Influencer marketing isn’t just about getting the most suitable influencers for your brand campaign or creating the most engaging content. To market your campaign well and maintain a lasting relationship with influencers, you need to know how to manage your influencers. Just like managing your interactions with customers, you also need to take care of your influencer relationships. But what is influencer relationship management? And how to do it right?
Influencer relationship management (IRM) has long been a buzzword in the digital world. As the term suggests, it refers to managing your partnerships with influencers. It’s also acknowledging that influencers aren’t your employees but strategic partners. Therefore, they should be involved in your planning, decision-making, and the overall creation of your campaign.
As revealed by Google statistics, 70% of teenagers trust social media influencers more than traditional celebrities. This only shows that influencers are a key factor in your online success and targeting the modern audience. Now, you may ask: how do you maintain relationships with influencers? This article will cover everything you need to know.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Before going to the core of “what are influencer relations,” let’s quickly revisit influencer marketing first. Influencer marketing is a type of marketing strategy that deals with influencers to promote your brand, increase awareness, improve ROI, and other marketing goals. You can primarily find influencers on social media, with Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook being the top platforms for influencer marketing.
To do influencer marketing effectively, you need to look at some factors. Some of these include:
- Your campaign goals
- The influencer’s reach and number of following
- Influencer’s niche (make sure it matches with yours)
- The influencer’s engagement rate
- Type of influencer you need for your campaign:
- Nano: 1,000-10,000 followers
- Micro: 10,000-100,000 followers
- Macro: 100,000-1 million followers
- Mega/Celebrity: Over 1 million followers
What Does an Influencer Manager Do?
While most companies have social media managers in their teams, some also have a dedicated influencer manager. Influencer marketing managers are responsible for overseeing the overall operations of your brand campaign. They communicate with influencers, coordinate with your marketing team, and build a team of influencer partners for your brand.
Moreover, influencer managers are responsible for market research and analyzing influencer marketing trends to get maximum results for your influencer campaigns. They should be knowledgeable of social media, know how to interact with different types of people, and must be able to find a common ground between your brand and the influencers.
Large companies usually have a separate team for influencer and digital marketing. Meanwhile, medium-sized companies have a social media manager and influencer marketing manager at the same time. For small businesses, they mostly hire an influencer management agency instead of building an internal team for influencer marketing. Some business owners even require their marketing heads to take up an influencer management course so they won’t need to hire a new employee or pay for an agency.
Top Ways to Effectively Manage Your Relationships with Influencers
Now that you’re already refreshed about influencer marketing and had a gist of the responsibilities of an influencer manager, let’s tackle the best ways to improve your management for influencers.
Reach Out to Relevant Influencers Only
Just like accepting all kinds of virtual friendships when you’re new to social media, you might be tempted to reach out to random influencers when you’re new to influencer marketing. Sure, there are plenty of influencers out there, but not everyone is meant for your brand. So, the first step to improving your influencer relationship management is by approaching relevant influencers only.
What makes an influencer relevant? Here are some of the factors that you should look at when searching for a brand influencer:
- Influencer’s niche and their familiarity and impact on their niche
- Audience demographics
- Social media domains (what type of content they post, how often they post, the authenticity of their accounts, etc.)
Aside from these factors, the influencer should align with your brand’s values, mission, and voice. They should also have a track record of successful partnerships to prove their credibility and productivity. You see, looking for the most relevant influencer may take some time. But it will save you more time ironically and ensure a better, more lasting relationship than settling for random influencers.
Measure Engagement Metrics Accurately
Engagement metrics are the main measurement of an influencer’s effectiveness. It refers to the number of likes, comments, and shares on an influencer’s post. Follower count can also be counted as a type of engagement. Now, you may think that hundreds or even thousands of followers or likes are automatically good engagement. But some engagements can be fake.
With various social media tools available online, some influencers could be using automated platforms to increase their following and engagement. This is a red flag in influencer marketing because fake engagements mean fake audiences. And when you reach out to fake audiences, you’re only wasting your money, effort, and time.
Hence, you should calculate relevant engagement. To do so, you can use this simple formula:
Number of relevant comments and post shares / Number of followers
Whether you’re calculating the engagement manually or using a software like the one in this Iconosquare review, the key is to always measure the engagement metrics accurately.
Evaluate the Results of Each Influencer
Different influencers deliver different results. Some may bring optimal success to your campaigns, while others may work poorly. Building a team of influencers is good for your company, but over time, you should sort them out and keep only the best ones.
However, it doesn’t mean that just because an influencer wasn’t able to meet your expectations, you’ll ditch them all at once. Try monitoring their content across all their active social media channels and see what they deliver best. For example, one influencer may be good at brand awareness while another is more focused on increasing sales. In that way, you’ll know which influencer to tap based on your campaign goals.
