Influencer Marketing: A Business of People & Relationships

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When you get right down to it, social media hasn’t been around for very long. Part of the reason it feels as though we’ve been Instagramming and Tweeting since 1985 is how quickly these apps have integrated into our daily lives (it’s also one of the reasons influencer marketing is so incredibly powerful). 

Furthermore, the Internet seems to operate on the digital equivalent of dog years, with enough disruption and change occurring in 365 days to fill a decade. Influencer marketers who have been around since ‘the beginning’ have had ample time to test, refine and codify their experiences into a number of best practices and industry standards.

Out of all these tips and tricks, the most valuable advice deals not with the application of market technology, but on fostering strong people skills.Whether it’s managing clients or coordinating with talent, influencer marketing truly is a business of people.

With that in mind, here are four lessons every influencer marketer should master before their next campaign:

1. Adaptability is All Important

If influencer marketing is indeed a business of people, it is by definition a business of unpredictability. And the best way to navigate unpredictable situations is to adapt to wherever they may lead!

With each deliverable, marketers should take care to craft not just a Plan B, but a Plan C and D as well. With so many moving parts in each campaign – production crews, talent schedules, client notes – something is bound to go sideways (and probably when you least need it to). Again, this is where influencer marketing shows its true colors as a relationship business. Strong, trustworthy connections will save you in a pinch everytime, ensuring quality work even in even the toughest circumstances.

2. Be Prepared to Answer A Lot of Questions

Because influencer marketing is still new, there are plenty of people – clients and talent alike – who will experience the process the first time. It’s your job as marketers to ensure they feel comfortable from A-Z.

On the brand side, the most powerful tool in a marketer’s belt is clear and open communication. While brands may know their own guidelines by heart, that familiarity doesn’t always translate into picking the most appropriate talent. As influencer marketers, you’re drawing on a wealth of industry research, benchmarks, and proprietary software to inform each decision. Walking clients through your process is a great way to demonstrate your expertise and provide context for each of your choices.

Clear communication is also critical when it comes to managing influencers, and practitioners should take care to make themselves available on whatever channels the talent is most comfortable with. As marketers, we’re well-versed in the language of emails, Slack notifications and phone calls, but you might communication runs smoother if you go where the people are. Don’t waste time waiting on an important email when all the information is sitting in your Instagram DMs, unread.

Another valuable tool at your disposal is examples of previous client work. Content creators that are new to brand deals can find the prospect of representing multi-million dollar companies a little scary. Providing samples of what brands have previously enjoyed can do wonders in taking the edge off an influencer’s first campaign.

And in the rare occasions you’re working with an underage creator, be prepared to not only answer their questions, but their parents’ questions as well!

3. Influencer Marketing is a Balancing Act

A lot of brands dipping their toes into influencer marketing think of the process more like casting a movie – they create characters in their mind, complete with outfits and hairstyles. The only problem? Influences are real people!

One of the most critical parts of the job is explaining how influencers work, and the all-important aspect of retaining the creative voice. After all, tapping into the unique characteristics of everyday creators is what influencer marketing is all about. Striking the right tone with sponsored content is often a balancing act, one that juggles your client’s key messages with the talent’s personal aesthetic. Swerving too hard in either direction can spell disaster  – either creating content that resembles a conventional ad, or content that fails to impart any of the brand’s messaging.

4. Context is King

If you want to impress your next big client, follow this piece of unconventional advice: overthink everything. Marketers must consider each campaign, client and influencer as its own separate world – what worked for one client isn’t necessarily a slam dunk for all. Whether you’re pitching individual influencers or entire campaigns, marketers who succeed are those prepare for every question.

Once again, this shows how much of influencer marketing is truly a relationship business. Even if your original pitch isn’t exactly what a brand is looking for, showing that you have considered the topic from every possible angle is a sure-fire way to establish trust and credibility. Remember, your creative pitch can always change – but impressing a client with thoughtfulness and foresight will stay with you as long as that relationship exists!

Concluding Remarks

Tweets, snaps and hashtags – these words inevitably spring to mind whenever someone mentions influencer marketing. But as we’ve explored, a great deal of our industry consists of managing relationships, answering questions, balancing interests and staying proactive. Those who hope to succeed in tomorrow’s influencer landscape need to keep their media skills sharp, and their people skills sharper.

After all, why shouldn’t a business built around everyday people demand excellence in how we interact with them?