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How to Build Strong Influencer Relationships

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It’s no secret that the brand-influencer relationship looks much different today than one to two years ago. The rise of new platforms, social media-powered shopping, and demand for “unfiltered content” have certainly created a shift in the dynamics between brands and influencers. 

So how has the brand/influencer relationship changed? And what are key strategies for building strong partnerships in this new world?

Below we share insights from an event we had with Alice Hampton, Founder of ACP Management, and Deborah Ross, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Integrated Communications at Shiseido Makeup. 

Build Trust & Lead with Authenticity 

One key area in the brand/influencer relationship that’s changed? Authenticity is now required from both brands and influencers. 

Alice — who manages celebrity influencers but has also worked for brands like Shiseido Makeup, bareMinerals, Estée Lauder, Tom Ford, and Clinique — pointed out that leading with  authenticity and core values actually makes for a better long-term strategy. 

“If you go for the easy money grab, your brand can rise in the short-term but then fall in the long-term. To build a long-term brand strategy, you want to pick and choose your partners very carefully.” – Alice Hampton, Founder of ACP Management 

To add to this, Deborah shared that brands should think about moving beyond one-off sponsored posts and instead focus on long-term, synergistic partnerships. Doing this will build credibility amongst the influencer’s audience.

Here are a few of Deborah’s tips on how brands can build those types of partnerships:

  • Partner with influencers who are already talking about your brand! According to Deborah, about 80% of the influencers Shiseido Makeup partners with have already mentioned the brand organically.
  • Ask Influencers what they want! When sending influencers products, it can be a nice gesture to ask influencers what they want instead of just assuming. This not only builds trust but can spark an opportunity for an influencer to organically post about your products they are excited about. 
  • Let go of the reins! Give your influencer partners creative freedom. Provide them with the necessary information (briefs, metrics, ect.), but then let them do their job. They know their audience best. 

Balance the Science and Art of Influencer Marketing 

Another key element that has affected this brand/influencer relationship shift is the ability to now effectively measure performance. In the previous years, brands did not always have the data to make informed decisions about their influencer strategies. This is why influencer partners used to be picked purely for the size of their audience, and content fell into a narrow range of types. But now there is a plethora of transparent performance data available, and it’s helping both brands and influencers get smarter. 

“Measurement enables and empowers brands to work with the right influencers and craft those relationships in the right way.” – Deborah Ross, Senior VP of Global Marketing and Integrated Communications at Shiseido Makeup. 

Inform future decisions by using data such as: 

  • Cost-based efficiency metrics like Cost per Post (CPP), Cost per Engagement (CPE) and Cost per View (CPV).
  • Brand Vitality Score (VIT) to understand the visibility (reach), impact (engagement), and trust (quality of brand mention) of the influencer’s content.
  • Competitor benchmarking to see how your brand’s influencer content performs across all markets, influencer tiers, and content types.

However, it is important to remember that at the end of the day, influencers are humans, not media placements. You are partnering with them because they are authentic and can speak to your brand. 

Alice’s key tip for brands is to actually show the influencer the brand’s values. For example, if your brand is rooted in kindness, go the extra mile in providing lunch to the influencer and their talent agent when you are first meeting with them. 

Thinking of influencers as an extension of your team is where brands can really win. 

Want to hear more from Deborah and Alice? Watch the full video for more key takeaways!

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