In the growing and evolving world of Influencer Marketing, marketers must not forget that working with influencers is all about building a relationship with partners and not just looking at them as another media spend. Relationship building is the backbone of the practice–it’s how you get the best work out of influencers–and as brands seek to advance their campaigns with more partners on more complex, diverse, and emerging platforms, it’s going to be paramount not leave these best practices behind in the year ahead.
1. Spark the conversation way in advance
No active campaign? No problem. Take an influencer out for coffee and introduce yourself. Let them know who you are, what you’re working on, and your plans for the future. Get them excited about a potential partnership and provide nuggets to for them hold onto so as things happen organically in their lives they know when, how, and why to reach out to you, saving you time and energy down the road.
2. Make influencer goals your goals
As a strategic marketer, you’re probably planning your campaigns and activations well in advance, as you should. However, this creates a one-way street for influencer partners as they have to align with your already-built vision and approach. Instead, ask the influencer what their goals and aspirations are before you get to planning–what they want to accomplish in the next six months to a year–and figure out a way to make their objectives your own. With aligned goals, not only will the partnership be much easier to navigate, consumers will react to how organic the content feels...because it actually is organic.
3. Tap into influencer-to-influencer (i2i) relationships
A great way to build influencer relationships at scale is to ask about their influencer friends–it’s a win-win-win. First, your influencer gets to be the hero by setting their friend for a potential brand deal. You win because you’re getting a foot-in with a qualified potential partner. And the influencer you’re about to meet is getting an inbound opportunity from a trusted source. Certainly consider doing this after a campaign ends, but if you can build this type of networking into your program to tackle diverse deliverables it can be a quick way to scale outputs efficiently.
4. Build long-term partnerships
While this isn’t a revolutionary idea, in 2020 it will be more important than ever to keep your trusted influencers close and integrated frequently. With new types of content and platforms reaching consumers on the daily, consistency is paramount for resonance. Not only will you be rewarded with greater outputs, but it will eliminate overhead paperwork–get the W9, contract, and payment terms locked in just once and then you’ll be off to the races focusing on doing the (fun) work, and not buried in redlines.
5. Negotiations: Cut to the chase
Everybody has their own best practices and styles for reaching out to influencers, but when it comes to the brass tax it’s all the same–payment, legal terms, business terms, and deliverables. Sure, you can do your best to negotiate for every inch, but having an internal discussion in advance of outreach to determine where your brand cannot budge is a great way to streamline negotiations and eliminate back-and-forths. Once you determine what you’re comfortable with, consider putting that into one of the first pieces of communication to the influencer in clear and concise language. Let them know where you’re at off the bat, and make it as easy as possible for them to consider the offer and figure out what will and will not work for them. Please realize: negotiations are a great way to build a relationship with an influencer. Although it can be stressful, don’t think of it as a battle–hink of it as a way to get to know each other better.
6. Pay influencers partially upfront and on-time via ACH
Nothing will make an influencer want to work harder for you than paying them partially upfront and on time. Of course, influencers can have many motivations for working with a brand that will drive them to go above-and-beyond, but knowing that the money is in their pocket is quite strong. This tells the influencer “they care about me and want me to succeed.” Plus, if there any production costs the influencer won’t have to sweat fronting cash. Paying via ACH is a great way to ensure that the payment is done quickly, but also will save you work down the line as you can set up that vendor payment structure once and then use it many times again in the future.
7. Beef up the brief
Ambiguity is an influencer’s enemy. Creative guardrails are one thing, but if you have specifics you need to see in the influencer output, it is important to make sure the brief you send to the influencer reflects that. Don’t skimp on the brief, but it shouldn’t be so dense that the influencer can’t navigate it to find the details they need in real-time. Organize it in a way that is palatable, detailed, and inspiring. Customize the brief just for them and use plain English and visuals to set expectations and highlight mandatories. It also doesn’t hurt to jump on the phone to walk the influencer through the document–another great relationship-building moment. The goal here is to reduce back-and-forth and make sure all parties are set up for success.