Influencer marketing is all the rage now in advertising, thanks to the growing influence of social media.
But if you’re gonna make the most of this marketing strategy, you need a personal connection with the influencers.
So you can leverage their target audience to drive the kind of engagement and result you want.
Additionally, developing a bond with influencers gives you an edge your competitors don't have. If you play your cards right, those influencers will end up becoming your very own ambassadors.
Now, how do you build a solid relationship with influencers?
That's what you'll learn about in this guide.
More specifically, you’ll discover:
- The challenges involved in managing influencer relationships.
- Tips to help you navigate those challenges.
- How to maintain a good influencer relationship.
But first, let's go through the basics.
What is Influencer Relationship Management (IRM)?
IRM is when you use communication and data to develop long-term partnerships with influencers.
To build strong relationships with them so there’s trust between both parties.
Basically, IRM involves thinking of influencers and creators as business partners (which they are).
You take note of their names, styles, and audience demographics, and track their analytics.
“But I’m already doing all of that for my customers, doing the same for influencers would be a lot of work.”
That’s why you will need an influencer relationship manager for this to work.
This person would be responsible for managing relationships with your influencers so you don’t have to.
What else would they bring to the table?
Let’s find out in the next section.
What Does an Influencer Relationship Manager Do?
An influencer relationship manager is in charge of your influencer marketing campaign.
You can think of them as your in-house marketers but strictly for influencers who understand your brand goals and objectives.
As such, they’re responsible for:
- Recruiting influencers.
- Managing relationships with influencers.
- Tracking their progress.
“Wait, why do I need all these? It’s a business, can’t we just hire the influencers we need and move on?”
To help you understand, let’s explain why relationship management is important in influencer marketing.
Why is Influencer Relationship Management Important?
IRM is important because it gives influencers a good impression of your brand.
A good IRM strategy shows them that you’re concerned about how the partnership can benefit both them and you.
Why is this important?
Because you see competition in the influencer marketing space is higher than it’s ever been. Over 80% of marketers in a survey said they would dedicate a budget to influencer marketing in 2023 — a 5% increase from the previous year.
So, the demand for influencers is on the rise and if you’re going to work with the best influencers out there, you must have an edge that other brands don’t.
That’s where IRM comes in.
It’s a lot like customer relationship management (CRM) where you manage interactions with clients to get the best out of them. But this time around the focus is on influencers.
Simply put, IRM is great because it’ll help you:
- Work with the best influencers.
- Make them happy and committed to your brand.
- Retain influencers for long-term partnerships.
- Maintain a good brand image in the influencer community.
With that out of the way, let’s now show you how you can manage influencer relationships.
How Do You Manage Influencer Relationships?
Managing relationships can be a lot to handle but only if you’ve not found the right hack.
Here are seven ways to get the job done without feeling overwhelmed:
1. Find the right influencers for your brand
If you’re gonna have a fantastic relationship with influencers, you need to ensure they’re the right fit for you. It’ll make the whole process very easy.
And if they’re not…🤐, you don’t wanna know.
So, how do you know if an influencer is right for your brand?
- They need to be in a similar industry to yours or at least have some experience working in it.
- Their audience should be similar to your ideal customer.
- The influencer’s content quality must be to the standard you require.
- Their values must align with those of your brand.
“I think I know what to look out for now. But how do I find influencers then?”
Well, it’s quite simple when you use a tool like Insense.
It’s a platform that makes finding the right influencers very easy. Here’s all you need to do:
- Use the filtering options (category, location, gender, and others) to find influencers.
- Add them to your influencer list and then create a campaign.
Now, after you’ve found the right influencers, the next thing is to send them a brief.
We’ll shed more light on this in the next section.
2. Create a campaign brief
A campaign brief is a document that shows influencers what you want them to do.
It’s like those files in spy movies that have all the information an agent needs to execute their mission.
A brief typically includes your:
- Campaign goals and objectives
- Expected deliverables
- Campaign type
- Product details etc.
Now, why do you need this brief?
- To ensure that you and the influencers are on the same page regarding the project.
- It shows professionalism and tells them you’re serious about the project.
- The brief can serve as a legal contract between both parties.
On Insense, a campaign brief is what comes next after you click Create campaign in the Creator Marketplace.
Here’s what it looks like:
When filling out a brief on Insense, you’ll go through all the key requirements for your campaign.
From what social media platform you’re creating content for to the type of partnership you want, your product’s unique selling point (USP), and more.
Once the influencers you’ve hired have a clear idea of what to do, here’s what your next step should be…
3. Decide which engagement metrics to track
Before and when your campaign gets into full swing, tracking influencers’ engagement metrics is your Lasso of Truth.
It’s how you know if an influencer is worth building a relationship with.
But not every type of engagement metric can give you the insight you need.
So, what kind is needed?
The number of comments they have on each post and content shares too. This has more impact on raising your brand awareness.
