Partnering with an influencer is not like purchasing a service – a marketer can’t request services à la carte and expect them to accept. Influencers are more than just a low-cost digital advertising alternative – they’re people before anything else.
They expect, at a minimum, to be treated professionally and with respect, like any other business partner. In fact, most influencers prefer long-term partnerships to one-off posts. They can grow their relationship with a brand that empowers their work or improves their life, and deliver authentic content to their followers in the process.
Forging a mutually beneficial partnership with an influencer is an ongoing task, with three main phases:
- Reaching out and getting their attention
- Beginning a relationship and earning their trust
- Providing value beyond the campaign
Download our ebook for a deep-dive into building better relationships with influencers, or read on for some more inspiration.
1. Reaching Out
If you’ve ever sent an outreach email to a prospect or customer, you know there’s a delicate balance to strike. In order to ask for something, whether it’s a meeting or a sales opportunity, it’s vital to be polite and respectful of the recipient’s time. An influencer is no different. Your outreach should be personalized – don’t templatize your email such that there’s no spirit behind it. Use their first name (if you’re sure you have it right), call out a post of theirs you enjoyed, or even appeal to an interest they’ve expressed. It’s important to show that you’ve done your homework before you reached out.
Your email should be clear and concise, so they know what you’re offering and what you’re asking for, with no smoke and mirrors. Provide a clear-cut request, and if possible, offer a deadline for action. If you want to hear from them by next week, say it – influencers are often busy with their own projects, too.
Provide value with your request – while you don’t have to detail the specifics of compensation just yet, make it apparent that this opportunity will have value for them. In other words, pitch it like you would a new initiative to a colleague. You’re asking them to take part in a project and create something, so you should make it worth their time. Finally, after you’ve sent your outreach email, follow up. Following up shows you’re consistently interested in their work, and indicates that you respect their time and what they have to offer.
2. Beginning a relationship
Once your emails are sent and business is underway, there are several things you can do to get the most out your newfound partnership. If you’re planning on working with an influencer again, it’s important you build a relationship both within and beyond the context of a campaign.
If you treat an influencer with dignity, and act in good faith, there’s a good chance they’ll respond in kind. Assuming you’ve found the right influencer, the brand fit should be organic. Influencers want to be creative, and are eager to work with brands that empower them. According to a study by MediaKix, influencers most often cite creative freedom as the deciding factor in working with a brand.
Thus, you should do your best to support their creativity. When you’re writing project briefs, be clear in what you want delivered, but leave room for style. Don’t head into a project intending to micromanage their process – they’ve cultivated a following for a reason. They know what content works with their audience, and what their audience wants to see. Be realistic in your requests – if an influencer has never produced a video before, don’t expect a hollywood-level production.
That being said, don’t be afraid to challenge them – being creative entails taking some risks. Talk it through with them, and if they’re comfortable taking a chance on a piece of content that’s new or different, do your best to support them.
3. Provide value beyond the campaign
Influencers are rarely just in it for the money. More often than not, they want to creatively explore and share their passions. Providing them with worthwhile opportunities that can grow their channels and improve their craft can help your brand, too. As they improve, gain more followers, and create better content, your brand will be alongside them, sharing in their success.
That kind of success, however, needs to be nurtured. Make meaningful experiences for your influencer partners by giving them good work to do. Send them to events or conferences on your behalf, or maybe even on a trip to create sponsored content for you. While these are aspirational examples, the reality comes down to keeping them engaged with new and exciting ventures.
Ask them what they want to do and see if it can be leveraged for your brand. Empowering their dreams ingrains you in them, too – and their audience will get a front row seat to your partnership. Rest assured, you will earn back the investment with their content.
The final piece to this puzzle is to negotiate fairly. Respect their time and value by offering projects with realistic deadlines, achievable deliverables, and fair compensation. Remember, you’re not just paying for their creative output, you’re paying for their audience, and the expertise required to engage them.
Influencer marketing campaigns are inherently complex. There are a lot of moving parts that each require sensitivity and respect to pull off. Building and nurturing a long-term partnership with an influencer can streamline many of these processes, and make for an organic, mutually beneficial outcome. Download our ebook to learn more about the ins and outs of building better relationships with influencers, and be sure to follow us on social media for more tips and tricks.