To many developing influencer relationships is a laborious and thankless task…don’t we all have better things to be doing?
However, as influencer marketing takes its rightful place in the marketing mix and many businesses start to scale their effort to leverage influencers in their campaigns we will see an increased need for efficiency.
Many believe that efficiency in influencer marketing will be achieved through the automation of the process, similar in many ways that we have seen the social media automation market explode in recent years. In some respects, this is true. Many aspects of influencer marketing can be automated through the use of smart tools. Yet trust and authenticity are the key aspects which make influencer marketing so powerful. Clearly, these benefits cannot be achieved without a strong relationship between the brand and influencer.
You may have guessed it by now. You cannot automate strong influencer relationships. But you can use some smart tactics to increase efficiency and build long-lasting relationships.
Start with the goal in mind
We have said it before and we will say it again. Influencer campaigns, nay, any marketing campaign is not going to be successful unless you start with your goal in mind. This means deciding exactly what it is you are going to be trying to achieve by working with influencers.
Let’s make the assumption that we are talking influencer marketing (long-term) and not influencer advertising (short-term). In this case, you will need to decide whether influencers will be used to contribute to thought leadership, direct sales, content creation or product development. The likelihood will be that you choose a mix of these, but the overall goal must be decided first so you can provide a clear and transparent picture of what you are looking for from the outset.
“Businesses that start with a clear goal for their influencer marketing efforts will see huge benefits. These range from saving time on wasted effort to ensuring focus remains on the activities which bring the biggest contribution to the overarching strategic goals of the business” Owain Williams, Founder, Make It Mana
Knowing what you want out of a relationship will allow you to develop transparency, maintaining that all-important thing: trust.
Take it from us, reaching out to an influencer who you are already aware of (and is even possibly aware of you) is infinitely easier than going in cold. It may seem a little obvious (we see plenty of people not doing it), but following, engaging and ‘researching’ your desired influencers is a great way to start a strong influencer relationship.
Ensure you show you know your stuff when it comes to your initial outreach, show you have done your research.
“Find the influencers you want to know, follow them on social media and begin liking, sharing and commenting on their content you like. Message them and say you’re interested in working together. Be up front. Make sure you are clear about what’s in it for them. Also, tell them you prefer to build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships which can lead to many other opportunities” Tom Augenthaler, The Influence Marketer
When influencer campaigns scale it is easy to lose sight of your original goals (see tip one). This often leads to the loose selection of new influencers. Meaning they often don’t really match your brand or help you achieve what you are hoping to. Although scaling certainly means finding new influencers, time and consideration should be taken over which influencers are best for your brand.
Selecting the right influencers and aiming for the long-term means businesses naturally select influencers which are going to be easy to build strong relationships with.
“Ditch the tactical and the temporary for the longer-term. Look to build mutually beneficial business-growth partnerships. Invest time and expertise in selecting the most appropriate influencer for your brand. Once onboard give them guardrails for the content they should create rather than prescriptive rules and scripts. Give them unique access to your brand so the content always feels fresh.” Scott Guthrie, Influencer Marketing Consultant
Influencer Relationships: What turns ’em on?
Just like building a relationship with your latest Tinder match (an analogy for the Millenials), building strong influencer relationships is all about knowing what will get the attention of your ‘match’. We often see businesses formulating incentives and blanketing those incentives on their entire influencer community.
Sure, this approach will work to an extent. However, truly understanding what turns your influencer on will allows you to benefit in a number of ways:
- Providing more specific influencer incentives, usually leading to less resource being required
- Speeding up communication and therefore making campaigns more efficient
- Show interest and effort, leading to a stronger relationship.
” Remember that an influencer list is nothing without the ‘community’ to accompany it. Make friends and the rest will come.” David J Wing, Award Winning Influencer Marketing Expert
Keep consistent contact (in a non-creepy way)
Consistency is key when it comes to building any long-term relationship. That is why it is a great idea to create a plan for continuous interaction with your chosen influencers. In the B2C space, this can be as simple as ensuring that you comment in a meaningful way on the influencers posts.
The B2B space offers even more opportunity to brands that maintain consistent contact with influencers. Doing this allows you to stay at the front of the influencers minds. It also allows you to position yourself as a thought leader with their audience.
“If an influencer has posted a blog post, tweet, or status stimulating a series of follower contributions and questions, seek to actively get involved. If you see a question that you’re able to answer confidently, with the belief that it will be in line with the kind of response that they’d give themselves, take it upon yourself to add your 2 cents. Not only will they appreciate that you’re helping them out, but they’ll see that you’re also a like-minded knowledgeable expert.” Alicia Russell, Content & Product Marketing Manager @ Onalytica
We aren’t going to lie. Keeping strong and consistent influencer relationships is a time-consuming process.
However, by considering the process, smart marketers can make efficiencies and ultimately save time over the long term. This is especially true for businesses that want to benefit from influencer marketing moving into the future.
With the majority of effort being put in during the initial stages, the development of influencer relationships is front-loaded. Businesses that put an emphasis on maintaining relationships can capitalise on more efficient and smoother campaigns as time goes on.