I officially have the most meta job in San Francisco. When people ask me what I do my generic answer is that I do marketing for a tech startup. This is my safe answer, everyone understands and the conversation moves on to the next topic. But if I sense the person is actually interested in what I do, “I manage influencer relations for a SaaS company that sells influencer marketing software.”
There are currently 4,338 Influencer Marketing jobs in the United States alone. (To put this in perspective there are 22,374 Social Media Marketing jobs and 21,418 Content Marketing jobs.) This tells me that brands are beginning to invest in influencer marketing not only from a technology standpoint but from a human resources view as well.
It’s important to hire an influence marketer for many reasons. In my eyes the biggest advantage of having a single person manage all influencer relationships for a brand is consistency and relationship building. When influencer relations are dispersed among various team members there can be miscommunications with influencers which can severely damage the relationship you are working so hard to build. Additionally, having someone in this role is essential to scaling influencer marketing through long-term relationships.
So, what have I learned so far? What advice would I have for other influencer marketing managers? This is what I learned in my first 30 days as an influencer marketing manager.
In order to be an effective influencer relations manager you have to have a deep understanding of where your starting line is. Who does your brand currently have relationships with? What influencers have you worked with in the past? On what projects? Who internally owns that relationship? Putting these pieces of the puzzle together initially is critical to getting any influencer marketing program off the ground. Understanding what influencer work has occurred in the past and auditing what worked well and what didn’t will provide you with valuable insights.
Whether or not you decide to work with an influencer is a strategic decision, but knowing who influencers are and what they are passionate about is part of an influencer marketer's job. Know which influencers your competitors are working with. Understand what influencers motives are, what they stand for and the type of content they produce. Gain insight into which influencers work together or are friends in the space. All of these factors can be powerful information to have that can shape your influencer strategy.
One of the first things I realized after working in influencer relations is that it takes an army. Depending on your brand and how many relationships you are trying to maintain, you may need to enlist help and that’s okay. It’s actually best practice. Align with your team and divide influencer ownership among your team. You should be the influencer marketing quarterback, not the only one playing on the team.
It is important for the influencer marketing manager to keep track of every touch point and interaction your brand has with an influencer. It is so easy for an email or in-person conversation to drastically impact a relationship with an influencer and it never gets recorded anywhere. This can be particularly frustrating when you are managing a large quantity of relationships as well. My advice? Establish a centralized system-of-record as a single place where all influencer touch points (emails, tweets, phone calls, in-person conversations). Trust me, your sanity will thank me.
This is one that was particularly difficult for me to deal with initially. Similar to the ways the social media manager has become a customer service liaison as well, influencer relations are no different. Although many great marketers have set an outline for how to handle customer complaints on social media, there are emerging best practices for the influencer space. The biggest difference? If an influencer is upset with your brand the amplification is much larger than the average social media user. The best thing you can do is try to remedy the situation and salvage the relationship with the influencer.
You should have a documented influencer marketing strategy. This document should be a roadmap for what influencers you aim to engage with, what you want the partnership to look like and what the overall goals are. Taking the time to build this document initially will help you think about the bigger picture and not get caught up in the tactical day-to-day functions of working with influencers.
Set influencer marketing goals and have them support larger business objectives (we address this topic in our resource, Scaling Influencer Marketing In-House). If your brand’s business objective this quarter is to increase sales then your influencer marketing goals should reflect how your relationship efforts are going to support that. Can you have influencers share a discount code or custom link you can track to sales? Influencer marketing goals might also include number of brand mentions, share-of-voice, numbers of impressions or turning influencers into brand advocates. Whatever your influencer marketing goals are, make sure they support a greater business objective!
The common thread connecting all of these important elements for being a successful influencer marketing manager is effective influencer marketing software. Using a data-driven influencer marketing platform that you can use to optimize investments, streamline campaigns, and scale programs is key.
Whether you are managing influencer relations from a social angle, community management perspective, or are a full time “influencer marketer” I hope these tips help you succeed in this emerging space!