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Should Brands Build Long-Term Partnerships With Influencers?

Two-thirds of marketers experience difficulty in selecting influencers for their campaigns according to a study by TapInfluence and Altimeter.

Two-thirds of marketers experience difficulty in selecting influencers for their campaigns according to a study by TapInfluence and Altimeter.

To aid in the quest for the right brand-influencer partnership, search for brand mentions to find influencers that are already fans of your product or service. You can even add audience demographics data to narrow down your choices to improve the odds of finding influencers who are good matches for your brand. After that, it’s a matter of seeing how your preferred influencers perform in the actual campaign.

An influencer vetting platform like SocialBook (Disclaimer: Heidi Yu is the co-founder and CEO of SocialBook.) can be a great tool to help you narrow your search for influencers and take a lot of the headache out of the selection process.

Once your influencer marketing campaign launches, front-runners will begin to emerge, and you’ll see which influencers have what it takes to become long-term brand advocates.

For many reasons, brands are recognizing that it pays to seal the deal and foster long-term relationships with influencers. Turning content creators into brand ambassadors—once you find those who align with your brand messaging—is a win-win for brands and influencers alike.

 

Brands benefit from long-term influencer partnerships

Here are a few compelling reasons to forgo one-off partnerships and make your influencer partnerships official for the long run.

 

1. Build trust

When an influencer’s audience sees their devotion to a brand over several months or years, it has a much greater impact than a one-off sponsorship ever could. Long-term exposure conveys passion for a product and genuine support. Today’s consumers are more discerning than ever, and they can spot fake brand enthusiasm quite easily. Anyone can promote a product once, but loyalty demonstrates real faith in a brand and is more likely to inspire trust.

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Photo: Dane Wetton, Unsplash
Photo: Dane Wetton, YFS Magazine

 

2. Explore different facets of your brand in-depth with continuity

Content distribution over time makes it possible for brands to explore many different features and benefits. For example, if you sell protein powder that promotes weight loss, this may be the biggest draw for a certain segment of an influencer’s audience. If it also increases energy, that benefit may appeal to another subset of their audience. When influencers share branded content over a prolonged period, it’s easier to highlight various aspects of your product—and appeal to different audience segments.

 

3. Test different brand ambassador approaches

Long-term brand-influencer relationships allow brands to test different approaches with various partners over time, which helps marketers refine their strategies. This makes it easier to experiment with different platforms, formats, and messaging to see what works best for your brand.

 

Influencers benefit from long-term brand partnerships

 

1. Influencers love loyal brands (and so do their followers)

Long-term brand partnerships give influencers the security to choose additional brand partnerships with discretion.

A content creator won’t be as likely to accept a one-off partnership with a competitive brand due to the pressure to earn a living or expand their audience.

Photo: Dane Wetton, Unsplash
Photo: Dane Wetton, YFS Magazine

When influencers choose brand partnerships carefully, their fans know it. Loyal followers have an intuitive sense of whether an influencer is being authentic. They are much more likely to trust—and be influenced to make purchasing decisions—based on sponsored posts that result from ongoing partnerships. Once they feel assured an influencer trusts a product or service, they are likely to as well. Trust is the basis of all influencer relationships and builds a reputation.

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2. Influencers can get more creative

The security of a long-term brand partnership gives content creators the freedom to get more daring and creative with their content. As influencers build ongoing relationships with an audience, they learn what their followers like and dislike. But what about the brands they promote?

Influencers can be intimidated to pitch original campaigns and think creatively with a one-time sponsorship. Marketers hardly know, nor can they fully appreciate, the range of an influencers’ appeal and approach, which can restrict their ability to freely and creatively express themselves.

Influencers worry a brand won’t appreciate their ideas because the partnership is new. Long-term influencer-brand partnerships eliminate this obstacle. Once an influencer has worked with a brand a few times, they feel comfortable expressing their creativity. It’s a win-win for their audience and the brand.

 

3. Make it less awkward to add legal disclaimers to sponsored content

In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regularly updates its guidelines for endorsements. Brands and influencers alike shouldn’t lose sight of the big picture: “The FTC’s purpose is to protect consumers from being deceived. So, bottom line: Don’t be deceptive!” Brands and content creators must use disclosures any time they or their influencers encourage people to read sponsored content that they otherwise wouldn’t know was sponsored.

Similarly in the UK, the CMA has co-published a guide on how to label ads correctly with the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP). It explains how to comply with consumer protection law and the Advertising Codes enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

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According to the CMA, “People need to know if influencers have been paid, incentivised or in any way rewarded to endorse or review something in their posts. It’s important that they make this clear to their followers. This includes when a product or service has been given to them for free.”

Long-term brand-influencer partnerships are more likely to be embraced as trust is built over time between the audience and their following, alongside their promotion of a brand. When it comes time to disclose a PR gift or free press trip, disclosing the nature of the partnership can feel less awkward (especially when it’s a more established union).

Influencer marketing campaigns work best when they are mapped with a strategy for the long haul. Both brands and influencers should select partnerships wisely, track metrics over time, and optimize for performance.

 

Heidi Yu is the co-founder and CEO of SocialBook, a data-driven influencer marketing platform to help businesses find the right influencers that deliver results and drive sales. As a serial entrepreneur, Heidi fully understands the importance of finding the right way to grow a startup. By combining big data and influencer agency experience, Heidi leads the SocialBook team to build the software that saves time and money for businesses in their influencer marketing campaigns.

 

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