The New Year’s Race to Motivate and Inspire Social Influencers Begins

Opinion: Product swag is so 2014

Building meaningful relationships and gaining influencer advocacy can be a struggle oatawa/iStock

With the holiday shopping season behind us, brands are shifting gears to refining and implementing their 2018 strategies, with a focus on competing for the loyalty of influencers.
Building meaningful relationships and gaining influencer advocacy can be a struggle among this saturation.
There are three pillars for brands to consider in facilitating these partnerships: aligning with a wider cause, maintaining consistent transparency and partnering with a third-party technology provider that is intimately aware of what makes an influencer tick.

Pillar No. 1: The human element—connecting an influencer to a brand’s cause

It’s no secret that associating a charitable element with your brand makes it more human and relatable. As an influencer and a consumer, it’s very easy to connect with a brand if you believe in its mission.
A great example is Toms Shoes. For Toms fans, it’s not only the simple, slip on style that makes supporters rave—it’s also that relatable, fuzzy feeling a customer gets knowing that they’ve helped a child in need through their purchase.
Psychology research has proven that giving is more satisfying than receiving. People like to feel like they are contributing to the greater good, so it makes sense that influencers gravitate toward brands that allow them to contribute to the world.
Take Alyssa Milano’s decision to partner with BoxedWater for the ReTree Project—a venture that promised to plant two trees for each Instagram photo using the hashtag #ReTree. With a strong social following and celebrity status, Milano had her pick of other brands to partner with. She gravitated toward BoxedWater’s unique campaign because it allowed her to contribute to a wider cause that she was already passionate about environmentalism.
In turn, the brand also sees better results. A recent media study in Nature magazine explored the connection between brand charity with social engagement. The study found that social influencers involved with charitable campaigns often received better engagement than those that did not. What’s more, the majority of the campaigns that yielded strong success had social influencers deeply rooted in the strategy.

Pillar No. 2: The value of maintaining consistent transparency

Tapping into charitable causes has proven successful for major brands, but one of the true keys to successful influencer motivation is transparency.
As customers are still reeling from a turbulent 2017—inclusive of major data breaches and social transparency issues—marketers are engaging with a more cautious and skeptical audience.
Influencers are no different. As they grow in popularity and demand, they require more transparency from the brands they work with through fair compensation practices and exclusive access to digital assets.
A great example of transparency in action is beauty entrepreneur and YouTube superstar Michelle Phan, founder of Ipsy, a beauty subscription service. Instead of using traditional advertising, Phan has an army of vloggers and beauty-box subscribers who are open with their followers about their relationship with Ipsy. Because Phan knows the value and demand of these influencers, she uses transparent best practices to keep them motivated.
We are also seeing governing bodies recognize the importance of transparency. Earlier this year, in the wake of the Federal Trade Commission’s disclosure requirement, Instagram announced new regulations for influencers to fully disclose any brand relationships. This allows influencers to maintain trust with their loyal followers by being up front with them about sponsored content. By not adhering to the guidelines, both brands and advertisers risk being fined or blacklisted from platforms.
These examples show that transparency is not just a trend—it’s quickly becoming a best practice in how to do business. The key takeaway for marketers to keep in-demand influencers motivated is to be consistently transparent with them through compensation best practices and exclusive access to digital assets. Why? This maintains a trust that will keep them around to advocate for your product on social, as well as increase your bottom line.

Pillar No. 3: Creatively rewarding influencers—the value of third party tech

 Let’s say you’ve done it all: tied your influencer campaign to a charitable cause and remained consistently transparent with them throughout the entire campaign. How else can a marketing team creatively motivate these in-demand influencers? Third-party tech.