The relationship you create with influencers can determine your path in influencer marketing. In terms of short-term collaboration, you’ll make a good impression which means that you can team up with that same influencer whenever you want. Since good news travel fast and bad news travels even faster, if you earn a reputation of hard-to-work-with brand don’t think that influencers will be happily accepting your collaboration suggestions.
A good relationship with influencers is even more important when it comes to long-term collaborations. Establishing a long-term collaboration brings many benefits like adding more value to the product, more committed influencers, more authentic endorsements, and consistent user engagement. Advantages are obvious but no influencer will stay in the partnership if they aren’t satisfied with your relationship. With so many brands using influencer marketing, influencers have plenty of businesses to choose from.
So, how do you ensure that you get the most from influencer marketing? You work on your relationship with an influencer to get a happy, honest, and dedicated partner. These tips will teach you some tricks on how to build and maintain such a relationship.
1. Find an Influencer Who Suits Your Brand
It will be hard to build a good relationship with the wrong person. Finding an influencer who suits your brand is the very basis of the whole partnership. Adding onto an unstable foundation can only lead to a crash.
One of the worst mistakes when conducting influencer campaigns is choosing influencer solely on their follower count.
If you end up collaborating with an influencer whose target audience doesn’t match yours, you can’t expect satisfying results. That is why one of the main aspects you need to look into is their audience demographics.
Another aspect that plays a huge role is the content that influencer produces. Brands who initially like influencer’s content won’t ask for many adjustments and adaptations. The type of content an influencer posts can tell you a lot about them. Do some research on their social media as well as any other platforms they are on (for example if they run a blog) to get a better sense of their personality.
A big concern in the influencer marketing community is influencers’ fake followers. Influencer marketing is great for engagement and attracting new customers, but if influencer’s followers aren’t real you’ll be simply throwing your money down the drain.
Once you gather all the information about different influencers, narrow down your choice by thinking about who will be the best ambassador for your brand. Starting a partnership with an influencer means that you’ll be putting someone in front of your brand as its typical user. You want to choose someone your target audience can relate to and whose recommendations are credible.
If you want to speed up the influencer research process, use influencer marketing platforms such as SocialBook with the advanced search feature. All you need to do is to enter your audience’s demographic and desired influencer features and the platform will surface influencers who fit your requirements.
2. Ensure that Influencer Likes Your Brand
Working with someone who already loves your products will be much easier and productive. Having an opportunity to collaborate with your brand will be exciting for an influencer who is also a customer. An influencer who uses your products will be honored that you picked them for your partnership.
The best way to find an influencer who is already your loyal customer is to go through user-generated content. The posts your customers publish can reveal an influencer who is already a fan. All you need to do is to revise the content your brand is tagged in as well as content with brand-related hashtags.
Depending on your goals in influencer marketing, identifying organic influencers won’t always bring the results you want. While you can always find nano or micro-influencers, don’t be certain that you’ll run into influencers with huge following base.
Collaborating with an influencer who have organically used your brand has another benefit — you can support them beyond paying them. You’ll have a better chance to agree on incentives such as your products (instead of a paycheck) if influencer loves your brand.
3. Customize the Reaching out Message
Influencers receive numerous emails and DMs from brands who want to connect with them. Writing them a generic message won’t make a lasting impression that is for sure. You need to stand out among other brands by being unique and personal.
Instead of beating around the bush or praising your company, be straightforward and explain why you want to collaborate with them. The questions you need to answer to them are:
- What makes them the person you want to work with?
- Why are they the best choice for your brand?
Including these explanations in your message will give the influencer a reason why your brand is worth considering. They need to have the same understanding as you on why your relationship would make sense.
To customize the message based on influencer you need to do some research first. Maybe you’ll find out that you’ll be both attending the same conference so you can opt for an “accidental” run in and introduce yourself. If their birthday is coming up, you can send them a card or your product sample as a token of appreciation for their work.
Look up what conferences they’ll be attending this year for a “natural” run-in, or send a simple card on their birthday. It’s OK to do a little detective work if it leads to creative engagement.
Your goals for the introduction message are to be genuine and show the influencer that you have done your research. They’ll be more curious about a partnership if you approach them as a friendly acquaintance rather than a salesperson. The first impression matters and it can set up the course of your relationship.
4. Openly Talk about Expectations
Disagreements and clash of opinions are more probable to happen if you aren’t open about your expectations. You might think that agreeing on a few main requirements is enough. However, holding onto expectations that you haven’t shared with an influencer can make your relationship bitter and full of resentment.
Open talk and compromise are key for a fruitful relationship. It’s not all about what you want. Knowing what influencer expects from your partnership is also relevant. If your budget allows a one-time collab at the time, you don’t want the influencer to believe that this is the beginning of a long-term collaboration. They might cancel any other partnership options and then blame you for not being honest.
