As the industry continues to grow, it's important to begin developing meaningful influencer relationships for your brand.
Brands are waking up to how powerful social influencers have become as a way to engage consumers and get their messages across in an authentic and trusted way. A way proven to drive sales. But like any marketing that actually works, the cost of working with influencers is going up. It's simple supply and demand folks and, unfortunately, it's a seller'smarket right now.
But you don't need to launch a large-scale paid activation to put influencers to work for your brand. Here are 8 ways to start building influencer relationships for your brand within your existing marketing plans.
1) Meet Influencers At Events
Influencers are social butterflies. They often need to get out and network in the real world to grow their online networks, get content inspiration, and connect with others like them. While they do attend "blogger conferences" they're probably attending relevant events like local Fashion Week or food festivals, too. If your brand is going to be there, let them know. Find a way and reason to connect fact-to-face. People don't want relationships with brands, people want relationships with people. Influencers are no different.
2) Invite Them to Your Events
I know very few influencers who enjoy sitting behind a computer typing all day long. One of the things that makes their content so compelling is their desire to get out and experience the world. One way to woo them is to give them those experiences they crave.
Want food bloggers to talk about your brand? Invite them to a once in a lifetime experience by hosting a dinner catered by world renowned chefs. Want beauty bloggers to try your make-up? Offer them a chance to have their make-up professionally done by broadway make-up artists before a night on the town.
We asked some of our influencer friends what makes a brand event memorable -
“Food, swag, location of event (say a castle). I was once at a party that was catered by the #1 chef in the world in Spain in a castle. It doesn't have to be that elaborate, but it has to be impactful.”
3) Bring Them to Events with You
Influencers often attend events as a way to capture content or hone their craft. By paying their way, you're investing in them as a partner in a way they won't forget. Here's what one of our friends said when we asked her what kinds of events she likes to attend -
“Events that are relevant to me and offer something to attendees- valuable information, user experience- I don't like many of the conference "events" because it's always a scramble and limited chances to speak with brands... which is why I attend.”
4) Share Their Content
Remember one of the things influencers want is credibility. Giving them free access to your followers is the easiest way to start building a relationship with them. Benefit Cosmetics does an amazing job. Not only do they have strong influencer relationships and advocates who regularly talk about them on social media -- Bonus! They get to reuse the content these advocates produce with a simple "Please".
5) Engage with Their Posts
Sounds simple right? Positive reinforcement. Letting influencers know you're paying attention to them and you care about what they have to say, even when they're not talking about your brand, is a great way to build up equity.
We often have our community managers keep listening threads of influencers that matter to their brands and then throw them a simple like or comment when they post something relevant and interesting. It's a great way to say "hey, we're here and we care".
6) Feature Them
Do you remember #FollowFriday? How great was the feeling when you were one of the few handles selected to fit within a friend's precious 140 characters? That's the goal here. Make them feel special. Give them the credibility and exposure they crave by giving your brand's stamp of approval.
7) Give Them Exclusive Access
Bloggers are people, too. And the reasons they'll share (when they're not being paid to) are the same reasons the rest of us will share on social media. Consider offering influencers an exclusive newsletter or sneak peak behind your brand. Give them access not available to the general consumer. You'll be amazed at the stories they can create about their experiences.
One of our influencer friends shared why she enjoys getting one-on-one time with brands.
“[I look for] a chance to really speak with the brand and [agency] for that brand to find out ways to partner down the road.”
8) Give Them Work
No one wants to work for free. So don't expect influencers to. While you'll probably get some brand love as a result of all your efforts, don't forget these guys (and gals) need to make a living, too. And at the end of the day, they do need you to offer them some opportunities to make money. So make sure you have a few of those opportunities in your back pocket as well while budiling influencer relationships.