Influencers have become the new celebrities.
They even have agents.
Handshakes still work, but written agreements seal deals; in today’s landscape, wooing the ones you want to work is extremely competitive.
Influencer marketing has evolved, and marketing mindsets must also change if communicators are to maintain and develop relationships that deliver. If you’re new to influencer marketing, or just ramping up a program, consider these statistics:
• 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement (Forbes)
• Influencer marketing isn’t just the fastest-growing channel for customer acquisition; it’s the most cost effective, returning $6.85 in earned media value for every dollar of paid media (Chief Marketer)
• Working with influencers on a marketing campaign can drive 16 times more engagement than paid or owned media (Chief Marketer)
Here’s how this has changed the game—and how your tactics must shift as well:
1. “One and done” is done.
With more brands realizing their value, influencers are in higher demand than ever. They want—and expect—relationships that will last and produce mutual growth, which means they are less likely to agree to quick “product-for-post” arrangements that could exclude them from working with other, more partnership-minded brands.
Approach influencer marketing as a strategy and influencers as brand partners to make sure relationships stay intact and grow.
2. Rethink “direct competitors.”
There are only so many “top” influencers to go around. Therefore, you should reassess what constitutes a “direct” competitor. Influencers who work with other brands that don’t focus a majority of their marketing efforts in your area can still make for great partnerships, especially for a smaller organizations. Such a partnership can put you in solid company, raising your credibility along with your visibility.
3. Think like a content consumer, not creator.
Influencers—the ones with the biggest impact—are who they are because they have built large audiences on great content, and more important, trust and authenticity. They don’t want to be perceived as sellouts, so don’t ask them to post content that undermines their relationship with their fans. Trust them to engage with products in an organic, natural way that resonates with their followers.
4. Don’t neglect the up-and-comers.
To win the war for influencers, it’s paramount to engage early with rising superstars. You can spot them by their amazing content and higher-than-average engagement numbers. Reach out to them early and establish a relationship that will benefit you both equally.
Ultimately, we need to view influencer campaigns as a crucial marketing strategy that has become equivalent to other core programs. Brands which choose to do so will be more attractive to the influencers they want to work with, producing relationships that can deliver on all the hype.
This article originally appeared on PR Daily in November of 2017.
Jeff Dillow is the Vice President of the Hollywood Agency.