Influencer marketing is not a short-term marketing strategy. It’s not a fad that will disappear next week.
Based on the incredible results it is able to generate, and the fact that its popularity doesn’t look like it is slowing down anytime soon, we can be sure that influencer marketing has many years to live. In fact, it hasn’t come to its peak years yet.
But something worth thinking about is what type of results you want to achieve, and what you want to use influencer marketing for. The most common reason brands use influencer marketing is because they want to increase sales (short-term goals), and increase brand-awareness (long-term goal).
But unfortunately, something that is more often than not neglected by marketers is building customer relationships with the help of influencer marketing, Because the truth is that public relationships are crucial for having that extra leverage as a brand, and the second truth is also that influencer marketing is a tremendous way to build those relationships.
Influencer marketing is something that you work with long-term, and so is relation-building.
You won’t build strong relationships with your audience that eventually lead to loyal supporters of your brand and engaged fans overnight. Think about it: do you become great friends with someone after one meeting? Of course not! It takes interaction after interaction to build a strong relationship, and this is also the mindset you need to have when looking to build your public relationships.
Why you need to think about your customer relationships
It’s self-explanatory why you need to invest lots of time, energy, and resources into building your customer relationships.
Here are some of the benefits that building relationships bring:
- Increased trust
- Increased customer loyalty
- Peer recommendations
- Less price-sensitive customers
And much more…
When you build relationships, your audience will be more loyal, they’ll recommend your brand to their peers, and they’ll be willing to do more for your brand. As a company, your most loyal customers are the most important thing you have, becuase no matter if you make a mistake, or increase your prices slightly, they will continue to cheer on you.
But it’s important to know that a relationship is not only about taking. A relationship where one part only takes and takes without giving back is not a sustainable relationship. But a relationship that is mutual is one that will last forever and will only get stronger with time.
As a brand, this is something you need to consider when you are using influencer marketing to build your relationships. Now, here’s the deal:
Focusing on building customer relationships is perhaps the most effective marketing strategy a brand can work with, but at the same time, it is one that does not necessarily yield results in an instant. But considering the results that it generates in the long run, it is evident that it is something you need to focus on in your marketing strategy. If you aren’t convinced yet, here are some customer loyalty statistics to prove it:
- A 5% increase in customer retention correlates with at least a 25% increase in profit. (Bain & Company)
- 60% of loyal customers will purchase more frequently from their preferred companies. (InMoment)
- 50% of loyal customers will make more purchases with their preferred companies. (InMoment)
- Emotionally-connected customers (relationships) will spend an annual sum of about $699 with a company, versus regular, satisfied customers who will spend an annual sum of only about $275. (Motista)
Now, there’s a problem with this, and that is that many marketers do not rreally know how they should go about improving their customer relationships. They know you should provide good customer service, great products, etc. But what else?
Influencer marketing is one very effective way to do so, and that is exactly what you will learn in this article.
Why customer relationships are valuable
An influencer marketing campaign has a relatively short lifespan. Some might last for a few weeks, others might only generate results over the course of a few days. As a brand, you want to take advantage of the resources you’ve invested, and you want to squeeze out every single drop of marketing juice you can from your invested dollars. Fortunately, that’s exactly what building relationships will help you do.
When you run an influencer campaign, some of the trust that the influencer has is transferred over to you. As you know, influencers are trusted individuals. In fact, a study found that 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement. What does this mean in practice?
It means that when an influencer recommends your brand, people trust their recommendation, and they’ll trust that you are a good brand.
But this also puts a responsibility on you as a brand, from many aspects. First, you have a responsibility to make sure the influencer’s word is kept. If the influencer recommends you to their followers, says you are awesome, and then it turns out that you are nothing like the influencer describes you, you’ll not only scare away people from your page, but you’ll also harm the trust that people have in you.
Think about it: If you get a recommendation to do something from a friend, and then it turns out to be terrible, you’ll, of course, have that in mind the next time they recommend something.
You also have a responsibility towards yourself to keep your promises. Now, it might be the case that you haven’t actually made any promises, and everything that the influencer says is all on them, but on the other hand, don’t you want to be recognized the way the influencer describes your brand?
Probably, because if you’ve chosen an influencer that resonates with your brand and even better, that has been a fan of yours before the partnership, you can be quite sure that what they write is positive.
