An increasing number of brands are focusing on the long-term value of building relationships with influencers and the kind of content collaboration that inspires better engagement with their customers. Given the vast world of blogger and social media influencers in today’s market, getting started with a formal influencer program can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! Keep the below tips in mind as you are getting started:
- Establish clear goals and budget. Influencers can be instrumental in spreading the word about your brand or service to their networks. So having a clear goal in mind of what you hope to accomplish and how much money you want to spend are crucial first steps. This will help ensure you engage the right influencers and implement the best strategy and tactics to reach your target audience(s) and, ultimately, achieve your desired outcome.
- Create authentic partnerships. Most influencers became influencers because they are true to themselves and only post about things that they actually care about. As such, your brand should engage with influencers who are naturally interested in your products or services rather than those who are more focused on the compensation.
- Remember that it’s a two-way street. Brands’ relationships with influencers should be mutually-beneficial. The only way to create a relationship that works effectively for both parties is to have clear, one-on-one conversations with each influencer to establish their criteria for working with your brand and determine if those requirements align with your own budget and goals. It’s important to keep in mind that what works for one influencer could be seen as offensive to another. For example, one influencer could be okay with being compensated in swag, while another might see an offer of swag as demeaning. Bear in mind that each influencer’s post takes a significant amount of time and thought to develop something that will resonate with his or her audience. So, much like working with reporters, every influencer relationship needs to be completely tailored and personalized.
- Let influencers create the content. It can be counterintuitive to us PR people who want to ensure consistent, clear messaging however, in order for influencers to remain authentic and appealing to their followers, they need to be able to create posts in their individual styles. Guidelines that focus on the facts can certainly be established, but the overall creative direction should be left to the discretion of the influencer.
Once your influencer program is up-and-running, it’s important to then manage the relationships closely and measure the program to determine how things can be adjusted or re-strategized. To ensure that the program is always fresh, new creative campaigns should be planned each quarter. And, similar to media relations, it’s important to keep in mind that a one-size-fits-all approach to influencer relations, frankly, doesn’t work.