’re thinking about and while we were in Vancouver we talked a lot about Telus programs and the future. It’s great to hear about what the company is doing, planning, how you can work together.
You know what all content creator influencer people have in common? They all like to make things, create things. A lot of them even like the camera. ? Make stuff with them!
Telus had each of into Telus Vancouver Studio (inside their building) to shoot some fun stuff on camera. They planned it out well, has scripts, full crew, and we each took turns for private studio time. It was fun and now they have a whole bunch of fresh-faced content.
Last year before Mother’s & Father’s Day Telus had a bunch of us come to the Toronto office and shoot us talking about gadgets & gift ideas. We also called our parents to ask about their favourite present we ever gave them. You will laugh at mine because I was born on Mother’s Day and like, what is a better gift than THAT!? ?
Learn & Grow
Through building relationships, coming together, and asking questions, you learn a lot about people, marketing, and what works best. Your program should be agile and change with the times, the content, technology, the people. New feature on IG or app to make something cool, try it. Find a great new creator, reach out to them. Someone not posting as much as they used to bc they just aren’t really into it, cool no problem, work with that or move on.
You need to be constantly innovating or you will be left behind. Innovate or die.
Finally, this goes without saying at this point, if you’re working on all this stuff with someone or a group of people, you should pay them for their time and expertise. It can be cash (cheques are good) or in-kind (must have great value) but please recognize the immensely unique perspective and value someone of this nature can bring to your program or organization.
Sidenote, Vancouver is really beautiful. Especially in the summer!
How to Build a Great Influencer Program
- Build Relationships
- Customize Content
- Get Together
- Give Where You Live
- Ask Questions
- Bring Them In
- Learn & Grow