Influencer relations is the process of nurturing authentic, long-term partnerships with creators. Those who do it well cultivate a team of brand champions they can lean on for innovative campaigns. Those who do it poorly miss out on the massive ROI associated with one of the most effective and cost-efficient strategies available to marketers today.
Bolstering your influencer relations to create thumb-stopping content for your brand is easier than you think as long as you’re willing to commit to the mission. By keeping the following tips in mind, you can start building the relationships needed for creating unforgettable campaigns.
1. Treat creators as trusted partners.
The first step to improving influencer relations is to remind yourself that creators are people, not transactions. As such, you can’t just treat them as hired guns to help you reach your marketing goals. Even if you’re entering into a short partnership with an influencer, it’s best to treat them as equal partners in the campaign.
Keep in mind, you’re hiring these creators for their expertise in a particular niche. Listen to what they have to say and work to incorporate their ideas into your campaign. By working together, you’ll achieve results that benefit both parties and could lead to longer-term partnerships.
2. Provide creative freedom.
Because your creators are experts in a particular niche, you’ll need to give them the space they need to create the type of content that has proven to resonate with their audiences. Overly detailed briefs and arbitrary guidelines are the quickest way to stifle an influencer’s creativity and produce a stale campaign.
You might even encourage your influencers to take their creativity a step further and take some risks. This doesn’t mean getting edgier with their content (unless that lines up with your brand). But by creating content that users haven’t seen before, you’ll increase the chances of coming up with shareable, viral content.
3. Provide guidance when necessary.
It’s important to note that providing your influencers with creative freedom doesn’t mean just letting them run wild with your brand and products. In fact, most creators prefer when a brand lays out all their expectations and gives them at least some guidance on where to take their content.
Be sure to provide detailed briefs to your creators that outline everything you expect from them, including media type, number of posts, etc. By pointing your creators in the right direction, you’ll help them help you get the most out of your program, and the results will benefit both of you in the long run.
4. Share your influencers’ content (even when you’re not in it).
You want your influencers to shout you out, tag you, and share your content with their followers. Do you reciprocate?
“Sharing is caring” should be your mantra when it comes to influencer relations. If you’re not giving your influencers access to your network by occasionally sharing their posts or mentioning them on your channels, your relationship is lopsided.
Here are some things you can do to improve:
- Follow the influencers that you collaborate with on various social media platforms.
- Like, share, and comment on their posts that relate to your niche.
- Mention influencers you have collaborated with whenever you post influencer-generated content on your social media channels.
Don’t be the brand that doesn’t reciprocate. Give your influencers a shout-out when they’ve done a great job. Also, remember that it is a mutually beneficial relationship, so think of ways to help them as well.
5. Show your appreciation.
Sometimes, all it takes to improve influencer relations is a simple “thank you.” Consider sending your influencers a quick message, thanking them for their content and contributions. If you want to get fancy, you can send them something more. Perhaps a paper card or a small gift is enough to demonstrate your appreciation. Or you could go all in and offer them something exclusive—for your influencers alone.
Keep in mind this should be “above and beyond” anything the influencers expect in the contract they have with you. Sending free products promised in their agreements doesn’t count as a token of your appreciation. Something small and unexpected can also suffice, as long as you make an effort to show your appreciation.
6. Always be thinking long-term.
There will always be room for a few one-off partnerships in influencer marketing, especially if your goal is to build brand awareness. But to achieve a full-funnel approach and get the most out of your collaborations with creators, it’s best to approach each opportunity with a long-term partnership in mind.
Remember, long-term partnerships only succeed when an influencer loves your brand, uses your products, and truly believes in your mission. When you find creators who check these boxes, you’ve found a brand champion who will sing your praises and go to bat for you, even when you don’t ask them to.
7. Be honest about what you want.
Like any other business relationship, influencer relations have certain expectations and goals. Be sure you communicate those goals and expectations clearly to influencers.
Here are some things to consider when you collaborate with influencers:
- Explain your campaign goals to them so they know what to deliver.
- Decide the number of pieces of content you expect and the message you want to convey via each piece of content.
- Decide the type of content you want and the channels where you want to promote your content.
- Provide clear content guidelines, but make sure to provide creative freedom.
You can also use a creator management platform to brief influencers, create specific assignments, and track the performance of each influencer.
When you and your influencers are on the same page, you will have a much easier time managing the relationship. If you have different expectations or are not upfront and honest about it, you could create hostility between your company and the influencer.
8. Keep communication open.
To be honest about what you want from your influencers and encourage them to do the same, you’ll need to keep communication open at all times. That means always being there when your creators need you, even if it’s outside regular business hours. It also means communicating with your influencers effectively the first time to avoid any problems down the line.
To your influencers, you (or whoever is their primary point of contact) are the personification of your brand. Simply being available to answer questions or provide clear guidance on a campaign will improve brand sentiment among your influencers and give them more confidence that you are a worthy partner.
9. Establish an influencer community.
Establishing an influencer community can be a great way for your like-minded influencers to get to know each other, talk shop, and bounce ideas off one another. It could also open the door for organic collaborations between two or more influencers on your team.
