The proliferation of platforms and formats like short-videos have changed the influencer marketing game for marketers, brands and creators. In this fast-evolving space, keep up with the big trends and hot topics that matter in Storyboard18’s Weekly Shorts in collaboration with affable.ai, an end-to-end AI-powered influencer marketing platform. Track how creators, communities and brands are engaging with users and disrupting marketing to get a sharp and fast insight into present and future trends.
Succeeding in building strong long-term influencer relationships is not an impossible task. Here are five expert-suggested ways to start creating authentic connections.
Within a short span of seven years, Gymshark has transformed into a multimillion-dollar fitness apparel brand. But in the last four years, the UK-based company has seen a massive 200 percent year-over-year growth. They have been using some seriously smart marketing strategies, one of which involves teaming up with a handpicked crew of ten big-name athletes and fitness influencers for the longest period to run diverse campaigns.
Whether it is product reviews or home workout videos on your social media feeds, Gymshark collaborated with these influencers for a considerable time — aligning the company's vision with the creativity of these influencers.
Wondering how you can build such lasting relations with influencers? The key lies in establishing clear communication, a sense of trust and partnership, and mutual value exchange. According to experts, you need to consciously put in the work to establish fruitful collaborations.
Effective influencer relationship management can result in targeted and well-strategised campaigns. Also, long-lasting influencer partnerships can help you save your brand from the uncertainties of the changing creator economy, the cookie ban and TikTok restrictions in specific countries.
Five expert ways of building and maintaining long-term influencer relationships
No relationship is built in one day. The same goes for constructing a long-term relationship with influencers. "Establishing and maintaining long-term partnerships with influencers requires a thoughtful approach. With the right strategies and tools, brands can build fruitful, enduring relationships," says Seema Rao, influencer marketing specialist, Baotris, an organic marketing company in the USA.
Here are five ways suggested by experts on building effective influencer relationships:
1. Find the right influencer fit
Partnering with relevant influencers is the first step to building authentic, long-term influencer partnerships. But audience reach alone cannot help you pick the right creator. Consider relevance instead. Influencers are relevant to your brand if they target the right audience segment, understand your brand messaging and values, and have a content style that aligns with the brand's identity.
"Conducting thorough research to identify influencers who align with your target market, industry, voice, and vision. Take into account their reputation, authenticity, and interaction rate instead of focusing on influencer popularity or quantity of followers. Consider relevance over reach and quality above quantity," says Kiran Lachwani, head of marketing and operations, Power Your Curls, a hair care retail company in the UAE.
2. Influencers are more than advertising vehicles
Influencers are amazing at driving brand promotions. But they are more than advertising channels. Influencers are creative individuals who can drive demand for your product or service through relatable content. And if you want to partner with them for the long term, making them feel valued and respected is essential.
"You must get in touch with them frequently and follow through on your pledges and promises. Additionally, you must be receptive, adaptable, and professional in your response to any problems or worries. Don't ignore them, ghost them or abruptly alter your mind. Make it clear to them that you value their time and effort and are reliable and trustworthy," adds Lachwani.
3. Respect their right to creative expression
Providing creative freedom is the first step in strengthening your connection further. It shows you trust the influencer's creativity and skills and are giving them a chance to represent your brand in the best way possible. Plus, influencers work best when they completely control the narrative they want to share with their followers, resulting in authentic and engaging content. Many influencers prefer working with brands that do not interfere in the creative process. It makes their content seem inauthentic and fake, creating distrust among the followers.
4. Request constructive feedback
Asking your influencers for constructive feedback and including them in the ideation process is a foolproof way to establish a communicative relationship. Brands like Gymshark, Pretty Little Things, and Visible appoint influencers as creative directors for ideation and strategic influencer marketing approach. Such partnerships let the creator know their ideas and feedback are valued, forming a solid relationship.
To develop incredible content strategies, include influencers in creative discussions and content briefings. Ask for their thoughts and suggestions, and try to put them into practice. The practice not only makes the influencers feel respected but also boosts the efficiency of their content.
5. Provide mutual value exchange
Influencers expect brands to take care of their needs. They won't stick around for long if the partnership is not mutually beneficial. To avoid this, offer them meaningful incentives beyond compensation that can help them succeed.
For effective influencer relationship management, Kurt Uhlir, the globally-recognized marketer, operator, and speaker suggests:
Offer influencers unique and valuable content, experiences, or opportunities. Invite them to exclusive product launches, behind-the-scenes experiences, or expert interviews.
Provide them with resources or information that can enhance their content.
This Weekly Shorts is written by the editorial desk of affable.ai