I have always been a fan of collaborating with emerging or non-traditional subject matter experts who may have influence on buying customers or other recommenders. Often these are people who have earned an audience over time because they consistently delivered valuable content on a subject that mattered to someone.
- Mom bloggers like those at BlogHer shared about the true stories of mommyhood
- Dad bloggers like OneDad3Girls shared content that distinguished them from moms and was ‘of-use’ to other dads
- Home stylists like my sister, CBellfurnishings, delivered a POV on designing an interior worth living in
- Writers like those at Copyblogger, shred useful ideas on creating compelling content and just being a writer in the age of digital
They are not attached to the usual institutions – big media companies or consultancies. They earned their audience by working social and creating worthwhile and share-worthy content.
CB2 Taps Influencers to Collaborate with Communities
I am a fan of Crate and Barrel. My still, relatively new living room would attest to that. The alternate brand CB2 “is affordable modern for apartment, loft, home.” They recently ran a great program - CB2 Apt - featured in Google Think! that invited influencers and celebrities to design a 5-room apartment via Pinterest and social media, in general.
Dubbed “The first apartment that Pinterest built”, the actual activity ran for a week in May. Five stylist/designers/Pinterest ‘pros’ were assigned a room. They researched looks they felt appropriate and pinned them in Pinterest boards. Followers voted. Ultimately, the stylists constructed their rooms in one 12 hour burst each, an activity that is entertainingly captured in time lapse on the site.
The Value of Influencers
Athena Calderone, a stylist who publishes at Eye Swoon tackled the bedroom. You can see the Pinterest board here. She, like the other influencers, recorded and shared the experience on their own blogs and social platforms. This is one of the three key benefits to CB2:
- Access to a specific and relevant audience (the followers of our 5 stylists)
- The third party credibility that CB2 furnishings meet a certain mark
- The content created before, during and after the actual “styling” event
Applying an ‘Event Activation’ Model
We do a lot of events and are getting better about extending those experiences before, during and after the event via online content marketing. CB2 Apt made the exercise a live event by scheduling the room ‘builds’ all in one week on a compressed schedule. This happens in ‘design house’ events across the country where local stylist/designers are invited to design one room in a house or apartment that will then open to the public as a showcase for a period of time.
- Before: the stylist amassed Pinterest pins of different directions, the crowd contributed, voted
- During: the rooms were built using winning pins as the inspiration. The build was recorded in time-lapse.
- After: the stylists posted about their experience on their own blogs and social platforms and extended the reach of the original content while also personalizing it
Three or four years ago, there was a lot of talk about whether mommybloggers had jumped the shark or more likely that they had become so in-demand that their inevitable professionalization might spoil the earned trust with their followers.
Smart subject matter experts won’t sell out. That doesn’t mean they won’t get paid. It simply means they are mindful of the trust they have built, the value of their reputation and the need to retain their independent POV. While it is not explicitly called out in an obvious way, I am certain that the CB2 Apt stylists were paid for their professional services. Athena Calderone does frame it in her post as being ‘commissioned.’
The CB2 Apt content experience is terrific. Their use of ‘subject matter experts w/audience’ demonstrates their appreciation for a new type of industry influencer.
Here's the trailer that kicked it all off: