Influencer marketing is a practice for every marketer. Content marketers, social marketers, product marketers… as long as you understand the stages of influencer relationships, every marketer can begin to build successful strategies with influencers.
As influencer marketing grows, the steps of the practice are often skimmed over by marketers pressured to show results and prove ROI. But from research, to discovery, to relationship management, to measurement, influencer marketing is a long journey that should not be compromised. Influencer marketing is a process that when followed can yield incredible results - like 6x ROI from your content + influence strategy.
The first step is to know where you're going - outline your program, set objectives, and identify influencers that tie directly to your business goals. After the planning stage, the next step is to begin building relationships with your influencers. This is often the toughest stage for marketers.
There is no one good way to reach out to influencers; but you can determine the appropriate conversations and actions with influencers once you understand what stage of the relationship journey they are in.
You wouldn’t propose on your first date - Don't jump the gun in your influencer relationships.
Building Relationships With Influencers
Taking an influencer from completely unaware to an advocate for your brand or message is possible. These are the 5 key stages of influencer relationships:
Though your influencers may have heard of your company, you are not on their radar yet. At this stage, you need to raise their awareness and get them to look you up and acknowledge you.
In this stage, you have gotten on your influencers’ radar - they notice you, and may start thanking you for RTs, etc. Now your goal is to build a rapport with your influencers, and have them recognize you and your contribution to the point that you can initiate a dialogue with them; even better, them with you.
Though still sporadic, you’ve now entered in a conversation with your influencers. They know who you are and what you do. You now need to increase your level and frequency of communication, for it to become a regular occurrence.
You’re engaged in frequent dialogue with your influencers. For certain influencers, like journalists and analysts, this is where the journey ends, as their profession prevents them from advocating for specific brands; you will have to become creative to maintain this engagement level over time. With other influencers, your goal is now to turn them into advocates for your brand through “high touch” activities.
You’ve entered influencer nirvana. You have managed to to turn an influencer into an advocate for your brand. For this relationship to last, you now need to build the foundation for joint success.
Once you understand the key stages of influencer relationships, the appropriate actions within each begin to make sense. Here are some tips and steps for building relationships with influencers in each stage of the journey: