Influencer and brand relationships are a newer thing in the marketing world with the rise of Instagram users and brands wanting to capitalize on this more organic for of marketing. There is still a lot of grey area in terms of regulations, compensation and standards but as influencers and brands move forward with campaigns things are slowly starting to have some structure. With the fine print starting to become standardized, influencers and brands can now begin to focus more on their overall relationships and building long lasting partnerships.
While brands, especially those in the corporate world, have a sense of how to interact with vendors and customers, and the differences between those relationships, the way they interact with influencers can sometimes be a second thought. On the flip side often times some influencers seem to lack some formality and sense of professionalism with communicating with brands, especially those who do not have management. At the end of the day it’s important to know that it takes two to tango. Learning how to carefully maintain influencer and brand relationships on either end of the scale is a key part in turning influencer marketing into a big success be it for product sales, or for your freelancing career.
We hear so many stories from brands who have had disaster experiences with influencer marketing, whether it was with one influencer or the entire campaign. But just as often as we hear about brands and their struggles, influencers also have their fair share of struggles when dealing with brands. A big part of these problems is of course the lack of regulation and industry standardization when it comes to Influencer Marketing because of it being so new, and this will smooth itself out as the industry develops. But another side to this is a lack of education and information available to both sides on not only building but maintaining influencer and brand relationships. Brands are left to figure everything out mostly through trial and error, while influencers often freelancers don’t have much coaching when it comes to brand management.
Brands often have to deal with issues such as missed deadlines, uncompleted collaborations or content that isn’t up to the expectations they had. Influencers too have issues when dealing with brands from unrealistic expectations, unpaid collaborations and products that aren’t the quality they expected. With so many challenges on both ends of the spectrum it’s truly surprising that there aren’t more resources for better influencer and brand relationships. We thought it was important to highlight influencer and brand relationships and put together some advice for both sides to use in order to improve their results with influencer marketing.
Influencer and Brand Relationships: The Influencer’s Role
At the end of the day, Influencer Marketing starts with influencers because after all, without influencers it wouldn’t exist. Influencers are definitely the modern day celebrity and play just as major of a role in starting trends or bringing brands to the mainstream. But regardless of their weight, influencers should still be accountable for maintaining good business etiquette which starts with their relationships with brands. The way that influencers interact with brands not only impacts their business but the overall Influencer Marketing industry and the perception brands may have of influencers overall. Remember, it only takes one bad experience to leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth.
The first thing you want to do to maintain good influencer and brand relationships is to be organized. Organization truly is the first step to success in any business and helps keep everything together. Keeping track of everything from your contacts at brand partners to your schedule for content will help you better manage all the things that come with being an Influencer. If you have a manager that does all that side of the work for you, we strongly suggest holding regular meetings to keep track on everything they have on the go for you.
Getting to know the brands you create partnerships with is another big part of being an influencer. If you’re going to represent the brand be it for one post or on a contract scale you should know important information like some key facts about the brand, and specifically the products or servers you’re working with them on. How much you invest in getting to know the brand is up to you, and really should be measured based on how big the collaboration you have is.
Be transparent with the brands you’re working with. Whether it’s needing an extension on a deadline or disclosing that you’ve recently worked with a competitor being fully honest and transparent is an extremely big part of influencer and brand relationships. It’s especially important if you weren’t satisfied with a product or service you’ve been assigned to promote and you’re not comfortable promoting it to your following. Your audience doesn’t expect you to promote something you didn’t like, but going and bashing it right away on social media or completely ignoring the agreed upon collaboration isn’t a great way to maintain relationships with the brand (or future ones). Reach out to the brand, explain to them your position and see how they want to move forward.
The last bit of advice we can give overall is to be professional when communicating with brands. Take the time to write out proper emails, answer in a timely manner and always be sure to correctly spell whoever’s name your communicating with. Good email etiquette can go a long way, especially when dealing with bigger corporate brands and puts your best foot forward with your partners.
The biggest don’t you want to avoid, is not delivering on a collaboration. If you cannot complete an agreed upon campaign by an assigned due date for any reason you should also connect with your contact as soon as possible to explain and reschedule if possible. Being honest and open as early as you can rather than waiting until the last minute, or not at all, can be the make or break in continuing on the campaign, or future ones.
In talking about meeting deadlines, a great way to ensure that you don’t miss a deadline due to double scheduling, is to avoid biting off more than you can chew. This is where the Do of being organized can really help you manage your workload. If changes occur to your plans due to delayed product delivery from a brand, or changes in another campaign, try your best to roll with the punches and come up with alternative dates or timelines that don’t impact other collaborations you have scheduled.
