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Influencer Relationship Management: What it is and why it matters

9 minute read

Influencer Relationship Management (IRM) is essential for navigating the booming landscape of influencer marketing, where brands are collaborating with more influencers across more platforms than ever before. 

Consider how 60% of brands now work with at least 10 influencers, 21% work with 10-50 influencers, and 16% partner with 50-100 influencers for their campaigns. Some brands even collaborate with 1,000+ influencers! Managing all these collabs can be overwhelming.

Especially given that influencers often participate in multiple campaigns spanning Instagram, TikTok, and more.

Having a solid Influencer Relationship Management (IRM) strategy in place can make all the difference. 

Let’s dive into Influencer Relationship Management (IRM) and how you can foster long-term, stress-free partnerships with your brand’s ambassadors.

What is Influencer Relationship Management?

You’ve probably heard of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), right?

Well, in the same way that companies use data and strategic communication to foster long-term relationships and drive loyalty among their customers, brands are now doing the same thing to drive optimal results from their collaborations with influencers.

Influencer Relationship Management aims to build and nurture strategic relationships with influencers based on thoughtful interactions powered by authenticity. The goal is to build genuine, long-term relationships with trust and likability on both sides.

Let’s say you’re an influencer marketing manager at a fashion brand that works with 30 influencers. How can you remember which influencers have been involved in which campaigns? And what the results were like?

Or let’s imagine you’re new at the job. How can you tell how long the influencer has been working with the company (without reaching out to each one and asking them)?

That’s where influencer relationship management comes in.

Why is IRM important?

Influencer marketing these days is seriously competitive.

Top influencers have many businesses vying for their attention and their inboxes are full of brands keen to work with them.

Influencer marketing has grown into a $21.1 billion industry. And most brands are planning to increase their influencer marketing spend.

93% of marketers have used influencer marketing and in 2022, spending is expected to reach $4.14 billion, a significant increase from $3.69 billion in 2021.

In short, the demand for influencers keeps growing, which means brands find themselves competing to find, acquire and keep the best influencers.

Just like a solid CRM strategy will give you a competitive advantage when it comes to acquiring and retaining customers, influencer relationship management will help you land lucrative contracts with desirable influencers, and keep them happy and loyal to your brand long-term.

Working with high-performing influencers across different campaigns on a regular basis will typically drive more impact than one-off collabs, as the content has more time to resonate with the influencer’s target audience.

Retaining influencers long-term is also more efficient than constantly doing outreach and sorting out the paperwork for new influencers.

Finally, your reputation is at stake.

Keeping your influencers happy and working with them long-term gives a better impression of your brand. After all, people talk, and if influencers were not satisfied for any reason, or a competitor was able to poach them away, people will notice.

How to be successful with IRM

With all that in mind, how can you go about building the perfect IRM strategy? At Storyclash, we talk to brands and influencers on a daily basis. Here are our eight top tips, based on our expertise in influencer marketing and our current market outlook.

influencer relationship management

1. Be selective

Finding influencers is a bit like dating – it’s better to take your time and find someone who is a truly great fit.

Quality is infinitely more important than quality.

For example, beauty brand Yepoda is specialized in Korean skincare and uses natural, highly-effective ingredients.  Yepoda is very strict about working exclusively with influencers who fit the brand and meet certain criteria.

The stringent selection process results in measurably higher sales performance, as it enables the brand to focus on influencers who are already a good match, and build long term relationship with them.

As Eunyoung Park, Influencer Marketing Manager at Yepoda, says, "We don't want to change them - we need to find influencers who are already a fit."

quote yepoda

2. Treat your influencers like the strategic partners they are

The influencers you work with represent your brand

They also have access to knowledge, insights and market sentiment that you as a brand might not see. So offer them the chance to provide feedback, and take their ideas on board.

Let’s say you’re a cosmetics brand. If your influencers tell you that they are getting a lot of questions about the ingredients list, or requests for more sustainable packaging, these are valuable insights you can use to power your business strategy. Taking feedback seriously and ideally acting on it builds trust and helps your influencers feel heard.

3. Stand out with effective influencer outreach

It should come as no surprise to hear that influencers with high reach and an engaged audience are very popular.

Their inboxes are swimming with DMs – probably from your competitors.

When contacting influencers regarding a collaboration, be sure to personalize your request and communicate in a friendly, yet professional and transparent way.

4. Treat your influencers with respect

It should go without saying, but brands need to appreciate the hard work and dedication that goes into being an influencer.

Creating content, editing videos, traveling, and engaging with their community is complex and time-consuming.

