Our intern, Tim Wu, compiled a series of tips from the We Are Boosters community. We're calling it "Ask the Boosters." This post covers tips for building productive relationships with talent, which is essential for anyone trying to start or maintain an effective influencer marketing program.
Influencer partnerships can include self-contained campaigns focused on a short term goal, but they can also grow into something much greater. Working with talent can be tricky if the brand and influencer don’t see eye-to-eye on a campaign, but sustaining a professional rapport is vital. The nature of influencer marketing is situated on interpersonal skills, so as a brand or marketer, creating a strong foundation in your relationships will benefit all parties. The next step is cultivating a long-term relationship. This doesn’t necessarily mean to work together long-term, but a strong relationship can lead to potential opportunities in the future. The mutual benefit also includes personal branding. A brand and an influencer each represent something (i.e story, awareness, message, etc.) and it’s reflected onto both. So it’s important for influencers to work with the right brands and vice versa. A weak relationship could backfire and send a poor message to both audiences. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when building relationships with talent.
1. Communication is Key
Throughout the course of a campaign, there are a lot of logistics to work out - which inevitably leads to a lot of emails back and forth. Busy marketers may not have a chance to circle back to every influencer they engage with, but when an influencer or representative is making an effort to get information (i.e. following up multiple times), the best way to build and maintain a relationship is to keep them informed. If you are working with them, let them know when to expect next steps. If you are not working with them, let them know that you appreciated their interest but have gone in another direction. If you're undecided, be sure to let them know that their patience is appreciated.
Andi Terada and Chelsea Marrs have worked on both the talent and brand side of the business, and shared these insights:
Regardless if you deal directly with an influencer or with their management, it’s about communication...Providing all the information, being transparent, and communicating well is the best way to maintain relationships - even if it’s notifying an influencer that the brand hasn’t gotten back to you. -Andi Terada
Coming from both the influencer and business side, communication in the relationship is super important. Many times influencers may not always have a business background and are not professional, either because it’s not their full time job or because they haven’t been doing it long enough. And, it’s the same on the brand side, where a lot of people, because the industry is so new – they don’t know how to work with influencers. Working with influencers is not the same as working with a modeling agency or an advertising agency, and so there are no standards of contracts and rates yet. So, communication is always going back and forth. Therefore, there is a lot of attention to detail to navigate at once in a campaign. -Chelsea Marrs
2. Be Human
It might sound obvious, but there are so many companies out using automated, scattershot tactics for outreach that it can't be overstated enough: influencers are people too. They need to be treated as such. And when they are, they'll be more likely to offer their best work.
Humans connect well with humans, so humanize your outreach and management process while still being courteous and professional. Follow them and interact with them as a brand. You can create lists of your creators and make sure to engage with some of their recent content as your relationship continues - even if you aren’t actively promoting anything. No one likes a brand that pays and goes! -Stephanie Stabulis
I try to build relationships with influencers by viewing them as people. I take an interest in their life, their kids, their work and overall them. I always want them to know that I work for the brand but I will also advocate for them as an extension of the brand. This has helped me build deeper relationships and in turn has allowed them to trust me. I also take note of birthdays, illnesses, births, deaths and everything in between and I send them a little something so that they know that their relationship is important to me. -Anais Cowley
When you develop relationships with talent or their managers, they want to kill it. They want to give you good content. Naturally people want to do a better job and make you happy if they like and respect you. Relationships become easier over time. You start to figure out what works or makes a person tick. So, being able to anticipate things before they become an issue makes the partnership so much easier, stronger, and better. -Lauren Gabel
3. Compensate Fairly
It's tempting for marketers to associate the value of partnering with influencers directly with metrics provided by the social platforms, but it's important to remember that's only the tip of the iceberg. For a refresher on all the ways influencers add value, revisit our post about where influencer marketing fits within the marketing funnel.
When you work with influencers, you're not just compensating them for their reach and conversions, but also for their time, creativity, effort, years of experience, and work product. While this work is a passion or hobby for some, it is a career for others. This line item is not one size fits all like paid social, these are people and the value of a dollar means something different to each of them. -Meredith Jacobson
It's important to remember that as influencer marketing becomes increasingly popular, more and more brands are approaching influencers every day. Influencers will need to be more selective about the brands they work with, and one of the quickest ways to help them vet an opportunity is whether or not they will be compensated fairly. They can be flexible when it's a product they are particularly excited about, but more often than not they expect up front payment.
Pay them fairly for the work they put in. This includes managing your boundaries. Know when to not over-ask based on your agreement with talent. -Stephanie Stabulis