Understanding how to build influencer relationships is crucial if you want to build a successful PR strategy. Partnering with the right influencers will help you develop a more authentic brand image over time. Since authenticity makes your brand more relatable, influencers are good news for your startup.

Who is an influencer?

An influencer is a media personality who has the power to shape people’s purchase decisions and encourage brand loyalty.

Do you need help connecting with the perfect influencer to promote your brand? Pressfarm has a media database of 1 million+ reporters, bloggers and influencers where you can find your perfect match. As part of three different packages, Pressfarm also provides companies with curated media lists relevant to their niche. Sign up today and get access to anywhere from 500 to 2000 influencers in your industry.

Your ideal influencer can range from big names like Kylie Jenner to smaller public figures like travel blogger Caroline Szpira, and anywhere in between. When you’re looking for an influencer to represent your brand, there are many factors that go into making the perfect match. We’ll talk more about this in a short while.

First, let’s talk about how influencers can benefit your brand.

Why do I need an influencer marketing strategy?

Influencers are generally underappreciated, so developing influencer relationships might seem like a waste of time. However, a good influencer marketing strategy might be just the boost your brand needs to build awareness.

Here’s why it’s so important to focus on these influencer relationships:

  • Influencers are more authentic than advertisements

Given that people don’t like or trust direct advertising anymore, you can’t rely fully on traditional advertising to achieve your marketing goals. Unlike traditional ads, which give the impression that you just want to sell products and make money, influencer marketing is authentic and fosters connections.

Instead of using advertisements that will leave people feeling annoyed and suspicious, you can use influencers to build relationships with the same people. Over time, influencer relationships will help present your brand in a positive light and build a sense of loyalty to your brand among consumers.

  • Influencers are more convincing than friends and family

Influencers aren’t just more convincing than advertisements, they’re also more convincing than friends. In fact, consumers trust influencers 94% more than friends and family when making purchase decisions.

For this reason, if you want to influence public perception of your brand, then building influencer relationships is a smart move. Partnering with the right influencers can help you build a positive brand image and boost sales.

  • Influencers can help you increase brand exposure

Not only do influencers have large followings online, but they’re also active on more than one platform. These people normally have audiences on multiple social media networks. For this reason, the right influencer can help you increase your brand exposure and connect with new audiences.

When you’re able to reach more people, you’ll also have higher chances of converting more leads into potential consumers.

Why do I need long-term influencer relationships?

It isn’t enough to simply run one influencer campaign, and go on your merry way. You should think of influencers as your friends.

Public relations is 90% about relationship building, and this applies to your partnerships with influencers as well. Influencer marketing won’t work if your influencers don’t feel valued. In order for them to feel valued, you must put consistent effort into building long-term relationships.

Maintaining your relationships with influencers will benefit you in two ways:

  • Influencers will feel valued

If you show interest in keeping in touch with an influencer over a period of time, then they will feel valued. It’s no secret that a happy influencer will produce better results than one who feels taken for granted.

An influencer who feels like you value them will put their all into your campaign. This dedication will be obvious in the campaign results.

  • Your campaigns will be more authentic

Running an extended campaign with an influencer will help their content seem more authentic. Once your product becomes part of an influencer’s everyday life, their recommendations for your product will seem more genuine.

In other words, partnering with an influencer for a longer period of time increases the chances that their target audience will opt in and buy your product.

How to build positive influencer relationships

So, how do you build these positive influencer relationships with your brand? This is actually not as hard as it seems. We’ve broken it down into 10 steps:

1) Choose a relevant influencer

The first step in building an influencer marketing strategy is choosing influencers who are relevant to your brand. If you rush this process, then you will end up working with people who aren’t the right fit for your objectives.

Partnering with the wrong influencer is like trying to fill a leaky bucket – you’ll never get anywhere with your campaign.

Picking an influencer who is relevant to your brand isn’t just good for you and your brand. It’s also beneficial for the influencer themselves. In a recent study, Crowdtap found that 44% of influencers would choose to work with brands that are relevant to their audience. Moreover, 49% of these influencers would collaborate repeatedly with these brands.

Here’s what to take into account when choosing an influencer:

  • Target audience

When you’re considering an influencer, the first thing to consider is whether their target audience aligns with your target audience. Do they speak to the same people you want to reach, or will you be wasting your time?

