Influencers have been the cool kid on the corporate block since 2004 but US companies have been slow to keep up with basic influencer etiquette. In October, Forbes released yet another article about the influencer pitfalls that trap many social media managers. These pitfalls can be avoided by understanding the fundamentals of influencer culture.
Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer reported that “a person like yourself” (aka, your local influencer) is now as credible as an academic expert, a CEO or a government official. This means that tying influencers into your public relations strategy isn’t just an option anymore – it is crucial to gaining your audience’s trust.
I met with social influencer Suzy Holman (@simplysuzys) to get her perspective on what public relations professionals can do to build their influencer relationships. Here are three tried and true practices to keep you on good terms.
- Do Your Research
Influencers have become a coveted outlet and many organizations are vying for their attention. You can stay out of the spam folder by understanding your influencer and their audience before you hit send.
Suzy Holman reports that 10-15 organizations reach out to her every single day and it’s easy to tell who knows their stuff. “I’ve never posted about fitness in my whole life, so why would I post something about that? I wish companies had a better feel of what would be authentic to me just to save us all time.”
- Know the Cost. Don’t ask an influencer to do something for free. Just don’t.
A common rule of thumb among influencers is to charge $100 per 10,000 followers for every post. Of course, this can change depending on how big the brand is, how much the product costs or how likely the influencer is actually to use the product.
As Suzy says, “You may pay more for the influencer that you have to search out, but if it’s a better fit for their audience, that’s worth the money.”
- Stand Back
You’ve found the right influencer; you’ve settled on collaboration, now back off! Dictating too much may deflate your influencer’s authenticity which is what you’re paying for in the first place.
Suzy recounted bad experiences with brands whose guidelines were so strict as to say ‘one-third of the picture needs to be the product’ or ‘we need two children in this picture doing this certain pose.’
“Giving influencers a little more free roam will 100 percent feel more authentic to the influencer and the followers.”
- Take Responsibility
Both public relations professionals and social influencers make their living by building relationships. Bringing those resources together can make larger impacts but not until PR gets these basics down pat.
As a PR community, we have to raise our standard for influencer communication and start applying these principles. If you could add something to this list of basics, what would it be?
Whitney Steele is a Public Relations student at Brigham Young University. She has managed social media accounts for tech startups, wedding florists, and food trucks. After graduating she plans to continue her education in Student Affairs.