Navigating Influencer Relations: Pro Tips for DTC Marketing Leaders

Ahmet Özçelik
Ahmet Özçelik
Business Development Manager
navigating influencer relationships

Do you remember that one time your team lead gave you an outstanding compliment?

Explained how much profit your efforts brought the company. And maybe even gave you a bonus. 

Remember the way you felt?

GIF Source: Giphy

You probably went home that day cooking up new strategies on how you can perform better. Gotta keep those bonuses coming in, right? 😉

Anyway, here’s what we’re driving at: 

People perform better when they’re appreciated. And that includes influencers. 

Treat them right beyond a contract and watch them become ‘brandvangelists’. 

Defending and promoting your brand like you’ve been besties since elementary school. 

That’s what influencer relations is all about. 

And that’s why in this guide, we’re going to provide actionable tips to help you navigate the influencer relations waters. 

You’ll learn how to leverage partnerships so you can get the best from them. 

Without further ado, let’s get this party started!

What Is ‘Influencer Relations’?

Influencer relations is a strategy in influencer marketing that’s about developing long-term partnerships with influencers

Here, the focus is on sustainable collaboration through personalized interactions. 

You are happy. The influencer is happy. 

Everyone walks out with a desired value. 

The idea behind building relationships with influencers is that you engage with them before, during, and after the collaboration. 

Letting them know that you respect them. Want the best for them. And you’ll do all you can to see them realize their dreams. 

In turn?

You’ll be getting brand advocates. Partners who’ll be more than happy to recommend your brand to their network. Increasing brand awareness to a level that goes way beyond what you’re paying them for.

Okay, but how’s that different from traditional influencer marketing

Well, for one, typical influencer campaigns are quite transactional. 

You pay for posts, and the content creator produces and posts them. Case closed. 

That’s still a good strategy. 

But an even better way is to build relations. 

Go beyond the transaction and get to know the person behind the influencer post. Forge an emotional connection with them. 

So they’re now like your inside man, making sure you have a more authentic connection with your target audience. 

Here’s how Steve Pogson, an e-commerce growth specialist, described influencer relations:

Influencer relations, from my perspective, are strategic partnerships that harness the trust and authority of influencers to foster brand advocacy and deepen customer engagement.

Okay, so now I hear you thinking…

“I get it about influencer relations but is it really worth the stress? 

I don’t have a lot of time on my plate nowadays.” 

Well, to answer that, let’s take a look at some of this strategy’s benefits.

Why Is Influencer Relationship Management Important?

First, you need to understand that influencer marketing campaigns are now a big deal in traditional media.

In a recent Influencer Marketing Hub survey, 85% of respondents said they believe influencer marketing is an effective form of marketing. 

And about 60% of marketers surveyed said they have plans to increase their influencer campaign budget.

What are we driving at?

Influencers are being flooded with requests from brands like yours. 

Everyone wants a piece of them. 

You could have five beauty brands trying to get the same TikTok influencer to promote their new products. 

Now imagine if the influencer agreed to collaborate with all five brands. 

There’ll probably be no impact because their audience will know the influencer’s content is purely transactional. 

But if your angle is to build long-term relationships, you’re in for a treat. 

You’ll stand out from other brands who are going the transactional route. According to Steve Pogson, this way will give you authentic storytelling your audience can relate to.

That said, here are other reasons influencer relationship management is a good idea:

Authenticity and credibility 

You see, customers now know how to identify branded content. 

They can tell when a social media influencer has been paid to produce a post. Like they’re mind-readers or something. 

That’s why you’ll notice that such posts rarely have as many engagements as organic posts. 

But when you’ve built relationships with influencers, the tempo changes. They begin to produce more authentic content. The kind that makes the target audience feel like influencers are stakeholders in your business.

Increased brand awareness and perception 

When you relate with influencers well enough, they begin to see themselves as part of the family. They know what new products are in the works. Understand what your long-term plans are. 

At this point, they have a better perception of your brand, so it’s easier for them to become brand ambassadors. Promoting not just your products but brand values too. 


Another good thing about this influencer marketing strategy is how it helps achieve your brand advocacy goals without costing too much.

You just focus on building positive relationships. And the influencers will promote your brand for free.

High-quality content

The way an influencer who’s been with you for a while produces branded content will be way different from a new influencer. 

The long-term influencers understand your brand through and through. So you can be sure whatever they create will resonate with your audience demographics. 

It’s not coming off as ‘transactional’ but is filled with authentic testimonials from the influencer.  

Less time spent looking for new influencers

You know how you have to look for creators to work with every now and then?

Well, you won’t have to do that if you’ve been relating with the right influencers

Word will have gone around about how great your culture is and people will be queueing to work with you. 

You could even still work with influencers you’ve built a relationship with. 


The bottom line is that there’s a lot to gain from building relations with influencers. 

Wondering how to do that? We’ve got some ideas in the next section.

How Do You Build an Influencer Relationship?

This is the part you’ve been waiting for. 

And it’s simple … if you follow the tips we’ve listed below. 

The first thing you want to do is find relevant influencers within your niche who are aligned with your brand values.

Check their metrics. You know, things like follower count, engagement rates on their social media posts, etc.

Once there’s a sync, you can get down to business. 

