Stop Shooting Yourself In The Foot With Short-Term Influencer Marketing

How to think about long-term influencer marketing strategy

Priya Nain

Priya Nain

April 20, 2024

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"If we have a good quarter, it's because of work we did three, four, five years ago. It's not because we did a good job this quarter."

These words from Jeff Bezos about Amazon's long-term mindset ring just as true for effective influencer marketing. The brands seeing real success from influencers aren't the ones chasing short-term wins, but those playing a sustainable long game.

Let's identify what short-term thinking in influencer marketing looks like, and the hard truths about the problems it causes. We'll also give you a game plan on what to do instead to capitalize on the game-changing advantages influencers can offer when activated the right way.

⏳ Campaign approach

""Campaign approach" is when brands collaborate with influencers for specific, time-bound campaigns (e.g. a holiday promotion, product launch, etc).

A clear example of the "campaign approach" is what many brands do around the holidays. They'll bring on influencers for a concentrated holiday push - getting them to post gift guides, use discount codes, do giveaways, etc. But then, come January, the relationship is dropped.

This short-term, campaign-based mindset entirely misses the point of why influencer marketing can be so powerful in the first place. It reduces influencer marketing's potential to the bare minimum - renting an influencer's audience for temporary promotion rather than leveraging their ability to be long-term brand storytellers and advocates.

The impact of influencer marketing compounds over time as audiences see repeated, long-term exposure. A short campaign provides visibility for a brief window, but it will be a temporary blip. Those results dissipate once the campaign ends. This also leaves the audience feeling misled, as if the influencer's holiday promotions were disingenuous money grabs now that the incentive is gone.

On the other hand, brands — or your competitors — that cultivate always-on, influencer presences steadily reinforce their positioning and narrative over months and years. Their brand story stays top-of-mind of the audience, continuously reinforced by the influencers.

Successful brands like Obvi, Loop Earplugs, or Wild know better — They don't build an influencer strategy around short holiday bursts or fads. Instead of resorting to one-off paid promotions or discount codes, they give the influencer the reins to showcase the brand organically in their lifestyle. The focus is on encouraging genuine views and recommendations that build brand love and loyalty over the years.

🔥 Churn-and-burn model

Here's a disastrous plan that brands often follow…

  1. Brand identifies an influencer they want to expose their product/service to
  2. They pay that influencer a flat fee or provide free products in exchange for an agreed number of promotional posts over a set period.
  3. The influencer shares that sponsored content with their audience
  4. Once the content is posted, everyone moves on — brands find the next influencer, and the influencer promotes the next brand (who might be your competitors!)

This one-off collaboration happens because brands have no long-term vision or plan to keep that influencer actively involved as an advocate beyond just that one concentrated push.

When an influencer promotes a brand only once, their audience inherently perceives it as a purely pay-to-play transaction devoid of authenticity. They can sniff out that lack of genuine belief and attachment to the brand. This approach might get you some engagement — followers, likes, or traffic — but it is usually not convincing enough to get your sales.

One-off collaborations are also inefficient and expensive. You must continually source new influencers, negotiate new contracts, and manage new promotional pushes from scratch each time.

💎 Chasing the shiny influencer numbers

Some brands focus too much on an influencer's large following or current popularity. They believe that just gaining exposure to this vast audience will naturally lead to greater awareness and sales. They often overlook whether the influencer's audience, values, interests, and content align with their brand identity. As a result, even after the influencer promotes their products, the expected increase in sales does not occur.

To really hammer this concept in your head so you don't make this mistake ever, you need to dive into the psychology behind it.

People have a natural psychological need to see consistency from others. Consistency helps us make sense of the world in a stable, predictable way. When there is inconsistency - like someone acting differently than we expect - it feels uncomfortable.

Let's say you're a big fan of MrBeast. If MrBeast suddenly started endorsing a makeup brand, you'd probably think "What the heck?" right? That's a disconnect - it doesn't line up with your perception of who he is and what he's about.

That's why when an influencer starts promoting something completely different from their usual content and personal brand, it creates a disconnect in their followers' minds. Their followers have a set perception of who the influencer is, and this new thing doesn't match up. They tune out and see the endorsement as inauthentic. The inconsistency makes them dismiss the promotion.

Our psychological need for consistency means the most effective influencer partnerships are those where the brand, the influencer persona, their audience, and the product categories all maintain congruence from the start.

