Some marketers believe that the key to a successful influencer campaign is to partner with as many influencers as possible, and with influencers that have as many followers as possible.
However, this means that they see influencers as a one-time-use object, and unfortunately, this mindset prevents you as a brand and the influencer to generate the best possible marketing results with your partnerships.
A huge challenge for marketers, in the first place, is to get the influencer’s attention. Before marketers can partner with the influencers and set up campaigns with them – whether, through long-term partnerships or one-time collaborations, they need to contact them, agree to a deal, and then set up the campaign. And this process can be lengthy and time-consuming.
The mindset of partnering with influencers for a single campaign is completely wrong in today’s influencer and social media landscape. And this is something that far too many marketers have gotten all wrong.
The fact of the matter is that the best results are generated when you build strong relationships with the influencers you partner with and make them long-term ambassadors and advocates for your brand. When you do, the influencer will be far more engaged in your brand and have a stronger will to help you create the best campaign possible.
Moreover, when you think long-term with your influencer partnerships, the endorsements of the influencer will come off as far more authentic than if they would recommend your brand one time and then never talk about it again.
Another thing that happens when you don’t build long-term relationships with influencers is that they’ll jump onto the next brand deal with the next brand that approaches them. A problem with this is that if this brand is very similar to yours, how trustworthy do you think the influencer will be when they endorse your brand one day, and then endorse a competitor of yours the next day and says that that brand’s products are the best?
Very negatively of course!
When brands and marketers only work with influencers short-term, there’s a risk that they’ll become desperate and hop on any brand deal that comes their way. And ultimately, they’ll lose credibility and trust. Indirectly, you are part of the reason if that happens, because you aren’t seeing the untapped potential of long-term partnerships with influencers.
The best influencer marketing results are achieved when you build strong relationships with them and focus on the long-term rather than short-term. Weak relationships translate into promotions that are inauthentic and don’t have any credibility. To improve the ROI of your campaigns, you need to build relationships where the influencer actually wants to see you win, and where they do everything they can to make that happen.
This fitness influencer, for example, promotes 1st Phorm’s supplements consistently, thus coming off as more credible:
1. Reach out to them the right way
Cold outreach is NOT the right way to approach influencers.
A common question I hear and get asked is “How can I be sure the influencer will respond?”.
The truth is that there is no guarantee!
It almost solely depends on the way you reach out to them.
Sure, you can reach out to them in the most perfect way, following all the rules in the book but still don’t get a respond but if this is the case, it’s either because they aren’t interested and the partnership wouldn’t have been a success either way, or because they missed your message. If the latter is the case, it’s good to send a friendly reminder of your initial message, asking if they missed it, or just haven’t had the time to respond.
If you want to build long-term relationships, you are going to have to interact and engage with them before you reach out to them. you cannot simply do a cold-outreach and expect to build any relationships.
Since when did you become great friends with someone after doing a cold-outreach to them?
The first and most obvious step to building your relationship with the influencer is to start following them on their social media or blog. When doing so, you should be a highly loyal follower that engages and interacts with every single post they share. Like their posts, leave a thoughtful comment, or retweet their tweets. In fact, why not do all? What this also allows you to do is get a better sense of what they are all about and what content they share.
To stand out from the crowd and to become a person they recognize and whose support they start appreciating, put great thought into the comments you leave. Writing “Nice” isn’t exactly something that will make an impact on them and make them remember you. Your comment should show that you’ve taken your time to look at their post and leave a comment based on it.
When you do this on a regular basis, they’ll start becoming more appreciative of you, and they will know you have been a supporter of them. This will make them more positive to a partnership once you reach out to them because they have grown so fond of your brand.
There are different ways you can reach out to the influencer. Email, private message, phone, etc.
The way you approach them isn’t really that important, however, influencers often prefer email because it is more professional.
2. Give Them Creative Freedom
Creative freedom is extremely important for influencers.
It is also extremely important for you too.
Because who knows the influencer’s audience best? You or the influencer?