It’s good to dream big. However, partnering with a tech influencer to announce the opening of your new boutique hotel will only end in tears. Technology enthusiasts won’t be as interested in your hotel as travel or lifestyle enthusiasts will be.

In order to avoid wasting your time, make sure that your influencer’s target audience matches the audience you want to reach.

  • Content

It’s also important to check whether your influencer’s content will complement your brand. This applies to both the form of content and the subject of their content.

If you’re launching a new phone, then an influencer who takes photos or videos would be a good fit. Why? Because when someone is considering buying a new phone, the camera quality is one of the main features they will focus on. Moreover, people who want to purchase a new phone enjoy seeing what it looks like.

In addition, if you’re launching a new phone, then it makes sense to partner with an influencer who talks about phones and technology.

  • Engagement

An influencer with 5,000 engaged followers is more valuable than an influencer with 3 million followers who barely interact with their content. When you’re partnering with an influencer, you need an influencer whose audience is likely to engage with the content this influencer is producing for you.

Choosing an influencer whose audience is disconnected is a big mistake. This is because these people are unlikely to know your brand even after your influencer campaign is done.

  • Relationship with your product or service

The best kind of influencer is an organic influencer – someone who already uses and loves your product or service. This is the ideal influencer to work with because you can be sure they already enjoy using your product. What’s more, they will enjoy talking to other people about it.

Someone who genuinely loves your product will no doubt produce content which is authentic. When an influencer is faking their love for the product they are endorsing, their audiences pick up on the inauthenticity quickly. Ultimately, if an audience knows they’re being duped, they’re unlikely to even consider buying your product.

Where do you find organic influencers? The first and easiest place to find these people is among your own clients. However, just because you can’t find someone in your client roster doesn’t mean you should give up. You can also find influencers who appreciate your product by inviting them to branded events and offering giveaways.

  • Ethics

A final but important factor you should consider is the ethics of your influencer. The last thing you want to do is partner with an influencer who has been involved in a scandal that will tarnish your reputation.

Partnering with an influencer whose ethics you support will be far more beneficial for your brand and far less stressful for you in the long term.

2) Get to know the influencer

Once you’ve chosen relevant influencers who are relevant to your brand, it’s important to get to know them first. Take time to get to know your influencer and connect with them before you present them with a collaboration opportunity.

This will not only give you a better idea of how to approach the influencer, but it will also give them the impression you are genuinely interested in them. An influencer who feels valued will partner with you for a longer time.

In order to understand and connect with the influencer, you can:

  • Follow them on social media
  • Engage with their content – like their posts and leave meaningful comments
  • Share their content with your followers
  • Share useful content with them

Taking time to interact with the influencer before you reach out with an opportunity is a wise thing to do. This way, when you eventually reach out, your name will already be familiar to them. An influencer who feels seen will also be more open to working with you.

3) Understand their audience

In order to truly offer an influencer value, you need to understand their audience. You can’t collaborate with them to produce content that is relevant to their audience if you don’t first understand what this audience wants.

Once you know what matters to the influencer’s audience, you can decide whether your brand will be relevant to them. This can help you to gauge whether the partnership you are pursuing is worth it.

Understanding an influencer’s audience also helps you build a more effective outreach. If you frame this opportunity in terms of what you can offer their audience, then an influencer is likely to take the bait. Moreover, if this collaboration results in higher engagement for the influencer, you will be in their good books.

4) Reach out in a creative way

Influencers receive tons of emails with collaboration opportunities. In order to capture their attention, you need to be creative about how you reach out.

Whatever else you do, don’t send a mass email to all the influencers on your list. They will pick up on this and your email will go straight to their trash folder along with your relationship with the influencer. Instead of sending a generic email, try to personalize it. How do you personalize this email?

  • Start with a catchy subject line
  • Mention the influencer by name
  • Show admiration of their recent work
  • Explain the value you can provide to them and their audience
  • Mention your previous collaborations with other influencers

Alternatively, you can choose to make a more memorable first impression offline. For example, you could find out if the influencer is attending a networking event soon and plan a physical run-in with them. Or you could invite them to come and enjoy a brand event that you’re hosting with no strings attached. Some companies opt to get even more personal by sending a congratulatory gift to influencers for a recent achievement.