On the flip side, you wanna avoid metrics such as page or post likes and follower count.
Because they can be manufactured deceptively and that’s not good for your campaign.
With that out of the way, you can go ahead to select influencers who are perfect for you.
4. Create a trusted team of content creators and influencers
At this point, your influencer campaign is underway.
Influencers have produced content and it has been posted on their social media or yours.
Here’s what you need to do next: track top-performing influencers.
So you know which of them are contributing the most to your brand and the campaign.
You wanna answer questions like:
- Who has brought in the most sales?
- Who made our web traffic and social media pages go crazy?
- Who represented the brand in the best way possible?
When you identify such influencers, add them to your favorites list. They’re the ones to build a relationship with going forward.
5. Build a management process
Now, as you start working with this group of influencers, there’s a good chance that you’ll want to scale and run multiple campaigns.
We recommend having a system to manage them.
You know, so you won’t have to stress with the typical spreadsheet and all.
Thankfully, Insense has a campaign management system you can leverage.
With this feature, you can launch as many campaigns as you want and communicate with different influencers simultaneously.
You also get to see all of the creators you’re working with and the progress of the campaign they’re on.
So we kinda made managing influencer relationships seem pretty easy. But the truth is, your reality might not always be as smooth as that.
Very quickly, let’s go over possible issues you might face on this journey.
What Are The Key Challenges of Influencer Relationship Management?
If you decide to build a special relationship with your influencers, here are some major issues you’ll likely face:
1. Choosing the right influencers
It’s an issue because there are so many fraudulent influencers out there. And then when you do find genuine ones, you have to look at other factors like their engagement rate, conversions, industry, reach, and if they match your brand’s style.
It can be a handful. But not when you use Insense. Our platform makes it super easy to choose the right influencers. You can find out more here.
2. Building trust with the influencer
Trusting people takes a while sometimes and that applies to influencers too.
In most cases, they only want to work with brands they trust. So if you’re new to them, you’ll have to put in the work to make them trust you.
To build that trust, here’s what you can do:
- Be clear about your campaign goals.
- Be honest with them.
- Ask for their opinions.
- Give them creative freedom.
3. Meeting the influencer’s expectations
In any normal relationship, both parties need to meet each other’s expectations if it’s going to work.
That same logic is relevant to your relationship with influencers.
You’ve shared the brand expectations with them, but do you know what they expect of you?
Sometimes, compensation is the main expectation but that’s not always the case. And that’s why you need to ask.
Now, when faced with any of these challenges, how do you navigate them?
We’ll share tips that can help you out in the next section.
7 Tips for Effective Influencer Relationship Management
If you’re going to have a successful IRM strategy, then the tips we outline below should become your sutra. 🧘
1. Make a great first impression with top-notch outreach
We’ve established the fact that running an influencer program is the trending strategy for many marketers.
That tells us one thing: brands are reaching out to influencers more than ever before.
And those influencers’ DMs?
Whoosh, filled with proposals from different brands.
So when you want to reach out, ensure your message stands out. You wanna be professional but keep it friendly too.
2. Allow creative freedom
Creative freedom is a big deal to influencers. They’re professionals who are very good at what they do and you need to respect that.
By letting them do their thing.
Now, we’re not just saying that as experts who’ve run numerous influencer marketing programs.
There’s a report to back this up.
About 77% of influencers say they’re likely to have long-term relationships with brands that give them enough creative freedom.
The bottom line is you can set your expectations and goals but don’t restrict them. Keep in mind that they know their audience better than you do.
3. Be respectful
Respect and appreciation go a long way when dealing with influencers. It’s one of the ways you can earn their trust.
Because, you see, being a top influencer is a lot of work. It took them years to build their following and earn their community’s trust.
They had to produce content, edit it, engage their audience, and more.
So if you’re going to have a strong relationship with influencers, you need to treat them with respect.
How do you show respect?
- Be courteous when talking with them.
- Offer a reasonable compensation plan.
- Give them a clear contract.
- Listen to and consider their ideas.
4. Pay influencers on time
This tip can set the pace for a great influencer partnership and possibly turn them into brand ambassadors.
You see, it’s not enough to just pay them.
Once you see they’re committed to doing a great job, meeting deadlines and all, ensure you pay them on time.
When you have issues with processing payments, let them know before it’s time to pay.
That’s how to manage and get them in your corner.
Now if you use Insense, this shouldn’t be a problem for you at all. We’ve got a simple billing system that can automate how you make payments.
You only need to get one thing done: credit your wallet on Insense with enough money.
With that out of the way, influencers will get paid the moment they deliver their content.
In fact, on Insense, you can’t hire an influencer without enough money in your wallet.
5. Treat influencers like strategic business partners
In a way, influencers are marketers.
They’ve got access to insights that you don’t have access to and they know what people want.
