One of the biggest challenges brands face is approaching how to develop strong influencer relationships. A meaningful partnership can have numerous benefits, but developing and maintaining authenticity can be difficult–especially when influencers are in high demand. 22.5% of brands said that they preferred to work with Micro and Mid-Tier influencers because they believe that their content is more authentic, an interesting point to note which we discovered in our State of Influencer Marketing 2019 report.
When speaking to a major player in the influencer marketing industry, Jennifer Powell, she underlined that the most important part of a successful marketing campaign was building authentic relationships: “Authentic relationships need to be created so that the audience continues to build trust and buy-in.”
In order to help you foster these types of relationships and create a truly successful campaign, we’ve rounded up a list of the top 5 influencer marketing tips.
1. Stop assuming every influencer has every skill
Just because an influencer has a large follower base or a high engagement rate doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for your campaign. A well-known lifestyle Instagrammer may produce stunning travel images but struggle with product placement for paid campaigns. Take Scarlett London’s partnership with Listerine for example. It was met with severe backlash as followers mocked everything from the inauthentic product placement to the use of tortillas instead of pancakes.
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The best of days start with a smile and positive thoughts. And pancakes. And strawberries. And bottomless tea. My morning routine is now live on YouTube – and while I don’t show you my real bed hair (trust me, it’s not pretty), I do give you a little insight into how I start my day in a positive way. Head over to my stories for a swipe up link – and let me know what you think! It features my morning habit of rinsing with Listerine Advanced White to help whiten my teeth. @listerineukireland #BringOutTheBold | This is a paid partnership with Listerine.
Doing your research ahead of time can save time, money and frustration. First, check that an influencer’s content and aesthetic align with your brand identity. Then, verify any skills that are crucial to your campaign. The result will be a successful partnership that can lead to a lasting relationship.
2. Think about holistic influencer marketing campaigns, not individual projects
The best influencer marketing campaigns are the ones that tell a story. So, put together a cohesive campaign that aligns with an overall marketing initiative. 32.6% of brands we surveyed saw the best results from some form of a long-term partnership.
Communicate your campaign strategy and goals with influencers so they can see how their content fits into the overall story. This allows them to gain a better understanding of your vision which will ensure their content amplifies your brand message. It also helps them connect with your brand and to feel like an integral part of the team.
And the best part: if influencers understand the bigger picture, any bonus editorial content they produce will also align with your vision. This can help build strong influencer relationships that could lead to future collaborations with an influencer who already really understands your brand story.
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3. Give up control during the content creation process
If you’ve done your research to find the perfect influencer, then trust them. Trust that they know their audience, know what types of content resonate and know how to convey your message in an authentic way. Jennifer Powell, who runs influencer agency, Jennifer Powell Inc. represents the likes of Chiara Ferragni and BryanBoy and said this: “give influencers the goals and parameters around the campaign but don’t micromanage. They are being hired to share their point of view“.
It’s okay to provide guidelines but remember: there’s nothing more annoying than a backseat driver. Refrain from micro-managing influencers by telling them what to say, how the product should be displayed, where to stage photos and so on and so forth.
Stick to key message points, overall creative direction, timelines and specific “no-no’s”. Otherwise, let the influencers do what they do best: create amazing content. They’ll appreciate the freedom which can lead to strong influencer relationships.
4. Set realistic gifting expectations
If you set one resolution for 2019, this is it. Gifting should primarily be used as a way to strengthen influencer relationships and not as a way to gain editorial coverage. Yes, editorial coverage may be a result of gifting, but don’t expect every influencer to post about every gift.
Do your research and send products that actually fit influencers’ tastes and needs. This will increase your chances for editorial coverage. However, if you want an influencer to post about a specific product, make it an official engagement. In some cases, mainly for high-value products, you can even include the cost of the product as partial payment – but it should still be negotiated as part of a contract. In fact, 69.4% of influencers state that ‘monetary compensation’ is one of their top 2 motivations when working with brands.
Remember, a gift is a gift, it shouldn’t come with expectations.
5. Invest in an Influencer Marketing Solution
Managing influencer relationships in conjunction with your overall campaign can become quite time-consuming. “Marketers love what influencers offer: fresh voices and reach. However, managing dozens or hundreds of influencers — each a mini-agency — is proving unwieldy” according to Forrester in the New Tech: Influencer Marketing Solutions, Q3 2018 report.
Influencer Marketing Solutions not only help with influencer identification but can also improve the contracting and communication process which can strengthen influencer relationships. For example, you can draft approval workflows to keep everything in a centralized location and minimize the back and forth of emails, saving time for both your team and the influencer.
We’ve taken an in-depth look into what influencers and brands expect out of their collaborations in our 5th annual State of Influencer Marketing Report. To learn even more about how to improve influencer relationships, click below!