Influencer marketing is nothing new. In fact, it’s so popular that spending on this marketing channel is forecasted to hit $15 billion by the year 2022. With more brands than ever adopting influencer marketing, the space, however, is quickly becoming saturated.

So, while you and your competitors are vying for attention from influencers and their followers, how is your brand going to stand out amongst your competitors? What’s your plan to break through all of the digital noise and resonate with your target consumers? If how to work with influencers effectively has you a little perplexed, you’re not alone. That’s why we wrote this post and are outlining ways to ensure that your brand earns the best media possible from influencers.

Creative Freedom

Influencers have a large audience for a reason. They create great content and inform their readers/viewers about their experiences in whichever vertical they fall under. Keep in mind they have to be good at what they do to get here in the first place. With that said, give your influencers creative freedom as they know better than you do what will resonate best with their audience. You may be surprised at the awesome content they come up with.

A great example of a brand giving influencers creative freedom is SeatGeek. SeatGeek embraces influencer marketing wholeheartedly and one of their influencers surprised his Dad with tickets to The World Series and documented it on his YouTube channel. The video had over 864,000 views and the theory behind this popularity is that the influencer created an emotional experience for the brand.  However, this would not have happened if SeatGeek had been too strict with guidelines and expectations. So, be sure not to limit your influencers when it comes to their posts and experience with your brand.

While we’re huge advocates of creative freedom, we also firmly believe that brands should put some guidelines in place so that the influencers are educated about the brand and don’t miscommunicate information. This can include seeding influencers with your brand’s story, being clear with products you want to promote, how the influencer can give their followers a discount when they order online, a campaign theme, or hashtags to track their social posts. Be sure to outline these items in a campaign details email before your influencers post so that they have time to get both informed and creative. Also, be sure to tell them that you’re a fan of creative freedom and not to hesitate to think outside the box.

Vet for Authenticity

Consumers can read between the lines and can tell the difference between an influencer who is getting paid to post and an influencer who genuinely loves the brand they’re posting about. We’re not saying don’t pay your influencers, we’re saying make sure that they actually like your brand before you partner with them.

When vetting influencers, vet for a contextual fit and make sure an influencer’s content lines up with your brand. You can check for a match simply by reading through their past posts and ensuring that they are an authentic fit.

When it comes to the earned media about your brand, encourage the influencers to organically weave their authentic experience with your brand into their content. Sometimes this may mean that they wrap your brand up into a post they have planned. But not to worry, the post will be a whole lot more interesting than a post that says “I tried xyz brand and here are a few pictures.” Which believe me, if you don’t give your influencers the ability to tie your brand in with a theme of their choice, you’ll get these types of posts don’t move the needle because they’re extremely boring and sound inauthentic.

To earn authentic content that doesn’t feel like a sales pitch, give your influencers lose guidelines and let them decide how to represent your brand. Subscription box brand FabFitFun recommends that brands let the influencers control the narrative to earn authentic posts. You can read more about that in an interview with them here.

Quality Over Quantity

Sometimes it’s hard not to get hung up on the numbers. An influencer who is an okay brand fit contextually but has 100,000 followers may be tempting to work with. However, contextual fit is more important than reach. Influencers have carved out their niche by writing primarily about a certain topic and their audience follows them because of their interest in their vertical. Even though they may be willing to, an influencer who posts about a certain topic may stray and post about your brand, but this wouldn’t go over as well with their audience because it’s not what they follow them for.

On the same note, vet influencers for brand fit and monitor the quality of the social and blog posts they put out. You want to make sure they create good visually driven content on social and informative engaging content on their blog.

Influencers are representatives of your brand and you want your representatives to be top notch.

Be a Resource

Be sure to let your influencers know that they can use you as a resource for their posts. You can even offer brainstorming sessions with them so that the two of you can come up with great ideas for their posts.

Don’t hide behind your keyboard, be sure to make yourself available for influencer phone calls just to add an extra layer of personalization to your relationship. Strong relationships equal strong earned media.

Offering yourself up to give quotes or insights about your brand to add another layer of brand credibility can go a long way as well.

Implement an Instagram Contest

Many brands work with influencers to earn visually driven media that they can use on their website, on their own social channels and in their marketing materials. Influencers on Instagram is a great way to get this type of content.

To ensure that you’re getting awesome earned Instagram content, challenge your influencers. I did this for TUNG Brush and earned amazing Instagram posts for them. We challenged the 30 influencers in the campaign to come up with the most creative Instagram post and offered a $250 Amazon gift card. This by far upped the value of the Instagram content higher than I’ve ever seen and affordably so! In case you’re curious, the winner was this one.

Stay in it For the Long Run

Research shows that when an influencer talks about a brand at least three times, their recommendations are viewed as more trustworthy, and the audience is more likely to change their buying behavior.

To capitalize on this fact, work with your influencers on an ongoing basis. Signing a year contract in which they post once per quarter will get your brand the type of awareness and content that converts.

Plus, the more an influencer works with your brand, the more they get a feel for messaging that resonates with their audience and can refine based on what is working.

We worked with a craft brand who signed contracts with 25 influencers for the whole year and each quarter they sent their influencers a new craft to do complete with instructions and a box of craft supplies they would need. Both the influencers and the brand were pleased with the relationship!

What are some strategies that you’ve implemented that earn great media from influencers? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!