Gleaned from thousands of successful campaigns at rewardStyle, discover our insider tips on building mutually beneficial relationships that drive performance.

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The key to a successful influencer marketing campaign is having a healthy, mutual partnership — between the brands and the influencers. With time, effort, and the right approach, this relationship can turn a profitable partnership. Synthesized from nearly 10 years in executing influencer campaigns for hundreds of brands, here’s how to ensure you have a successful campaign from the very start.

Develop a Strong Campaign Contract

Your contract is the catalyst for a prosperous campaign and partnership, so it has to be handled with care. Bring your campaign to life by providing talking points, and other helpful tips and guidelines that are relevant to your brand and campaign deliverables — but make sure you’re not being too prescriptive. The important thing is to be aligned on expectations, while still allowing the influencer creative freedom to be authentic. Here’s a short checklist for your contract:

  • Shot list (2 to 3 close-up shots, 1 wide-lens shot)
  • Inspirational imagery provided in supplementary materials like mood board
  • Specifications around the backdrop/surroundings (e.g. “outdoor lighting/location preferred but must not be pictured breaking current CDC recommendations around social distancing”) 
  • Anything they should take note not to include (e.g. no visible brand logos)
  • Other key considerations (e.g. must be showing the product in use.)
“It is important to know all of the details ahead of time in order to get the job right the first time! The brief should include not only posting guidelines, but clear direction of messaging, images, etc. To reshoot content costs money, so it's good to get things done right the first time! The more detailed the brief, the more likely we are able to do our job right the first time!” - Shay Mone (@shaymone)

Create a Mood Board

As an added layer of inspiration and a great way to fuel a solid partnership, provide a “mood board” for your influencers (and for the benefit of your brand). These are visual representations of how they should style products and what type of content your team is looking for. 

“These help steer the creative direction quite a bit. I live in a resort mountain town, and if a brand wants an urban look and feel, I need to get quite clever with the background. It's very helpful and eliminates any confusion.” - Erin Busbee, Busbee Style (@busbeestyle)

“I am a very visual person, so I would love to see imagery of content that did amazing for previous campaigns. We all, of course, want our Collab to be successful, so it would be nice to see content the brand loved by other influencers for inspiration.” - Taryn Newton, Glamorous Versatility (@tarynnewton)

Provide Do’s and Don’ts

Before you grant creative freedom (more on this in a minute), it’s important to outline your requirements for your campaign and/or brand. Be overly communicative about expectations and any “do’s” or “don’ts” that will help avoid mishaps later. You’ll find that, more often than not, influencers appreciate early communication so they can do their part, and keep it a mutually beneficial relationship. 

“No creator wants to reshoot images. If a brand wants to see the influencer using the products, that has to be in the brief. They also should mention if other non-competitive products are allowed. For example, a handbag, shoes, or belt that is not designed by the brand.” - - Erin Busbee, Busbee Style (@busbeestyle)

Grant Creative Freedom

Influencers are called that for a reason. With their authentic personal brand, they have gained an organic following made up of those who trust their opinion — so much so that their followers make purchases based on them. Trust this relationship influencers have with their followers and allow them to help craft audience-appropriate content that will land in an authentic manner. Ultimately, let them interpret and translate the key messages to their audience; they have a keen understanding of what will resonate.

"My favorite! This is where the magic happens.  It’s so fun to think of creative ways to help others, sell a product, sell a story or share an experience." Aylin, Stylin By Aylin (@stylinbyaylin)

Be Time-Conscious

Things change quickly in our modern world, and while influencers are a great resource for keeping up with quick-turnaround projects, it shouldn’t be the default expectation within the partnership. In fact, the goal should always be to provide as much lead time as possible (6 to 8 weeks at a minimum), for several reasons:

  • So that the influencer has ample time to shoot the product and work it into their content calendar.
  • So the influencer doesn’t get booked up during busy periods.
  • So the influencer has time to test the product well in advance of the post.

    “I can handle a deadline like no other (thank you TV news background). BUT, I would much prefer to have some lead time, especially now when shipping is SO slow.” - Erin, Busbee Style (@busbeestyle)

    "Editorial calendars are planned far in advance, and if we are working on several sponsored posts, we like to space those out so they aren't back to back. When a brand requests a tight turnaround, even if we love the brand and want to partner with them on the project, there are times we have to decline because there isn't enough room in the calendar. It becomes a missed opportunity for both us and the brand." Amy Jackson, Fashion Jackson (@fashion_jackson)

Provide Important Details and Insights

Consistent communication leads to successful influencer marketing collaboration. Communicate information such as inventory insights and offer details so the influencer can curate a thorough, accurate post that will best serve your brand and their audience. 

Are any of your products on the verge of selling out before their post goes live? Can you provide any similar options to link to instead? What about a specific product landing page they need to link to? Always include as much information as early on as possible, including key product or sale launches. Are you having a sale two weeks after the post goes live? It’s good for the influencer to know because often, they will recirculate their content to encourage conversion on the sale.

"It's important for a brand to have high stock levels if they're going to be doing a sponsored campaign with several influencers. It's frustrating to select product that eventually goes out of stock a few days before the post goes live because the stock levels weren't high enough to support the campaign. This is especially important for ROI, as our audience wants to buy exactly what I promote. If it's out of stock, the campaign looks like I didn't perform, when in reality, the retailer just didn't have a high inventory. It's also challenging when a brand has a limited line sheet for product selections and a lot of influencers on the campaign. Items sell out quickly and it can look negative for an influencer who posted after another." - Amy Jackson, Fashion Jackson (@fashion_jackson)

Appropriately Preview and Approve

For  some brands, legal or strict post guidelines may lead them to require a preview of content  prior to publication. Just make sure this requirement is included in the contract in advance, and brands should be ready to respond with edits and approval within 24 to 48 hours — for timely campaign execution. If you have created a strong brief and provided clear direction, there should be little to no changes! 

A+ Influencer Marketing Collaboration = A+ Campaigns

To win at influencer marketing and succeed in your partnership, remember to practice clear and early communication, provide ample lead time and timely responses, and allow creative freedom for your influencers. You’ll see the results over time, on your feed, and your bottom line.

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