But the only way to gain access to their valuable insights is if you treat them like partners or ask their opinions.
And when influencers share their feedback, you’ll do well to acknowledge it and implement it when you can.
6. Consider long-term collaborations
From our experience, most influencers prefer long-term collaborations for two main reasons:
A steady income 😙and more importantly, a better grasp of your brand.
When they partner with you long-term, they’re able to share a detailed experience of your brand with their audience.
That’s way better than introducing different brands to their community.
So during your influencer discovery stage, remember to highlight your commitment to building a long-term relationship.
7. Show appreciation
We briefly mentioned this earlier. But it’s so important, we had to bring it back one more time.
Let your influencers know how much you value their work.
Yes, you’re going to pay them but that’s different. Showing appreciation makes them feel special.
It has a way of making them think that the partnership is more than just business. Your influencers will be loyal to you and it won’t just be because you’re paying them.
Here are a few ways you can show appreciation:
- Send them a thank-you note.
- Give them your product as a gift (if you can).
- Tag influencers on social media and give them a shout-out.
So, we’ve shown you how to build an effective relationship with influencers.
But if you want to maintain it, there are a few things you’ll need to do.
Let’s look at them.
How Do You Maintain an Influencer Relationship?
You know in most relationships, the way you start is usually different from how you maintain it.
While you may not be as full-on as you were in the beginning, you do need to put in the work to make the other party happy.
For influencer relationships, here are some tips you wanna consider.
- Communicate regularly: Staying in touch with influencers now and then is a good way to let them know you’re committed to them.
Don’t just communicate when you’ve got a campaign on. You can reach out when there isn’t one. That’ll show them you meant what you said by building a long-term partnership.
- Provide feedback: When influencers submit content, take the time to give your feedback on the work. Not the generic ‘good work’ or ‘awesome’. Instead, highlight all the things you like or want improved.
- Be supportive: Aside from sharing feedback, supporting influencers and their work is another way to maintain a spark in the relationship. You can do this by reacting to their posts on social media. You know, commenting on or sharing them.
“All of this build-and-maintain-relationships thingy is great. But it seems like a lot of work.”
If that sounds like you, perhaps what you need is an IRM tool or agency.
Do You Need an Influencer Relationship Management Agency?
Truth be told, managing influencer relationships can be challenging without a proper system in place.
You’ll create spreadsheets for all the campaigns you’re running, write out the names of influencers for each of them, track their performance, and more.
It’s a lot, actually.
But with an IRM agency, you’ll have a more streamlined workflow. Here’s what working with one can help you do:
- Find relevant influencers.
- Build a list of your favorite influencers
- Monitor their performance.
- Have a simple onboarding process for influencers.
- Automate certain tasks like processing payments, copyrights, etc.
Essentially, they’re going to simplify the influencer marketing efforts of your marketing team.
Now you’re probably thinking, “Where do I even start searching for an IRM agency?”
Don’t worry, that's what we'll cover next.
3 Influencer Relationship Management Software & Tools to Know
As mentioned previously, IRM tools are life savers. If you use the right one, it can help ensure you have a successful influencer marketing campaign.
That said, here are our top recommendations:
Insense is a platform that helps you collaborate with social media influencers and creators for your marketing campaigns.
But aside from finding influencers, Insense can also help simplify your influencer marketing strategies.
By providing the necessary tools and resources to set up and scale a campaign. On Insense, you can:
- Create your favorite creator lists.
- Chat in real time with them without leaving the platform.
- Receive email notifications about the campaign.
- Automate influencer payments.
- Track campaign progress.
- Get campaign reports.
Basically, everything you need to effectively manage your influencer relationships.
Grin is a creator management platform designed for e-commerce businesses. It’s even got integrations with apps like Shopify and WooCommerce.
Here’s what Grin helps you do regarding influencer management:
- Find and recruit influencers.
- Import existing influencer contacts you have and previous communications.
- Email influencers and track who has clicked or replied to your mail.
- Monitor influencer posts, media value, and conversions.
Upfluence is an influencer management platform that can help streamline how you manage influencer campaigns.
With Upfluence, you can find and recruit influencers.
The platform is also integrated with Gmail and Outlook, simplifying how you reach out to influencers at scale.
What’s more, if you’re working with multiple creators, Upfluence has a dedicated dashboard to help you manage them.
You can track who has been invited, is active, needs follow-up, has been paid, has sent a draft, and more.
You made it to the end of this guide!
Honestly, you deserve a standing ovation. But don’t click away just yet.
There’s one more bit of information for you.
Now Over to You
Influencer marketing will keep growing by the year.
And finding the right influencers for your campaigns will become ever more competitive.
But here’s the thing:
If you want, you can stay ahead of the curve and have successful influencer campaigns without struggling to get influencers’ attention.
So, how can you make that happen?
It’s simple really.
Just book a demo with Insense and our team will take it from there.