Have influencers run their course? Adidas isn’t taking any chances. The brand has decided to launch its own set of influencers based on a micro-influencer batch created quietly in 2015. Now, the cohort is leveling up into bona fide brand ambassadors to represent the label in a much more public way.
The most recent example of Adidas’ micro-influencer initiative was the Tango Squad FC show, through which the brand featured some of the best street footballers from its network and charted their journey as the first social media football team over two seasons and twelve episodes per season. Adidas drew inspiration from Netflix and YouTube to help depict the series and reviewed data at the start of each season to see where watchers would stop, replay, rewind, and more, in order to help steer production decisions for the next round of content. Social media wasn’t just the inspiration behind the project, it was also the tool. Instagram’s IGTV was used to highlight behind-the-scenes content, which was posted throughout the series. And of course, the episodes were played across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and racked up 41 million views across the platforms.
What makes Adidas’ promotion different is its focus on small influencers – particularly those with small beginnings. Instead of a one-off sponsorship or standalone collaboration, the brand chose to engage users on a long-term journey with aspirational figures that they could actually aspire to be and grow alongside with. This could be something brands might consider if they’re looking to build a deeper, more sustainable connection with consumers. For Adidas, loyalty is a priority. In fact, the brand launched a new loyalty program for early and exclusive access for extra-dedicated consumers according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Activewear.
It isn’t the first time Adidas has tapped into social media though. Though Instagram continues to be the social platform of choice, IGTV is quickly gaining steam, especially since it has features that facilitate longform video content. Adidas (along with Alo Yoga) embraced the tool through its subhandle, @adidaswomen, which shares female influencer interview content. This makes sense, given demand for video is only expected to grow: Gen Z watches, on average, 68 videos online per day, and millennials watch more online video than TV.
Currently, more than half of all Instagram Stories posted by tracked Activewear brands in March 2019 were videos, as opposed to photo content. While videos are limited to just 15 seconds within Instagram Stories, IGTV allows brands to extend that viewing period. With the opportunity to share longer narratives, brands should not simply duplicate content across IGTV, Instagram, YouTube and other social platforms. Rather, brands should develop resonant and digestible content that optimizes platform-native technical specifications such as length and closed captioning.