• Saturday, June 22, 2024
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Leverage long-term relationships with digital creators to grow brands

Leverage long-term relationships with digital creators to grow brands

Influencer marketing, a well-established marketing strategy for over a decade, has become an essential part of brand marketing approach. However, as the marketing landscape keeps evolving, we are also witnessing a shift from the days when brands relied on one-off collaborations with celebrities and radio personalities. While effective in some cases, this approach lacked long-term sustainability. Today, a sustainable and collaborative approach is emerging—co-creation.

Co-creation goes beyond simply engaging influencers and paying for sponsored content. Instead, it involves creators collaborating with brands to produce content that resonates with the target audience. By co-creating, brands can leverage creators’ authenticity, versatility, expertise and creativity to create valuable, evergreen content.

This shift towards co-creation also requires that brands, agencies and creators have a smooth and easy relationship. Managing creators across diverse niches for different campaigns can be challenging and time-consuming, for brands with subsidiaries. This is where agencies come in as intermediaries to communicate the brand expectations and facilitate smooth collaboration effectively.

Recent report indicates the growing importance of creator marketing in connecting brands with target audiences. Many agencies have cracked the code for connecting brands with their target audience and sustaining long-term relationships with digital creators. While trust and understanding are key, stating explicitly expected deliverables, budget, timelines, payment terms and asset ownership alignment are required to sustain healthy and mutually beneficial relationships between agencies and digital creators.

As a communications specialist in an agency, I observed that building long-term creator relationships usually involves co-creating with them, while leveraging their unique voices in multiple campaigns. Learnings from these campaigns help in creating a unique list of talented and emerging digital creators that can positively impact the success of future campaigns. This is based on the creators’ work, how authentic it is, what they’ve done before, the type of campaign and their audience.

While the report highlighted that a significant percentage (62.9%) of creator marketing relationships are campaign-based, this trend is shifting as agencies increasingly recognise the value of long-term collaborations with creators, leading to more successful and impactful campaigns. Several key benefits enable this shift, as I’ve observed in my work facilitating creator collaborations.

Building long-term collaborations with creators allows consistency in brand voice, message and assets across different campaigns. Over time, creators develop a deeper understanding of the brand. This includes campaign messages, core values, and target audience which helps make their work more relevant and authentic, resulting in a stronger collaboration, and more effective campaigns.

For instance, during a campaign for a tech client, the ask was to identify creators who would be an excellent fit and drive awareness and excitement around the launch of some product features. Naturally, my approach was to leverage established relationships with creators familiar with the brand. Engaging these creators ensured a smooth collaboration because they were enthused about the project and had a strong understanding of the brand. As expected, the campaign results were outstanding.

As the creator ecosystem continues to evolve and brand marketing prioritises creators with a robust and active online community, agencies must adapt their strategies. Agencies should be focused on establishing long-term relationships with the creators built on trust and respect.

Since brands rely on agencies to recommend the best creators for campaigns, success rests on building a solid relationship with these creators. What this means for agencies is building a community around shared values and interests—loyalty, exclusivity and commitment—fostered by creators who embody those same values.

To truly support brand growth, agencies need to adopt a talent management approach that minimises issues that strain agency-creator relationships. Also, agencies can strategically co-create content that aligns with the brand’s aims. It’s important to show genuine interest and respect for the creators’ work and audience, provide clear and honest feedback, be transparent, allow for creative freedom within an established framework, and explore new opportunities to collaborate with creators.

Oluwatosin Ojebisi, a Communications Specialist, writes from Lagos.