  • Influencer outreach: This is where you send personalized emails to creators and influencers. You want to keep it friendly and clear so they know what you want from the get-go. Get familiar with their work and what they like so you know the best approach to take.
  • Communicate regularly: Once an influencer has agreed to work with you, keep an open line of communication. 

That’s one approach Steve Pogson, the growth specialist follows. Here’s what he says — “My approach is to nurture these relationships through regular, transparent communication…”  

Do you have the funds to pay them or are you going with free products? 

Talk about your expectations. How the campaign is going. What they think could make it better. You also need to ensure you guys stay in touch post-campaign. 

  • Give them creative freedom: We know you have a style you want influencers to follow. But you need to understand that creators and influencers are good at what they do. 

So allowing them what Steve Pogson calls “creative freedom” to do their thing is a great way to build strong relationships. 

It doesn’t mean you can’t tell them how you want the content to look overall. But you trust them enough to do it in a way their audience will like. 

  • Support them during the campaign: Get involved and show them that it’s a partnership. Like their posts. Comment. Repost. 

If they’re behind on an agreement, don’t go blazing in with queries on why they’ve not delivered. Ask what’s wrong. And how you can help them get back on track. 

  • Ask for feedback: A great influencer manager knows that you need all the help you can get to drive sales and run a successful influencer marketing program. And these influencers understand the audience better than you would. So you’ll be doing yourself a huge service by asking for their feedback. What do they think of your strategy? Do their audience like it or not?

Now this is how you can solidify a relationship with influencers. 

But truth be told, this adventure isn’t an easy one. You’ll run into challenges at some point.  

What kind of challenges? You’re about to find out.

How to Overcome Challenges when Building Influencer Relations

Like most relationships, things may not always go as planned. 

And sometimes, it’s nobody’s fault. 

But the best way to navigate challenging situations is if you’re prepared. You know what to do in different scenarios. 

This way, nothing takes you by surprise. You’ll know how to respond instead of just reacting.

The same applies when building influencer relations. So to help you stay on top, we’ve outlined the challenges you might face. And solutions to help you overcome them. 

Challenge #1: An influencer collaboration didn’t go as planned.

Anything can cause this to happen. 

Maybe you weren’t clear on your expectations. The influencer scheduled a post wrongly. Used the wrong hashtags. 

The list is endless. 

But when it does happen, here’s what you want to do:

  • Try to track what went wrong and when. You can figure this out by talking with the influencer and your team. Analyze the data, like engagement rates or impressions. 
  • Be open to making changes from your end. And be willing to go with the influencer’s flow too. 
  • Provide additional support to the influencer if there’s a need for it. 
  • Focus on resolving the main issue. The blame game won’t help anyone at this stage. 
  • Set clear expectations and outcomes if you both decide to give the collaboration another go. 
  • Ensure at the outset that the influencer you collaborate with aligns with your brand’s values and audience. 
  • Have a well-defined goal so the influencer knows what success means for you.

Challenge #2: The influencer got involved in a conflict or controversy.

People change. That’s a fact. 

Someone who shared the same values with you might reconsider their position. 

If it’s your brand ambassador, that could have a grave effect on your brand. So, you need to stay on top of such situations if they happen.  

Here are some tips to guide you:

  • You need to have clear expectations about influencer conduct during the length of the partnership. There should be a clause or something in the contract. 
  • Have a network of loyal ambassadors. Just in case one gets involved in a controversy. 
  • During a conflict, collect as much information as you can. You need to know what kind of issue the influencer is involved with. And what your audience thinks of it. 
  • Assess the impact of the conflict on your brand and address it ASAP. 
  • Depending on how serious it is, you can cancel the collaboration and distance yourself from the influencer. Or pause the partnership and let the public know you’re investigating the situation. 

If it’s a minor conflict, you can continue to work together. But if the influencer’s actions will cause serious damage to your brand, don’t hesitate to end the collaboration. 

To avoid dealing with controversies in the first place, ensure you take the time to find influencers who have positive public relations and align with your brand values. 

Challenge #3: The brand's image evolves.

So, let’s say your brand is getting revamped. 

Y’all are changing the logos, style, and everything. On the other hand, you have a network of influencers who are used to the old style. 

How do you freely evolve without your influencer partnership taking a hit?

The key is communication. 

You should have started speaking to the influencers about the new changes. 

They need to know how the switch will affect them. 

Next, include them in the process. 

We’re talking about solidifying influencer relations, right? 

Well, what better way than to get them involved in your new strategies early on? 

Another thing you can do is stay liquid. 

A new brand image is also new for you. Be open to trying new things with the influencers. 

If they work, you keep them. And if they don’t, you embrace a new approach. 

So that, ladies and gentlemen, brings us to the end of this guide.

One more tip and we can call it a day.

Do You Need an Influencer Relationship Management Tool?

We know, manually building a relationship with influencers can be chaotic. 

You can send a message and wait for weeks before getting a reply. If you even get one. 

Sometimes, it’s drafting contracts that’s overwhelming. 

But if you use an influencer relationship management tool like Insense, you can get the job done in minutes. 

You can discover influencers who align with your brand values with ease. 

Communicate with them right on the platform. 

Pay them. Monitor the campaign on the platform. Receive ad creatives. 

And more. 

Too good to be true, right?

Well, book a demo with Insense and see for yourself. Then you can decide if you want the hard way or the easy way going forward.

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Ahmet Özçelik

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