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Updated Apr 10, 2024

Why Influencer Marketing Should Focus on Relationships

Whether you are targeting small or large audience, the success in influencer marketing largely depends on the relationship.

Shane Barker, Community Member
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Old-school marketing uses a broadcast strategy: You create an ad and show it to as many people as possible who match your target market. However, today’s social media marketing focus allows a more personalized approach for groups and individuals. 

Influencer marketing is a social media marketing segment that takes a personal approach to a new level. Because influencers depend on their followers’ trust, they prioritize promoting high-quality, above-board products and services. They won’t risk their reputations to make a quick buck. The relationship between a social media star and the brand they represent is crucial. A professional relationship based on trust can boost a brand’s visibility and an influencer’s credibility — and ultimately improve a brand’s relationship with its target audience. 

We’ll examine the benefits of building quality relationships in influencer marketing arrangements and share tips for improving both new and existing relationships. 

TipBottom line
When getting an influencer to market your product, choose someone whose audience closely aligns with your target market.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing refers to the marketing activities of social media stars and the brands they represent. Influencers have developed large, loyal followings on social media. They’re often celebrities; however, internet-famous influencers are also powerful. They’ve amassed significant audiences who trust their advice and recommendations. 

In influencer marketing arrangements, a brand pays an influencer to endorse and mention its offerings in social media posts.

Influencer clout depends largely on audience size. Here’s how influencers are categorized:

  • Mega-influencers. Mega-influencers have 1 million or more followers. Examples include Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift. Companies that use mega-influencers are usually huge corporations, brands targeting a broad audience, or luxury brands.
  • Macro-influencers. Macro-influencers have between 100,000 and 1 million followers. For example, makeup artist Wayne Goss has 701,000 Instagram followers and falls in this category. Macro-influencers appeal to startups seeking rapid business growth and awareness, nonprofit organizations, and travel companies targeting specific travel categories.
  • Micro-influencers. Micro-influencers have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers. For example, Omniyogagirl is a micro-influencer with 72,000 followers of her yoga, crystal and lifestyle Instagram account. Micro-influencers appeal to midsize companies and quickly growing small businesses within specific niches.
  • Nano-influencers. Nano-influencers have between 1,000 and 10,000 followers; they typically have niche audiences. For example, Jill Smokler has over 9,700 followers and a popular mommy blog called Scary Mommy. Nano-influencers are generally more affordable than higher-level influencers, so they appeal to small businesses. 
FYIDid you know
While follower counts matter in calculating influencer clout, an engaged social media audiencehttps://www.business.com/articles/5-steps-to-engage-your-audience-on-social-media/ is also crucial. A brand may do better working with a micro-influencer with a highly engaged following than with a macro-influencer with a more aloof audience.

How much does it cost to work with an influencer?

Influencer marketing costs vary wildly. Influencers charge anywhere between $2 and $1 million per post, depending on their audience size, social platforms, industry, niche, follower engagement and other criteria. 

According to Influencer Marketing Hub’s State of Influencer Marketing Report, 43 percent of brands spend less than $10,000 annually on influencer marketing; another 22 percent spend between $10,000 and $50,000. 

However, influencers are not always paid money. Almost 30 percent are compensated with free products, nearly 18 percent receive product discounts as compensation, and 11 percent receive a giveaway entry.

What are the benefits of building influencer marketing relationships?

Building relationships is an essential part of influencer marketing. When you build a relationship with an influencer, you also strengthen relationships with your target audience — if you choose the right social media star to partner with. 

Consider a prominent example of what can happen if you don’t prioritize a vital influencer marketing relationship. In 2013, Nike lost its partnership with Stephen Curry to Under Armour because it failed to build a relationship with the future Hall of Famer. Under Armour and Curry are making hundreds of millions together, and Curry plans to stay with the company even after retirement. 

Armour influencer marketing

Source: Under Armour

While you may not have millions on the line, prioritizing your influencer relationships can affect your bottom line. Here are some ways influencers help businesses grow when brand relationships are strong.

1. Building influencer marketing relationships helps you reach a highly qualified audience.

There’s a huge difference between marketing to a general audience and pinpointing your brand’s target audience. The right influencer can help you reach specific individuals who will be highly receptive to your product or offer and more likely to purchase.

Influencers can help you build an audience attuned to your offerings. When you and your influencer have a strong relationship, the influencer is more likely to become a genuine fan of your brand. They’ll convey that enthusiasm to followers who trust them and help you increase sales

2. Building influencer marketing relationships expands your reach.

Strong influencer relationships can help boost brand awareness online and build brand authority. Every time an influencer engages with your brand or shares a post, they help you reach a much larger audience than you would have on your own. 