Be Honest and Straightforward
Open communication comes with honest and straightforward thoughts. And these are key factors to strengthening any type of relationship. To ace your influencer relationship management, you should communicate your expectations clearly to your influencers. Do you aim to reach 1,000 new followers by the end of the campaign? Are you looking for a 3x increase in your sales and ROI? Whatever your goals are, your influencers should know, so you’ll be on the same page.
Aside from your goals, your influencers should be aware of their compensation, benefits, and the merchandise they can get out of the partnership. Just make sure to not over-compromise anything, or your influencer might find it hard to trust you and will leave your brand after the first partnership.
Use a Warm Outreach Strategy
How do you reach out to influencers? Do you immediately slip through their DM’s? Or do you send them an email as long as their address is visible on their social media accounts? Successful influencer relationship management requires a warm and customized outreach strategy. Your influencers need to feel that you aren’t just sending out random invites to them—that you intentionally want them for your brand.
To craft the perfect outreach strategy, you may do the following:
- Send personalized messages. Address them by their first names and when you mention why you think they’re a perfect match for your brand, make sure you’re stating their specific qualities and not general ones.
- Interact with them as a person. Business is business, but a relationship is more rewarding when it comes with a personal touch. Before sending collaboration messages to your chosen influencers, start by following them and liking some of their posts on social media. You should do this on a regular basis, not bombard their accounts with comments and likes in a day, then immediately message them.
- Create a formal outreach email. Once you’re already a fan of them on social media, you should take all business matters on email. This is to establish formality and let your influencers know that your brand is credible.
- Use influencer marketing platforms. If you want to save on all of that time and effort in reaching out to influencers, you may use top influencer marketing platforms. These platforms have massive databases of influencers from different domains and their efficacy and rates. Some software also yield the best-matched influencers for your brand, and you can communicate with them directly on that specific platform.
Secure an Influencer Contract/Agreement
When influencer marketing was new to the digital world, contracts weren’t that important to brand partnerships. Some companies would only give free items to influencers to promote their products. For the hospitality industry, hotel managers would provide free accommodation to influencers to promote their place.
But as influencer marketing grew over time, influencers and brands have seen the importance of contracts. This is to secure your partnership and make sure that both parties benefit from the campaign. Some of the details you can include in a contract are compensation or rates, the exclusivity of the partnership, length of the partnership, distribution of content, copyright, and other terms.
Acknowledge that Influencers Know Their Audience Better
Just think of it: your influencers’ audiences aren’t your audiences unless they do the effort of making their audiences patronize your brand. Simply put, you’re only acquiring your influencers’ audiences through a partnership and they always know their audiences better.
Hence, when working with an influencer, make sure to provide them with adequate time before asking for results and give them creative freedom. Sure, you’re all up for brand recognition and consistency, but your influencers shouldn’t also lose their identity on social media. As mentioned above, influencers should be part of your overall campaign operations. Listen to their ideas, create something great together, and reap the rewards later.
Build a Personal, Long-Term Relationship
Who wants to see an influencer come and go with every campaign? Again, acquiring the best brand influencer is a long, tiring process. So, building a personal, long-term relationship with influencers can be a great asset for your influencer marketing’s success.
To keep your influencers for the long-term, maintain healthy connections with them. Regularly interact with their social media accounts even after the campaign has ended, include them in your newsletters, and invite them to company events. You may also reward your best influencers or promote their accounts on your social media pages or website. Lastly, don’t forget to leave honest reviews on their domains to help enhance their credibility.
Organize Your Creator Team
Once you have the right influencer for your brand, you’ll need to monitor their content and social media activities and keep up with them. Of course, you can’t do all these things alone. So, make sure to have a creative team to take care of your influencer marketing campaigns. This team could be your marketing department, or you can have a separate creative team if your budget allows it.
When organizing your creator team, delegate tasks accordingly. Who will monitor each influencer’s contribution to your campaign’s success? Who will handle the influencers from different categories or social media platforms? To maximize your creator team and keep the tracking easier, you may invest in influencer marketing platforms like the one in this Agorapulse review.
You may wonder: what is the ideal budget for influencer marketing campaigns? According to Big Commerce statistics, the most common influencer budget is $1,000-$10,000 annually. Moreover, 18% of companies are willing to spend between $100,000-$500,000 every year.
Partner with an Agency
Partnering with an agency is one of the easiest and most effective ways to manage your influencer relations. An influencer marketing agency specializes in handling collaborations between brands and influencers. Some agencies also have existing connections with verified influencers, making the selection seamless for you. Simply put, influencer agencies will take care of your overall campaign, including content creation and management, influencer agreement, and campaign tracking and analysis.
Leverage Influencer Relationship Management Strategies
Influencer relationship management is one of the factors often overlooked by most businesses. Some companies are so focused on brand awareness, sales, and ROI that they tend to forget the importance of having lasting, authentic relationships with influencers. If you care about your partners and your business’ success, follow the tips above and take full advantage of your influencer’s engaged audience through careful influencer relationship management.
Now, if you need to know more about influencer agencies, check out our guide “What Does an Influencer Marketing Agency Do? An In-Depth Look.”