If you Google “digital influencer strategy,” you’re going to find countless articles on why your brand should invest in an influencer strategy and the impact of influencer marketing on your campaign. You’ll find significantly fewer articles about why an influencer chooses to invest in a brand or the impact a brand could have on an influencer’s content strategy.

I recently attended a session at the Destinations International Annual Convention in Montreal during which the significance of this knowledge gap was made clear. At this session, DCI shared its recent research which takes a step in the right direction to help those of us on the PR side marry what it is brands want from influencers with what these influencers want from brands.

From this research and my own personal experience, I’ve noticed building influencer relationships is a lot like dating. Here are some actionable takeaways to spark an influencer romance today:

 

Quality Over Quantity

We can all agree that one really good date is a thousand times better than ten terrible ones. Think about it. The end goal is to incite the influencer’s followers to action (purchase your product, subscribe to your service, visit your destination, etc.), so it’s important to work with folks with a loyal audience who will ask “how high?” when the influencer says “jump!” A large followership is great, but an engaged followership, in many instances, is better.

To do: Build a list of the influencers you want to get to know, even if you don’t have the time or money to work with them right now, and make note of the types of conversations they’re having with their followers in the comments.

 

Don’t Be Stingy

It’s easy for those of us in more traditional fields to forget that these days “digital influencer” is a full-time job. That means this role is, in many cases, their sole source of income. Besides, when that special someone is worth it, you’ll be more inclined to spring for the good champagne.

To do: While you’re planning for 2018, build in a budget for paid partnerships.

 

Get Your Flirt On

We need to keep in mind that these digital influencers want to be courted, and are much more likely to work with you if they feel like you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested in them and the content they create rather than the number of followers they’ve wrangled. They’ll be able to tell if you’re just sending a generic message to everyone on your list.

To do: Using that influencer wish list you just built, strike up a conversation on Instagram. Start small with likes and comments, and work your way up to DMs about the types of partnerships they prefer.

 

Yes, I Said DM

One of the most interesting and “duh-worthy” findings from the DCI survey is that many digital influencers prefer to communicate via their digital channels. {Insert face-palm emoji.}

To do: Stop wasting your time hunting down these folks’ email addresses and just contact them using the channel on which you found them. They’ll be a lot quicker to respond.

 

Nurture the Relationship

Once you have initiated your influencer partnership, don’t just check the content boxes and call it a day. They’ve shown you some love, now it’s time to reciprocate. Doing this is a no-brainer, not only because you’re amplifying their great content, but because it shows your new influencer friend you’re committed to a long-term relationship. Do this and they’ll be a brand advocate for life!

To do: Don’t be shy – get after that influencer-created content with a repost, retweet or share.

 

Meet Halfway

This is sadly extremely difficult for those of us in traditional PR roles. Is it too much to ask to just build a program and simply stick to it? Yes. Sometimes it is. Entering into a digital influencer partnership should be just that – a two-way street. Remember that they’ve built their empire based on their own creativity, and sometimes that can’t be put in a box with a pretty pre-approved brand messaging bow. Being open to compromise will keep you from ending the relationship on an ugly note.

To do: If you haven’t yet entered into an influencer partnership, be sure to manage this expectation with your supervisor or your client. If you have, then you’ve probably encountered this challenge. Take a deep breath, remember it’s PR not ER, and identify areas for compromise. (Except, of course, when it comes to FTC guidelines. That’s one battle worth fighting.)

 

If you’re unable to clear your afternoon to start working on your digital influencer courtship, go ahead and send a quick note to Greg.Tarmin@PadillaCo.com. He’ll get one of the matchmakers at Padilla right on it.