How Brands Can Build Strong Relationships With Influencers

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One of the biggest challenges brands face when working with influencers is getting their attention and engaging them, according to Econsultancy. It can be quite a task for brands to build their relationships with influencers. And this hurts your campaign because weak influencer relationships automatically translate into inauthentic, half-hearted promotions.

You need to build stronger relationships with the influencers you work with to improve the success and ROI of your campaigns. The goal is to make sure influencers grow to love your brand. It’s not enough that you have a product offering that’s out of this world. You need to work on how you approach influencers and interact with them. This post is going to help you with that.

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When you’re trying to attract and engage influencers, it’s best to test the waters first. Maybe you just want to send out a generic cold outreach email for a one-off partnership. But if you’re planning to build a long-term partnership with them, you need to connect with them through other means first.

First of all, follow them and their posts through social media or through their blog. Try to like, share, or comment on their posts whenever applicable. But make sure your comments are insightful and add value to the influencer’s post so that they notice you. This is to ensure that when you do decide to approach the influencer for a partnership, they will know that you have been a fan.

The best thing to do is to begin your initial interactions with them as a person and not as a brand. It may be difficult for influencers to feel a connection with a brand. But with a person, it could be much easier. The goal is to make sure the influencer grows fond of the human face of the brand.

Example: What’s Cooking Good Looking

The screenshot below shows an interaction between Jodi Moreno of What’s Cooking Good Looking and a reader of her blog.

image of blog comment


Although the reader may not necessarily be a brand representative, it’s an excellent example of how good and valuable interactions should be like.

  • It is relevant to the influencer’s post, which is about hygee.
  • It also adds value in that she mentions a brand of beans that’s perfect for the dish being made in the blog post.
  • It also references how big of a fan she is as she talks about trying the different smoothies from the influencer’s collection.

To avoid wasting your efforts on commenting, make sure to look through the influencer’s past posts. Check out the comment sections and see if the influencer normally responds to comments from their readers. If they do, there’s a good chance they will also respond to yours. If not and if you still want to include them in the campaign, it might be better to do a cold outreach for that particular influencer.

You can also keep a lookout for when relevant influencers ask open-ended questions. Some influencers tend to try and engage with their followers and they do so by asking them questions. So if you see such an opportunity and it’s relevant to you, try to participate.


Relevance is a crucial factor that can determine the strength of your relationship with influencers. It’s beneficial for your brand because you need to reach a relevant and receptive audience. It’s beneficial for influencers because they get to provide relevant content to their audience consistently.

In fact, a Crowdtap survey found that the biggest motivator for influencers to work with brands is if the opportunity is relevant to their audience. The study also found that 49% of influencers would work a brand more than once if the brand understands their interests and only approaches them with relevant opportunities.

So if you plan on building strong relationships with influencers, you need to do so with influencers who are relevant to your brand. That’s exactly why top clothing brands would partner with fashion and style influencers. And beauty and makeup brands would partner with beauty influencers. Similarly, consumer food brands would build relationships with relevant food influencers.

Example: Special K

There’s also the case of Special K, which launched their #StrongFeedStrong campaign to promote women’s strength. Their campaign did not involve any product placement but rather utilized storytelling to promote their brand’s message. If it were the former, it would be better to work with food influencers and health enthusiasts.

Instead, they worked with influential and accomplished women such as athletes, homemakers, and entrepreneurs. This was appropriate since the whole campaign was aimed at encouraging women to reach their full potential. One of the influencers they worked with was Anna Saccone, a parenting influencer with 1.5 million Instagram followers. She posted an Instagram photo with a caption about raising her daughter to be strong.

image of special k influencer


#3: Clearly Define Your Expectations

You can’t just ask influencers to “do whatever they want” with the promotional posts for your brand if you’re going to be picky about the end results. This could seriously damage the influencer’s opinion about your brand and may feel less inclined to work with you. Being too vague about your expectations could result in content that you doesn’t really fit what you had in mind. In short, it can be a waste of time for both you and your influencers.

To avoid all of this issue, you should have a clear idea about what you expect out of the campaign. What kind of content do you want influencers to create? Do you expect them to frame the message a certain way? Or maybe you want them to tell a certain story instead of simply positioning the product in their photos.

Whatever you have in mind for the influencer’s content, make sure you let them know. Creative freedom is important. But you also need to make sure the influencer’s content helps achieve your goals. So without getting involved in the creative process, you can clearly define some of the expectations you have, such as:

  • What the message should be. The influencers can then decide how to relay the message in their own voice
  • How many pieces of content you need.
  • Whether you need the influencer to be completely honest or a little bit promotional

Your assertiveness and transparency can improve your relationship with influencers. An honest conversation between the two of you could pave the way for a strong relationship.