Finding such influencers takes a little more than searching for the influencer with the highest number of followers. It requires a thoughtful, long-term approach to ensure alignment with your brand's values and goals.

🔢 Numbers-obsessed approach to ROI

The consumer buying journey is not linear. Someone might get inspired by an influencer's authentic endorsement, only to convert weeks or months later, after seeing the product in their local hypermarket or through a Facebook ad.

Trying to force overly simplistic direct attribution models and ROI calculations onto influencer marketing activities does not take into account multi-touchpoint buyer journeys.

Instead of relying on a clear-cut spending-to-conversion ratio, brands should follow a more holistic approach to measure the impact of influencers.

  • Increased branded search volume, social media engagement, etc.
  • Growth in engaged followers and email list
  • Earned media/UGC featuring your products
  • Improved brand loyalty

And all of these outcomes take months and years, not days.

⚡ Long-term approach for influencer marketing

Instead of falling into the trap of short-term thinking, brands should adopt a long-term, sustainable approach to influencer marketing. It involves seeing influencers as brand advocates and partners rather than mere sales machines or temporary promoters.

The key is to get consistent, engaging, and valuable content around your brand out on social media without solely focusing on quick sales.

How to adopt the long-term approach

👑 Onboard Influencers as True Brand Ambassadors

Rather than one-off paid campaigns or pay-per-post deals where influencers have little stake, adopt an ambassador program model. Curate a highly selective group of influencers to onboard as long-term affiliates aligned with your brand.Create a dedicated landing page detailing the ambassador program opportunities, responsibilities, and qualifications you seek. Outline the commitment levels, brand ethos they must embody, and content deliverables expected.You can use tools like SARAL to create a dedicated ambassador landing page in just a few minutes.

SARAL can create a landing page for you in minutes

Have a clear application and vetting process to attract the right authentically passionate influencers, not just anyone looking for an easy payday. Review their previous content to ensure stylistic cohesion with your brand voice.

🎁 Offer Competitive Commissions and VIP Perks

To incentivize influencers as invested partners, provide compelling commissions on sales or leads they generate through a custom tracking system. The rates should be competitive enough to make it worthwhile as a legitimate income channel.But also bundle exclusive perks and benefits that incentivize them to promote your brand regularly. Offer insider access to marketing teams, invites to events/experiences, special discounts, and more. Make them feel like privileged members of your core tribe.

🤝 Nurture Close Collaborative Relationships

The most powerful influencer ambassadors are those who feel a genuine personal connection and pride in promoting your brand. So put in the work to build real relationships rather than just transactional rapport.

Have regular check-ins and two-way feedback channels beyond just a content approval process. Share thoughtful, personalized brand updates tailored for them specifically. Celebrate their successes and personal milestones. Find creative ways to facilitate relationship strengthening through intimate events, co-creation workshops, content collaborations, etc.

📈 Adopt a Long-Term Measurement Mindset

Finding 'how much ROI' shouldn't be your goal. Your goal is to judge whether you're making more revenue after influencer marketing vs before.

This is all you need to justify to your bosses or yourself whether you should continue doing influencer marketing.

Here's how influencers systematically drive sales for your brand:

🔍 Discovery Phase: They organically introduce new relevant audiences to your products and story through authentic endorsements and content integrations.

🔥 Decision Phase: Their sustained voices of influence and cultural cachet create desirability that nudges their loyal followers towards purchasing, tapping into powerful psych drivers like social proof and FOMO.

While tools like affiliate links can track some directly influenced transactions, the full scope of an influencer's compounding revenue impact is impossible to perfectly attribute. And that's perfectly okay.

💜 The tool that supports your long-term strategy

Implementing a sustainable, long-term influencer marketing approach requires the right tools and processes. You need technology that helps you efficiently identify, onboard, and manage invested influencer partnerships at scale.

That's where SARAL can help. With SARAL you can:

  • Quickly find the ideal influencers for your brand. No more endless Instagram scrolling, which means reduced time and resource wastage, positively impacting your ROI.
  • Send products to multiple influencers at once, generate tracking links, and monitor the effectiveness of your campaigns.
  • Manage communication with multiple influencers using automated and broadcast emails.
  • Monitor and analyze online conversations about your brand with its social listening feature.
  • And do so much more…
SARAL — an all-in-one influencer marketing tool

Stop settling for short-term flings that waste your potential - instead, build an army of loyal, invested influencers who authentically amplify your brand year-over-year with SARAL. Try it for free for 7 days to see the impact for yourself.

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