The Hoosier Lottery utilized Indiana-based social media influencers on Instagram as part of its comprehensive “Give Cheer, Get Cheer” holiday marketing program.

“We know that, now more than ever, consumers are looking for authentic, one-to-one connections with brands,” explained Gary Melliere, Senior Director of Marketing, IGT Indiana/Hoosier Lottery. “A Sideqik poll found that 78% of respondents indicated that they trust influencer opinions more than traditional ads, 70% said they trust the opinions of influencers as much or more than their real-world friends, and 77% reported purchasing a product based on an influencer’s post.”

Since lottery scratch offs lend themselves to so many creative “add-on gifts,” the lottery thought the campaign could shed a light on how real people spread a little cheer throughout the holiday season. “We looked for influencers who were proud to be a Hoosier, so when they spoke about the Lottery and the campaign, their connection to Indiana would shine through and resonate with other Hoosiers,” stressed Melliere.

He noted that this is the second time in 2019 that the Hoosier Lottery utilized a social influencer campaign. The earlier Spring/Summer effort focused on $1 and $2 scratch-offs (May and June 2019).

The lottery used multiple measurements to analyze the results of the holiday campaign. “Our overall focus is to deepen Hoosiers’ engagement with, and affinity for, the Hoosier Lottery brand,” said Melliere. “Key short-term metrics include total impressions, engagements (comments/likes/shares), and cost per engagement. We will also monitor Brand Health Tracker results over time, although we won’t be able to attribute those results directly to the social influencer campaigns.”

Melliere said there is no way to directly track whether influencers drive sales. “Social influencer efforts are just one component of our overall holiday scratch-offs campaign. However, comments and reactions to influencer posts often suggest that ideas posted did or will trigger a purchase,” he explained.

As to whether an influencer campaign is more expensive than purchasing digital advertising, Melliere said that “diven the nature of the activity, it’s really not an apples-to-apples comparison; however, the pricing is feasible.”

The Hoosier Lottery allowed the social media influencers to craft their unique message for their audience. “We found it important to leverage the influencer’s voice and overall brand versus directing how we want content to be conveyed. We do provide an overview brief at the beginning of the process to help the potential influencers understand who we are and what we are promoting. We have also implemented brand safety measures within our process to help protect our standards,” said Melliere.

The Hoosier Lottery did not require the influencers’ posts to incorporate the lottery’s “Give Cheer, Get Cheer” holiday messaging. “While they didn’t necessarily use the same headlines and language as our holiday campaign (important for them to use their own voice and style), they reinforced the overall idea that holiday scratch-offs are easy to gift and a great way to spread a little holiday cheer,” said Melliere.

The lottery worked with its advertising agency to identify the social media influencers to hire. “Our digital/social media agency is a key part of our process. We found great success working with multiple influencers to collect diverse stories that would speak to the different groups within our audience,” said Melliere.

As to what advice Melliere would give to other lotteries seeking to utilize social media influencers, he said “the influencer partnership works best when you outline your brand standards/expectations upfront while letting the influencer authentically uphold theirs with their own followers. We also saw good success by promoting the content from both the influencers’ and Hoosier Lottery’s social handles, staying true to the brand by working with influencers that aligned with the Hoosier Lottery brand.”

A key learning from looking at best practices of running influencer campaigns as a whole is authenticity. “We found that reinforcing the need for influencers to remain authentic to their individual voice was crucial to resonating with their followers,” said Melliere.

SIDEBAR: Hoosier Lottery’s Three-Phased Process

The Hoosier Lottery utilized a three-phased process for every influencer campaign, which included partner selection, vetting, content creation and publishing. It follows below :

  1. Vet Potential Influencers
    1. Digital/Social Media agency provides a list of potential influencers based on review of their social media content and number of followers
    2. Social Media, Brand and Corporate Social Responsibility teams rank influencer list based on alignment to Hoosier Lottery brand and lifestyle criteria
    3. Digital/Social Media agency reaches out to selected/potential influencers to vet further, ensuring brand safety and responsible gaming alignment
    4. Digital/Social Media agency follows up with final recommended list for Hoosier Lottery approval
  2. Approved Hoosier influencers create drafts of content utilizing a central influencer platform for content management
    1. Requirement within all content: #ad, @hoosierlottery/Hoosier Lottery and “Must be 18 or older to play. Please gift responsibly.”
    2. We may work with influencers to modify content, as necessary
  3. Review content for approval. Once aligned, content is published within campaign window.
    1. After publishing, content is monitored for engagement

Examples of Hoosier influencers’ holiday posts below