Successful digital influencer work is based on building deep relationships that matter. Whether it’s research and identification, creating value for both the influencer and the brand or execution and measurement – the path to truly mastering this art is laced with subtlety and nuance.
Think about your own personal relationships. You don’t make demands without considering the other person’s needs. You take their advice, especially on matters they know well. You say and do nice things without requiring anything in return. You remember things they’ve told you. You use your intuition and are empathetic to their concerns. You permit the closeness and trust to develop organically over time.
If we carry these same principles into the way we manage our influencer relationships, we will earn – not buy – their trust and influence, which will be reflected in the way they communicate with their audience. By maintaining and respecting their authority and authenticity, we are better servicing the industry, our consumers and our brand. It may be difficult to get there, but the partnership will matter more and last longer; our work will be more impactful, more credible, and more persuasive.
Here are a few tangible examples of how this might come to life:
1) Research: We use research to find authentic, credible and relevant influencers with whom we can partner. The equally important reason, however, is to dive knee deep into the selected influencers’ life-happenings, interests, tensions, frustrations, passions and skills. This way, when you first conduct outreach, you will ask them about their family trip to California last weekend; you will express admiration for the last video they created; you will ask them to expand on their interests and passions. Just by asking the right questions and showing genuine interest, you will have quickly differentiated yourself from your competitors and will become someone they want to work with and help succeed.
2) Flexibility: Once you have a high-level concept, discuss it with the influencer. Explain what you are thinking but leave room for their input and suggestions. As a more integrated or even leading decision maker on the campaign, the influencer will be significantly more vested in its success. This is a much more impactful scenario than influencers showing up where and when they are told, simply fulfilling their contract for a paycheck. Their tone will be more passionate, their voice will be louder and more frequent, and you’ll have content that will break through the clutter.
3) Stay Connected: Once your influencer campaign is over, don’t simply stop contact. Share metrics and results with the influencer. Ask their advice on campaign optimization. Thank them for their partnership with a thoughtful memento of the experience (which could even warrant an additional post)! Periodically, reach out to update them on the brand, tailoring it to what they would find most interesting. And, of course, don’t forget to wish them a happy birthday or congratulate them on their newborn! These efforts will deepen the relationship and increase the enthusiasm they bring to your next partnership.
Building meaningful relationships isn’t easy, nor are such relationships built over night. But with time, genuine interest, care, respect and humility, relationships with influencers can be more fruitful and persuasive than any other form of communication today.