Believe it or not, effective influencer management can make or break your influencer marketing.
As marketers, we tend to be very people oriented. After all, it takes a lot of people skills to develop buyer personas and develop marketing material to help them. Mess that up, and you risk having a marketing campaign suffer from lackluster performance.
On the other hand, marketing is often about the numbers, at least to some extent. Our bosses or clients expect us to demonstrate that our efforts are effective. As more and more of our task is outsourced to third parties, it takes more work to demonstrate effectiveness and ensure things are done right.
For many of us, that task includes influencer management. In this article, I’ll give you some tips on how to do this job effectively. I’ll also give some tips on how to cultivate good relationships with influencers in the process.
Why is Influencer Management Important?
Let’s be honest: influencers are people who you engage to get a job done. In that sense, they’re just like any other type of independent contractor or supplier. However, the work that influencers do reflects on your brand to a greater degree than many of your outsourcing efforts. In fact, with influencers there’s a link between them and your brand, or it wouldn’t work. With that said, why is influencer management so important? There’s more to it than you think.
You need to prove their efforts are effective
If the ongoing Coronavirus situation has done nothing else, it’s shown us how the bean counters are watching. Budgets get slashed when people don’t buy, and sometimes, heads roll. Increasingly, marketers are expected to show that a particular campaign has produced satisfactory results. If an influencer isn’t getting the job done, you’ll need to cut them from the team. Likewise, brands are increasingly paying influencers for performance. This increases their incentive to do a good job.
It’s important to protect your brand
While the vast majority of influencers don’t cause image problems, some do. For example, Kim Kardashian got into trouble with the FDA for not following regulations in a sponsored post for medication. This would’ve been embarrassing on two levels. First, it was sloppy work on Kardashian’s part for not checking the regulations. Second, it looked bad for the pharmaceutical company to have an influencer get in trouble.
Influencers are key to your efforts
Under normal circumstances, influencers are a part of the team even if they aren’t on your staff. After all, they’re one of the few ways you can get authenticity in your marketing efforts. Through careful influencer management, you and your team can cultivate good relationships with these people over the long term. Remember, long-term influencer relationships often are very productive, because the influencer gets to know your brand and its message better over time.
How to Develop and Manage Influencer Relationships the Right Way
Like so many things in business, some methods of influencer management are better than others. While it goes without saying that influencers like to be compensated, the art of cultivating relationships goes beyond simple compensation. In addition, when relationships need to change or end it can be a tricky event to navigate.
Don’t bark up the wrong tree
Before you even think about approaching an influencer for potential collaborations, make sure their audience is a decent match for your buyer persona. For example, it wouldn’t do to ask an influencer in the swimming world to pitch soccer equipment. Although most swimmers do practice another sport, they look to the swimming influencer for advice on swimming suits or goggles. On the other hand, if the same brand sells gear bags and towels, the influencer might be interested. However, they’d only help you sell the swimming equipment lines. Any benefit to the other product lines from such a collab would be secondhand.
Here’s the thing. If you’re a successful influencer, there’s a good chance you get all kinds of sponsorship offers. This is particularly true in highly competitive and profitable market sectors, but it goes for everyone. Part of being successful in the world of influencer marketing is presenting the right products to the right people, and influencers can’t do that if they pitch just anything. Nobody would take them seriously. What would you think if Tiger Woods started recommending Alaska adventure tours? Most of his audience is golf oriented, so in terms of tourism only famous golf locations would be relevant. Expect influencers to only take those opportunities that are relevant to their audiences. Otherwise, they’re wasting everyone’s time.
Seek out a long-term relationship
Part of effective influencer management is building relationships that will last a long time. As with hiring an employee, you want to look for someone that doesn’t just want a short-term gig in most cases. One reason for this is that finding the right influencers can be tough. Another is that you need to stand out from the crowd of pitches we so often face on a regular basis. In order to do this, show that you’re really interested in them, both as people and as creators. Finding, and working with, an influencer is a long-term investment in them that benefits your company as well. Not only that, but the longer this kind of relationship goes on, the more people in their sphere of influence will see the influencer as valuing the relationship.
Treat them right
In our performance-focused world it’s easy to think of people as line items in your expense list. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work with influencers, especially since they often can go elsewhere. Treating influencers right is an important part of influencer management, and it takes more than one form.
For one thing, show some respect towards their creative process. Influencers are more than just a name: they’re people who create content and share it with their followers. So while it’s always important to protect your brand from influencers behaving badly, you should also let them use their talent effectively. Beauty product companies are masters at this: one of the more popular influencer marketing techniques in this industry is called a collaboration. Often, this means the influencer will help design a new product or special limited-edition packaging. This shows their creativity while also promoting the products inside.
Another way to show influencers that you appreciate them is to give out swag. This can be free product or items with your logo on it. Remember, you may already give product samples and swag to people at industry events or career fairs, among other places. By including influencers on your gift list, you show them that they’re valued.
Pay them fairly
One of the more important aspects of influencer management is compensation. As we all know, influencer marketing as a whole has very high ROI, so there’s really no reason to be a cheapskate. At the same time, you don’t want to give them more than their services are worth. In order to strike a balance between these factors, consider the value they’re providing. My post on influencer compensation can help, as can other industry publications and market research.
One of the more common pet peeves of paid content creators is when a client doesn’t communicate and then complains when expectations aren’t met. By far the easiest way to avoid this influencer management pitfall is by communicating with your influencer before, during, and after the campaign. When designing the campaign with them, you need to both ensure creative freedom and that your brand is properly represented. At the same time, you want to be there to help if your campaign hits a snag. Finally, you’ll want to ensure that influencers have a picture of how well they’ve done, especially if you intend to work with them again. Adequate communication ensures that everyone wins.
Influencer Management Tools
Does all of this sound overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be. Like so many other things in marketing, there are dedicated influencer management tools that can help you do it right. Some are little more than influencer databases, while others help you reach out or track the results of your collaborations. Here are some that I recommend that have robust functionality for influencer relationship management built in to their tool, but for a complete list of my recommendations check out my post on influencer marketing tools.
For the busy marketing professional, Upfluence is a great multipurpose influencer management tool. Not only is there a built in database to help with influencer discovery, but they’ll help you communicate. Send a message through the platform, and they’ll be archived in your account. This way, if there’s ever a misunderstanding you’ll have a record of correspondence stored with a third party.
If you’re under a lot of pressure to demonstrate precise ROI, Traackr is a great tool to check out. You can use it for discovery, but the main strength of this particular platform is its analytics capabilities. In particular, you can track influencer effectiveness without having to enlist the help of your social media management software. Rather, almost everything influencer management-related is in one place. Just add your personal touch.
For something very different, yet very effective, check out Sideqik. Its secret? Seeing what influence your existing customers have. From there, the program will help you fully automate your influencer management tasks. These include basic discovery, payment issues, analytics reporting, and more. With all the busywork managed, you can spend more time doing the fun parts of your job.
While influencer management is often seen as a lot of busywork, it is an important part of your marketing efforts. Getting the right influencers, cultivating those relationships and benefitting your brand are an important part of your job. Fortunately, with the right tools and some common sense it isn’t as hard as it could be.
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