Here are a few ideas to help nurture a fun and informative influencer community:
- Hold a virtual happy hour – Send your influencers their favorite snack or beverage and have them hop on a video call with your team. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but a little facetime can go a long way in building relationships and growing trust.
- Plan in-person branded events – If you can get some of your creators together in the same place, this could be a great way to create an experiential marketing event with your team. These events are perfect for creating meaningful consumer interactions and generating quality UGC you can repurpose everywhere.
- Publish a monthly newsletter – It’s important to keep your influencers up-to-date on what’s new with your brand. Let them know about exciting new product launches or campaigns and make it easy for them to reach out if they see anything they’re excited to promote.
10. Use a creator management platform.
At first, you might be able to manage your influencer relations effectively with spreadsheets and an email suite. But as you scale your program, you’ll need to invest in software that enables you to manage all your influencer relationships at scale without sacrificing any of the human elements that made your partnerships so strong in the first place.
By investing in a creator management platform, you can:
- Identify and connect with relevant influencers for your brand.
- Run and manage your influencer campaign from a single dashboard.
- Manage all communications with your influencers with email integrations, customer templates, and landing pages.
- Provide easy-to-use tools to track the performance of your influencers and measure your campaign’s progress.
- Integrate with your ecommerce store to simplify product seeding and manage influencer payments.
- Organize and influencer content and UGC, so it’s always at your fingertips.
If you think your brand could benefit from tools like these, book a demo to see how GRIN’s top-rated Creator Management platform can help you reach your influencer marketing goals today.
Signs that your influencer relations need work
You have a hard time getting prospects to respond.
You can’t expect to get a response from every creator you reach out to for a partnership. But if you have trouble getting a response from anyone at all, there is probably something wrong with your outreach strategy.
Here are a few tips to consider when reaching out to influencers:
- Personalize each message. Tell the influencer what you like about their content and why you think they’d make a good partner. Do not use a copy-and-paste approach to outreach.
- Let them know how your product can benefit their audience. An influencer’s first obligation is to their followers, so let them know how your product or service will add value to their life.
- Provide a clear CTA. End your message with clear steps to follow up and start the partnership.
- Keep it short and sweet. No one wants to read a wall of text. Hit the above points as quickly as possible, so you’re not wasting anyone’s time.
Influencer relations begin with your initial outreach. If you don’t nail this aspect of influencer marketing, your relationships will die before they even begin.
You have high influencer churn.
If you have difficulty retaining quality influencers that have helped you achieve successful campaigns, chances are they aren’t getting as much out of the partnership as you are. Be sure to debrief with each one at the end of a campaign. Ask them what you did well or what they would like to see done differently in the future.
One of the most common reasons influencers will move on from a partnership is if they feel they aren’t getting fair compensation. This usually occurs when an influencer works on a product-seeding campaign and wants to move into a pay-per-post or retainer payment model.
But some brands simply don’t have the budget to offer influencers cash for content. As such, they generally take one of the following actions:
- Move on from that creator and look for those with a smaller audience size.
- Offer that creator a commission for each item sold via discount code or affiliate link.
Remember, you won’t know why you can’t retain influencers if you don’t keep an open line of communication with each one. Always stay open to constructive criticism so you can constantly optimize your campaigns.
Influencers struggle to produce the content you want.
There is a delicate balance between providing your influencers the creative freedom they need to produce innovative content and giving them enough direction to deliver the content you need to achieve your specific goals and KPIs.
If you’re not getting the content you’re looking for, there’s a good chance your balance is off. But it’s also possible your current influencers simply aren’t a good fit for your brand.
At this point, it’s a good idea to do a comprehensive influencer audit. Make sure their audience engages with branded posts and that each creator aligns with your mission and values. You can also audit their audience data to ensure all their followers are legitimate and not bots.
You’re not seeing ROI from influencer marketing.
Strong creator relationships are the crux of influencer marketing. And those who manage them well earn an average of $5.78 for every dollar spent using the strategy.
All brands can benefit from using influencer marketing as a strategy, so if you don’t see value currently, don’t give up! Just look for ways to tweak and optimize your program to get the most from your efforts.
For brands with young programs, product-seeding campaigns with a select few influencers who truly exemplify your brand and mission are a solid, low-risk place to start.
Brands with established programs might need to consider investing in a creator management platform if their influencer marketing ROI has begun to fall off. These platforms are the only realistic way for brands to manage their influencer marketing content, communications, and track results as they accumulate a large number of creator partners.
If you think your brand could benefit from an end-to-end creator management platform, book a demo to see how GRIN can help you like it’s helped some of today’s leading brands, including Allbirds, MVMT Watches, and Cuts Clothing.
Key takeaway: Influencer relations are the lifeblood of a successful program.
Influencer marketing programs don’t succeed without dedicating a significant amount of time to influencer relations. Young brands can get away with maintaining strong influencer relations using a manual approach, but more established programs eventually need a platform that can help them streamline communication and organize all their creator relationships.
Take some time to reflect on your influencer marketing goals and the state of your program. If you think your influencer relations can benefit from a platform dedicated to nurturing authentic partnerships with creators, book some time with a GRIN team member to find out how to best level up your approach.
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