Choosing to work with digital influencers to promote your product or brand should be an easy decision. After all, 67 percent of marketing professionals have admitted that social media influencers have helped them reach their target audience.
Leveraging influencers is a great way to drive sales and engagement for your business, but if you don’t know the ins and outs of the influencer marketing game, it can be hard to navigate.
One aspect that is often mismanaged and difficult to maneuver is developing positive influencer relations.
Working with people you trust and working on strong relationships with influencers is especially important for small brands looking to build up their social media presence. Unfortunately, those smaller brands likely have the least experience with influencer marketing and don’t know the important details that can set up a campaign for success.
It is incredibly challenging to gain the trust of an influencer after they have a poor experience with a particular brand, so before trying to take on influencer marketing yourself, consider these five tips for how to build a successful relationship, and campaign, with digital influencers.
Have a good idea of what you need and be transparent with your demands
Make sure you know what you want from an influencer before approaching them with an offer. Be clear with your expectations and what you hope to gain out of the campaign.
Most influencers are very particular about what they will and will not post because their audience trusts them to only post content that they truly believe in and products they feel good about promoting. Being transparent up front will lead to higher success throughout a campaign, as influencers who are not interested in participating can choose to opt out right away.
After you both agree on terms, do not drastically change your mind or expect more from the influencer. An influencer relationship gets soured quickly if they feel like the ask changes after they’ve agreed to participate. However, it is fair to ask for reasonable edits or good faith correction of content.
Reward success—work with strong people consistently
Although there are plenty of fish in the sea, it may not be the best idea to work with different influencers for every campaign. One may think that they are exposing themselves to newer audiences and, therefore, gathering more value, but ultimately there is a cost to switching.
Reaching your target audience and achieving strong brand recognition is just as valuable as broad exposure. This is especially true if you have had strong initial results and have established a stable relationship with an influencer or a few influencers.
By working with the same influencer on several projects, mutual understanding is formed. Doing so leads to a more trusting relationship between you, the influencer and, ultimately, that influencer’s audience.
Set clear timelines and precise guidelines
Making sure all parties understand the timeline for what is expected is key to the success of any project. Influencer marketing is certainly not an exception, especially on large-scale campaigns involving a high number of content pieces. Unreasonable changes of requests on short notice are a huge burden on the influencer and will likely damage your working relationship.
For influencers, content is the product, and asking them to make last minute changes or deadlines will put unwanted stress and distrust in the interaction. It’s best for everyone involved to allow enough time to create the best content possible. Make sure to provide the influencers with as much timing information as possible to enhance the likelihood of success.
That being said, a relationship with an influencer is a professional relationship, and you should not be willing to accept unreasonable delays on their part, in the same fashion that they should not expect unfair timing from you.
Make realistic demands
Influencers will be turned off quickly if the ask outweighs the offer. An outstanding 40 percent of influencers said budget is the biggest challenge when working with brands.
Asking for three posts with a website link from an influencer with 200,000 followers in exchange for a free T-shirt is not realistic. This practice has led strong players in the influencer marketing space to devise elaborate pricing tools (e.g., Open Influence pricing technology).
This problem goes both ways. If you are an influencer who occasionally gets paid over market value, don’t expect to price-gouge your clients every single time, and don’t get offended when they refuse and suggest a more proven market value.
Most important: Work with the right influencers
Despite doing everything correctly, a marketing campaign that is poorly targeted is likely to go wrong. Hone in on your target audience. When it comes to influencer marketing, an audience’s interest is much more important than their age, gender or ethnicity. Find an influencer who has that audience and interests that you are trying to reach.
Efficient marketing is about communicating a brand’s values and, if the values are not shared with the influencer, the campaign will probably do poorly.
Take into account that 78 percent of influencers are self-managed. At the end of the day, influencers are people; some are great to work with, some are not. Working with people means building a trusting, open relationship. Give influencers the respect they deserve and expect them to show you and, ultimately, your brand, the same.
It can be scary to put your brand into a stranger’s hands, but the strongest influencers know what they are doing and can take your digital marketing to the next level. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask industry professionals for recommendations.
Felix LaHaye is co-founder, head of talent and ad operations and chief operating officer at influencer marketing platform Open Influence.