It takes years to build and maintain the level of reach and trust required to be an effective influencer. Brands need to understand that and treat their influencers with respect, with fair compensation and a clear contract.

5. Nurture your influencers like they are your customers

While treating your influencers fairly is a must, in today’s competitive landscape, brands need to be extra nice to their influencers.

So, what can you do to sweeten the deal so influencers love working with you and rave about your brand?

Regular communication is key. Beyond that, gifting is a great way to reward and incentivize your influencers. Whether you’re a coffee company or a cosmetics brand, your influencers will certainly appreciate complementary products and early access to new product ranges.

Savvy brands have even implemented an influencer loyalty program with extensive benefits. For example, influencers that work with Sephora are members of the Sephora Squad. Membership entitles them to free beauty boxes with special products, early access to product launches, networking events, training and even career development help.

Think about what your brand can offer influencers. For best results, gifts and benefits should be personal and based on your influencer’s individual preferences and interests. For example, don’t send a box of your finest dairy milk chocolates to a vegan influencer! An IRM tool can help you keep track of the influencers you work with and their data.

6. Clear expectations, creative freedom

When working with influencers, be clear and transparent on your goals, purpose and expectations.

But don’t micro-manage!

Your influencers are highly skilled content creators with a deep understanding of their audience, so let them do their thing.

7. Think long-term

Influencers prefer long-term collabs as it helps them to really understand your brand and speak about it in detail with their audience, which is more authentic than recommending a different brand every day.

You can appeal to influencers by emphasizing that your company is looking to foster a long-term relationship, rather than a one-off campaign.

8. Track results and prioritize best-performers

A good CRM strategy involves analyzing and segmenting your customers according to their buying habits, so you can reward your highest-spending customers and follow up with those in danger of churning.

IRM is a bit like that too.

Which influencers bring the most sales? The highest ROI? The best media value? Which influencers perhaps aren’t delivering in the way you had hoped? When you run influencer campaigns, it’s crucial to track and analyze the results to guide your future strategy and set priorities.

For example, you might want to reward your top performers with a special gift after a particularly successful campaign to say thank you and incentivize them to collaborate with you on future campaigns. But to do that, you need the data, which is where a dedicated tool can help to track the performance of your influencers across all channels.

Do you need an Influencer Relationship Management Tool?

Just like Customer Relationship Management requires a CRM tool to store customer data, track their behavior and segment different customer groups, an IRM tool can be immensely helpful for managing your relationships with influencers.

A good Influencer Relationship Management tool can help you to:

why you need an influencer relationship management tool

  • Find the right influencers

Working with creators who “get” your brand can make or break your campaign.

Storyclash helps brands find influencers who share their interests and values based on content, rather than generic demographics. You can learn more about our unique approach to influencer discovery here or try our free AI Search tool.

  • Track performance

Are you still using spreadsheets to track influencer activities and performance?

An IRM tool that gives you a complete picture of the entire performance of a campaign is much easier and more effective. Track mentions of your brand and prove the ROI of your campaigns.

Storyclash influencer tracking software can help you track keywords, hashtags, account names and swipe up links in every piece of influencer content – even Stories after the 24 hour period is up. Thanks to our text recognition technology you can also detect your text logo in images and videos within Instagram Stories.

Get a glimpse into what Storyclash is capable of and try our free Tracking Tool to find out how often your brands was mentioned in influencer posts & stories the previous month!

  • Personalize your outreach

With an IRM, you can store important personal data to contact and engage with your influencers in the most effective way, at the right time.

This is a real secret weapon when it comes to personal communication.

Your best influencer’s dog’s birthday is coming up? No problem, that info can be stored in your IRM so you don’t miss any key opportunities.

  • Automate key tasks

While most marketers use email to stay in touch with their influencers, you can use an IRM to create email sequences with automatic follow-ups to make your daily work easier and avoid forgetting anything important.

  • Tap into a “single source of truth”

With an IRM, the entire team can access a “single source of truth” which helps keep everybody on track and more organized.

When the marketing team plans the next campaign, everyone can find all relevant information about previous campaigns and the influencers involved in one place.

Lists, labels, segments and other filtering and tracking functionalities can make an influencer marketer’s life much easier!

With Storyclash,  you can even add internal & creator KPIs from any social media platform to add more relevant data points to your overview dashboard.

Brands will need to level up their IRM game

Influencer marketing is growing fast. As finding and retaining influencers becomes more competitive, businesses will increasingly need an IRM strategy and the tech support it.Want to learn more about how to be successful with influencer marketing and get ahead of your competitors?

Take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing Strategy now.