Sally Krueger, Chief PR Strategist, Rooster Strategic Solutions

Most marketers know that social influencer marketing programs work. And by work, I mean they really work, generating 20 times more reach and up to 7 times more engagement than brand-owned content.

Setting goals and narrowing down the list of potential partners is the obvious place to begin. But reaching an agreement with influencers on the content that will be created and compensation for this work – the influencer marketing contract – is a more daunting task for many marketers. It doesn’t have to be if you keep the following points in mind.

Make sure to identify a channel strategy. You should be able to draw a straight line between the goals from your marketing plan to the channel where the influencer you’ve chosen has the most impact. A primary goal of influencer marketing, after all, is piggybacking off the success that influencers have already established with the audience you want to reach on the channels where they’re active.

But most influencers are active on multiple channels, and it’s up to you to determine how many of them you want to use. The simplest is to start with one influencer and one channel. Then, try experimenting with a few influencers on different channels to learn what you can.

Be specific with your expectations, without being prescriptive. If you don’t have a clear idea what story you want the influencers to tell, don’t bother. On the other hand, trying to dictate the messages, cadence, and deliverables to an influencer will likely generate poor results – if the influencer will even agree to work with you.

Fortunately, there’s a happy medium for marketers who are willing to trust their partners. Make sure your partners understand specifically what you’re hoping to achieve, and what stories you want to tell. Then let them choose how to tell these stories. That’s why you’re working with them, right?

Should we require content approval before it’s posted? This is a question I get a lot, and most of the time, the answer isn’t what they want to hear … but no, it’s almost never a good idea to require prior review. Influencers hate this because it throws off their timeliness. More important, the reason you chose a particular influencer was because they have a credible, authentic voice with the audience you want to reach. When you try to put words in their mouth, you’re likely shooting yourself in the foot. Social influencer marketing strategies work best when there’s a high degree of trust between the brand and the influencer. Give them enough input ahead of time to get what you want without stifling them.

Be clear on the timeframes. In most cases, first-time marketers have a little money in the budget and want to see how it works, dipping their toe in the water to promote a specific campaign, sales event, or new product launch. In these cases, establishing the timeline is simple. For longer-term efforts, such as brand building, you still want to establish specific start/stop dates.

Collaborate on the deliverables. For instance, you need to get a sense of whether the influencer is making all the content themselves, or if they’re embedding a video that you created. It’s important to put some parameters around the number of videos, number of posts, length of the assets, and any creative inputs. But the key word is collaboration. It’s not a checklist, and it’s not a blank check. Be as flexible as your organizational structure allows and remember that you’re working with influencers because they have the relationship with their audience that you’re trying to build. Let them help you!

How much should I pay an influencer? I wish there was an easy answer to this one, but there isn’t. Some influencers are starting to create “media kits” with breakout pricing, but this is rare. More often, compensation is truly a give and take. It’s important to remember that everything is negotiable. This is where you need a good agency partner to help you, especially if you’re brand new to social influencer marketing.

If you have any questions, or aren’t sure where to start, I’d love to have a conversation.