We’re not saying you should stalk the influencers you’re targeting. There’s a fine line between giving an influencer personal attention and creeping them out. Since you’re trying to build positive influencer relationships, this is a line you absolutely shouldn’t cross. Even so, the more personal your approach, the higher your chances of making a good impression.

5) Set clear expectations

It’s important to set clear expectations with your influencers right from the start. This way, you can reduce the chances of disappointment, both on your part and on the influencer’s part.

In order to clarify your expectations, you should discuss the following:

  • How many pieces of content you need
  • The timeframe of your collaboration, including any deadlines
  • How you plan to use their content
  • What call to action they should use
  • What success looks like

In addition to outlining your expectations, it’s also important to understand the influencer’s expectations. Your influencer needs to feel like they’re getting value out of this collaboration for it to be a positive experience. For this reason, it is crucial to understand their needs before you even start.

6) Offer fair compensation

Offering an influencer fair pay shows them that you not only respect their time but you also respect their work. Many brands make the mistake of assuming all their influencers will be thrilled by the idea of being paid in free product samples.

While influencers will certainly appreciate free samples, you shouldn’t automatically assume this is a legitimate form of payment for services rendered. Offering an influencer fair payment, in form of money, shows that you appreciate the professional services they are giving you.

Influencers rarely publicize their rates. However, you should take the time to understand what kind of payment the influencer expects. If you want to negotiate with them, make sure you are basing your negotiations on the value they’re offering and the amount of work they’re doing. This includes:

  • How many followers they have
  • The amount of engagement they get
  • How relevant they are to your brand
  • The type of content you have agreed they will produce
  • The amount of content you have agreed they will produce
  • How you plan to repurpose the influencer-generated content

In addition to talking to the influencer you’re interested in, you can also consult an industry guide on influencer rates. This will give you an idea of what kind of payment is fair, whether you’re working with a macro-influencer or a micro-influencer.

Remember, if an influencer feels valued, then it will always reflect in their level of enthusiasm and the work they produce.

7) Recognize the influencer’s value

Recognizing an influencer’s value goes beyond paying them for their services. Your influencer is a valuable brand ambassador and you must treat them as such.

You can help an influencer feel like they are more than just a means to an end by inviting them to events you’re hosting with no strings attached. You can also create custom gift packages for your influencers. Be creative and include incentives such as free tickets as a token of gratitude for working with you.

8) Give the influencer creative freedom

It’s easy to default to bossing an influencer around all the time and allowing them little input in your plans. This is a big mistake. When working with influencers, you must remember that they understand their audiences best. Moreover, they know what has worked for these audiences in the past.

Since influencers understand their craft in a way that you don’t, you need to allow them creative freedom. Instead of dictating to them what they must do, allow them to make suggestions on how to effectively promote your brand. Since their audiences know them very well, forcing an influencer to change their personality for your brand will not work very well. An influencer’s audience knows when they’re faking it.

Encouraging your influencer to be creative when implementing your strategy will help them to produce more authentic, convincing content.

9) Support their causes

In order to make an influencer feel valued, you must show them that you appreciate who they are outside your working relationship. You need to support the things they care about. You can do this by sharing their content, especially when it’s not related to your brand. Additionally, you can send them articles or tweets just because it made you think of them, or because you thought they’d find it interesting.

10) Keep in touch

The most important thing you can do when you’re trying to build a positive long-term relationship with anyone is to stay in touch. Keep in touch with your influencers even when you don’t need anything from them.

When you stay in touch, an influencer will start seeing you as more than a collaboration partner. You will become their friend. And the moment you become an influencer’s friend, they will be more open to helping you in the future.

Influencers can be what your brand needs to propel you to the next level. With the tips above, you can build positive long-term influencer relationships which will boost your PR strategy.

When you’re trying to connect with influencers, it’s crucial to develop content that will attract them to your brand. You can create this content on your own or get help from PR professionals who have experience communicating with journalists and influencers. PR agencies like Pressfarm help startups and entrepreneurs create newsworthy content that will appeal to the media as well as target audiences. They craft everything personally, from email pitches to press kits. Their PR database of over 1 million journalists and their customized media lists give companies the ability to find and connect with their perfect media match. Pressfarm also helps increase online content visibility by optimizing branded content to appear in relevant search results on various search engines.