3 Tips to Make Influencer Marketing a Smooth & Enjoyable Ride

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a business in possession of a good product, must be in want of a brand.” 
–Janeish Austen, in collaboration with Ford

In order to build a brand in today’s digital age, we as marketers aim to tap into what Harvard Business Review’s Douglas Holt calls “crowdcultures.”

Dove took on the ideology of the body positivity movement, just as Axe adopted the lad culture. Old Spice had a hipster makeover, and Chipotle assumed the uniform of a preindustrial foodie. The strategy rejuvenated each brand so that they exploded into the forefront of the American consciousness.

To further embrace ‘cultural branding,’ what’s better than enlisting the support of crowdcultures’ leaders? Therein lies the appeal of influencer marketing.

Working with influencers, though, can be difficult. After all, influencers often times did not become professional marketers for a reason. So, I’ve gathered a few tips over the years that make working with influencers just a little bit smoother.

1. Communicate expectations clearly at the outset.

As is the case in any relationship, open communication with your influencer is crucial. Unexpressed expectations are far less likely to be met and will only breed resentment. Don’t say you don’t want anything for your birthday if really — REALLY — you want something shiny and new.

If a contract feels too formal, just make sure you have both your obligations and your influencer’s obligations in writing. Setting guidelines and goals for both yourself and your influencer will have you well on your way towards a honeymoon phase.

2. Be a project manager.

Maybe you’ve been going after the nomadic, entrepreneurial, travel photography market, and you need to build up a program of professional photographers talking about your brand. The skills it took to be a brilliant photographer and social media star don’t necessarily overlap with the skills it takes to execute a 3-month product launch campaign. Reminder emails, check ins, project recaps, constructive criticism, and motivational speeches are very much in order.

3. Under-react.

Mistakes are made. Deadlines are missed. It’s easy to get angry. It’s instinctive to dream of throwing your laptop out the window and into the jaws of a great white shark swimming past your office. But don’t. Influencer relationships are delicate bridges from your world into another’s, and you don’t want to find yourself stranded, bridge-less.

And then you come across those special influencers — those amazing hybrids who’ll you want to work with over and over again. In these cases, it’s totally natural to jump out of your seat and offer up an operatic tribute to them. But again, you’ll need to resist the urge, for as Austen reminds us, “the pleasantness of an employment does not always evince its propriety” (a message brought to you in part by the all new F150).