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Introducing part two of our three part series covering the key challenges marketers face in influencer marketing. If you missed part one, how to find the right influencers for your brand, you can read it here.

In this article, I will be considering the second key challenge – how to collaborate with influencers effectively. By this I mean, how do you ensure that the influencers you have selected will produce content effective in reaching your goals?

After all, even after finding the perfect influencers, the right person producing the wrong creative still makes for a failed campaign. Few brands understand how to collaborate with influencers effectively because it’s a balance in a relationship which has to be just right.

Following the same dating analogy of our first article, we’ll consider what it takes to create the best partnerships. Too often, brands come on too strong, scripting a message for the influencer that matches the ad copy written for bought media. This is like insisting on the first date that a potential partner has to move to your city or convert to your faith, and pushing someone to compromise who they are so soon will just push them away. Each influencer’s business rests on the trust they’ve built with their audience brick by brick, and reading a brand line risks undermining that trust by looking like a sell-out. 

On the other hand, some brands can come on too weak, giving the influencer insufficient creative constraints and resulting in a poor or even embarrassing effort on behalf of the influencer. This is like being a doormat in a relationship, which is also not a strategy for long term happiness. On the first date, one must be oneself while granting space for the other to be themselves too, and a similar balance must be struck when building relationships with influencers as well.

Ensuring a successful influencer collaboration thus requires thoughtfulness and consideration in each of the three essential elements of communication during a campaign: outreach, brief and feedback.

  1. Outreach showing that you care about them. We’ve seen collaboration offer acceptance rates dip below 50%, which on its own can derail a well-conceived campaign strategy. To avoid this and get the influencers you want engaged in your cause, make the first contact count. Share why you’re reaching out and what you value about an influencer’s content while remaining authentic yourself and not falling into flattery, which is easily sniffed out.
  2. Brief to lead, not to command. Creators need both constraints to focus their energy and space to make their mark. When briefing your creators, don’t command – lead. Share what you love about your brand and your product, what you are hoping to achieve through your collaboration and what you hope your product can do for their audience. Aim for total alignment on the purpose and strategy of your collaboration, but leave unconstrained the tactics. An authentic integration in the influencer’s own voice will always be more effective than your best in-house copy for that influencer’s audience.
  3. Feedback with compassion. Even with the perfect brief, the creative process often takes a wandering path. When an influencer submits a potential post for approval, acknowledge the creative effort that went into it, particularly if it’s a new relationship. This is a test of whether you trust them as a creator. With clear feedback that shows that you care personally, you will be able to challenge them directly and get a result that works.

With these three elements taken into consideration, your collaboration with influencers will be much more effective. Remember, influencers are not media like a billboard or TV spot for sale. They are humans with human followings and who care about their art and their audiences. Honour them and they will honour your brand.

To learn more about all three of the key challenges in influencer marketing and how to overcome them, check out our latest masterclass where we go into more detail.

Ian Randolph is the head of product and R&D at Tailify.