Besides the general collaboration terms, here are a few campaign expectations you want to determine beforehand:
- State how many pieces of content you expect from influencer
- If you have a specific period of time in which they need to deliver the content let them know
- Share the plan on how you will use their content and channels you want to use
- If you have an approval process explain it to influencer
- Set up an FTC disclosure
- If you expect a certain engagement rate check with influencer its probability
- Ask influencer about their expectations
Start your partnership with cards wide open. Go over every detail that can have an influence on your collaboration. Remember that any good relationship needs to rely on comprise and understanding.
5. Discuss the Campaign
Whether you have worked out all the details about the campaign or not, you should still ask for an influencer’s opinion. No one knows their audience better than the influencer. They know what type of content their followers respond best to, what drives better engagement, and the best channel for achieving your goal.
Experienced influencers who have worked with multiple brands will be able to give you some guidance and maximize your effort. Being possessive of the campaign won’t help you out.
Start by talking about the channels which you had in mind for content distribution. You might have the idea to share your brand’s message on influencer’s YouTube channel but what if they think that it would be a better idea to do it on Instagram? Of course, you should be the one who gives final approval. However, if you think that influencer has a solid case, you might want to reconsider the sponsored content’s distribution platform.
Be clear on the call-to-action you want the influencer to use. Call-to-actions have a powerful role in any marketing campaigns so you need to specify what the goal is. For better results of influencer marketing campaigns, call-to-action needs to be conversational and true to influencer’s personality. Therefore, the influencer should add its own twist to it. The call-to-action needs to be adapted to the content aesthetics, especially in the Instagram Story ad. You don’t want it to overshadow the content.
What you also need to define are the captions and campaign tagging. If you want to popularize a brand hashtag, an influencer can help you start that trend. Make sure that you specify every hashtag or important aspects of captions that influencer needs to include in the description, video, Story, or wherever the campaign is launching.
The influencer will appreciate that you care for their opinion. Showing appreciation for influencers rather than treating them as a marketing tool is what can be a turning point in your relationship.
6. Allow Influencer Creative Freedom
Do you want your partnership to be a good experience for the influencer? Do you want the audience to believe in the authenticity of the sponsored ad? If the answers to both questions are yes then your task is simple — give influencer the freedom to express their creativity.
Most influencers are creatives. They need to consistently create fresh and interesting content that will keep their followers engaged. If you don’t show appreciation for their creative energy, or if you suffocate their creative thoughts the campaign will neither be honest nor authentic.
The mistake that many marketers make is taking over complete control of influencer’s promotion. Putting words into influencers’ mouths and dictating every single detail will make the campaign less effective.
The reason why you want to collaborate with influencers is just as their name suggests — their influence. Not allowing them to interact with their followers in their own voice will make the sponsorship more transparent and therefore, less appealing to the audience.
Influencers know what type of content resonates with their audience. If you are working with influencers in whose impact and creativeness you believe in, you should trust their judgment.
7. Seek Authenticity
You will get the most value from the campaign if influencer promotes your brand in an authentic way. This is especially relevant for brands who collaborate with multiple influencers. Just imagine how genuine the posts will seem if multiple influencers post similar or the same caption and content about your brand.
Influencers should show in what why your product benefits them. The content should resemble a testimonial rather than a commercial. Adding a personal touch is what the audience will appreciate.
As an example of authentic sponsored ads take a look at Fabletics collaboration with influencers Claudia Sulewski and Tess Christine. They both posted about Fabletics but their content completely differs as they expressed the reason why they’ve been wearing their pieces. Take a look at their captions.
While Claudia shares how she’s been wearing Fabletics while walking her dog, Tess expressed how comfy Fabletics pieces are and that’s why she’s been wearing them during the tedious moving process. They both shared genuine reasons why they’ve been opting for Fabletics. This is a true example of authenticity.
Let influencers to extract the value they get from your products. That’s what their audience will appreciate the most, seeing in what way your products have made influencer’s life better. Keep in mind that followers know the influencer’s habits, preferences, and lifestyle so you won’t be able to fool them. More importantly, the influencer will be more open to nurturing your relationship if they see that you aren’t trying to limit their creativity and dictate your relationship.
The way you approach influencers and decisions that you make during your collaboration is what will set the course of your relationship. What’s crucial is that you treat influencer as a partner not as an employee. Don’t forget that influencers have multiple options when it comes to brand collabs and if you want to come out as a winner, you need to ensure a good relationship with the possibility of a long-term partnership.
This article was originally posted on my Medium: https://medium.com/@heidihanyu/how-to-build-and-maintain-a-good-relationship-with-influencers-b81877cd96a1