The backbone of influencer marketing is authenticity, working with influencers to tell your story in their language rather than yours. So where lies all of that authenticity on the stage, with props and scripts on what to say?

We would like influencers to tell our brand stories but often in a voice that is alien to them? Most PR and marketing professionals prefer influencer marketing mainly because of its cost-effectiveness, compared to traditional marketing.

However, a lot of the success derived from influencer marketing lies in how the relationships between Marketing Communications professionals and influencers are managed. Those who are familiar with the influencer marketing space, know that most brands are shifting from one-time influencer collaborations, to long-term partnerships where the influencer becomes an ambassador for that brand.

It is therefore important that Marketing Communications professionals, representing brands, create a good first impression that makes an influencer want to work with them over and over again.

Good influencers would run the other way if approached by a brand for a second collaboration. This, may be because their previous working experience, with that brand, either left them stressed or provided little to no value.

So, how does one go about building and sustaining meaningful relationships with influencers they work with, to secure long-lasting brand partnership?

Give influencers enough time to work

This boils down to basic etiquette, a lot goes into creating content, from planning, coming up with a creative concept, thinking about the location, the need to hire a videographer or photographer, etc. You do not want to be contacting an influencer the day before you decide to run a campaign and expect them to create quality content for you.

Any influencer worth their salt, would be justified to turn you down. As mentioned in one of my previous articles, plan, so you have enough time to find your ideal influencer.

Trusting your influencers

Because you planned your campaign well in advance, you would have researched the influencers you want to use for the campaign. At the very least you have a shortlist and familiarize yourself with their work.

Once you have engaged the influencers and agreed on the deliverables, the only guidance expected is a content calendar and a preview of their posts before it goes live.

Remember Influencers understand their audiences better than you do and have spent a lot of time, cultivating their presence online.

Though it is a brand collaboration, the content put out there must also reflect the influencer’s brand. Trust them to do what they are good at. Micro-managed influencers rarely produce quality. So it is not in your best interest to do this.

Deliverables that seem controlled

Audiences are more active than passive these days and can smell an ad a mile away. Influencer marketing campaigns can take various shapes and forms but ideally, you want the influencer to share their experience of your brand to their audience.

Craft deliverables that make it very easy to do this, anything less, comes across as ‘salesy’ and may cause their audience to switch off instantly. This affects their engagement rates and may make you an unattractive prospect for future campaigns.

Lead with purpose-driven campaigns

Millennials like their voices to be heard but in a way that is contributing to something bigger than themselves. It could be around issues that affect society such as clean environment, mental health care, healthy living, support for the marginalised, I mean you get the idea. Anything that pulls at their heartstrings.

A good look at your brand values, can give you an idea of what kind of purpose to lead with, for your campaign. This is important for good relationship building, because it tells influencers that you have something in common and you are not just about the bottom line. In effect, it gives your brand a human face.

Be clear from the onset

Let influencers you work with, know how you intend to use the content they have created for you. Yes, you paid them for the campaign, but how you use the content, can affect future brand partnership opportunities for the influencer.

Discuss exclusivity and how long you expect the content created to remain on the influencer’s page after the campaign has ended. Issues around exclusivity and perpetuity may block collaboration opportunities for that influencer. Hence, reason why it is important to be clear on this. It may mean having to pay more, but if the influencer is worth it, why not?

Keep these points at the forefront of your mind, if you are looking to create a long-term relationship with influencers. Of course, this is only possible once you have done your due diligence by researching the influencers’ previous works and backgrounds.

You may need an influencer consultant or marketing expert to get some insights on influencers so use those resources on your journey to a successful campaign. Once you’ve identified your ideal influencer, the rest is all about relationship management.

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