Relationships are the foundational backbone of every successful brand, and perhaps that’s never been more true in today’s creator economy. Your most passionate fans and customers have been transformed to brand advocates and amplifiers thanks to the ubiquity of social media-turned-creator platforms.
And just like any relationship, quick-turn transactional partnerships aren’t usually successful in developing any meaningful partnerships. Well-nurtured brand relationships simply produce longer, more fruitful and successful collaborations.
Creator Relationship Management is a Long Game
Sustained, meaningful and deep relationships aren’t born fully formed. They take care and feeding to develop trust and a spirit of co-creation, and this is especially true with your brand ambassadors and creators.
As with all members of your marketing team, content creators simply want to feel heard, seen and respected. If you consistently nurture these needs, your creators will reward you handsomely with excellent work product, high levels of engagement and results.
Who can ask for more?
Remember this one thing: when it comes to product discovery and recommendations, consumers look into their own social networks — and they have an uncanny ability to sniff out overly polished “official” brand messaging and inauthenticity.
How many times have you seen an A-list influencer enthusiastically promoting a product one week, only to do a 180 turn and promote a direct competitor the next? Make no mistake, there’s absolutely a place for traditional influencer marketing. But for community-centric brands focused on the most authentic relationships possible, the amateur creator-ambassador offers immense value.
Put the Time In & Get to Know Your Creators
It’s such a simple and profound strategy that will pay off.
Creators are people, and people have needs, dreams and aspirations.
When recruiting and vetting potential creators for your brand, ask questions.
Get to know them: the demographics of their audience, what content resonates with their audience, and who they’ve worked with.
But even more importantly, create an atmosphere inside your program where ambassadors can ask questions of the brand: compensation models, prizes and product, and offering creative direction.
Give Your Creators the Space and Freedom to Create
Creators need to feel supported, creatively understood, and never pushed into branded content ideas that don’t sync with their values, content style, or audience tastes. Most importantly, they need fair compensation for the work they do in support of the brand.
It’s tempting to walk into a conversation with creators with ideas about how your brand should be presented.
Creators understand what resonates with their audience.
Work collaboratively to help define the goals of their content efforts. Empower each creator in your program to have creative freedom inside the goals and objectives you’ve set, and give them a digital home to feel connected with the brand and other creators in the program.
Keep lines of communication open, too. Creators who feel valued and heard are engaged creators.
Be Clear & Transparent about Expectations
Treat every creator relationship with the same level of professional courtesy as other in-house teammates or vendors.
When creators experience long pauses in communications, frustration tends to build.
As marketers, we’re pros at building relationships and know intimately how quickly relationships can erode with even a single less-than-optimal interaction.
Developing trust takes time, but losing trust can be almost instantaneous.
Provide clear creative briefs to minimize back-and-forth inefficient communication, and provide timely feedback for any content that wasn’t approved and requires a rework.
And, finally, define what success means for each creator relationship. Once you’ve set trackable goals and established KPIs, it’s a best practice to review these with your creator pool so they are empowered to create the kind of content that will maximize the KPI, rather than work against it.