The Ultimate Guide to Influencer Management

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I. Introduction

The influencer marketing industry has exploded over the last decade, growing over 800% since 2016. The reason for said growth is that influencer marketing works. In fact, 94% of companies that have used influencer marketing found it to be effective.

However, success with influencer marketing is not guaranteed. Influencer management, or the managing of influencer relationships in regards to your brand, will directly impact the outcome of your influencer marketing strategy.

Influencer management involves:

  • Overseeing the influencer marketing strategy
  • Managing relationships with influencers and/or their agents, including all communication
  • Anything else that concerns the collaboration between the influencer and the brand

Poor influencer management can lead to a variety of issues. Your brand could get fined by the FTC for not following proper disclosure guidelines, as was the case with the tea brand, Teami. Or your brand reputation could suffer as a result of an influencer’s actions, as was the case with Disney and YouTuber PewDiePie. Effective influencer management helps to avoid issues such as these.

In addition, strong influencer management can be the difference between a one-time collaboration with an influencer that is moderately successful versus a fruitful, long-term partnership that consistently brings value to both your brand and the influencer.

This guide will walk you through the ins and outs of influencer management, including choosing the right influencers, building long-term relationships, and addressing any challenges that may arise.

II. Finding the Right Influencers

The first ingredient for successful influencer management is choosing influencers who are a strong match for your brand.

If you haven’t already, identify your company’s target audience, the specific group of consumers that you want to purchase your product or service. Then, build out a target persona, a fictitious person created to bring your target audience to life. Find an influencer that has a following with a similar profile to your target persona and ensure that the influencer you select is considered an expert in your company’s niche.

Also, consider the goals you have outlined for your influencer marketing strategy. If the goal of your campaign is to increase brand awareness, perhaps you might select an influencer who has a large and diverse following. On the other hand, if your goal is to increase engagement with your brand, then look for an influencer with a high engagement rate. According to Upfluence, for an influencer with a medium to large-sized audience, an engagement rate of above 3% is exceptional. For an influencer with a smaller audience, look for an engagement rate of above 5%.

Next, spend some time researching influencers on your preferred social media platform. Evaluate their current content, specifically any branded content, and how authentic it appears. Influencer marketing only works if it is authentic. In order for conversions to happen, consumers need to trust the influencer and their recommendations.

What better way to create authentic influencer marketing campaigns than with your very own customers? Famous Finder is a FREE Shopify App that helps you easily identify if any influencers or celebrities have ordered from your store. It also provides their contact information so you can reach out right away!

For a more in-depth look at choosing the right influencer, including an example, check out our blog on Influencer Marketing.

III. Building Relationships with Influencers

Now that you’ve carefully selected the right influencers for your company to partner with, it’s important to lay the foundation for a strong working relationship. The following tips will help the influencer/brand partnership get off to a strong start:

  • Engage on social media

Show a genuine interest in your selected influencer by following them on social media and engaging with their content through likes and comments. Getting to know them on a personal level will be beneficial when it comes time to reach out.

  • Make a personalized pitch

When reaching out to the influencer to request a partnership, make sure to share why you think this relationship makes sense. What mutual interests and values does your brand share with the influencer? How is the opportunity you are presenting relevant for their following? For more detailed guidance on effective outreach, check out our blog on crafting irresistible influencer outreach emails.  

  • Offer value

It’s important to consider how the relationship between the influencer and your company will be mutually beneficial. Be direct when reaching out and share exactly how you plan to compensate the influencer for their work. If you have a strict budget, you may opt for a one-time payment for the influencer’s work on that specific campaign. However, if your budget is more flexible, you might want to employ performance-based pricing. In this type of pricing structure, influencers are paid based on how well the campaign performs according to a specific attribute like engagement or conversions.  

Later on in the article, we’ll discuss how to take the strong foundation you’ve laid for the relationship and transform it into a successful, long-term partnership. But first, let’s explore how to create an effective influencer marketing campaign.

IV. Creating Effective Influencer Campaigns

Another component of influencer management is overseeing the execution of the influencer campaigns. For an influencer campaign to be successful, it’s imperative to:

  • Establish clear objectives, metrics, and a timeline

Ensure the influencer knows the goal of the campaign, how the success of the campaign will be measured, and the timeline of when it will run. Before finalizing any decisions here, it’s a good idea to discuss with the influencer when you expect certain deliverables to be completed. You want to ensure that they have adequate time to deliver quality content.  

  • Collaborate with the influencer on content creation

Influencers are experts when it comes to content creation and knowing what will perform well, so make sure to listen to their advice. In addition, you want the campaign to be authentic to the influencer’s brand, so give the influencer the freedom to be creative and stick to their personal style. The influencer’s followers will be able to spot if the content is forced and this will certainly lead to poor campaign performance.

  • Incorporate calls to action

One requirement of your campaign is that it should include a call-to-action. In other words, you need to tell your audience what you want them to do. The call-to-action should directly align with the campaign objective. For example, if you are wanting to drive conversions, then an appropriate call to action might be “Try {product name} today” with a link to the product page where consumers can make their purchase.  

V. Negotiating and Managing Influencer Partnerships

Now that you’ve defined the details of your influencer campaign, ensure that these are communicated clearly to the influencer. It’s a wise idea to outline all of this information in a formal, written contract so that both parties are held accountable for completing their duties.

The contract should clearly delineate the structure of the influencer’s compensation, whether that’s in the form of a flat fee or based on sales, as discussed in Section III. Regardless of whether the pay is based on performance, the contract should include performance expectations. This includes detailing how campaign performance will be monitored as well as how the results might impact the ongoing nature of the influencer/brand relationship.
Additionally, the FTC recommends adding a provision to the contract about disclosure and the possible legal ramifications involved if brands and influencers do not follow the guidelines.