The last don’t for influencers is no matter how horrible an experience is with a brand, don’t be unprofessional. Whatever the situation may be, your reaction can make or break your reputation amongst brands or PR agencies. Believe it or not, the world of Influencer Marketing is a lot smaller than it seems. Handling a bad experience with respect, maturity and professionalism is the best way to build your name positively.
Influencer and Brand Relationships: The Brand’s Role
As much as influencers are the foundation of the Influencer Marketing industry, brands are the ones who fuel it with demand. It really is a two way relationship and that is why it’s important to nurture it from both sides. Brands have just as much of a responsibility in Influencer Marketing to set a good example for standards. The way a brand handles their campaigns and relationships with influencers is not only important for the success of their Influencer Marketing initiatives, but also greatly impacts their overall brand reputation amongst influencers, their inner circles of friends and family, and their audience. One bad experience can translate into a bad blog review, where on the flip side a good one can create a loyal customer base just from one influencer’s experience.
Before even beginning to reach out to influencers, you want to come up with a structured plan for your Influencer Marketing efforts. No matter the size of your organization, you should first build a database to track influencers, work out logistics details for getting products or services to influencers and determine what your overall goals are. Whether you plan to only have one campaign, or work in several throughout your yearly marketing schedule, organizing your Influencer Marketing is the best way to prepare for overall success and positive influencer and brand relationships.
Now that you have a plan in place, it’s time to do a bit of research about the Influencer Marketing industry, especially when it comes to compensation and overall industry standards for working with influencers. Look at what the average is for your particular industry, be it beauty or travel, and be sure to know any laws or regulations required by regional agencies such as the FTC. The wrong way to start off influencer and brand relationships is by low balling influencers with compensation offers, or not properly understand both your responsibilities and those of influencers especially when it comes to things like disclosures of partnerships.
Once you’re ready to get going, the last thing you want to make sure of is that you set your expectations and requirements for your campaigns in terms of content from influencers. Whether you’re an agency representing a brand, or a marketing manager working in-house, you want to make sure everyone on your team responsible for decision is on the same page with campaign requirements. And once these requirements are set, its important that influencers are made clear on them not only before creating content, but before agreeing to the collaboration. It’s not the best look to spring last minute requirements on influencers after they’ve agreed on an original set of demands, or have them redo content multiple times to meet your standards. Keep in mind, influencers have to work around other brand campaigns, their feed aesthetic and spend lots of time and times money to create content.
In talking about requirements, as much as influencers know to expect some sort of guidelines for creating content, and publishing posts it’s important not to be too unreasonable. Most brands require certain messaging, tags or themes be used when creating content, which is all more than fine to have but be sure they’re not too complicated and unrealistic. You also want to keep in mind the more your campaign is asking of influencers, the more compensation should be especially if it involves the influencer themselves having to spend money to complete requirements. Collaborations that require lots of work with little compensation will more or likely receive little to no participation especially from bigger influencers. Having respect for the work that goes into a creating content and preparing creators from the beginning is important to building great influencer and brand relationships.
Don’t just work with anyone. It’s important that you should be working with influencers that fit your overall brand be it their aesthetic or the fact that they themselves are your target customer. You can’t expect a plant based influencer to want to promote your whey protein or a style blogger without kids to work on your baby clothes campaign. The same is to be said with aesthetic. Most influencers have a an overall look to the content they create, and it’s important to stick with influencers who fit your image. Looking for minimal, white based images, well then we’d avoid working with someone who produces darker toned content. Expecting influencers to completely change their brand for yours is not reasonable at all.
The last thing brands want to avoid with Influencer Marketing and build positive influencer and brand relationships is sticking to agreements, and not changing plans last minute. It’s important to realize that thing out of one’s control can happen such as delays with product, services reschedulings or changes in product due to supply and everyone can roll with the punches. But to just change things last minute looks unprofessional and leaves influencers in a tough spot that can impact not only your campaign but other partnerships they have with other brands. It’s also important to adhere to things like compensation agreements and schedules because all these things reflect on the brand overall not just on the campaign itself. As we mentioned before, the Influencer Marketing world is a small one especially within the influencer community itself.
When it really comes down to it, influencer and brand relationships are nothing different than any other business relationship be it with vendors, employees or customers. In fact, influencer and brand relationships are really a mix of it all. Influencers are a true mix of vendors, employees and customers blended together to become the perfect brand ambassador for social media. Brands to influencers, are a mix of their clients and employers and it’s important for influencers to respect that relationship just as much as it is for brands. When both sides conduct business with these best practices at top of mind it fosters not only great influencer and brand relationships but positively impacts the overall Influencer Marketing industry, allowing it grow and continue to play a vital part of marketing in today’s world. Get more influencer marketing tips like content creation advice and more on the Wolf Blog!