Influencer Marketing: How To Make Real Connections

Author: 
Brandon Brown

Today, most marketers and salespeople agree that we need to build relationships with our customers. But many of those same marketers and salespeople are implementing old-school marketing tactics that bombard consumers with unwanted ads and clickbait. These tactics are short-term solutions and don’t foster long-term relationships with customers.

With the continued uptick in the digital marketing landscape, it’s clear that online customer relationship building is the key to success. So, how do you accomplish that in a meaningful, authentic way? Two words: influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing is taking off and for good reason. The power of authentic sponsored content from adored content creators has turned the once well-kept secret into a standard practice (and a billion dollar industry). However, just because influencer marketing is popular doesn’t mean it’s easy to run a successful, strategic influencer campaign. This unique type of marketing is entirely based on strong, mutually-beneficial relationships between brands and influencers – and nurturing those connections for their continued success.

Why is the brand-influencer relationship so important in 2020?

Brand-influencer relationships are more important than ever. It’s how companies build trust with the influencer and the community that their influence is built from. Successful influencer marketing programs require strong, trusting relationships between the brand and the influencer. It’s crucial for brands to not only develop but also maintain strong relationships with the right people in their audience to ensure a good return on investment (ROI).

Particularly with the current challenges retail faces in the COVID-19 pandemic, brands need to adapt and incorporate influencers into their marketing strategies to stay relevant as buying patterns rapidly change. With uncertainty at the forefront of most consumers’ minds, the key to activating an effective influencer strategy is remaining authentic to the brand while also being conscious of the challenges many consumers are dealing with in their personal lives. Influencers are uniquely qualified to engage audiences with relevant content seamlessly. And therefore affords marketers the flexibility to pivot messaging, positioning and value proposition in real time as our world continues to rapidly change.

Without meaningful connections with the right influencers, the chances that a given marketing effort will be effective are low. Because the entire premise of this industry is built on trust, both between brand and influencer and influencer and consumer, nurturing the relationship is a must to keep influencers personally invested in the brand’s ongoing success.

Connect with the right influencers

One of the biggest hurdles brands must overcome is determining the right influencers for a given initiative, getting their attention and ultimately making real connections. According to experts, finding the right online personalities is often the biggest challenge that brands face. A PR Week survey reported that 39% of marketers do not feel confident about choosing the right influencers to work with.

As with any relationship, first impressions are key and can often make or break the success of a campaign. The goal should always be to make connections that plant the seeds of a long-lasting, authentic relationship. In order to find the right influencer, you have to familiarize yourself with their online presence. Then when it comes to making the first step and reaching out to them to start a relationship, a genuine mention of their content will make a good impression and go a long way.

One of the reasons influencer campaigns are so effective is their authenticity. To create an effective marketing effort, it’s important to prioritize tapping the right influencers whose audiences align with a target audience, as well as who naturally incorporate brand messaging to their loyal followers. Followers trust that their favorite influencers will only recommend something that they would use themselves creating a circle of trust between the consumer, influencer and brand.

Brands should only seek to build relationships with those whose image and platform naturally complements their brand. This way, the relationship will yield authentic content that becomes a powerful brand asset. Quality, influencer-generated content may be repurposed in many ways to help businesses extend their online presence and solidify their brand vision. With influencer marketing software, brand marketers can easily identify and organize high-performing content to make it readily available to incorporate into their content marketing.

Trigger emotional consumer connections through authentic media

The reason influencers exist is because of their special ability to create real, emotional connections with their fans. People follow and enjoy influencers because they consistently provide valuable content that their followers care enough about to stay engaged. As influencers share their story, life and interests with the world, fans get to know them and become invested in their lives.

The emotional investment is the simplest explanation for an Instagram post of someone working out, cuddling their pet or embarking on a new hobby receiving thousands of reactions and comments from strangers. They get the same engagement when they share products that they truly enjoy and/or that fits into their everyday life - which is what makes influencers so incredibly valuable.

All advertising and marketing seeks to move people emotionally. Influencers already have emotional connections because of their invested time and energy in relating with people in a genuine way as they built their online presence. Those emotional connections are a marketer’s secret weapon.

Having the influencer fall in love with your brand

The easiest way to transform an influencer into a great brand ambassador is to make them truly fall in love with your brand. They need to fully buy into the core values and brand direction and love it enough to show a real connection. As such, product seeding is one of the most effective ways to get prospective influencers to understand your product, brand and values. The connection made at this stage builds trust that yields the results of authentic content. Fostering the brand-influencer relationship is also absolutely crucial in helping influencers become passionate about the partnership. It’s the authentic content that will resonate with an influencers’ community.

Simply put, people enjoy doing business with people they like. By ensuring that influencers feel a positive connection with the brand, marketers can guarantee they will produce content that sells. That’s why authentic relationship building is mission critical when creating a productive marketing effort.

Brandon Brown is the CEO and co-founder of GRIN, a leading influencer marketing software for e-commerce brands.