Working with influencers can be very different from most of the people you encounter in your business. It is essential to remember that they aren't your employees, even if you pay them. It will often be you who approach them, asking for specific marketing services. Yet, they are not professional marketers. You can't treat them as you would a television station, radio station, or newspaper with traditional advertising.
Yet you still need to communicate your requirements and wishes to them, however. They are key strategic partners, and you must manage your relationship with them carefully and effectively.
How to Improve Your Influencer Relationship Management:
Why is Influencer Relationship Management Important?
Influencer Relationship Management (IRM) is the process of creating strategic relationships with your influencers. Remember that, by definition, influencers influence the views and decisions of their followers. By partnering with influencers who are popular with your target audience, you hope they will speak positively about your brand to your potential customers. If you don't build a positive relationship with these influencers, they are unlikely to recommend you and your products, potentially swaying their followers' purchasing decisions.
Influencer Relationship Management is very much like Customer Relationship Management (CRM), except the focus is on your influencers.
If you haven't built solid enough relationships with your influencers, they are unlikely to take a great interest in your campaign. They may make a minimal mention to justify your paying them, but little more. They are scarcely likely to build your credibility with their followers.
Influencer Relationship Management Issues Brands Face
Determine the Right Influencers
It can take some time for you to find the ideal influencers for your brand. Even influencers who may appear perfect based on their audience and following may not be successful in practice. You are likely to find some of the early influencers you work with better than others. Examine why these people make successful partners and look for other influencers displaying similar qualities.
Sourcing Reliable Engagement Metrics
Too many firms make the mistake of following the wrong metrics. They look at vanity metrics, such as raw follower numbers and post likes, rather than focusing on more important aspects, such as engagement.
Quite a few of the platforms now provide detailed analytics, making it easier to find crucial data that you can use to compare influencers. Take note of each influencer's engagement rate but ensure that you compare influencers on the same social network, as engagement can differ markedly between social platforms. Also, be aware that as a whole, larger influencers (macro or mega-influencers) will have lower engagement rates than smaller influencers (micro or nano-influencers) on the same platform.
Establishing the Results of Each Influencer
Once you have engaged a team of influencers, you will have to monitor their content across all the channels they operate. You need to see how each influencer contributes to your brand's promotion. You might discover that some influencers are better at helping you meet specific goals than others. For example, particular influencers may engage in extensive brand awareness, while others may be better at making sales on your behalf.
There are several ways you can establish the success of individual influencers. You could give each one a custom link that they can use in their posts. Alternatively, some platforms and marketplaces assist with this process more directly.
Ignore Influencers Not Relevant to Your Brand
A critical component of successful influencer marketing is an influencer's ability to influence a relevant audience's purchasing decisions. You will gain little benefit from influencers who appeal to the "wrong" group of followers.
This means you need to put much effort into determining the best influencers for your brand, and ignoring others, even if they have large followings and are willing to deal with you. It is essential that you establish who your target customer is and then search for the thought leaders in that niche.
To some extent, this works two ways. Influencers are generally unwilling to put much effort into promoting something unlikely to appeal to their followers. Indeed, they have to be wary that they don't put off followers by coming across as too commercial, making their social posts look like ads for what their followers believe to be irrelevant products.
Many influencers receive multiple pitches from brands wanting to work with them. They tend to ignore many of these, focusing only on brands they see as the most relevant and likely to interest and relate to their followers.
Another advantage of concentrating only on relevant influencers is that you can gradually build up long-term relationships. An irrelevant influencer may be happy to take your money once or twice but will have little interest in building anything permanent over time. On the other hand, a relevant influencer with an audience likely to find your brand of interest is likely to repeatedly mention your product, particularly if they and their followers like it.
Customize Your Influencer Outreach
Too many brands send standard form letters or emails to influencers and then seem surprised when they ignore them. Many brands recognize the importance of real influence online, but they struggle to attract the influencers' attention.
We have previously written about How to Craft The Perfect Influencer Outreach Email. Even though we included templates in that article, you must customize each email. Influencers are too savvy online to be fooled by form letters that don't recognize their individuality and social success.
Once you have decided on the most relevant and suitable influencers for your brand, you need to determine what you intend to say to them. What are your strategic goals with regards to your use of potential influencers? Your emails should answer some of the following questions:
- What do you want to achieve by using a particular influencer?
- What's in it for them?
- How do you intend to compensate or reward them?
You will want to craft a clear, concise outreach email that gives all the relevant information and prompts the reader to take action. Remember your subject line has one goal – to entice the influencer to open your email. Keep the body of your email short, preferably less than 100 words. Start your message with what is in it for them.
Note that personalization is more than just using the influencer's name. Give them the context of why you should work together. Mention a specific post of theirs if relevant. Whatever you do, make sure that your outreach emails sound like they come from a human being, not a robot.
Using an influencer platform or agency could make outreach simpler. Agencies will carry out much of the communication for you. Some platforms offer influencer relationship services and marketplaces, providing additional channels of communication and information about their current influencer activity and suggested pay rates.
Recognize That Influencers Know Their Audience Better Than You
The worst thing that a brand can attempt with influencer marketing is to insist that they create all the content that influencers share on their behalf. Remember that influencer marketing is very different from traditional advertising. You can't just provide copy to them as an advertising medium and expect them to run it like you would a conventional ad.
Influencers know their followers far better than you do. They know the types of content that their followers prefer. Influencer posts are only of value if they sound authentic and genuine. For this to occur, the posts need to be in an influencer's voice, not corporate-speak or marketing language.
It is advisable you give your influencers some freedom with the posts they make. By all means, provide clear expectations, both to the types and quantity of content and the overall message you want them to make, but don't prescribe the actual posts in detail. Your influencers' followers will appreciate you allowing some level of creativity and will be far more likely to react positively to your message.
Reward Your Influencers Fairly
Never forget that the influencers are your partners. They already have an audience and do not need to promote your brand. They may already love your product; in which case they may be happy to share that enthusiasm with their followers for free. Some lower-level influencers may be glad to accept free products in turn for their advocacy. However, many influencers will expect a reasonable level of payment.
Too many brands ignore the genuine position of influencers and expect them to be happy with just freebies. Remember that influencers have built up their audience with real trust and a solid reputation. Their followers take a keen interest in what they have to say. Therefore, influencers can't risk alienating their followers by coming across as too commercial, particularly if they don't genuinely believe in a product.
We have previously written about How Much Influencers Really Cost in 2021. We identified eight factors that affect influencer rates:
- The social media platform
- Influencer reach
- Follower engagement
- Industry or specialization
- Type of content
- Influencer demand
- Usage rights (if you plan to repurpose an influencer's content)
Communicate Your Expectations Clearly
In many ways, the most crucial facet of successful influencer relationship management is precise, unambiguous communication. Make sure you express your requirements clearly with your influencers without being too prescriptive.
Don't underestimate the time that prospective influencers may need to create your content. Many influencers are amateurs, fitting in their online activities around a busy work or study schedule. You need to ensure that you communicate any essential dates and time frames, making sure that you are realistic in your expectations.