Commentary

In The Eyes Of The Influencer: How To Build Brand Relationships That Work

To build mutually beneficial relationships with influencers, it’s critical to understand their perspectives. Two successful men’s lifestyle influencers shared with us what matters most to them in long-term brand relationships. 

Get to know them

Identifying the style and audience size right for your brand isn’t enough. Be sure to understand the influencer’s personal brand. This sets the foundation for the relationship — and campaign results.

Aaron Wester of The Modern Otter explains, “A lot of brands really only look at my numbers. They don’t look at who I am as an individual. I wish brands would take more care to know simple things about me as a person.” 

Are you a match? 

Influencers are attracted to brands that align well with their own interests. What are their values, and what type of conversations do they engage in? 

Diego Leon of Dandy in The Bronx says he will not respond to impersonal emails coming from products that have nothing to do with his personal brand. Brands should bring creative ideas that feel like an organic extension of an influencer’s lifestyle and social content. 

Aaron agrees: “Is the product something I am going to wear and use on a regular basis in my own personal life, or is it forced? It should seem seamless and fun for all parties involved.” 

Communication is key

It’s not enough to select influencers who clearly align with your brand. Good communication is the linchpin. 

Aaron says poor communication is the number one issue in working with brands. “If the PR person doesn’t respond to emails in a timely manner, if the brand isn’t clear with their expectations … if I ask questions and there isn’t great engagement, that’s a turn-off.” 

It’s worth the effort. You are courting influencers to provide a long-term benefit for your brand rather than a short-term fling. Consider the value of having a stable group of influencers who trust you and whom you can call on at a moment’s notice.

It’s a business after all

Influencers want brands to respect their rates. Audience size, project scope, time commitment and the brand itself all determine pricing. When a brand told Diego it could get the same content from others for a lower price, he just said no rather than negotiating the value he places on his content. 

Don’t be controlling

Keep in mind that influencers see themselves as content creators. Give them clear product details and direction, but leave room for creative freedom.  Set guidelines for your brand, but don’t dictate. Let the influencers do what they do best — create engaging content.

Bottom line

As we move from influencer transactions to relationship management, understanding influencers’ expectations is key. The most valuable influencers won’t jump right into a promotion for money. They need to feel that your brand fits with their personal brand. 

Once you have engaged the right influencers, remember that two-way communication is the driver of positive brand perception. Ensure that influencers enjoy their experience with your brand. Then they will be excited to share it with their audience, and their authentic endorsement will pay off for all.

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