One of the most frustrating things about consulting with different brands on the subject of influencer marketing is that I feel like a lot of the best stuff is left on the table, with brands moving on too quickly and bloggers wondering why they never hear anything more.

It’s a sad symptom of the fact that most social media and PR people are simply overworked, ROI cycles are too quick, and campaigns are measured in days and weeks instead of months and years. That doesn’t have to be the case though, so here are 19 ways you can maximize your influencer marketing investment.

  1. Laser target your “inner circle” of influencers
  2. Build personal relationships with that group
  3. Email them on their birthday
  4. RT / share their blog posts
  5. Favorite / RT / Share / Like their posts about your brand
  6. Ask them for their insight on new products / services
  7. Invite them to lunch if you are in their town
  8. Tag them in social media posts as relevant
  9. Send them surprise and delight gifts
  10. Ask what THEY would like to do
  11. Invite them to a conference
  12. Ask for their advice on other people the brand should work with
  13. Share positive internal feedback on their content
  14. Create an internal list of influencers and make sure that PR, Marketing, and Social Media teams know who the VIP Influencers are.
  15. Friend them (personally) on social channels
  16. Like / Follow their pages with your corporate social channels
  17. Feature them in decks, press releases, and presentations (and let them know)
  18. Set up a media page on the site and link to their post(s)
  19. Work with them again!

This list is obviously not doable for hundreds or thousands of influencers but it should be manageable for a brand ambassador network of 15-20 people. The most important key to making this happen is the first tip I listed, without having a laser focus on who the right people are, the rest of it is trash.

We’ll discuss how to identify the right person in detail later. However, at a basic level it is essential that they are aligned with your brand. Don’t go just for “numbers” since initially, the relationship with many of the bigger bloggers and social influencers will be entirely a paid one, and that’s tough to move on from. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with paying someone for a service, but you want more than just a transactional relationship here.

Your goal with this is to develop a strong relationship between the brand and the influencer that transcends paying for an individual blog post and will produce additional benefits such as being top of mind when they speak with the media, respond to personal requests for recommendations, alert you to conversations about the brand, and serve as a private focus group to help guide your decisions.

James Hills combines the talents of being a professional travel and lifestyle blogger at ManTripping.com, with a history of leading influencer relations programs at some of the top ecommerce brands in the world including: Sears, Kmart, Staples, and ProFlowers. Today, in addition to writing about men’s lifestyle topics he also is building #MenWhoBlog, a consultancy focused on helping marketers engage with male bloggers

In his free time, he enjoys traveling, tasting spirits, smoking a cigar, and trying new things – just for the heck of it! You can reach him at @ManTripping r or via email at james@mantripping.com.