Therefore, the influencer knows exactly what type of content will resonate well with their audience and what won’t. Their agenda is to share content that their audience will like, and the type of content that performs well is the type of content that generates great marketing results for you!
Creative freedom is also important for building strong relationships. When you give the influencer creative freedom, you show that you respect them and their ideas. In fact, a TapInfluence study found that the most important thing for influencers is to maintain their authenticity. 71.2% of influencers said that it was the single most important thing in a brand partnership, and if you don’t give them creative freedom, you don’t let them create an authentic campaign.
And this is something that will hurt both you and the influencer.
3. Compensate them fairly
There is so much more to building strong relationships with influencers than simply treating them well and with respect. Because the truth is that if you expect the influencer to do something for you and get close to nothing in return, you are being disrespectful towards them. Think about it:
They spend hours and hours creating content, editing the content and then posting, and if you are offering them very little in compensation, you show that you aren’t valuing your time. As a result, they won’t treat you with respect.
A study by Crowdtap found that the biggest mistake brands make is failing to offer adequate compensation. It’s easy to understand! Knowing how much to give the influencers in payment is extremely difficult. The best is if you ask for their prices, then compare that to the results that you are expecting from the campaign to draw a conclusion of whether or not their prices make sense.
After this, you can start dealing with the price, maybe offer them product compensation on top of the money you pay them etc.
Some influencers will satisfy with only a free product from you, but this will depend on if they actually enjoy your brand and products. Of course, it won’t only depend on that. Some influencers have a policy of only getting paid in cash, but in that case, at least you asked. Just don’t take it for granted that a product sample is all you need to give to an influencer as compensation because of most of the time, that is not the case.
In a Crowdtap study, 68% of influencers said that they would work with a brand more than one if the brand offers them competitive compensation. Therefore, it is quite clear that monetary compensation is important and motivating to a continued partnership.
4. Follow the influencer’s theme, not yours
This is an important part of building strong relationships, and it also has a lot to do with giving them creative freedom.
When brands try to decide too much and want to have full control over the campaign, they also want to decide the theme of the post that the influencer is going to share.
Sure, I get it that the brand wants the influencer’s posts to look like the brand’s posts and follow their theme, but doing this also means that the campaign will come off as inauthentic because it will stand out from the rest of the influencer’s posts.
If you insist on having a similar theme as the influencer in order to provide a more seamless experience for people who go from them to you, you’ll be far better off selecting an influencer who has a similar theme right from the start. Otherwise, you’ll only end up intruding on their own privacy in one way, telling them how to act and what they should do.
5. Only approach relevant influencers
Obviously, this is a major thing to consider when you want to build strong influencer relationships.
If the influencers you approach aren’t relevant to your brand – and the other way around, there’s a risk that the influencer won’t respond to you. Apart from that, there’s a certainty that the partnership won’t be very successful either. If the influencer isn’t relevant to your brand, their audience won’t be relevant to your company, nor will they align well with your company.
What it means is that they are focused on a different niche than you, share completely different content, and have a personality that doesn’t resonate with your brand, they just won’t be interested in your brand.
And when they aren’t interested in your brand, the campaign will come off as inauthentic. It’s impossible to build a relationship with someone who doesn’t care, nor is interested in your brand, right?
When you, instead, find influencers that perfectly match your brand, not only will the campaigns come off as far more authentic. In many cases, people won’t even see it as a promotion because the brand is so perfectly aligned with the influencer’s values and personality.
Building strong relationships with your audience is important for many reasons.
When you build strong relationships with your influencers, you show them that you value and respect them and their time.
As a result, the influencer will value yours.
And most importantly, the influencer you partner with will be much more engaged in your brand an want to help you generate amazing results in your campaign.
As a result, they’ll do everything in their power to help you reach success.
Success is reached when partnerships are win-win relationships, and if both parts feel like they’re benefiting from the partnership, they’ll do the very to help each other reach success.
Etrezory is a brand which has emphasized building influencer relationships and seen great results from it.