Step 2: Influencer as Valued Member of the Brand’s Family
By Grace Chao
Last month, we discussed how to embrace influencers who are already talking about your brand: Check out their content, listen to their needs, and send them product accordingly. Let influencers know that your brand cares about what they think. But after you’ve reached out to an influencer once, what next? How can you ensure that they will continue using your products, and keep talking about your brand with their followers?
Like Step 1, the answer is quite simple. Keep reaching out, and make sure these select influencers feel like exclusive, valued members of your brand “family.” In any family, no matter how big or small, relationships should be close and rewarding. Your family members are the first to celebrate your good news and comfort you during bad times, and their own achievements make you just as proud. (Not to mention, they’re usually at the top of your gifting lists.) Relationships between family members are dynamic, two-way streets, and influencers who are fully integrated into your brand family should feel no different. Ideally, they’re the first users to try your brand’s new products — and if they like what they try, they’ll feel compelled to share them with their followers.
Even before its launch this past February, haircare brand Ouai began building its brand family. Ouai helped promote its launch by gifting 200 select influencers with a personalized, elegantly designed box of hair products from its founder, celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin. Each box was marked “Limited Edition,” boasting a silver necklace engraved with “#yesOUAI,” and included a unique note expressing how special that specific influencer was to the brand. Influencers posted Instagrams of the impressive box and their thoughtful notes, expressing their gratitude for the sneak preview. They also congratulated Atkin on her new endeavor, tagging her personal account in their captions. Ouai’s efforts to make its influencers feel unique and irreplaceable payed off: Several top-tier bloggers demonstrated continued loyalty to their new Ouai products on social media. Heyclaire (Claire Marshall) mentioned Ouai’s Texturizing Hair Spray in a “favorites” roundup video, a hair tutorial, and multiple Instagrams, even revealing that she found herself reaching for the Ouai spray over her long-term “holy grail” Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray.
Ouai may have leveraged the beginnings of an exclusive brand family to launch its brand, but nurturing long-term relationships with influencers is just as important for established brands. Even after becoming mainstay names in the industry, brands still need to let individual influencers know that they care. Smash-hit makeup brand Benefit’s engagement of YouTube beauty gurus (and best friends) PatrickStarrr (Patrick Simondac) and Manny Mua (Manny Gutierrez) demonstrated the perfect combination of exclusivity, continuity, and reciprocity. Last Christmas, the brand mobilized the duo to carry out a heartwarming holiday giveaway to a deserving fan. In February, Patrick and Manny were invited on a whimsical Hawaii getaway to celebrate Benefit’s Hoola bronzer collection. Not long after, Benefit collaborated with the two influencers and fellow YouTube star KathleenLights to create a Sephora display campaign for its limited-edition Cheekathon Blush Kit.
For Patrick, starring in such a high-profile project represented nothing less than a culmination of his makeup journey, and a validation of the years of hard work that he put into pursuing his dream. In “Dreams Come True,” a behind-the-scenes vlog of the photoshoot and subsequent Sephora meetup, PatrickStarrr stopped to make a emotional reflection on his involvement: “Am I really here putting on a lot of makeup, being myself with a company like Benefit? And then I have amazing friends…here to do it with me, and I just wanna say thank you, Benefit.”
In influencer engagement, as in life, if you take the time to make a family member feel special, they’ll do the same for you down the road. Both Ouai and Benefit worked to reward their most valued influencers, and this personal validation yielded considerable dividends for each brand. Ultimately, building a strong brand family isn’t all that different from maintaining a thriving real family: All it takes is thoughtfulness, consistency, and a little love.