Influencer Marketing vs. Influencer Relations: Maximize Your ROI with Deeper Connections + Storytelling

The Belle team joined marketing powerhouses, McDonald's, Buick and HP, at the Association of National Advertisers Influencer Marketing Trends Conference in Chicago. We discussed the ROI of influencer relations and how we’ve built record-breaking B2B and B2C campaigns for Nationwide Insurance, Big Lots and The Halal Guys.

influencer relations

Influencers continue to see greater ROI than traditional marketing methods. Why? Because they play a very unique role in telling the stories that your brand channels and PR can’t.

Brands report earning $5.20 for every dollar spent on influencers. Translation: Influencers are worth the investment, and they’re worth doing right. But with growing competition and increased content clutter online, brands have to get more intentional with how they execute. Leverage a relationship-lens to see maximum potential from your marketing dollars.

Influencer Relations Approach

Influencer Relations focuses on building authentic relationships over transactional exchanges. This practice requires intention, a deep understanding of each partner and what matters to their audience. Client campaign outcomes consistently show that influencer relations deliver more meaningful and creative collaborations. When you start to put the relationship at the center, you start to see greater ROI.

Ready for a mindset shift from Influencer Marketing to Influencer Relations? Here are four tips and trends for maximizing your influencer approach and spend.

1. Awareness: Engage unexpected and/or niche partners.

Engaging niche communities can be a great way to differentiate yourself from the masses and avoid the “selling” mentality that tends to come with a traditional influencer marketing strategy. Niche creators build authentic relationships with their audiences. They’re less worried about being polished, and more focused on staying true to themselves and providing content that’s valuable.

2. Interest: Work toward always-on storytellers.

Transition to an always-on approach to influencer relations instead of one-off campaigns for sweeping awareness and increased brand affinity. Extended partnerships increase touch points with the audience, guiding them through the sales funnel from awareness to leads. With hand-picked always-on ambassadors, you can truly treat that influencer like a partner and involve them in the creative storytelling process. Hear from them on what content will work best, source feedback, and embrace ideas. See how we engaged authentic fans in our Halal Guys campaign.

3. Consideration: Elevate performance with insights + algorithms.

Platform algorithms influence content performance, especially with branded posts. Creators are on the platforms daily, staying in tune with the trends, keeping tabs on their analytics and can make the most informed decisions about what to post and when. It is important to look to your partners for insights and recommendations on what works best on their channels instead of dictating from the brand perspective. More in-touch content has greater reach and impact.

4. Leads: Treat influencers as extensions of your team + toolkit.

Influencers, when treated as partners, can serve as strong extensions of your team and toolkit. Their value lies beyond their channels and campaigns. They can elevate your entire marketing mix with less lift from your team. Start by negotiating usage rights or even dark posts – posts that don’t appear on the influencer’s page but are created for your brand’s use. From there you can share the content on social media, put advertising dollars behind it, include it in newsletters, add to your website and ultimately fuel your marketing mix.

Learn more about how to maximize resources and fuel your PESO mix with influencer relations. Let’s chat.

Belle Communication

Belle Communication is a woman-owned and led, nationally awarded and top-ranked digital PR agency that helps brands think bigger for now + next. The firm serves the CPG, retail, restaurant, tourism and B2B industries, and has partnered with more than 100 brands including Dearfoams, Nestlé, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and Nationwide Insurance.