Influencer marketing helps you reach your audience and gain instant trust from the influencer as a result of trust by association. Furthermore, it then allows you to continue the conversation with your newly acquired audience, and it is here that you have a great opportunity to strenghten your customer relatiosnhips. You only need to know how to engage with them in the right way. One way to do so is to provide value to the people you engage and build relations with.
If you don’t provide value, and only ask people for favors, people will quickly get tired of you, and they’ll go somewhere else. This is because they will feel like they aren’t getting anything out of the relationship.
In other words, for any type of relationships, no matter if they are the result of influencer marketing campaigns or if they are built by consistent interactions with your audience, they have to be mutual in order to become long-lasting relationships.
So how can you provide value? Well, this is the trickier part.
One way is to provide value in the form of information and expertise. As a brand, you clarly know things that your audience don’t. And by sharing that knowledge, your audinece will perceive this as value. If your audience isn’t really asking questions, encourage them to do so!
Another way to bring value is by giving the people you interact with something exclusive and unique. For example if you’re talking to someone on social media, you can say “Let me know if you would like a personal discount code. We really value and appreciate your business”. That way, you give them something personalized, and at the same time show your appreciation.
Now, as you can imagine, there are countless of ideas that you can use here to bring value, but some things you want to have in mind that will improve your results are:
- Personalize the experience (speak to individuals, not a large group)
- Do some research about what it is they find valuable and give them that.
Engage with the people interacting with the influencer’s post
When you run an influencer campaign, and an influencer makes a post about your brand. But not everyone who sees the post will flock to your account out of curiosity. Some people will, but in order to increase that number, and make more people curious aobut your brand, there is a smart trick that you can leverage.
People will react to the influencer post in different ways, but sometimes, something else is needed than simply seeing a piece of content in order to be fully engaged. And this is where you step in.
Remember that it is impossible to build relationships without interacting with people and just relying on influencer recommendations. Strong customer relationships are built after the first interaction, and then from countless interactions after that.
So, how can you leverage the influencer campaign to build relationships?
Well, there will be people who engage with the post of the influencer without starting to follow you, or in any other way engage with you. Some people won’t even realize that the post is a promotion of your brand, and others will think about it for a few seconds and then forget about it.
But the good news is that the majority of people who engage with the influencer’s post will be people who, firstly, look up to the influencer, secondly, might be interested in your brand, and thirdly are interested in the industry you are in. In other words, these are the people you want to reach.
Since the people who have engaged with the influencer’s post, they have shown some kind of interest, and this is something you want to take advantage of.
Therefore, you should engage with every single comment that the influencer gets on their social media post. Let’s say the influencer receives a question – then hop in and respond to that question.
Some might argue that it should be the influencer who should do that, but when you interact with them, not only do you make them more aware of your brand, you also show off your amazing customer service and personality. Also, the truth is that the influencer may not even know the answers to all questions themselves. And if you step in and interact, many people will begin to follow you. If people ask questions about your brand or product, chances are also that you will be able to answer them better than the influencer.
If you want to take it one step further, you can engage with the people who have liked the post of the influencer. After all, these people have at least shown some kind of interest in the post – but they are not as engaged as the people who have both liked and commented. While there are probably a lot of people who have liked the post, take them one by one and engage with them.
If you want, you can like a few posts of theirs so that they see your brand and possibly start following you. The best part about this is that since they have seen the influencer promotion about your brand, there’s a chance that they have a vague memory of your brand/products, but just cannot remember that they have encountered you before, and this is good because humans like things that feel familiar, thus making them more likely to start engaging with you
Of course, just liking a few posts won’t open up for that first interaction, so ideally, you should send them a private message or leave a comment on their post which opens up for a conversation.
Remember that the problem is not finding people to interact with. The problem influencer marketing solves is helping you identify people in your target audience.
Building relationships with influencers before you partner with them is tremendously important.
If you’re just seeing influencers as an opportunity for you to get exposure, you’re missing the point.
By focusing on building strong relationships with the influencers you plan to partner with, they’ll be happier in seeing you succeed, thus making them do everything in their powers to help you succeed.
If you’ve engaged with them and made them engaged in your brand, they’ll also be much more likely to say yes if you ask if they’d like to partner with you.
However, while it is important to build relationships with the influencers, what is even more important is building relationships with your customers. Building long-term relationships with your customers is perhaps the most powerful and effective marketing strategy there is since it will lead to customer loyalty, and them becoming advocates of your brand,