Despite how long you may have been doing influencer marketing, there are some common pain points that even the best of us face. You’ve read the white papers, watched the webinars, and learned from your peers. But sometimes, the best information comes directly from the source.
That's why we wanted to give creators the opportunity to tell brands what they can do to make influencer relationships go more smoothly in 2022 and beyond. After hundreds of submissions, we’ve compiled the most common pieces of advice creators have for brands.
Let’s dive into it.
If you aren’t reaching your KPI targets, start sharing campaign objectives proactively.
Remember, creators are marketers too! They understand the in’s and out’s of marketing campaigns and social media algorithms better than the average person. And they are experts at predicting how their audience will respond to certain content, products, and campaigns.
With this in mind, creators want the brands they partner with to keep them in the loop when it comes to campaign objectives. In addition to sharing information about brand values and product specifications, let creators know exactly what you are trying to accomplish with your campaign and how you will measure success. You may be surprised to see that creators have creative ideas that can help you reach your goals.
- “I would love it if brands would communicate their top KPI, and ask influencers what our posting recommendation is for each partnership. Just like a magazine, every influencer is different, and understanding the brand's goal for each partnership is crucial to success on both sides. Influencers know our audiences best, how they purchase, and what resonates with them. Do you get more engagement on your stories than on your feed, or vice versa? Have you found teasing with a story post, and then following up with a feed post is the most effective? Does your audience prefer video over carousels? Will a 20% percent promo code discount be enticing enough? Every influencer's audience learns and buys differently, and I think it is a miss for brands to not ask influencers for their insight.” - @HauteHouseFlower
- “The main thing that would make campaigns run more smoothly would be up-front clarity on what the brand is seeking. I'd like to know what the CTA goal of this campaign is at the beginning so I can know if it fits with how my followers engage with my posts.” - @smooshy_mooshy
- “I've recently worked with a brand that was so personable and for that reason I made a promise to myself to keep spreading brand awareness for that brand. The brand gave me insight about their company, why their brand was different from other brands. Of course this is something that I could've looked up on my own, but them giving me that information let me know how important their brand is to them. The small details allowed me to create a message which would resonate with my audience, which helped me to shape my marketing strategy.” - @lovejovan
If you’re not receiving high quality content, loosen up on your creative direction.
By far the most common way creators say brands can improve the influencer marketing process is by granting them creative freedom. Each creator speaks from a unique point of view which is why they’re influential in the first place.
Relinquish some control and allow creators to interpret your campaign guidelines in a way that is natural to their existing content aesthetic and format. The result? Higher performing content that resonates perfectly with your target audience.
- “I wish that brands would trust that influencers know their audience. I only accept collaborations involving products that I really like and believe in. When I am forced to use scripts that are too restrictive, it doesn't sound authentic, even though the sentiment is genuine. Also, sometimes brands don't really understand the constraints of IG....The best campaigns that I have done have been ones in which I could use my creativity, expertise and knowledge in collaboration with the brand to create posts that are authentic and that meet the brand's goals.” - @lindasig_runs
- “Creative freedom allows the influencer to share the brand in the most authentic way which translates into sales because the audience trusts the message. Ultimately, a successful partnership needs to be based on trust. That trust needs to be created on a solid foundation of clear expectations. Both brand and influencer need to be upfront with their desired outcomes.” - @graceinmagnolias
- “I've built an audience by being true to myself and when I'm given a copy and paste caption that several other influencers have also posted it doesn't feel authentic to myself or to my audience. The sponsored posts that have gotten the most engagement and traction for me, have always been the ones I've been given creative freedom to do what works for myself and my audience.” - @fueledbylolz
If you’re getting ghosted, personalize your outreach.
Influencer marketing is not a one-sided interaction. Creators want to feel like the brands they are promoting are invested in them as individuals as well. Thoughtful outreach, video calls, or private forums and communities go a long way to build meaningful connections with people you want to work with. Plus, the extra forethought is not only guaranteed to increase your response rate with creators, but it will encourage creators to go above and beyond for your brand even outside of camagins. And who doesn't appreciate organic word-of-mouth marketing?
- “I find my favorite brands and the most successful partnerships are the brands that get to know my content and my platform. Whether that's calling my dog by name or sharing examples of their favorite content of mine. These details make a big difference and when I feel like I have a relationship, I find my best work is displayed because I want to over deliver.” - @thriftypineapple
- “When a brand reaches out to me and it’s very generic and I can tell it was a mass email, a lot of the time I won’t even respond. It’s definitely worth it to take that extra step to make a creator feel special and valued if you want to work with them. I think the same should be true for creators when reaching out to brands!” - @wellnessforthewin
- “Brands should ask the right questions such as ‘What are your hobbies?’ or ‘How would your audience describe you in 3 words?’ This will allow them to understand the person behind the screen a little bit better in order to create a meaningful campaign.” - @tasdhaliwal
If your creator community isn’t engaged, prioritize partnerships instead of transactions
Long gone are the days where brands can get away with a ‘spray and pray’ approach to influencer marketing. Today’s creators realise that the brands that they promote are a direct reflection of their personal brand. That is why creators wish brands knew that they desire true partnership.
Creators want a peek into the behind the scenes of your brand, access to new products, brand education, and invites to events. By doing so, your creator community will thank you with brand loyalty which will be passed to their audience.