#4: Give Them Creative Freedom

As mentioned earlier, creative freedom is important. It’s one of the biggest necessities for building strong influencer relationships. In fact, TapInfluence study found that the most important thing for influencers is to maintain their authenticity. 71.2% of influencers in the study felt that they remain their honesty, openness, and sense of humor are all necessary to keep their audience engaged.

The study also found that according to influencers, an overly restrictive content guideline is the second biggest influencer marketing mistake. Additionally, 77% of influencers in the Crowdtap survey would work with a brand more than once if the brand gives them creative freedom. Brand projects in which they get creative freedom tend to be a favorite for 58% of influencers.

image of crowdtap


All of this suggests that it’s crucial for brands to let influencers be their creative and honest selves. Restricting an influencer’s creativity could significantly ruin your relationship with influencers. It will also take away the authenticity from your campaign. And as audiences identify this lack of authenticity, they could lose trust in both your brand and the influencer.

Example: Best Fiends, Apple, and the WWF

A good example of creative freedom is in the sponsored video created by Rosanna Pansino for Best Fiends, Apple, and the WWF. Best Fiends teamed up with Apple and the WWF on occasion of Earth Day to raise funds for the charity organization. So they encouraged the food influencer to be her creative self and help promote the campaign.

image of apple wwf best friend sponsor


She created an original recipe for DIY panda treats, which fits perfectly with the WWF theme. If she had spent the entire video explaining only about the campaign it may not seem so authentic or engaging. But allowing the influencer to creatively relay the message through her original recipe helped garner more than 4 million video views. The video also received 80,000 YouTube likes.

#5: Offer Influencers Fair Compensation

Another critical element that strengthens influencer relationships is fair compensation. Sadly, many brands fail to realize this and approach influencers with the offer of free products alone. Influencers in both the Crowdtap survey and the TapInfluence survey found that the biggest mistake brands make is failing to offer adequate compensation.

Free products only work if the influencer truly loves your brand or if the product is highly valuable. 68% of influencers in the Crowdtap survey also said that they would work with a brand more than one if the brand offers them competitive compensation. So it’s clear that compensating them fairly for their work could motivate influencers to work with your brand. But that’s not the only benefit.

image of crowdtap


When you provide influencers with fair compensation you are showing them that you value their time and effort. You’re showing influencers that your brand respects their right to get adequately compensation. You’re showing them that you don’t just expect them to promote your brand for free.

So as much as you want to save money, you might need to make some investment if you plan on building a strong relationship with influencers. The hard part is deciding on how much is adequate. The cost of hiring influencers may depend on a number of factors, mainly their following size and their industry.

How Much Should You Pay Influencers?

According to, modeling influencers tend to earn the highest with an average of $434 per post. Next come photography influencers earning an average of $385 per post. Food influencers are the third highest-paid, earning $326 per post on average.

image of influencer cost by niche also reports that the cost of working with influencers increases as the following size increases. For those with fewer than 1,000 followers, you can expect to spend an average of $82.60 per post. The rate continues to increase and finally you see influencers with 100,000+ followers charging an average of $763.30 per post.

image of influencer cost by following size


#6: Respect Their Time

Finally, brands who wish to build a strong relationship with influencers should respect the influencers’ time. They should have a clear understanding that influencers need sufficient time to create original and engaging content for brands. This is especially important since most influencers have either a full-time or part-time job in addition to being influencers.

According to Hashoff, 35.2% of influencers have a full-time job. 22.2% of influencers have a part-time job. And 25.3% of influencers are students. It’s important for brands to realize that influencers have their personal and professional lives too. So they can’t just dedicate all of their time trying to create something valuable for the brands they work with.

image of influencer survey


Additionally, the TapInfluence survey also found that the third biggest mistake brands make is failing to provide adequate time for influencers. And according to the Crowdtap survey, many brands have the misconception that successful content doesn’t take much time and effort. This makes it vital for brands to understand the capabilities and limitations of influencers if they wish to build a strong relationship with them.

At the same time, you may need to meet certain deadlines for your campaign. This makes it crucial that both parties agree on a fixed timeline for content delivery. This is another reason why transparency and assertiveness with influencers is important.

Communicate your needs and expectations with the influencers. And let them know about the approximate timeline of your campaign. The influencer can then give you an approximate estimate of how much time they need to create the kind of content you need. If it’s going to be too late for you, make sure you express your needs clearly and respectfully.


These are some of the essentials to follow if you wish to build a strong influencer relationships. Too many times brands mistake influencers to be just another advertising medium. They try to give out commands and expect the influencers to follow their orders without question. Instead, you need to respect their needs, desires, and limitations as another individual. That’s the surest way to earn their respect.

This story was submitted by Shane Barker and does not constitute the views or opinions of Upwork.

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Shane Barker

by @shane_barker

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, product launches, sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with… more