How To

How to build successful relationships with influencers

by spottydog communications |

If you’re looking for a way to boost your brand, adding influencer marketing into your strategy is a great way to bring your business to a whole new audience. On 25th April, we filmed a masterclass to give our top tips for connecting and maintaining great relationships with bloggers, influencers and advocates from the pet sector.

As well as going through some of our successful case studies to give you an idea of just how effective influencer marketing can be, we invited dog trainer and social media influencer Jodie Forbes in for a chat. She took us through some examples of great experiences she’s had with brands, how the whole process works, and gave us some insight into how brand partnerships can be mutually beneficial. She even brought in her three pups – Hazel, Bramble and Tulip – to show of some of their tricks.

You can watch the whole webinar on the video above, but our four biggest tips on working with bloggers and influencers are below:

Find synergy between brand and blogger

First, you need to do your research. The best advocates are people who really represent and ‘get’ your brand. So you’re looking for genuine synergy. You may be tempted to go for the big follower numbers and the broad appeal, but effective influencer marketing should be about real targeting. As a brand, you’re about to choose someone who will represent your brand and be your ambassador. The most important thing is that they share your brand values. Their following is important, but secondary. Think: will they advocate your brand values? Will their endorsement seem genuine? Can they really become friends of the brand?

Be clear about scope and objectives

Secondly, you need to be clear about the nature of the relationship with the blogger.

Whether you are offering a fee, an experience, a gift, or nothing at all in return for content, it’s vital that you come to a compromise about what is expected from the collaboration. If you are asking for an honest, warts and all review of your product or service, then expect to hear a few home truths in the write up. If you’re looking for a month of content, set out the number of blogs, vlogs and pictures you’re expecting, and think about the copyright. Will you be wanting to share pictures that belong to the blogger? Will you be hoping to use elements of their content in your own marketing material? It’s good practice to utilise this content as far and wide as you can, but you need to have agreed usage right up front so you know you’re authorised to share your collaborator’s content.  Also, it helps to give the influencer as much information as you can about your objectives from the collaboration, and the key messages you are trying to convey.

Build a long term relationship

We would encourage everyone to think about the potential for a long-term relationship with the blogger. Genuine relationships and collaboration last a long time, and are worth the extra investment up front. Every blogger’s community of followers will be able to spot the difference between an opportunistic link up, and a genuine meeting of minds and values. We have all heard about the brands who ‘got lucky’ by associating themselves with a blogger or celebrity before that celebrity became famous, but these are actually stories of genuine collaborations, where the brand and blogger used their combined influence to make an impact. Rather than go straight for the big name, big budget influencers, think about how you can help that blogger who shares your values and has a dedicated audience, gain more influence using your marketing spend, and will become an ambassador for life.

Be ethical; honest and transparent

Ethics. This is by far the most more important element of blogger and influencer activity.

As a PR or marketing professional, you may be bound by a code of conduct, from the CIM, PRCA or CIPR. These codes will talk about the importance of transparency, honesty and condemn behaviour which seeks to distort or hide the truth.

But we not only have to ensure that we’re abiding by our own industry code of ethics, but that we’re also working with bloggers and influencers who share our commitment to ethical practice. Always look for examples on a bloggers channel that they are open and transparent about the commercial deals that they do. It’s important that your influencer is trustworthy in order to give the brand activity credibility.

So before starting work with a blogger, we need to be clear about what we’re asking for – is it advocacy, commentary or factual information? For paid collaborations, #ad and #spon can ensure that you’re being transparent, but it’s also important that you and the bloggers you work with acknowledge and declare gifts, with a thank you or a credit.