As social media influencer marketing continues to mature, it has become clear that a large population of content creators want to work with brands in long-term relationships and value building these ongoing partnerships versus collaborating with brands on a standalone influencer marketing campaign every so often. Brands need to build these ambassador-type programs into their influencer marketing strategy in order to create user-generated content that best resonates with their consumers and target audience.
We’ve gathered feedback from content creators who are a part of Mavrck’s influencer advisory board, who have voiced the importance of long-term relationships, as they allow for the building of mutually beneficial partnerships between brands and influencers, an essential element to any successful influencer program. Additionally, these partnerships allow brands to focus on creating high-quality, repurposable influencer-generated content (IGC), while also enabling content creators to embrace authentic brand loyalty.
As Mai Lyn of @deepfriedfit shared with us, “The biggest benefit of a long term collaboration for both [the influencer and the brand] is the relationship building. From the brand’s point of view, when you have already established a relationship with an influencer, you don’t need to reteach the brand to a new person and you have already vetted the influencer to make sure they provide quality work to meet the criteria for a successful campaign. Why would you start that process all over again with someone new?”
Steps to Creating & Running a Successful Ambassadorship Strategy with Content Creators
There are a number of steps involved in creating a longer-term collaboration that need to be taken into account when evaluating whether an ambassador-type program is the right direction for your brand. Below is an overview of the steps we recommend following when building out your influencer marketing strategy:
- Run at least five campaigns per brand to gather performance results.
- Evaluate the top performers across each of the brand-specific campaigns to determine a first group to invite into your long-term influencer program.
- Work with this first group on the initial activation within the long-term collaboration.
- Do an in-depth analysis of the initial activation to determine who from the first group you would like to continue partnering with based on their performance. If you decide not to move forward with them, you can go back into other past campaigns to choose new influencers to add to the collaboration.
- Survey the influencers consistently after each activation of the collaboration is complete to gather feedback (i.e. what they liked/didn’t like, creative ideas, etc.).
- Take those key learnings and insights to develop the long-term collaboration and enhance it based on influencer feedback.
How to Effectively Activate Content Creators Long-Term to Build Strong Relationships & Achieve Goals
There are several different ways to activate influencers within a longer-term, ambassador-type partnership opportunity that we’ve found generate successful results:
Payment Up Front – Small Scale
- Give the group of influencers “payment” up front, either products from the brand or gift cards to purchase products from the brand.
- Ask them to post content once every month.
- Run this program at a smaller scale, since it will be more high touch, collaborating with five to fifteen influencers in total.
Payment After Posts – Medium Scale
- Give a group of influencers prompts at the beginning of each month, paying them on a per post basis after content is published.
- Ask them to post one to two times per month, over the span of several months.
- Run this program at a larger scale, with approximately 50 influencers in total throughout the entire collaboration.
Payment After Posts + Bonus Payment – Small Scale
- Give influencers a campaign theme at the start of each month revolving around a key moment in time (i.e. holiday, event) to create content to be repurposed on the brand’s website and on digital advertising.
- Ask influencers to submit their content to the brand for review a few weeks before they publish on their social channels.
- The overall program can incorporate a number of campaigns throughout the year, running over 12 months.
- Run this program at a smaller scale, with approximately five to ten influencers in total.
- After each campaign, the brand and influencer will decide if the partnership is still a good fit, before proceeding to the next campaign.
- Create ambassador programs for employees to take part in as well.
- Reward them with gift cards or points towards the brand store (if applicable) for photo posts they create on Instagram, for example.
- Brands can send invitations out to their employee base via emails and make sure that the program is on the brand’s internal website so it can be accessed there too.
- You can have certain campaigns and promotions running throughout the year aligning with key moments in time.
- On a quarterly basis, the brand can evaluate which employees are active ambassadors or not, and remove them from the program as needed.
As mentioned above, there are many key benefits of running long-term collaborations or ambassador programs. Here are the top takeaways that we’ve found most beneficial when running these types of collaborations:
- These long-term relationships/programs allow you to reactivate top performers that create high quality user-generated content on a consistent basis, while driving authentic brand awareness and engagement. You can trust their work, they trust you, and their friends/followers trust them and your brand in return.
- This strategy, which focuses on building relationships, allows you to streamline the sourcing and review process involved in all campaigns since you already have a group of trusted content creators to work with on an ongoing basis.
- Through all of this, you’re able to build stronger long-term relationships with key influencers who are more eager to spread brand awareness, even outside of the program, helping them become true brand loyalists, bringing this unique type of word-of-mouth marketing strategy to life.