Essentially, through any influencer marketing project, your brand is hoping to piggyback on a relationship that another has already built up with your ideal target market.
And much like how someone wouldn’t introduce you to their friends in a good light unless they already had some sort of good relationship with you – it makes sense that you first have to build up the connection with an influencer on a brand to person level before you can hope to be introduced authentically to their audience.
So basically it’s not going to be enough to simply identify who you’d like to work with and then throw product and money at them. If you really want their opinion of your brand to be honestly positive, and not just a sponsored advert, then you need to approach this interaction for what it is – building a relationship as strong as the one between the influencer and their audience.
Step 1: Identify
To identify the influencers whom you wish to build a relationship with, you first need to identify your ideal target audience:
- Who do you want to be speaking to?
- How old are they?
- What are their interests?
- What are their online behaviours like – which social platforms are they on?
- Which part of the consumer journey would you like them to influence?
Once you find your target audience, then it’s actually pretty simple to find your influencers – they will be the ones that your target market are already avidly listening to, and actively engaging with on a regular basis.
Step 2: Nurture
This is the step that is often ignored, glossed over because it takes too long, or is simply not thought of: You need to approach the influencers you’ve found with the view to work with them – to nurture their creativity around your brand message.
True influencers are themselves content creators – it will be instantly obvious to their audience if you craft their content for them and then ask them to simply post the “advert” to their timeline. They have influence because their audience trusts their authentic voice and opinion – if your collaboration takes that away from them, then their influence in that space will plummet and you don’t only risk their reputation, but void the whole experiment.
If you want an influencer to build your brand into their content, then you need to offer them support in order to incorporate your brand into their normal content in their own way. They have to keep their own voice and opinion – that’s when the magic happens. If the audience can believe that the influencer truly enjoys your brand, then they will treat it as an authentic review and in turn become well-disposed towards your brand.
Step 3: Measure
This step is in actual fact a continual practice throughout the process. In order to effectively find the right influencers, with a properly engaged audience around relevant topics, you will need to measure them on the right metrics. Such metrics as conversation sentiment and growth, as well as the vanity metrics of reach and engagement.
On the nurture side, it’s important to also keep a measure on where each individual is at all times on their relationship with the brand. When you first find an influencer, you should assess how they already feel towards your brand – whether they are oblivious to it, seem to be positive towards it, or are a negative influencer. Once you know this, then you know how to nurture them further – and in the case of the negative influencer, can take the right steps to nurture them to think of your brand in a positive light instead.
By building a relationship with influencers, you are ensuring that they actually become personally invested in your brand, and this will shine through their content to their audience – your target market.