Influencer relations:

As a longtime lifestyle blogger, I have watched the world of online influence evolve over the last decade. Initially, people (who later earned the title of “blogger”) set out to create online diaries documenting their life, interests and personal projects. At this point, bloggers were writing and sharing content online as a hobby.

Today, the life of a blogger, or an online influencer, has evolved into much more. Bloggers and other online superstars with large social media followings have become the next celebrities and are America’s top crop of influencers.

Take *Dancing with the Stars*. A few seasons ago, Bethany Moto, a YouTube lifestyle vlogger (video blogger), was invited to join the cast and dance with fan favorite Derek Hough, and this season, the show will feature 15-year-old Vine star Hayes Grier. Five years ago, we would never have dreamed that teens would become superstars simply by creating and regularly sharing content online.

If you haven’t thought about utilizing influencer partnerships to grow awareness of your brand and drive points of conversion, now is the time. Here’s why…
### Influencers are niche-specific

You can pinpoint influencers in a very specific space and work with them to share your message with the audience who would care about your business most. This is where quality leads over quantity.

If your product is a high-end line of organic dog food, you can find an entire community of people who have a passion for their pets and are willing to pay a premium price for pet food products.
### Influencers have cultivated an engaged audience

As a PR rep, I often work with influencers whose social media reach is larger than my clients.

By collaborating with an influencer, you’re able to work together to distribute your message to a loyal community. There is no list buying or extra legwork involved. The audience is already there and has opted into following the influencer because they have a similar appreciation for the subject matter at hand.

### People make purchase decisions based on reviews from trusted sources
Have you found yourself purchasing something you saw a fashion blogger wear on Instagram? Did you determine your next sofa purchase based on reviews from interior design blogs? Time and time again, people lean on perspectives from their favorite tastemaker to make purchase decisions. Why not share your product with your ideal influencer for review? If they love it, they’ll spread the word on your behalf.

### Influencers can tell your story in an authentic way
Having someone else preach the gospel for you is much better received than you selling, selling, selling your own product or service through social media posts. Having a third party involved in your brand conversation provides another point of view, strengthening your company’s reputation.

This sounds like a great combination, but you must remember, there are several considerations to keep in mind when establishing expectations for an influencer relations program:

+ Most online influencers now charge a nominal fee. Because many influencers are running their sites and establishing personal brands as their full-time jobs, they aren’t able to collaborate without a tangible benefit involved (and no, exposure doesn’t count as compensation these days). The partnership must truly be beneficial to you both.

+ Not every online influencer accepts sponsored content or is open to collaboration.

+ Those who do accept brand partnerships are very specific about how often they will feature sponsored content. For example, they may only allow one sponsored editorial feature or collection of social media posts a month to ensure they’re presenting their readers/followers with a larger portion of unsponsored content.

+ Like the media, you can provide the blogger or influencer with background information and graphics, but you cannot control what they write or say. If you’re confident in your offering and know the influencer is an ideal match for your brand, then you have nothing to worry about.

+ Influencer relations is about relationship building, not a “one and done” deal. Through these partnerships, you can build a community of ambassadors.

So I ask, “Who would you like to tell your brand story?”

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