Businesses and brands are increasingly using influencer marketing to reach and engage with customers worldwide. However, with thousands of social media influencers, hundreds of influencer marketing companies, and as many different advertising goals as there are brands, an untold number of ways exist to execute an influencer marketing campaign.
Still, a common component that many successful campaigns share is positive relationships with influencers. With real people at the campaign helm, influencer marketing typically requires a higher level of personalization than more traditional advertising methods. To build and nurture these kinds of connections, it’s wise for brands to become well-versed in influencer relationship management (IRM).
For marketers unfamiliar with influencer relationship management, it can be helpful to understand how IRM compares to customer service management (CRM).
CRM is the way that businesses manage the relationship with their customers. A CRM system can include anything from data about a client or consumer, to B2C communications, to projections around future sales.
Similarly, influencer relationship management covers anything necessary to create strong and positive relationships with social media influencers. This can include information about an influencer’s interests, to preferred ways of communication, to awareness of their long-term goals as an online personality or businessperson.
Since IRM is not tailored toward customers, however, different strategies and techniques are employed to manage these relationships. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the best strategies for businesses to establish and enhance IRM.
Brands can pursue their influencer relationship management strategy through three different avenues:
1. Select the right influencers – The first step in creating a positive relationship with an influencer is ensuring a proper match. Businesses should partner with influencer(s) who fit their brand voice and have complementary goals. Moreover, influencers who are interested in establishing constructive workflows, as well as those who have a track record of executing successful campaigns, are more likely to be capable of productive and mutually beneficial relationships.
2. Be honest and straightforward – Telling influencers exactly what a brand’s goals and expectations are from the outset is vital for establishing a fruitful partnership. Furthermore, businesses shouldn’t over-promise compensation (money, merchandise, travel, etc.) or future work to influencers. Setting a precedent for honesty and pragmatism will be greatly appreciated by influencers — especially those fielding multiple opportunities.
3. Build a personal relationship – Influencers are individuals who have made powerful businesses out of their personal brands. However, at the core of every online personality is a human being looking for relationships that can enhance their real-world lives. Look to create genuine partnerships with influencers and make them feel a part of your team.
4. Think long-term – Many influencers will be more excited about long-term collaborations than one-off campaigns. Approaching relationships with influencers as more of a marathon than a sprint will create the potential for the partnerships to go further.
5. Compensate influencers fairly – In addition to personable relationships, influencers should be compensated appropriately for their efforts. Depending on the size of an influencer’s audience, monetary compensation isn’t always requested. That said, providing fair compensation to influencers will help foster a lasting relationship and gives brands greater or added ability to control content and messaging.
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6. Communicate with influencers – Communication is key to any healthy relationship and influencer collaborations are no different. It’s wise for brands to keep lines of communication open before, during, and after campaigns. Moreover, updating influencers on company happenings — regardless of any active marketing effort — can help strengthen influencer and brand relationships.
7. Promote influencers – Unless otherwise agreed upon, having a public relationship with influencers outside of official campaigns can be incredibly beneficial. Promotion of influencers through a brand’s social media account, website, or in other content mediums is often welcomed and appreciated. Ask first, but show influencers that you can help raise awareness for them, too.
8. Offline relationships – With the normalcy and frequency of our virtual interactions, it’s easy to forget that offline relationships add a different kind of value to our lives. Consider inviting influencers to trade shows, product launches, and other business events. Additionally, allowing influencers to become a part of company culture by welcoming their presence at retreats and office parties can personalize the relationship even further.
9. Ask influencers what they want – Influencers are unique individuals whose needs don’t necessarily fit neatly into the rows of a marketing spreadsheet. With that in mind, ask influencers about their ultimate goals for their careers. As a business, see how you can help influencers get to where they want to go.
10. Partner with an agency – An influencer marketing agency is a business that specializes in facilitating relationships between brands and influencers. Qualified agencies can connect brands with the right influencers for their campaigns, including some of the world’s biggest online personalities. Offering a wide range of services in the influencer space, these agencies not only help to create smooth and effective relationships, they can also manage entire integrated campaigns from beginning to end.