I’m going to be honest: when partnering with influencers, things don’t always go as planned 🤦🏻♀️
Most creators work solo or with fewer than 3 team members, which means that when life happens offline, it needs to take priority over their content. Sometimes, this causes delays. Sometimes, they stop responding to emails. Sometimes, they underdeliver on their promises.
As marketers, this can be incredibly frustrating, but it's important to remember that we have options to protect us from these inevitable situations. Ultimately, marketers have three choices when influencers fall short: replace them, cut your losses, or be flexible. Here are a few tried and true tips that help keep things on the rails.
Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
When building out your campaign, never assume that every contracted creator will meet expectations. If your campaign requires 3 pieces of content to go live to be successful, consider hiring 5 or 6 creators or contracting 4 creators to produce multiple assets. If you are super lean on budget and don't want to overcommit, make sure that you have conversations started with backup creators so if you need to pivot at the last minute, they will already be familiar with the deliverables, budget, and contract terms.
Don't get too attached to any one creator (especially for a first campaign).
When casting influencers for a campaign, many clients come to the table with an idea for a "dream" talent based on who they or other stakeholders at the brand personally follow. This can be helpful as a directional starting point, but can often lead to disappointment. It's important to remember that at any given time, a well-known creator likely has many offers on the table. However, there are so many talented creators out there in every niche, so remember to keep an open mind to find the ones who are most excited to partner with your brand.
Help them help you.
Keep your emails short, direct, and organized. Don't be afraid to follow up consistently, but when you do, be sure the ask specific questions or clearly state your ask. If you manage your project well, influencers will have a clear understanding of what's expected of them and when. If you bombard them with information in multiple paragraphs, there's a good chance they'll miss something. A useful practice is to ensure that you house all the information they're going to need in a central document, such as the contract or creative brief. Beyond that, emails should just be used to keep them on track one step at a time.
If you can afford to be flexible, sometimes the payoff is worth the wait.
If a creator is excited to partner with you but an external circumstance keeps them from delivering on time, consider adjusting your timeline to accommodate the partnership anyway. While this may negatively impact the short term campaign KPIs, it could wind up a net positive in the long term.
I recently managed a campaign for SpotOn, a company that’s developed the world’s most innovative GPS dog fence. I was tasked with finding dog owners on YouTube to try the product and produce a video explaining how it works and what they thought of it. The goal of the campaign was for them to share video content in time for Black Friday.
In early November, one of the creators let me know that training had been moving slower than anticipated, and there was no way she’d be able to post the video on time. While not ideal, the brand team understood that there were extenuating factors at play and that some dogs take longer to learn. Believing in their own product and betting that seeing the partnership through would be worth the wait, they shifted gears and decided to treat her like a customer first and foremost. They set her up with an on-staff trainer, connected her with other Livestock Guardian Dog owners, and gave her a two month extension on the post date.
Eventually, the dogs had a breakthrough, and the creator shared her inspiring, informative video a couple weeks ago. Already, it’s the 2nd most viewed video on her channel from the past 6 months. It turned out, the struggle she faced just made for a better pay off in the video. Though it meant not hitting our goals in the short term, it turned out to be a moving story and fantastic look for the brand in front of her devoted audience. Here's the video, if you're interested in checking it out: