Christine Pietryla Wetzler

Owner, Pietryla PR & Marketing

PR Consultant

Fractional CMO

Featured Writer

Christine Pietryla Wetzler

Owner, Pietryla PR & Marketing

PR Consultant

Fractional CMO

Featured Writer

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14 Smart Tips To Help Marketers Navigate Influencer Partnerships

14 Smart Tips To Help Marketers Navigate Influencer Partnerships

Influencers have been used to reach target audiences for longer than many might imagine. While the status of “influencer” has certainly taken off since the rise of YouTubers and online celebrities, notable people have served as influencers to promote causes and businesses for centuries. Today, partnering with those who have huge followings and can influence the behaviors and actions of target audiences has evolved into an impactful tactic that brands of all stripes are keen to leverage.

With so many possible combinations and potential points of contact, developing a lucrative partnership with an influencer for a marketing campaign can be a challenging and time-consuming project, full of trial and error. To clear up confusion around the process and help marketers avoid common missteps, 14 members of Forbes Agency Council share their No. 1 tips for the smart use of influencer marketing and navigating partnerships below.

Forbes Agency Council share smart tips to help marketers navigate influencer partnerships. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.

1. Focus On Depth Over Breadth

I often suggest not getting dazzled by the millions of followers of someone’s profile, but double-clicking into the engagement and depth. In essence, tone and lifestyle context are better measures of impact. In an era when anyone can “cheat” their way into buying impressions, deep connection through engagement is a better currency. Seek effectiveness over efficiency. – Lili Gil Valletta, CIEN+

2. Involve Influencers Upstream In The Process

We’ve learned to involve influencers upstream in the process—during the concepting of new initiatives and campaigns. In other words, don’t just tell the influencer what your brand wants. Instead, get them involved in joint brainstorming up front. Influencers have their fingers on the pulse of what excites their audience. Take advantage of their insight by involving them more strategically. – Tom Shapiro, Stratabeat

3. Look At Audience Quality, Not Quantity

To see real results, look at audience quality, not quantity. Choose influencers with an active, engaged following that is truly interested in and would actually purchase products or services such as yours. This is what will actually drive traffic and sales back to your brand. – Ilana Zalika, Resound Marketing LLC

4. Take Advantage Of Podcast Advertising

Influencer marketing isn’t just about social media. Podcast advertising is an underutilized influencer marketing channel. If you haven’t taken advantage of this medium, there are major opportunities in the space. Find podcasts that speak to your target demographic, connect with the host, purchase ads and offer product samples. It is a great way to have an ambassador for your product or service. – Heather Osgood, True Native Media

5. Value Engagement Over Follower Count

Too many companies get lost in the number of followers an influencer has relative to the engagement rate at which the influencer is connecting with their audience. Additionally, ensure influencer marketing goals are outlined thoroughly prior to agreeing to a partnership. You want to ensure all parties win and that they thoroughly align with your brand above all else. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications

6. Don’t Underestimate Your Smaller Partners

I’ll echo what influencers said in the performance marketing survey we did last year: Don’t underestimate your smaller partners. At the end of the day, it’s not about the traffic, but getting real customers—which is about the “stickiness factor.” In our own network, we’ve seen micro-influencers with niche audiences driving some of the greatest impacts through their conversion ratios. – Nicky Senyard, Fintel Connect

7. Make A Good Call To Action With Each Release

High numbers of followers are cool for showing off, but look at the engagement. If people are not interacting at a high level with each release, then the follower count means nothing. Also, focus your plan on making a good call to action with each release, not just throwing out mindless media. – David Kley, Web Design and Company

8. Ensure The Influencer’s Content Aligns With The Product

The biggest mistake I see with influencer marketing is not aligning the influencer with the brand. Just because someone has a lot of followers doesn’t mean the campaign is going to be successful. There needs to be a correlation between the influencer’s content and the product. For instance, some foodies have a ton of followers, but they aren’t going to be impactful with fitness brands and vice versa. – T. Maxwell, eMaximize

9. Look For Easy-Fit, Organic Micro-Influencer Partnerships

Look for easy-fit, organic partnerships with micro-influencers who are more interested in gaining experiences and products or building relationships than with getting paid. Build the relationship on a solid foundation, learn how to work and grow together, and eventually it will pay off for both parties—versus spending big money on a big name who could be pitching your competitor’s product next week. – Dan Kahn, Kahn Media, Inc.

10. Prioritize Authenticity Above All Else

Consumers respond to genuine, relatable storytelling. You want influencers who truly have something to say about your brand. Whether they have a problem that the brand solves or they’re already a loyal customer, the best kind of influencer storytelling comes from the heart. – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group

11. Give Influencers Creative Control

The future of influencer marketing is diverse, inclusive and not overly “salesy.” To maintain relevance and truly get the most out of influencer partnerships, brands and agencies must understand their audiences now more than ever and let influencers have control over what they’re creating. Trust influencers to make content that makes sense for their audience and ditch the strict brand guidelines. – Brett Hyman, NVE Experience Agency

12. Approach All Partnerships As Relationships To Build

Influencer marketing—and all partner marketing, including affiliate and brand partnerships—takes time. Unlike paid search and social, partnerships are relationship-based and take time to materialize and optimize. Approaching partnerships with this mindset will allow brands to eventually find what works for them. – Faique Moqeet, Hamster Garage

13. Have A Budget And Know What Result You Expect

When it comes to influencers, have a budget for your campaign and understand that this is part of your advertising budget. I like to say that, as it is important to know that just as with advertising, you are going to spend money and should expect a result. So know what that result is and how you will measure it before engaging with an influencer. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

14. Have A Strong Creative Brief And Onboarding Process

Have a strong creative brief and an airtight onboarding process. Whether you use software or do the paperwork yourself, make sure your objectives are clear and include as many specifics as possible. If you are working with more than a handful of influencers, nail down a process that can be delegated. The paperwork alone can get pretty frustrating if not managed well. – Christine Wetzler, Pietryla PR & Marketing

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This article originally appeared on Forbes.