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Content creators, especially those regarded as influencers in their domain, can boost a brand’s marketing efforts through authentic engagement with a target audience. 

Apart from increasing your brand’s reach, working with external creators can also improve its credibility and authority. Indeed, a 2023 Morning PRO report reveals 61% of Gen Zers and millennials trust influencers’ recommendations.

However, things can get tricky when partnering with creators and influencers. Roadblocks like creative differences, content rights, and campaign management can strain creator-brand relationships, resulting in subpar marketing ROI.

In this article, I share five tips to help brands form long-term mutually beneficial relationships with creators in their niche.

1. Align Creators with Your Content Strategy

Creators have individualized approaches to generating content. That’s why their audiences follow them, and that’s why brand marketers want to collaborate with them. On the other hand, you also need to make sure that they don’t totally go off the rails and misrepresent your value proposition, or talk about your company in a way that conflicts with your messaging.

Aligning creators with your content strategy involves integrating influencers into your broader marketing and content plans in a way that both leverages their unique strengths and ensures consistency with your positioning.

Start by vetting creators to find the right fit. Look at aspects like the nature of content they create, the way they are received by their audience, and how they engage back. While collaborating with them, tell them what you expect from this campaign as a brand, whether it is visibility or sales.

Be mindful that integrating creators into your content marketing strategy goes beyond brainstorming and approving creatives. You also need to, for instance, plan other marketing activities such as writing blog posts and running ads around the influencer campaign.

To do so, you might want to look at the creators and influencers as a part of your marketing team rather than an external source of content. This will allow you to work in synergy to produce authentic content that not only engages a wide audience but also motivates them to act.

Furthermore, this also lays the foundation for an effective long-term relationship as the creator will feel more connected to your brand’s goals, inspiring them to invest more in your marketing partnership.

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2. Define Roles and Provide Comprehensive Style Guides

At the beginning of an influencer marketing campaign, brands need to define what aspects of content creation, publication, promotion, and engagement will be carried out by either side. This will lead to an efficient workflow, minimize confusion, and foster trust while increasing the chances of campaign success.

A comprehensive style guide can contain brand guidelines (tone, voice, aesthetics, and values), creatives’ specifications (type, format, platform, and frequency), and ethical considerations (disclosures, copyright information, and industry-specific best practices) to guide your content marketing processes.

This helps both brands and creators to align their creative efforts, remain consistent while upholding their part of the agreement throughout the campaign, and manage legal risks.

These two elements help you build better relationships with creators by enhancing mutual understanding of expectations, providing creative freedom within boundaries, and demonstrating respect toward the influencer by being professional.

Try to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach while defining the role and creating a comprehensive style guide as the goals of the influencer campaign, the types of content that the creator specializes in, and the current needs of your brands are subject to change.

3. Create Thorough Content Briefs and Communicate Processes

Content briefs tell the creators about the key messages they need to focus on, the desired outcomes of the campaign, the specifics of the content requirement (length, style, hashtags, and CTAs), the duration of the campaign, and budget and compensation details.

These briefs, penned down after the brand and the creator decide to work together, ensure that the creators fully understand what the brand seeks to gain and how they will be compensated, eliminating ambiguity during collaboration.

As these documents contain a lot of details that are unique to the creator and the campaign, it can be beneficial for brands to have a predefined template, particularly for B2B content marketing teams teams, as they might run multiple campaigns in parallel.

A creator campaign consists of various processes such as reaching an agreement, creating content, approving the creatives, promoting the posts, tracking performance (more on this below), and billing.

All of these processes are unique based on different factors such as the internal operations of the brand, the nature of collaboration, and the available resources. Moreover, each of these processes contains multiple complex action items, opening the possibility of confusion, errors, and inefficiencies.

Loom simplifies this process by allowing brands to create video messages and send them to their creative partners via any channel. The platform enables you to edit videos just like editing a document, making it quick and easy to remove filler words, stitch content together, and add special effects.

4. Explore Various Types of Partnerships

A creator posting promotional content of various types on social media to help a brand reach new audiences or boost sales is only one kind of partnership you can consider. Other kinds of creator-brand partnerships include:

  1. Co-creation of products or services: Leverage the expertise of the influencer in your domain to offer new products and services to your audiences and customers.
  2. Events: You can attract a crowd by hosting virtual or physical live events, where an authoritative creator is a guest speaker.
  3. Social media takeovers: Give complete control of any one of your social media accounts for a few hours or a day to a creator. This can attract a lot of attention to your brand.
  4. Joint giveaways and contests: These interactive competitions and events are a great way to engage with your audience, reach new niches, reward loyal customers, and enhance your understanding of your domain.

While exploring these unique kinds of collaborations with creators and influencers, it is essential to partner with the right people. For instance, if you want to conduct a live event featuring a known creator, it is essential to partner with those who already have experience with it.

Popular Pays, an end-to-end influencer marketing platform from Lightricks, facilitates this by empowering brands to find an exact fit for their marketing campaigns. You can filter its comprehensive database of creators by niche, engagement, skill, network, demographic, and various other parameters to connect with creators that align with your values and can resonate with your audience.

Furthermore, the platform allows you to send messages directly to the creators, send briefs, run campaigns, and manage relationships, streamlining influencer marketing campaigns.

5. Leverage Technology and Measure Success

Collaborating with content creators and influencers can get resource-intensive, making it crucial to keep an eye on key performance indicators (KPIs) throughout the campaign to justify the marketing investment. At the same time, creators can benefit from knowing whether their efforts have been helping your brand achieve its marketing goals. 

Moreover, in some cases like affiliate marketing, the compensation of an online creator depends on how their posts perform, making it essential for brands to adopt the right tools in their workflow to track the relevant success metrics.

However, attribution can get challenging when you are working with multiple creators on different campaigns that are going live on different platforms.

Linkly simplifies this process by generating trackable links for each post and measuring the impact of the overall campaigns. You can set advanced redirects, create branded links, rotate destinations to maximize conversions, and generate performance reports with a single click.

Time to Create

It is essential for brands to build strong relationships with creators and influencers to make the most of collaborative marketing campaigns.

Integrating the creator into your content strategy, tangibly defining roles and responsibilities, providing comprehensive guidelines, sending detailed briefs, explaining the processes within the workflow clearly, exploring different kinds of influencer collaborations, and adopting scalable content marketing tools to measure the impact of the posts can help in this regard.

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By Virginia Andrus

Virginia Andrus is an independent and experienced digital marketing consultant with over six years of experience in the field. She is an exceptional copywriter who has worked with various brands and agencies. Her work is featured in publications like AgilityPR, Awario, Keyhole, to name a few. If you're looking to connect with a dynamic and talented professional, you can find her on X (formerly Twitter).