Top image: Build relationships with social media influencers

How to build relationships with social media influencers from the ground up

We’ve all gotten to that point where we’ve found the perfect social media influencer only to ask the ultimate question: now what? 

Influencer management can be tricky because it requires relationship building. It’s not ad space you can purchase in a few clicks — it needs to feel right. With that being said, remember that influencers are people too! While there are transactions required, a relationship between a brand and an influencer should be mutually beneficial. The more natural the fit, the better the content you’ll build together — which ultimately means more earned customers.

Luckily, with a few tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be able to confidently approach and build a lasting relationship with a social media influencer.

1. How to find a social media influencer

Finding the right influencer is vital for brands seeking impactful collaborations, as partnering with the right influencer can open a gateway to a massive and engaged audience. So how do influencers typically find brands to work with? According to Emplifi’s influencer marketing report, a 36% plurality finds them on influencer platforms and networks, showing that can be a key first contact point for your brand. Investing time and effort in identifying the ideal influencer whose values, tone, and content align harmoniously with the brand's identity is a strategic move that sets the foundation for successful and mutually beneficial partnerships. Some factors to consider when choosing the right influencer: 

Focus your search on platforms that align best with your brand

Each social media platform possesses unique characteristics and caters to distinct user demographics. By aligning with influencers with a strong presence on platforms where their audience actively engages, brands can tap into a community that shares mutual interests, values, and preferences.

Understand the geographic focus and language of your audience

Different regions and communities have their own unique preferences, cultural nuances, and languages, and connecting with an influencer who resonates with your audience's specific location and linguistic preferences can make a world of difference. An influencer who shares a common language and cultural background with your audience will have a natural rapport and deeper understanding of their needs, leading to more authentic and relatable content.

Choose influencers who are aligned with your target audience

Each audience has unique content preferences, ranging from video reviews and tutorials to story times. Identifying an influencer who excels in delivering content in their audiences’ preferred formats can significantly boost the success of a brand's influencer marketing campaign.

2. Know your social media influencer’s audience

Make sure you do your research and seek out more about your influencer’s audience. This is not only a great way to determine if the social media influencer in question is a great fit for your brand, but it also helps you learn more about who you’re approaching. Analyze who’s interacting with their content, and dig deep to find out what demographics they attract. 

We know audience analysis takes a lot of work, but it’s important! It allows you to understand what content topics and formats your audience finds interesting. Focusing on their needs and preferences lets you provide valuable information and cultivate lasting connections with your audience. 

Once you feel confident about your research, you can build a personal message that revolves around your influencer’s following. It’s important to explain what their audience will get out of the partnership, too. Keeping this at the front of your mind will make your influencer management even more effective. Always remember that influencers have their audience’s interest at heart and won’t want to participate in a partnership that doesn’t look authentic.

For example, when reaching out, you can mention in your message that you think a partnership would be great because their audiences have an interest in (mention topic), which is closely related to your own brand.

Influencer management pro tip 

Businesses of all sizes have huge opportunities to get creative. Don’t be afraid to explore different ways you can help your influencer create engaging content. Offering social media influencers free giveaway items for their fans, promo codes, trips, and more are just a few ways you can assist them in creating branded content naturally.

3. Be clear about expectations

Influencers have a lot going on and are approached by other brands regularly. To build a successful relationship with an influencer you need to be clear about expectations from the start. Always ask what type of relationship they are looking for, after all, it’s a two-way street. Leave the conversation open-ended, and don’t be surprised if you need to meet in the middle and compromise.

Once you’ve hammered out the general collaboration you can talk campaign details. Simply Founder, Sarah Boyd gives great advice on what to include when discussing campaign expectations:

  1. Mention the number of content pieces you expect over what period of time

  2. Outline how you plan to use their content and verify which channels

  3. Be clear on what call-to-actions you want the influencer to use in their campaigns

  4. Explain the approval process if you have one in place

  5. Define captions or campaign tagging 

  6. Set up an FTC disclosure 

4. Don’t limit creativity

This is a big one. Influencer management requires trust. That’s why it’s important to be selective when you start your search. You want to choose someone you can count on. To save yourself the trouble, search through their previous collaborations and benchmark their sponsored content to your own expectations.

To excel at influencer management, you need to remember that influencers are the authority when it comes to their social media following. They know what works and what doesn’t. Though it can be difficult to let go, you’ll see much better results if you let them take the content wheel. Audiences are very perceptive and can instantly sense when something feels unnatural and forced. If your influencer isn’t happy, it will show in their content.

That doesn’t mean you don’t need to set any guidelines at all — but if they need a bookmark to read through, then it’s safe to say they’re too long.

5. Make your offer stand out

Social media Influencers only have so much space they can offer to brands without turning into a billboard. As a consequence, getting their attention can be difficult, even more so if your offer is no different from the ones they’re getting sent to their inbox every day.

Before you reach out directly and ask for a transactional partnership, try to build a relationship with the influencer. Interact with their social media content and tag them in posts that they might find relevant. It’s a great way to get your name recognized, so when you do make the next step they’re already familiar with your brand.

6. Keep your influencer in the loop

Before you start reaching out to an influencer, you need to first set goals and objectives. Clearly outline what you want to achieve with your campaign and how you plan to measure your company’s success. This will help the influencer you’re collaborating with refine their approach based on your goals. Let them know if you’re looking to partner with them to raise brand awareness, grow your social media community, or even convert sales. Influencer marketing is constantly evolving, so catch up on the latest trends and practices in order to stay up to date with your collaborations.  

Once the partnership is live, reach out to your influencer and let them know how their efforts are contributing to your success. If you’ve noticed one of the customized promos you’ve created for them are working well, share the results! This will demonstrate how their content is generating real impact on your business. On the other hand, if you find a campaign isn’t getting any traction, letting them know early enough can point them in the right direction. Bottom line, don’t leave them in the dark!

The takeaway for building social influencer relationships

Building a relationship with a social media influencer isn’t always easy. To manage your influencer marketing initiatives effectively, you need to communicate expectations, goals, and progress. In turn, you’ll not only create authentic content, but you’ll reach new audiences and acquire new customers.

Not sure if you should cooperate with a macro or micro-influencer? That’s one more decision you’ll be making before you even get to what we discussed above. And don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.  

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