As your influencer marketing relationship grows deeper and more trusting, the influencer will be more likely to review your products or produce sponsored content, helping their followers discover your brand and its offerings. 

Did You Know?Did you know
Influencers are highly valuable if you've created a new product. According to Oracle's CRM Essentials study, 28 percent of consumers discover new products and brands through influencers.

3. Building influencer marketing relationships creates trust with your audience.

According to the Oracle report cited above, 37 percent of consumers trust social media influencers over brands — and Gen Z and millennials are twice as likely as boomers to trust influencers. If you build a strong influencer marketing relationship, they’ll be more authentic when they promote or endorse your brand — and their audience will pick up on this authenticity. Your brand can piggyback on the influencer’s high trust levels to win more customers. 

If you align your brand with trusted influencers, you automatically change public perceptions. Instead of you sending messages directly to your audience, the influencer filters and authenticates your messages for you. 

TipBottom line
Choosing the right person is crucial in influencer marketing. Ensure they're trustworthy and that their values and beliefs align with your brand and target audience.

4. Building influencer marketing relationships helps you make new influencer connections.

Strong influencer relationships can pave the way for connections with other relevant influencers. In addition to generating more sales leads, influencers you’ve bonded with could introduce you to other businesses and influencers in the space. You can gain new and interesting connections that greatly benefit your business.

Here’s an example of using influencer marketing to gain new connections: Marketing software company Traackr helped the online travel site Travelocity establish more human and authentic connections with its audience. Travelocity wanted to destroy the perception that online travel agencies are cold and transactional. Traackr and Travelocity collaborated with influencers to create content to boost brand visibility, inviting influencers to value-driven events to create rapport.

lawn gnome with a snorkel on a beach

Source: Travelocity

The Travelocity team maintained ongoing strategic partnerships with key influencers, joining forces for promotions like the Travelocity Roaming Gnome. This promotion resulted in an impressive 1,200 percent surge in brand impressions and a 1,000 percent increase in brand mentions.

5. Building influencer marketing relationships improves customer retention.

It’s not enough to maintain good relationships with influencers. You must prioritize relationships with the audience members who become your customers. Win them over with your product quality and excellent customer service. If you don’t first establish customer relationships, buyers may abandon your brand if the influencer stops promoting your product. 

When you build relationships with influencers and customers, you’ll improve customer retention and ensure repeat business.

Did You Know?Did you know
According to the Oracle report cited earlier, 21 percent of people follow influencer content on YouTube channels, becoming part of an influencer's YouTube community. Gen Z's first choice is TikTok (25 percent), and boomers opt for Facebook (23 percent).

How can you build better influencer relationships?

Your influencer marketing relationships must be genuine. Consider the following tips for building authentic, trusting influencer marketing relationships:

  • Give your influencer relationships time. Relationships don’t develop overnight, whether personal or professional. Think of the influencer as a new acquaintance, and give your relationship time to develop into something genuine and long-term. After your initial influencer outreach, continually nurture the relationship so it becomes mutually beneficial. Check in with them regularly and share brand updates and developments. 
  • Meet with your influencers face-to-face. Face-to-face interactions make it easier to build connections. While in-person meetings may not always be possible, make an effort to meet. Consider organizing an influencer party or monthly brunch so the influencer gets acquainted with you and your team. If you are too geographically distant, schedule regular video calls.
  • Bring value to the influencer relationship. Consider how the relationship benefits the influencer. Perhaps you could introduce them to powerful people in your network. Maybe you could establish a long-term partnership with them and work together on future projects. You could even provide them a platform to showcase their talent or expand their following. Whatever form it may take, delivering value to an influencer can make them more inclined to strengthen their relationship with you.
  • Be consistent with your influencer. You probably have a “friend” who comes to you only when they need something. This type of relationship is likely not deep and trusting on your end. Similarly, your influencer relationship can’t develop into something genuine if you approach them only when you need something. Keep in touch between projects and show interest in their lives and careers. Maintain a strong bond so everyone is on board when opportunities to work together come up.
  • Thank your influencers. Thanking influencers for their efforts and collaboration is a simple but effective way to strengthen your connection. Some marketers may forget to do this, although it’s obvious. Be sure to send your influencers sincere thank-you notes to show how much you value their help.

Jennifer Dublino contributed to this article.

Shane Barker, Community Member
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant that specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, Influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.
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