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How to Capitalize on Award Season with Social-First Influencer Marketing

By: Michael Okada | 6 mins read |

Every year, millions of people around the world eagerly tune in to award shows like the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Emmys, and Grammys to celebrate creative excellence in the arts and entertainment. But influencers are increasingly popping up at traditional award shows, which helps the shows target a younger generation of fans and potential fans in their most natural environment – social media – while bringing newfound relevancy to the shows.

In this article, we’ll look at how social media has changed award shows and creative ways that brands can get involved in the hype through social-first content and influencer collaborations.

Social media has changed award shows (and TV) forever

The award show industry as a whole has faced challenges in both retaining viewers and reaching new audiences as the media landscape has dramatically shifted with the advent of social media and the rise of the creator economy. It’s no secret that these days, social media has become the primary way that many audiences interact and engage with content of all kinds, award shows included.

Linear TV viewership is no longer the end-all, be-all as audiences have fractured across various social media platforms, streaming services, and other OTT content. The primary drivers of social media’s popularity are that it provides instant engagement, real-time reactions, algorithmically personalized content for each and every user, and a sense of community. This has weakened the stranglehold that prime-time TV once had as traditional TV’s one-size-fits-all approach is no longer reflective of our viewing habits – and it’s a major reason why market research firms like Nielsen have been incorporating social media analytics into their methodologies since 2016.

With social media, audiences are no longer captive to the whims of prime-time TV programming – we don’t have to plan our schedules around these tentpole events at the risk of missing out anymore. These days, people will often turn to their favorite creators on social media to take part in the red carpet hype, get a sneak peek behind the scenes, and catch up on all of the big wins from their favorite award shows – like influencer Lilly Singh’s get-ready-with-me as she prepped for her co-hosting duties at the 2023 Academy Awards’ official preshow.


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A post shared by Lilly Singh (@lilly)

Attention spans are dwindling as audiences prefer social-first content

Attention is one of the scarcest and most valuable currencies in the digital age and as marketers, we’re continuously competing for the attention of our target audiences every single day.

Further complicating matters is that, collectively, our attention spans have been shrinking for years. One study found that attention spans have decreased by almost 70% over the past few decades – from 150 seconds in 2004 to 47 seconds today!

And even when people are watching TV – whether it’s on cable, primetime, or streaming  – most people aren’t even giving it their full attention as more than 70% are scrolling on their phones at the same time – a phenomenon known as ‘second screening’. And what are these second screeners doing on their phones? The majority are either checking their emails or on social media.

While this presents a challenge for award shows, it offers brands and media a golden opportunity to create their own social-first content or partner with influencers to raise brand awareness by capitalizing on trending award show moments.

3 ways brands can leverage influencer partnerships to capitalize on award season buzz

Increasingly, award shows are turning to social media influencers and other online content creators to boost their relevance and attract new audiences – and much like award shows, brands and marketers can also leverage social media and influencer marketing to join in on the conversations and buzz, too.

Here are a few ways that award shows and brands can work with influencers to get in on the award season hype.

1. Influencers on the red carpet

Influencers have a proven track record for creating huge moments on the red carpet.

Case in point – the viral interaction between influencer Amelia Dimoldenberg and Andrew Garfield at the 2023 Golden Globes racked up more than 4.5M combined views across three short clips on the official YouTube channels alone.

And that’s not even mentioning the countless videos from both mainstream news outlets and other creators talking about and reacting to the moment across social media. The 2023 Golden Globes saw 6.3M Americans tune in to the live broadcast, and the fact that a single viral moment was seen by over 4.5M people on social media is a testament to the power of social-first content. And when taken as a whole, the aggregated views of all the award show clips across social media can rival or even exceed the number of people who watched it live.

2. Social media takeovers

Social media takeovers are another way for brands to capitalize on the award show hype by partnering with influencers in the film, fashion, or entertainment spaces. For brands that don’t have the budget to send an influencer partner to the red carpet, having an influencer take over their social media accounts presents an easier and more cost-effective alternative to still get in on the award show action.

The level of control that brands hand over to the influencer in a social media takeover can vary depending on how comfortable the brand is with the influencer, but it does require the brand to have a level of trust in the influencer. If this is a big area of concern, there are even social media tools that can help ensure every post is brand safe.

Social media takeovers are a great way for brands to ride the buzz, whether it’s in the lead-up to the awards, the red carpet, during the ceremony itself, and even afterwards as influencers can provide their commentary and insights about what is happening and why.

3. Turning moments into memes

Award shows are full of meme potential and all it takes is one person to capture a funny moment, blooper, or awkward facial expression and it can instantly become a trending meme.

The live nature of award shows means unscripted moments can sometimes get caught on camera – such as a secret conversation without any sound between two celebrities that explodes as people wonder who or what they were talking about (some outlets even go as far as interviewing lip reading experts to suss out what was said), or a brand-new Hollywood power couple stepping out into the spotlight for the first time.

All of these moments are ripe for a quick-witted and fast-acting influencer to jump on and add a comedic spin of their own. After all, we’re in an era where a few million people might tune into the live broadcast, only to have a few clips from it go viral on social media and rack up more views than the entire show.

3 reasons why brands and award shows love working with influencers

Here are a few of the biggest reasons why both brands and award shows love working with influencers.

1. Influencer partnerships won’t break the bank

Influencer partnerships offer brands countless opportunities to capitalize on viral moments and influencers in the fashion, entertainment, and celebrity gossip spaces are particularly powerful ways for brands to speak to social-first audiences without breaking the bank.

But the great thing about influencer partnerships is that brands can easily scale depending on their resources, and since working with influencers is often much more budget-friendly than working with A-list celebrities, it’s an easy win for smaller brands as well.

And for any fashion or beauty brands, having an influencer partnership where their clothes or makeup gets worn during the red carpet would be a huge win and get millions of eyes on them.

2. The line between celebrities and influencers is disappearing

The celebrity-watching that drove viewership of past award shows has lost some of its luster in the wake of social media as stars are more accessible than ever, which has taken away some of the mystique as you no longer have to check out celebrity gossip sites or entertainment shows to find out what they’re up to. Instead, we can simply find any star we want on social media for a more direct and unfiltered look into their lives.

In many ways, it feels like celebrities are trying to become influencers while influencers are becoming celebrities – to the point where the line between who’s an influencer and who’s a celebrity is almost nonexistent these days.

Much like influencers have been doing for years, more and more celebrities have been launching their own brands and even merch lines, while influencers are popping up at highly exclusive industry events.

3. Influencers bring their own built-in audiences

As most influencers began on social media, they have sizable audiences of their own and this is one of the primary reasons why award shows have been partnering with and recruiting influencers for red-carpet hosting duties. It’s particularly important for attracting new viewers and younger audiences, as 58% of Gen Z watch award show clips on social media versus 23% of Gen Z who watch the live broadcast.

Prominent award shows that you should know about

Here are a few of the biggest and most popular award shows that should be on your radar.

  • The Academy Awards (the Oscars): March 10, 2024
  • The Golden Globes: January 7, 2024
  • The Grammys: February 4, 2024
  • The Emmys: January 15, 2024
  • The Game Awards: December 12, 2024
  • The Streamys: TBA
  • The Webbys: TBA

For more important upcoming dates that should be in your calendar, check out our blog, 15 Tentpoles in Q1 That Should Be On Every Brand’s Radar.