Building great relationships with influencers is a very important strategy for online businesses that are interested in getting tons of fresh traffic from social media channels.
Taylor Lagace, the CEO of Kynship, an influencer marketing agency based in Los Angeles says that paying influencers for posts on social media channels like Tiktok is a bad idea. Instead, he advocates building genuine relationships with 10 000 influencers every month.
Doing this saves him over $300 000 in influencer marketing budgets and also helps him to filter out “bad fits” before he ever spends a penny on sending influencers his products.
In this article, Taylor Lagace shares with us his playbook which he follows to build long-term relationships with influencers who promote his products on social media for free. All he does is to keep sending them products and the influencers will create the content and share on their accounts for free due to the genuine relationship he creates.
"This approach is so effective because it filters out influencers who don’t truly love your products," Taylor says.
With this strategy, you are looking for true fans. The ones who would want to share your product because they genuinely love it.
This is almost an impossible task if you start your relationship by paying for posts.
How Does It Work?
It all begins with seeding micro-influencers through gifting campaigns with no strings attached. The goal here is to ascend the influencers who fit best from the seeding level to the ambassador level while filtering out the "bad fits" along the way
This is the pyramid Taylor uses at his agency to rank his team of influencers.
The strategy starts with reaching out to 500 micro-influencers while offering them a free product. Out of 500, you can get a minimum of 100 responses saying, Yes!
And out of 100, a minimum of 30 influencers post the product organically 2-3 times each. Now those 30 are in the organic posts stage of the pyramid.
Next up is settling the issue of usage rights. Here you need to ask for the rights to their posts to use as IGC (Influencer Generated Content) and turn them into creatives for your paid ads.
A message would look like this:
"Hey, we’re so glad you loved the product we sent you so much so you were willing to share this content with your audience!
We’d love to share this content with our audiences as well, can we have your permission to do so?"
But don’t stop there. You still have more leverage in the next stage which is adding the influencers to your affiliate program.
At this stage, Taylor suggests asking each influencer that proves to post free of cost to get on board as an affiliate. They’d share your products with a special affiliate link that would help you track how many sales they brought you and you’d then pay them a commission for each sale they generate.
You can use this message as a template to ask your influencers to become join your affiliate program:
"Hey, we’d love to get you compensated for any and all future posts by getting you onboarded to our affiliate program."
For most of them, it takes a no-brainer decision to say Yes. They’re already posting about the product because they love it, now they can do that and get paid for it. Imagine how excited they will be.
At this point, they’ve moved up the pyramid. We're using their content in paid media and they’re a part of our affiliate program.
Gauging their performance and advancing the best performers to the brand ambassador level
Here, Taylor suggests that you start gauging which influencers perform best organically, then you can offer them an increase in commissions to keep them more motivated.
At the same time, you can also start gauging who performs best in paid media.
Once you have enough data, the best performers in both categories are ascended to the ambassador level.
The ambassador level is the second most advanced rank an influencer can reach on the pyramid. By the time he/ she reaches there, that means they are passionate about your product, they create great content for your brand and they generate a lot of sales for you.
Taylor says that he only pays influencers for posts once they reach the ambassador level – by which time we know they’re a true fan of the brand and they’re top performers!
Note: When you start by paying for posts, you create a fraudulent eco-system where no one who represents your product actually likes it, they just want money.
This not only wastes dollars on "bad fits" whose audience may never buy your product but also stops you from ever finding those true fans who could become brand ambassadors further down the line. So zero long-term benefits for your business.
Instead, Taylor suggests that you should only start paying influencers upfront when they are proven to be true fans who love your product and make a ton of sales.
The ones who have been proven through a seamless process from seeding to organic post, to paid media, to affiliates, and finally ambassadors.
What Exactly Is a Brand Ambassador?
A brand ambassador is an influencer who is paid upfront money on a monthly basis to post organically and create content to be repurposed into paid media.
And as a reminder, everyone you work with in this strategy’s first phase of the pyramid is a micro-influencer.
90% of the time, Taylor recommends seeding micro-influencers as they have a better bang for your buck overall in comparison to any other influencer tier.
But there’s a time and place for macro-influencers.
Working with Macro Influencers
Macro influencers are people who are prominent in a particular niche and have audiences that range from 50 000 to 1 000 000 followers. They have good engagement rates and a large audience which makes them ideal for brand endorsement or collaboration.
When the time comes to work with macro-influencers, here’s what Taylor does. He simply repeats the entire process from seeding to ambassador with macro-influencers and then he finally ascends the best macro-influencers to the flag-bearer level.
What’s a Flag Bearer?
A flag bearer is the "face" of the brand. These could be influencers with household names within the ecosystem or niche of your product that love you and represent your brand incredibly well.
Think of Tim Ferriss for Athletic Greens.
Here are the questions Taylor asks at every stage.
At every stage, influencers are filtered out based on their want/desire to work with the brand and their genuine, authentic love of the product.
And that’s the entire playbook!
Using this strategy, Taylor’s agency has been able to:
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