A few other clauses you might want to consider including in the contract are related to:

  • Content rights -  Does your brand have the right to repurpose the content that the influencer created for this campaign?
  • Brand exclusivity - Does the influencer have the right to work with other brands (even competitors) during the course of your relationship?
  • Brand campaign guidelines - What editorial and style guidelines must the influencer adhere to when creating content for your brand?

It’s recommended to enlist the help of an attorney here to make sure that your contract is solid before presenting it to the influencer and negotiating any terms.

VI. Measuring and Analyzing Influencer Campaigns

Once execution of the campaign is underway, it’s time to start monitoring campaign performance. It’s important to assess the ROI of the influencer campaign to evaluate whether the money and time you’ve invested in this partnership is worthwhile.

Measuring conversions is a sure way to know if the campaign is producing a solid return. One easy way to track the sales generated by a specific influencer is through individual promotional codes. This allows you to see how many users are converting as a result of an influencer’s efforts.  

Another option is to use UTM parameters. Essentially, you will provide each influencer with a unique link that will allow you to see how many customers the influencer is funneling to your website. From there, you can use Google Analytics to track the users’ behavior on your website and determine conversions.

On the other hand, if your main goal with the influencer campaign was to increase brand engagement, then you’ll want to track different metrics such as likes, comments, and shares. In this case, you’ll want to ask the influencer to send you the post-specific data from the campaign platform.

Based on the insights gathered from the data, make any adjustments that you think will produce even stronger results moving forward .

VII. Nurturing Ongoing Relationships with Influencers

After gathering performance data, it’s a good idea to fill the influencer in on how they are doing. You can highlight some of the campaign performance metrics and discuss areas for improvement as well as recognize stellar accomplishments.

Just like with any working relationship, it’s nice to show your appreciation for the hard work that the influencer is putting in on behalf of your brand. This can be done through a simple thank you note or a personalized package with a small gift.

Ultimately, when it comes to nurturing the relationship with influencers, the best piece of advice is to simply treat them like the professionals that they are. Let them add value to the partnership by harnessing their creativity. After all, the most cited reason for partnering with a brand more than once is creative freedom.

Nurturing the relationship is crucial because you don’t want to have to be constantly searching for new influencers. It’s a much better investment to have a long-term partnership with the same influencer. Long-term relationships lead to greater results because the influencer gets to know your brand better and is able to communicate the messaging more clearly and passionately. Additionally, the influencer’s audience is repeatedly exposed to your brand via a trusted source, which improves desired outcomes.

VIII. Addressing Challenges in Influencer Management

Hopefully, because you did extensive research in selecting an influencer that is a strong match for your brand and setting up a contract with clear expectations, you can avoid any challenges. However, if issues do arise, here are some tips to deal with them:

  • Monitor what your influencer partners are posting on their social accounts

If the influencer’s content is no longer in line with your brand image, then you may want to reconsider this influencer relationship to avoid any controversy.

  • Clearly communicate expectations and deadlines in multiple formats

If you run into an issue with an influencer’s content not following the creative brief or the timeline associated with a campaign, perhaps it’s a communication issue. Try sharing pertinent information repeatedly and in multiple formats (e.g. in a meeting, in an email, on a call, displayed in bold in campaign documents).

  • Provide feedback to your influencer partners about their performance

If an influencer’s content that they created for your brand is not up to your performance standards, have an honest conversation about the problem. If the influencer is not receptive to the feedback, it may be time to end that relationship.

IX. Best Practices and Tips for Successful Influencer Management

As you can see, influencer management encompasses many tasks and requires the ability to thoughtfully nurture relationships over time. The following best practices can help you avoid some of the issues presented above and ensure sound influencer relationships:

  •   Establish clear communication channels

The biggest piece of influencer management is communication. Developing and maintaining clear lines of communication is essential for success. Sabrina Medert, the senior social media specialist at Vera Bradley, spends about 90% of her time communicating with the brand’s influencer partners and handling relationship management.

  •   Build a network of diverse influencers

Once you have one successful influencer campaign under your belt, add some more! Tap into various niches that are applicable to your company’s product/service or try utilizing different social platforms.

  •   Stay up-to-date with industry trends and regulations

Influencer marketing is still a relatively new field and trends are always changing. Pay attention to the trends by staying active on social media and listening to influencers’ advice. Also, monitor any updates to influencer regulations from the FTC to ensure you’re staying compliant.  

  • Continuously evaluate and optimize influencer strategies

Since the field is changing constantly, staying the course and repeating the same types of campaigns will likely not continue to yield effective results. Instead, constantly measure and evaluate your campaign results and don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas.

X. Conclusion

As made clear in this blog post, the managing of influencer relationships is essential to the success of your influencer marketing strategy. Effective influencer management involves clear and frequent communication, ongoing relationship building, and measurement of key metrics.

Of course, there are agencies and third parties that can help manage an influencer relationship for you, but why pay a third party when you can do it yourself for free, following this guide as your key to success.

Ultimately, this Forbes' interview with Gym Shark’s founder Ben Francis, sums up the essence of the influencer/brand relationship and how to create successful partnerships: “Don’t think of influencer marketing as a quick smash and grab, think of it as building relationships with people over a long period of time, for the benefit of both of your brands. The goal isn’t shallow and fleeting promotion. Be prepared to invest in the process and communicate you’re looking for long term. Do the research and keep standards insanely high.”

Interested in a FREE resource to help you keep track of influencer outreach and campaigns? Sign up below and we’ll email you a copy of our Influencer Management Tracking Spreadsheet

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