Working with influencers is like having an addition to your team. However, in many ways, it’s a completely different animal than the conventional employee. Based on my experience, here is what I’ve learned about working with influencers – and the important role that your relationship plays in your influencer marketing success.
Influencers require a different kind of employment contract
In the normal 9-to-5 world, hiring someone typically involves an agreement, a contract and/or HR related forms. For example, you pay Fred a salary of $1,000 a week to do accounting. There’s a clear agreement on job duties and expectations. He clocks in and clocks out. That’s it.
Influencer marketing is different on a number of levels.
For one, they’re not on the payroll, and they’re using their own website and social media (tools) to promote your brand.
Because social media influencer marketing is still emerging and travels down an unbeaten path, there are influencers on all different levels of hiring sophistication. Some are at the ready with a PR team to back them and contracts prepared by lawyers. While on the other side of the spectrum, some use a social media private message as their contract (sort of like a digital handshake agreement). Some are aggressive negotiators.
Regardless of how you get there when starting a collaboration, you are technically “paying” them in some way and establishing a partnership. However, it is important to remember that once they receive your product or service details, you don’t have the same level of control over messaging as you’d have with an on-staff employee. In the end, what they put into the digital universe is out of your hands. It’s nerve-wracking but highlights the importance of a strong relationship with your influencers.
You may need to bend over backward
Influencers have a digital megaphone that’s capable of doing a lot of good and a lot of harm. For example, I’ve had products en route to an influencer that ended up in the path of a delivery-time destroying hurricane. When an influencer is planning a post at a certain time and needs your item, they may not be understanding when FedEx doesn’t deliver through a natural disaster.
Even if they’re being paid, you should do everything you can to make and keep them happy. Things like expediting shipping, offering a personalized coupon code for their readers, gift certificates for future use – they all go a long way in keeping them happy. Never forget that digital megaphone they have in their back pocket.
Be prepared to go the extra mile for them
But, let’s say everything has gone smoothly. You’ve sent them products and paid them. They’ve posted photos and a review. The transaction is complete. The campaign is done.
Wrong. Influencers are people and they should be treated with a high level of customer service. Send a thank you note, preferably in the form of old-school handwritten snail mail. It shows that you value them and their time. Taking the extra step and putting pen to paper is something that doesn’t happen too often if at all from sponsored partner posts, and is always appreciated.
Play your cards right and influencers become your biggest advocates
Going the extra mile to make them a true partner often leads that influencer to brand advocacy. Keep notes on them about things like their birthday, their kids, life events and drop them unexpected cards or gifts (without the expectation of a post, simply as a goodwill gesture).
It’s things like this that make them love you and think of your brand more often. Perhaps they are writing a post that could include some of your other items, if they think of you as a partner, they’ll be more likely to reach out to you proactively. Your willingness to help them out will position you as a partner and not just a brand.
Who knows? Maybe they’ll start including your products in their future content for free.