Building authentic influencer partnerships

Khoros Strategic Services

Influencers hold the power to shape consumer behavior and mold brand perception. In collaborating with influencers, brands unlock previously untapped audiences — infusing authenticity into their messaging. The strategic curation of these influencers, in alignment with the brand's mission, isn't just important—it's paramount for forging triumphant partnerships.

Khoros’ Strategic Services team partners with dozens of Fortune 100 brands, backed by a wealth of expertise in starting, managing, and reporting on the success of triumphs of influencer partnerships. Let’s dive into best practices gleaned by our seasoned team members, and learn how your brand can forge impactful collaborations with community leaders to ignite inspiration and nurture enduring connections.

Khoros Strategic Service

Creating sustainable influencer relationships

Finding the right influencer for your brand

In the dynamic landscape of influencer marketing, authenticity and audience alignment are paramount. Brands shouldn’t rely on influencer follower counts; today's consumers demand genuine and relatable collaborations.

This article explores key strategies for effective influencer marketing, including leveraging data-driven discovery, building long-term partnerships, and ensuring brand and creator audience alignment. By embracing these principles, brands can harness the power of influencer partnerships to connect with their target audiences and achieve lasting success authentically.

Authenticity and audience

Today's consumers are increasingly discerning and crave genuine and relatable content. Valuing authenticity and trust, they can quickly recognize and actively turn away from inauthentic influencer partnerships.

The ideal influencer for your brand possesses an audience that significantly overlaps with your ideal customer. Strategic analysis of factors like audience location, interests, and brand affinities can help ensure your message reaches its intended target with maximum resonance.

Data-driven discovery

The key to successful influencer marketing is a data-driven approach. Utilize social listening tools to discover influencers who consistently generate meaningful interactions such as likes, comments, shares, and saves within your brand’s vertical (you can do this by searching posts including key terms related to your industry). This approach eliminates guesswork, increasing the likelihood of partnerships that resonate with your target audience and deliver tangible results.

Here are just a few key metrics to consider, organized by relevance:

Brand affinity and content: The first aspect your brand has to consider is whether the creator you’ll be working with shares your brand’s values, tone, and style. The best ways to garner this information are:

  • Past collaborations: Look at an influencer’s former collaborations to learn about the type of collaborations that they’re open to and affirm their ability to work with a brand well.

  • Content themes: Consider their past three months of content outside of partnerships and make sure their tone, style, and message resonate with your audience.

  • Social reputation: Vet influencers before collaborating to mitigate any reputational risk. Use social listening tools or simply search the creator's name to discover any past controversies that could harm your brand’s reputation.

Audience analysis: Secondly, ask potential partners to provide demographic data (e.g. age, gender, and location of their audiences) from their platforms (which they will be able to find natively in the audience analytics section of their social media accounts) to ensure the engagement will be worth your budget.

  • While demographic information is valuable, you will also want to evaluate their audience’s interest by observing how they engage with their audience in the comments sections.

  • Engagement and reach: Consider the influencer’s engagement numbers. While some tools will provide this information quickly, you could get all this data by looking at the influencer’s latest posts (two to three months).

Depending on your collaboration’s goal (awareness, brand love, product sales, etc.), you will prioritize some of the metrics below over the others:
  • Likes, comments, shares, and saves (key metric for a brand love campaign)

  • Reach: Number of people who see the influencer's content (great metric for an awareness campaign)

  • Impressions: How many times the content is displayed (also great for an awareness campaign)

Nurturing your influencer network

In the fast-paced world of digital marketing, influencer relationships are more than just transactions; they are opportunities to align with voices that can authentically amplify your brand’s message. Whether the goal is to make a significant impact with a new product launch or to cultivate long-term brand advocates, the strategy behind engaging influencers is crucial. It’s about striking the perfect balance between short-term collaborations for immediate goals and nurturing enduring partnerships for future growth.

Studies show that consumers are 75% more likely to trust an influencer they perceive as having a genuine connection with a brand. Maintaining relationships with influencers beyond the lifespan of a one-off campaign can unlock significant value for brands, transcending the immediate gains of singular promotions. Even after a campaign concludes, continuing to nurture these connections can turn temporary collaborations into reservoirs of future engagement and advocacy.

Keeping the lines of communication open, recognizing influencers' contributions, and involving them in brand developments not only reinforce their positive perception of the brand but also pave the way for spontaneous advocacy and more profound authentic endorsements. This approach leverages the compounding effect of sustained relationships, where the initial investment in a campaign can yield ongoing benefits, from heightened brand visibility to stronger credibility among target audiences.

Strategic Services tips

Here are some extra tips from Khoros Strategic Services to take your influencer program to the next level:

  • Engage with micro-influencers: Besides partnering with macro-influencers with millions of followers, we recommend also turning to micro-influencers with smaller but highly engaged audiences. Micro-influencers often have a stronger connection with their followers and can drive more relatable and targeted engagement.

  • Leveraging social commerce: Social media platforms integrate e-commerce features, such as TikTok Shop and Instagram Shopping, making it easier for consumers to purchase products directly from influencers' posts. Using these tools in your next influencer campaign creates a seamless shopping experience that will enhance effectiveness by reducing the steps between inspiration and purchase.

  • Don’t forget transparency and disclosure: Regulatory bodies and social media platforms are implementing stricter guidelines regarding influencer disclosures. Influencers are required to disclose any sponsored content, ensuring transparency and consumer protection. Remember to follow the latest regulations, so you avoid any legal road bumps.

  • Measurement and ROI: Not only should you track all metrics we shared in the Data-Driven Discovery section, but we also recommend using advanced analytics and attribution models to help quantify the economic impact of your influencer collaboration (sales conversions, ROI, etc.)

  • Creative control: Successful influencer collaborations involve a collaborative approach, where influencers are actively involved in the content creation process. Avoid micromanaging your influencers' creative process during the content creation phase of the campaign. Influencers know their audience more than anyone, so they’ll know how to approach them the best. This will not only ensure that the content is authentic, engaging, and aligned with both the brand's and influencer's values, but also that it’s optimized for engagement and conversions.

Lastly, there’s no better way to understand how all the previous pieces come together than visualizing it through real-life examples of successful influencer campaigns. These are three influencer campaigns that we love!

Hilton: The TikTok you stay in with Bomanizer

Several creators starred in their own skits and developed compilations to create the never-been-done-before 10-minute TikTok. The result? The campaign earned Hilton over 35M views on the trending platform.

TIAA: Getting personal about retirement inequality with Dawn Staley

TIAA, a Fortune 100 financial services organization, partnered with women college basketball players to create awareness around the fight for retirement equity, positioning themselves as an activist organization working for equality. The campaign received a whopping 85% positive feedback from the community.

TIAA example

Essence Festival with MrandMrsGrit

Essence partnered with 11 creators across Instagram and TikTok to capture content showcasing everything the Essence Festival of Culture had to offer, encouraging followers to buy more than 1,000 tickets with posts dedicated to building hype and anticipation.

Embracing the dynamic landscape of influencer marketing, informed by the latest trends and best practices, empowers brands to cultivate profound connections with audiences. This transcendance beyond conventional success metrics leaves behind a genuine resonance with people. The rise of influencer marketing underscores its ability to be a potent conduit for brands to connect with consumers, build trust, and drive business growth.

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