I’ve worked on the agency side of life for several years now. My job is to make the right consumer demographics aware of my clients’ products. One way to do that is with influencer marketing, which is when I work with key individuals—whether from blogs, social networks or YouTube—in order to reach a certain audience that I wouldn’t normally be able to reach.
If you’ve been following GroupHigh, you’ll know influencer marketing is less about one-off projects and is more about building real relationships over time. Working with influencers on an ongoing basis builds brand trust with their audiences, which impacts brand engagement and purchasing decisions.
But fostering an engaged network of influencers—one that you can tap into for ongoing campaigns—is easier said than done. The landscape in which brands are playing is now more crowded as influencer marketing continues to grow in popularity. Just because you’ve worked with an influencer in the past doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to work with them again.
Brands need to foster better relationships in order to create that happy database of brand advocates. Below are four tips on how to get started.
Keep it authentic
Regardless if you’re offering lucrative sponsorships, coveted products, or once-in-a-lifetime experiences, influencers won’t be part of your network unless what you’re offering is authentic to them. Influencers want to advocate for brands who understand their focus and will enable them to continue doing what they love.
For instance, if you’re a home renovation brand and offer a food influencer a roof tiling campaign, it’s likely you won’t receive participation due to its unnatural fit. Successful brand collaborations are about being part of the ongoing conversation instead of disrupting it.
One way to ensure you provide campaigns that remain authentic to influencers is by finding influencers you want to work with first, and then developing campaigns that make the most sense for them. Even better—involve influencers in the campaign creation process from the get-go.
Surprise & delight
Another way to develop a stronger relationship is to provide little surprises that help make each influencer you’re working with feel special and valued by the brand.
For example, I once worked with a retailer to coordinate the above workout challenge amongst bloggers. When I sent each blogger her fitness tracker for the challenge, I also sent along additional surprise items, such as nutrition bars and reusable water bottles. These small surprise gifts added value and a personal touch. As a result, each influencer was more excited to work with the brand.
A brand’s surprise and delight effort doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive or time consuming. It can be as little as sending along a personalized note within each product shipment. The point is, when given the opportunity, brands should always offer personalized surprises as a way to establish an emotional connection with your network.
Always be available
For any kind of influencer marketing campaign, it goes without saying that you should always be readily available to the influencers, whether by email or phone. But what you may not know is that you should also be available to take on other brand touchpoints that aren’t under your obvious responsibility or control.
For instance, I once took it upon myself to contact a local shipping company on behalf of my influencer because her product arrived fine, but along the way, someone had drawn inappropriate images on the shipping box. While this is a rare scenario, it’s important to think about all the different touchpoints an influencer will have with the brand that makes the overall experience.
Image via mrscupcakes5
For most retail/ecommerce brands that sell consumer products, shipping and delivery is done through 3rd parties, like with FedEx, UPS and USPS. Because of this, it’s easy to think it’s not part of the overall marketing campaign and one you shouldn’t follow up with. But as you can see in the above video, some influencers even include the shipping box as part of their coverage. So it’s not enough to pass along tracking numbers alone. Brands should be readily available for all touchpoints, whether 3rd party or not, in order to create solid relationships.
Personalize your thanks
It’s common practice to send thank you emails to each influencer after campaigns, as well as share a note of thanks on social for all who participated. What brands can do instead, though, to really create an impression is send handwritten thank you notes.
For example, I had worked with 20 influencers for a brand collaboration that lasted several months. By the end, I not only sent thank you emails, but shipped handwritten notes to each influencer that expressed how much I’d love to keep working with them. You’d be surprised by the overwhelming response to this personalized touch.
Influencers spend a lot of time and energy on writing posts, social shares, and/or editing videos for brand collaborations. So when brands take the time to realize that and thank them for it, it boosts the relationship.
Influencer marketing is not about making transactional deals with people who have engaged audiences. Instead, it’s about building real relationships with people who consumers trust and want to hear from. Brands should aim to work with influencers on an ongoing basis as a way to establish brand trust with their audience.
But having worked with an influencer once is not enough to foster good relationships. It’s all about going the extra mile by providing personal touches—from offering an authentic campaign, to following up with a handwritten thank you note—to ensure your database of influencers remain happy and willing to work with your brand.
How do you build great relationships with your network? Share in the comments below!