Influencer marketing has developed significantly over the past several years. When first introduced, most marketers saw it as a gimmick—a valuable gimmick, but a gimmick nonetheless. Now, online marketers are starting to see influencer marketing as less of a “get rich quick” scheme and more as a viable long-term strategy for developing a brand (usually a personal brand).
The key to achieving that long-term success is to see your influencer engagements as partnerships—not a way to get a quick favor or a one-time boost. So why are these partnerships more effective, and how can you build one from scratch?
Defining a “Partnership”
First, let me explain exactly what I mean by an influencer “partnership.” Yes, if an influencer shares one of your articles, you’ll instantly generate new visibility for the piece—and possibly hundreds of new followers in the process. However, earning that one-time share will only yield you value for a few days—usually a week at the most. If you can regularly exchange value with an influencer, and build a social relationship with them, you’ll earn many of these opportunities—and you’ll also gain the reputation benefits of being in that influencer’s inner circle.
Building Initial Authority
Before you can start a meaningful partnership with an influencer, you’re going to need to become a bit of an influencer in your own right. That doesn’t mean you have to have tens of thousands of followers before you can engage in influencer marketing, but it does mean you should have a decent following to start (for help, see 101 Ways to Get Social Media Followers).
Otherwise, your target influencer may not take you seriously; having a bigger following and a more recognizable reputation means not only that you have more experience, but that you’ll be able to offer more value to the influencers with whom you work throughout the partnership.
With that being said, let’s look at the three main ways you can start developing a relationship with an influencer.