- “Ultimately, I wish brands truly recognized that creators have a genuine connection with their community. A post isn’t a mere business transaction for a creator, it’s a chance to foster a deeper relationship with their community, one based on truth. Therefore, when brands truly partner with creators, asking the why behind their journey and partnering with them to tweak campaigns to align to their community sentiment, a truly relatable marketing concept is born with the potential to ripple far beyond expectations.” - @lexluxlove
- “Influencer relations should be based on SYNERGY! The selection process can be so dry and the vision can sometimes be incredibly narrow. To create knockout content it takes two! Let’s broaden the creative spectrum and collaborate in a place where there’s a freedom to showcase great products or services in a way that influencer audiences feel like it’s genuine!” - @jordan__kimball
If your budget is small, think outside of the box
You may think you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you partner with the influencers with the highest number of followers your budget will allow. Truth is, you’re probably wrong.
Micro and nano influencers, or those with under 20 thousand followers, have niche and highly engaged audiences. Smaller creators’ ability to craft compelling content that perfectly resonates with their audiences has the power to drive your target audience all the way through the purchase journey. Plus, smaller creators say they’re willing to negotiate when it comes to payment terms, making them a great option for brands with a tight budget.
- “Think outside the box! Sometimes my rate is outside of a brand's budget, and I get that. To start, be open to negotiating! I will gladly meet in the middle if you can. I’m also always willing to discount my rates for a long term contract. I also LOVE shooting photos and videos that brands can have the rights to and use in advertising and their websites, etc.” - @danyelleeee
- “Take chances. While someone may not be the typical influencer you’d work with, or “on brand”, we are working our business just like you and you might be be surprised with what you see!” - @the_patientmom
- “When seeking an influencer for a partnership with your brand, I would recommend finding someone that aligns with your aesthetic, vibe, and target audience. A smaller audience that is the right audience, is a lot more valuable than a larger one without that alignment.” - @jessicalynnmusic
If creators are not meeting deadlines, plan further ahead.
For many creators, testing new products and then taking, editing, and posting content is a full time job. This means that they can be booked with brand campaigns months in advance. That said, give creators ample time to create content that meets your campaign goals. Send your product well in advance to give the creator time to form genuine opinions, and then set aside at least 2-4 weeks to create content. Having a well thought out timeline will reduce stress for all parties involved and ensure everyone has time to do their best work.
- “Don’t rush. It takes time to test products and create high-quality content. Plan the campaign ahead of time so both the brand and creator will have enough time for the best results.” - @chrishanxoxo
- “I'm lucky to have had many positive experiences working with brands, but if I were to give some advice, it would be to give creators ample time to create content, as tight deadlines can hinder the creative process. It's a win-win for both when there is plenty of time given to create quality content. So think well ahead with campaigns in an effort to receive more top-notch work in return!” - @moon.and.spoon.and.yum
If your content is homogeneous, make an effort to show diversity
We’ve talked about why diversity is important for your bottom line. And while many brands have made an effort to increase diversity in their marketing, creators say there is still room for improvement.
Creators don't want to be the “only” anything on your page, they want to see the brands that they support supporting people that look like them. So, continue to show the different shades, sizes, and walks of life that make up your target market. Not only will this appeal to your consumer, but diverse creators will also be more willing to work with your brand in the future.
- “We need more representation for black content creators. I am not sure about every other content creator, but for me when a brand reaches out to me I like to go on their page to check things out. And about 90% of the time I don’t see anyone that looks like me and that really sucks.” - @madelineboateng
- “I would love for brands to be open to sharing content and be more comfortable with allowing plus size and ‘normal’ size women to be front and center.” - @modern_madre
If you aren't seeing immediate returns from product seeding, reconsider your expectations.
Would you do your job if you were paid in gift cards? Influencers love getting free products, however creators say they have to prioritize paid partnerships in order to make a living. If you don't have the budget to pay creators what they are worth, continue to seed products with realistic expectations. You may find that some creators love your product so much that they post about it organically. Leverage these genuine brand fans for product feedback and social testimonies, but don’t require a formal partnership until you have the budget to pay them for their work.
- “Move away from free products and focus on paid partnerships. We have seen this trending the wrong direction but creators deserve to get paid for their work. Many of us use this as a source of income or our only income. Invest in your creators and you’ll build a community that rallies behind your brand!” - @malleyinlove
- “I want brands to value and respect us not as influencers but as small businesses. Not only for the metrics we provide as creatives, but appreciate the value we also bring as small business entrepreneurs. I spend a ton of money on equipment to produce top-quality content for the brands I work with. So when you work with me, you aren't just paying for conversion or engagement. Yes, you're getting that, but you're also paying for integrity, professionalism, and excellent quality content.” - @troy_brooks
- “I’d love to see a higher norm on payments for influencers that take into account the work that goes into being a one-person marketing show. We take everything from a campaign brief and come up with creative copy, images and video, editing, and pitching to our communities. It’s an amazing privilege to be able to do this creative work - and I’d love to see more brands compensating accordingly.” - @elleehome
Above all else, remember creators are humans first.
Last but not least, creators want brands to know that it's not all about the money. Like all of us, creators are human first. Creators say they appreciate brands that prioritize human interactions. Get to know the people you’re working with on a personal level, and you will see that creators are willing to compromise with you in ways that they may have otherwise chosen not to.
- “I wish brands would remember to have heart. Yes, it’s a business transaction. It should also be a human interaction though. At the end of the day taking time to know your influencer and support them better (rather than nagging about tiny tweaks or trying to push them into handing over extra free content) will go so much further. They will better connect to the brand, and I guarantee share more enthusiastically and genuinely. I recently worked with Everyplate, and right when my content was due, our county had a historic and deadly flood. They didn’t hesitate to extend grace and see how they could support me better. They were incredible to work with. Not every brand is as understanding. In this fast paced world of content creation, connecting with brands that still have big heart is so refreshing.” - @lisaaamot