4 Ways to Turn Influencers Into Ambassadors

Over the past 5 years influencer marketing has gone from a marketing novelty to a full blown trend. According to recent reports from eMarketer, 84% of marketing and communications professionals worldwide are expected to launch at least one campaign involving an influencer in the next 12 months.

Why is influencer marketing so hot all of a sudden? Mostly because it’s working. The same eMarketer study found that 81% of respondents reported that their partnerships were effective in driving business goals. Really, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise when you consider the numbers.

92% of customers say they trust recommendations for people (Nielsen)

74% use social media to make purchase decisions (Sprout Social)

8 in 10 of the most influential people for teen audiences are YouTube stars (Variety Teen Survey)

Marketers report a $6.50 return for every $1 they spend on influencer marketing (Tomoson)

This convergence of digital trends and positive results means that influencer marketing is coming of age. It also means the way we approach these partnerships needs to do a little growing up. Instead of thinking of influencers as a source for one off bursts of exposure, we are shifting our focus to see them as ongoing brand ambassadors.

Our view is that as influencer advertising grows, it will be the authentic, repeated and long standing relationships between brand and influencer that earn people’s attention and trust. So how do we go from one-off #sponsored Instagram posts to an organic and ongoing relationship?

LET ’EM DO THEIR THING

In a recent CrowdTap study influencers were asked what motivates them to work with a brand. In their answers they overwhelmingly cited a desire for creative freedom. Influencers aren’t looking to fill ad inventory; instead they look for partners who will give them a sense for the brand message and work with them to tell that story in a way that is unique to their channels.

Takeaway: Don’t tell influencers what to post. Instead, help them understand the feelings and messages that should be communicated through our campaigns and work with them as creative partners to bring those ideas to life.

MAKE IT EASY

Digiday recently published a story on what motivates influencer partnerships and the prices that creators set for their activations. Not surprisingly, Digiday found that influencers are motivated to work with brands that make their job easier. Being organized, responsive and flexible isn’t really that hard and the effects can directly impact your chances of turning an influencer into a brand ambassador.

Takeaway: Influencers are professionals with business priorities and limited time. Treat influencer partners with the same organizational rigor and flexibility that we’d provide traditional talent.

GO BEYOND A CAMPAIGN

The best influencer programs are building long term relationship around larger themes instead of simply focusing on campaigns. American Express has built an ongoing relationship with a number of influencers through their ongoing #AmexAccess program, which has featured influencers from YouTube star Lilly Singh to travel personality Paola Alberdi. The campaign is broad enough that influencers can engage in evergreen promotion instead of only supporting high profile campaigns.

Takeaway: Identify broader themes that allow influencers ongoing engagement with the brand. When an influencer is an especially good fit for the brand, look for repeatable ways to engage them.

BE COOL

Influencer marketing is becoming big business, but it’s still fueled by goodwill and relationships. Transitioning an influencer to a true ambassador means taking the little touches seriously. A pair of concert tickets, a commemorative post card or a custom keepsake can go a long way to building a meaningful ongoing relationship.

Takeaway: Build the little touches into your planning process. Plan for meaningful interactions before, during and after an activation to make an influencer feel like they are part of the brand family.