American Express is one of the major players when it comes to marketing with an annual ad spend of $2.4B in 2015 and $2.5B in 2018. Therefore, it is not surprising to see them add Instagram influencer marketing to their overall strategy. Today, we will take a closer look at American Express’ approach towards influencer marketing using hundreds of Instagram influencers as brand ambassadors (#AmexAmbassadors) in order to promote their Platinum card to people.
Using Instagram Influencer Marketing to Promote #AmexPlatinum
The perks of the Amex’s rewards program are the heart and soul of their customer acquisition and retention strategy. The premium benefits of the program range from exclusive event passes to travel upgrades among many others available to privileged cardholders and members of the Platinum club. Influencer marketing on Instagram is an ingenious way to promote these benefits.
Amex collaborates with top Instagram influencers who lead luxurious lives, travel often and are glamorous. These influencers are people who lead the envied and coveted “good life” that attracts their followers. Amex Platinum uses influencer marketing to align its brand image with a seemingly perfect life. Influencers post regularly about the “awesome” Amex Platinum rewards they receive, encouraging followers to become customers and get the same perks for themselves.
Forming Long-term Partnerships: AmexAmbassadors
American Express has partnered with hundreds of Instagram influencers, from mega-influencers like Shaquille O’Neal (above 13 million followers) to niche micro-influencers having close to 100K followers on Instagram. These influencers come from different categories like fashion, food, travel, lifestyle, pets, photography etc.
It is said, to maximize the effectiveness of influencer marketing campaigns, brands should develop long-term partnerships with social media influencers. American Express has done that with some of their influencers, calling them #AmexAmbassadors.
The brand ambassadors are frequently invited to American Express events, trips and parties along with exclusive access to their services and upgrades. The ambassadors then post about their experiences on Instagram giving a classic example of a barter payment for the influencer’s efforts. What’s impressive about this is the consistent nature of these posts which makes these influencers the face (ambassador) for the brand on Instagram. These ambassadors use branded hashtags #AmexPlatinum and #AmexAmbassador
Examples of Instagram Posts by AmexAmbassadors
American Express Platinum cardholders get free access to Centurion Lounges at airports across the world. These lounges provide travellers with Wi-Fi, quiet workspaces, gourmet food among other things. When two new Centurion Lounges opened in Hong Kong and Philadelphia, Amex invited its brand ambassadors for a celebration party. Check out this post about the party by Adam Gallagher, one of the ambassadors:
Amex Platinum cardholders were invited to Deer Valley for a Centurion Lounge popup which featured wine and chocolate tastings along with ski lessons from champion skiers. Amex Ambassadors invited to this event posted about the same on Instagram. Check out this post by one of the brand ambassadors:
An example of exclusive privileges Amex Platinum cardholders enjoy is when seven Amex Ambassadors were invited to experience the Museum of Ice Cream before it opened to the public in Los Angeles. The Instagram influencers posted about their experience, raising excitement about the museum’s opening as well as Amex Platinum card.
In another instance, Amex Ambassadors and Platinum cardholders having a reputation for their good taste in fashion and culture were given exclusive access to an extremely sought after but sold out Broadway show Hamilton. Amex’s brand ambassadors described the event as a unique experience with #AmexPLatinum and #AmexAmbassador in the post. Look at the following example:
It is clear from the way American Express approaches Instagram influencer marketing that using influencers as brand ambassadors, forming long-term relationships with them is an effective way to give the brand a strong identity. Due to frequent posts describing Amex’s influencer activations, the brand has aligned itself with the luxurious lifestyle and instilled a sense of trust with their target audience. The examples described here highlight how a brand can successfully compensate influencers creatively without any financial considerations.