An Open Letter to Influencers

Influencer marketing has always been one of my favorite aspects of being a social media strategist. I love getting to work with so many talented creators, whether they’re part of the latest viral trend and have 2 million followers or are just starting out with a small side-hustle, waiting to be discovered.

Of course, influencer work is not without its challenges, but I rarely if ever, see POVs on them from the brand side. Admittedly, it’s a tricky position to be in, especially when cancel culture is painfully real for brands and individuals alike. I see creators publish screenshots of brand emails and marketing materials after a partnership turns sour all the time, and it’s quickly become my worst nightmare. I’m happy to have never experienced backlash like this, myself (phew!), but it begs the question, when did we stop playing on the same team?

With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the things I’ve found myself running into year after year. This post is intended to start a conversation to help both brands and creators understand each other better so that we can have stronger partnerships.

  1. Your agent might be making you look bad – don’t lose control over your brand.

You’ve likely made sacrifices and taken huge risks to get where you are, so guarding your success is just as important as gaining it. I can’t begin to explain how many times I’ve found the perfect influencer on paper and we have a great kickoff, just to end up communicating exclusively with an agent or manager who clearly doesn’t have the same sense of accountability over your name, is missing deadlines and key details, or is generally difficult to work with. Stay copied on emails with your representation, always. Because there’s nothing worse than being unable to tell an influencer you’re never working with them again because of the actions of their management.

2. Charge your worth, but don’t cancel us if we can’t afford you.

A lot of time and research goes into selecting the right influencers and managing partnerships, and we always strive to allow for as much creative freedom as possible. However, we also have to protect our clients and their best interest, which includes ensuring their budgets are used strategically and our partnerships garner results. I know this is your business and it’s sacred, so I encourage you to charge what you feel is fair, but if you do take the time to meet with us, please show that you’ve read the brief and are actually considering the request(s).

Having a media kit or a rate sheet can be a helpful place to start, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked for a simplified, straightforward deliverable and been met with a fixed rate of something that applies to a more extensive ask. To put it simply, a picture of fruit in a bowl shouldn’t cost the same amount as a recipe that had to be concepted, tested, developed, etc. just because that’s what you put in your media kit for one post.

I also struggle with the emerging trend of influencers charging brands extra for the right to repost the influencer content organically to their own social channels. I typically walk away when this is the case, so again, please consider what we’re actually asking you for and what it’s worth.

3. If you decide to work with us, do it because you’re as excited as you told us you were.

It’s funny how many creators can’t wait to work with you at the start of a partnership, just to have that excitement disappear immediately after the kickoff call. We know this work is real work and we respect it entirely, but please, come to the table with ideas – it’s why we like you, and it’s why we’re contracting with you. Show that you read the brief (see section 2) and engage with us throughout the process. I’d rather you turn me down because the project doesn’t interest you than be given content you don’t treat with the same effort as your unsponsored content.

Bottom line, we LOVE working with you all and the incredible authenticity and content you bring to our brands. Cheers to many more great partnerships that make all of us proud.

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