By Sanchit Sareen, Manager, Influencer Customer Success team, Impact EMEA
Building and managing influencer relationships doesn’t need to be a speculative, haphazard or time-consuming process. Set up and maintained according to the right principles, influencer marketing can be harmonious and mutually beneficial while yielding valuable insights along the road. Try these tips and see how your strategy shapes up.
Don’t be dazzled by scale
Many brands make the mistake of believing only the biggest influencers with the highest volume of followers can achieve their results, when what they really need is a more targeted approach focused around their own objectives. If you are a travel brand targeting students, for example, it makes sense to include a broad range of influencers who speak specifically to that audience. In this instance, a micro or a nano influencer with a relevant, proven audience may have a far greater impact than a comparatively big name, especially if those influencers are students or travellers themselves; or perhaps a mid tier influencer who is known to have a topic based engaged audience. When looking for the right fit, consider who makes up your audience, which social channels they use, who they trust and listen to, and what drives them to purchase.
Where working with nano- and micro-influencers sounds like the obvious choice, there still remains the challenge of spotting the right ones in a sea of possibilities. A good discovery tool will allow you to search the millions of potential partners available, trawling potential influencers to discover those who are regularly posting relatable content and personally engaging with their following. Automation tools can enable you to apply follower and engagement-quality insights such as “audience authenticity” and even look for high-risk attributes including incentivised follower growth patterns and suspicious engagement rates. A robust discovery tool should also be able to filter influencers based on geography, reach, demo, interest and competitors who also use them.
Lock down something real
To get the best out of influencers, enterprises need to shift their approach from simple “discover and recruit” to creating mature partnerships that consider the full life cycle – from discovery through to delivery, performance tracking and payments. Building rewarding relationships with influencers through effective communication, and rewarding them based on results, will help create a sense of loyalty, which is critical to a mature partnership programme. When done right, your organisation will grow faster than those of your competitors.
Don’t treat it like a transaction
According to research from just 2019, 37% of marketers still struggle to set goals and understand results with their influencer marketing programmes [source: Relatable]. As the era of using “followers” as currency dies, so does the tactic of paying for posts, especially if you have no way of measuring performance. Influencer marketing is most successful when you recruit genuine advocates of the brand, and then measure the results of their advocacy against the business goals you’ve set out. That tends to mean a shift toward long-term relationships, as opposed to one-off deals, and it means not paying without measurement.
Think of your influencer relationships like any other partnership
You could, if you liked, compare an influencer partnership to a romantic relationship. If a romantic partner seems to be losing interest or generally “underperforming”, it doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship is over, but it does suggest there’s been a breakdown in communication. As with any relationship, it’s best not to give up right away. Make an effort to understand their love language: try words of affirmation (positive feedback and encouragement); gifts (a payment model and rewards based on good performance); quality time (make them feel special and check in throughout the campaign); and, er, physical touch (not recommended literally, but hand-holding, in the form of regular communication, can work wonders).
When one-to-one communication is a challenge: automate
We know that the personal touch can enhance a partner’s motivation and performance, but how do you make all your influencer partners feel special when you’re running a programme at scale? Sometimes, the only realistic way is through automation. An automated influencer recruitment workflow will allow you to reach out to prospects at volume on a virtual one-to-one basis, even if it’s really the platform doing the work. Automation tools can enable you to build conditions, logic, lists and messaging that aligns with the business and resonates with influencer partners. Once this is set up, you not only save time, you can be assured everything is running smoothly.
Rising to the challenge
To get the best out of influencer partners, it’s important to have full visibility of the recruitment funnel so you can track and measure the overall impact of recruitment efforts across multiple dimensions. A sufficiently smart platform enables you to commission influencers based on their position in the conversion path, or any number of custom parameters and special terms. This kind of payout flexibility is vital to mutual rewarding partnerships. Meanwhile, multi-layered tracking combats cookie blocking and lets you connect the dots across all types of events, channels, and devices. Cross-device reporting helps you gain a deeper understanding of your customers, recognise each partner’s true contribution to conversions and reward influencer partners appropriately.