Brand Influence Takes a Real Relationship—Not a One-Night Stand

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This is a guest post by Krishna Subramanian, co-founder, Captiv8.

Sure, instant gratification can be pretty nice – but only for a moment. If you’re looking for lasting happiness, you’ve got to play the long game. That’s as true for brands as it is for people. Yet, when it comes to influencer marketing, all too many companies are settling for one-night stands instead of developing the kind of deeper relationships that can pay off better for brands, influencers, and consumers alike.

It’s easy to understand the temptation. As influencer marketing becomes the place to be, brands can be eager to get their name out there—and if one influencer is good, wouldn’t it be even better to partner with a bunch of them? That’s the approach taken by companies like Skylanders, Pretty Little Thing and Sonic, who’ve built campaigns around a series of different influencers who create one post each. The results can seem impressive enough—views and likes by the hundreds of thousands. But how much of that momentary virality translates into real brand impact, and how long does it last?

There are three factors that can make an ongoing influencer relationship much more valuable for brands than a one-off post.

1. Creativity

Content is king—but it’s notoriously hard to get right, especially for video. Bad campaigns are a dime a dozen, and the landscape is littered with botched creatives. Social media stars, on the other hand, live and die by their ability to create the kind of content people want to see. So when you’re working with someone who creates great content, why would you have them make just one piece for you and then say goodbye? By building continuity and trust with each other, you can allow greater latitude (within guidelines, of course) for the influencer to turn their imagination loose for your brand. An ongoing relationship also creates opportunities for continued storylines across seasons, like a series of posts for back-to-school, Black Friday, the kick-off of NFL season, and so on.

2. Authenticity

As you harness the proven content chops of your partner, it’s simple to see that the deeper your commitment is to the relationship, the more the influencer will also put into it—more of their creativity, more of their personality, more of their credibility. That trust will come through to their followers, too. An influencer who hops from brand to brand throughout the day can understandably come to seem like a sellout, their endorsements carrying no more weight than the next ad banner on the page. To make a real emotional connection with the influencer’s followers, you need to be part of their life—and part of their content—over time. If customers see that the influencer genuinely cares about a brand, they’ll start to care, too.

3. Reach

In simple terms, a single post gives you one chance to reach an audience. The biggest star in social media can’t help you if half their followers happen to miss your appearance. A series of posts gives both larger reach and stronger resonance. Done right, your posts can become a theme of the creator’s feed—even a running storyline or gag—which can draw even more engagement and interest.

Want to see what a real influencer relationship can look like? Check out the work Joy Cho has been doing for Target, where her followers can now shop her own product line. Or Arielle Noa Charnas, who’s made Armani and Sephora fixtures of her feed. Campaigns like these may take longer to cultivate—but the rewards are worth it.

09efbafKrishna Subramanian is co-founder of Captiv8, an analytics platform that connects brands and influencers across social.

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