With recent research showing that the majority of social media users trust influencers over their own friends or families when making a purchase, influencers have fast become central in helping brands cut through the noise online. However, much of the success of a campaign depends greatly on the relationship between the influencer and the brand. Unlike other forms of digital marketing, an influencer can’t usually be handled with a few clicks, which becomes very time consuming when working with influencers at scale, unless you’re harnessing platforms to help minimise the stress. Brands can either work with influencers directly, through an agency on behalf of brands or an influencer marketing tool to help manage their relationships with influencers.
Four ways to build better relationships
Here are four ways brands can improve and nurture their relationships with influencers, leading to more impactful, creative campaigns that better connect with audiences and come across more authentic. What’s more, as reported in Mobile Marketer, studies show that one-off influencer campaigns are becoming less frequent and longer-term partnerships are the way forward.
Get to know your influencer
The first step is getting to know the influencer. Many marketers are guilty of treating influencers as a low-cost form of advertising, reducing the influencer’s role in creating visibility for a product. In this scenario, influencers are chosen on the reach and engagement that they can provide. However, not only will this lead to ill-fitting partnerships, but it also won’t do anything to build a positive or long-term relationship.Influencers like to work with a brand that resonates with themselves and their audience. They’ve built a loyal following by being an authentic and authoritative voice in their chosen niche, so ensuring that your proposed partnership fits with that is vital. Not only will this increase the chances of the influencer championing your product – which will result in higher quality content – it also gives your marketing messages better chance of resonating with their audience as it will seem authentic. Study your chosen influencer and look at what they’re posting. Do they care about particular issues? What voice do they use when communicating? Not only will this help when approaching them, but it will also prove that you understand and care about what they do.
Although many operate on a part-time basis, there is also a significant number who are now professional, full-time influencers, operating their own team. Marketers need to ensure they’re respectful of this. Just as companies expect professionalism and clear communication from influencers by posting content in a timely manner, influencers now expect professionalism in all forms of communication. The brand’s goals and expectations should be laid out from the beginning and a precedent for honesty should be established. The first and most obvious way to do this is to ensure that all lines of communication remain open and that your communication is bespoke. Personalising messages shows that you see influencers as a serious business partner rather than a disposable form of advertising. The more prominent influencers will receive hundreds of proposals for partnerships, so if you are yet to formalise a relationship, this could help you stand out.
Don’t stifle their creativity
Influencer marketing is not typical advertising, and the content should not look or feel like a traditional advert. Just because influencers are paid to create content does not mean you should micromanage every aspect of the creative process. Not only is this likely to irritate the influencer, but the resulting content will almost certainly end up feeling bland and corporate. No matter your degree of control over the content, all finalised content should be reviewed and approved before it is published on social channels. Ultimately, influencers know how best to convey your message to their audience, and as such, the job of getting your brand messages across should be left to them once you have provided a clear brief. Not only will this show that you respect their expertise; it will also help your content appear authentic.
Some influencers are happy to accept free products as compensation for work, particularly if they are already a fan of the brand, which is always a powerful starting point. However, this is by no means universal. Like anyone, influencers want to be appreciated and paid for their work, but it can be difficult to know what the appropriate payment brackets are. When determining payment, make use of all analytical data at hand and consider what the CPM rate would be based on the payment you’re offering vs. the expected engagement rate and the deliverables you’re requesting. That is a reasonable starting point for analysing the level of fee to offer, but there are other factors that come into play, and if an influencer is particularly busy you can expect to pay a premium for that. Don’t risk souring the relationship by opening with a lowball offer. An influencer who is offered a fair fee for the campaign initially is always going to be happier in the collaboration and more prone to over-deliver than one who has had to negotiate the fee up to a fair rate. Some influencer marketing platforms will also give an indication of an influencer’s rate to help you pitch correctly.
Good relationships require effort
Influencer marketing is one of the most effective options out there for a brand in today’s digital-first world. It consistently provides a high return on investment for a comparatively small outlay. Despite this, there are many pitfalls to be aware of. Influencers are real people, and just like any relationship, remaining on good terms requires effort. By following the aforementioned advice, you can ensure that your campaigns are successful and that you are investing in influencer relationships for your future campaigns.