Influencer marketing is very often treated as another type of advertising campaign. Such a campaign would have determined objectives — like the number of leads and conversions, as well as projected sales and revenue.
Once the brand goals are achieved, marketers tend to think that their job is done. Brands often stop communicating with influencers when the campaign is over. However, influencers don't stop being influential. They are constantly
Developing an 'always-on' influencer programme can lead to more prosperous results for your brand than a one-off influencer collaboration. By strengthening the relations with influencers that are engaged in your campaign, you can stand out in your target community and have loyal ambassadors continuously endorsing your brand.
There are several essential benefits of nurturing a relationship with industry influencers in the long run.
Here are three advantageous effects of a long-term campaign that develop influencer relations:
1. It earns loyalty
By developing your connection with an influencer, you can turn him into a loyal brand advocate
. The transition from influencer marketing to influencer relations increases the influencer's affection for your brand.
By checking up on the expert from time to time and asking him what he is working on or what his thoughts are on a particular issue, you can convince him that your product is worth his attention. This way, when working on a new blog post or video, the expert will think of your product as a good solution for his audience.
2. Long-term builds up trust
Another great perk that results from increased loyalty is credibility. By continuously collaborating with an influencer, you will eventually grow the trust that consumers put into your brand.
Persistent brand exposure proves to the expert's followers that the influencer genuinely likes your product and uses it in everyday life. This way, the integration of your product to the influencer's content will look more authentic.
Moreover, an influencer who creates multiple posts about the same brand isn't locked into covering just one aspect of the product. With every new integration, he can use a different approach to highlight other angles of the product or ways to use it.
By patiently building your influencer relations, you can turn your brand into a top-of-mind choice for the influencer's audience.
3. You don't lose something that is good
Influencer marketers and public relations specialists know for sure that influencers are very hard to reach
. You can send out hundreds of emails to thought-leaders in your niche and receive just a couple of replies. What is more, some of these responses might say 'Thanks, but I'm not interested'.
So when you finally land an influencer partnership, it's important to maintain and nurture this relationship. Starting with a small mention of your brand by an influencer, you can deepen this relationship and end up with more impactful forms of content, such as event co-hosting or other special projects.
How to develop influencer relations
To put it simply, you develop long-term relationships with influencers by keeping in touch. Check-in with influencers from time to time, provide them with exclusive brand updates and insights or invite them to company events.
No news to share? Don't worry, there are many ways to keep the conversation going. You can always refer to the influencer's latest content and drop him a quick line with your opinion about it.
Another idea is to ask an influencer for an interview or quote for your company's blog or social media. Maybe you've found some data or a relevant article that the influencer would appreciate. You can share your knowledge base with the expert. Don’t forget to send greetings for national holidays or influencers' birthday. These kinds of small gestures will mean a lot.
In order to convert an influencer into a brand's advocate, you should map out a funnel of your 'ideal' influencer relationship. It's worth it to have a plan of influencer engagement for your brand.
Let's say you start with cold outreach, move to brand mentions in influencer's content and end up with the influencer becoming your brand ambassador. The possibilities are endless if you gradually develop your relationship.
Last but not least — treat influencers with genuine interest and compassion. Influencers feel a lot of pressure when working with brands, as marketers usually insistently pursue their company's interests.
Listen to influencers' needs and problems and be collaborative and understanding. An individual approach and personal touch will more likely make the influencer come down to your brand's side.
Does your brand need an always-on influencer programme?
You will be able to achieve significantly better outcomes from your once-off influencer project by expanding it in an always-on programme. However, with resources being limited and marketing goals being different from brand to brand, you can consider the following factors before rolling out your long-term campaign:
When your goal is to enhance your brand's recognition, consideration and trust, a long-lasting campaign will make sense. To become a top-of-mind brand in the niche, your product needs to be exposed to your audience regularly. For example, companies like Coca-Cola, Pampers or McDonald's have dedicated years to bombarding generations of people with their ads.
If you are looking to boost a new product launch with influencers' publications, you might want to limit your campaign to a specific period of time. At the same time, recruiting influencers to promote your next launch is much easier when you already have ongoing relations with a number of thought-leaders.
An influencer relationship is not something you can buy; developing a trusted relationship requires a lot of time and energy. It is also important to keep in mind that not all of your influencer connections will grow into a fruitful relationship.
If you are new to the niche, but you need to boost your brand exposure in a shorter term, be sure to look for assistance from specialists who already have established connections in the industry.
For example, your goal is to promote a new mobile game and you need multiple influencers across the globe to start talking about it. Taking into consideration that the gaming influencers are quite specific, you should hire a PR professional or gaming influencer marketing agency
who has been working in this area for a while. This way, your brand will find a be able to approach the industry opinion leaders easier.
The shift from campaign-oriented influencer marketing to an always-on programme can drive impressive outcomes for your brand. Building relationships with industry experts will lead to steady brand exposure as the influencer would be more willing to mention your product.
By developing your connection with an influencer, you can facilitate more creative collaboration formats that, in the course of time, will generate credibility to your brand.