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Navigating the world of influencer engagement can be tricky, so we sought tactics from top executives to identify the most authentic strategies for brands. With insights from CEOs, Stragests, a Chief Marketing Officer and more, we’ve compiled five expert strategies. From building personalized influencer relationships to conducting influencer research, discover how to connect with influencers authentically without the scam vibes.

  • Build Personalized Influencer Relationships
  • Surprise and Delight with Gifts
  • Foster Authentic Influencer Connections
  • Offer Value Before Partnership
  • Nurture Relationships Over Time

Build Personalized Influencer Relationships

Bruno Gavino, a founder and CEO explains authentic strategies for brands, “A highly effective and often overlooked strategy for a brand to engage with an influencer without seeming like a scam is to establish a genuine relationship through personalized and direct communication. This approach stands out because it focuses on building a connection based on mutual respect and shared values, rather than treating the influencer as just another marketing channel.

For example, our company prioritizes reaching out to influencers in a way that demonstrates a thorough understanding of their content and audience. This involves personalizing our communication and highlighting specific aspects of their work that align with our brand’s values or goals. When we collaborated with a well-known lifestyle influencer for a digital marketing campaign, we first engaged with their content authentically. We commented on their posts, shared their content, and mentioned how their vision resonated with our brand ethos. Only after establishing this genuine connection did we propose a collaboration.

This approach is effective because it shows the influencer that you value their work and see them as a true partner, rather than just a means to an end. It also helps in standing out in their inbox, as influencers are often bombarded with generic, templated pitches. By investing time in understanding and engaging with their content beforehand, the influencer is more likely to see the brand as credible and consider the partnership proposal seriously.”

Surprise and Delight with Gifts

CEO and founder of a company in the influencer space, Jay Barton, states another authentic strategy for brands, “One strategy I’ve found particularly effective and personal is Suprise and Delight.” It involves sending a carefully curated package to an influencer, with no prior notice. Last summer, we tried this with a local fitness influencer.”

Barton continues on, “The package contained our latest sportswear line, a handwritten note expressing genuine admiration for their work, and an invitation to collaborate if they liked our products. It felt more like a thoughtful gift rather than a business proposition. The influencer was pleasantly surprised and shared her authentic experience on social media, creating a natural, scam-free engagement with our brand.”

Foster Authentic Influencer Connections

Gregory Rozdeba, a CEO working in the influencer space highlights the key to authentic strategies for brands is building authentic relationships. “Take the time to understand their interests, values, and audience. Offer opportunities that are a natural fit, not a hard sell. Be transparent about why you think they’re a good partner for our brand, and always respect their time—collaborate, don’t commandeer.”

Offer Value Before Partnership

CMO Swena Kalra emphasizes that building genuine relationships with influencers is an art. “One strategy that stands out is offering value before asking for anything in return. This approach not only builds trust but also sets the foundation for a long-term partnership.

A few years ago, we were keen to collaborate with a popular travel influencer. Instead of directly proposing a partnership, we first engaged with their content genuinely and consistently. We offered them a complimentary trip, expecting no promotional content in return. This gesture opened up a dialogue, and they appreciated our approach of not treating them as just another advertising platform.

Influencers are often swarmed with brand deals, many of which can seem transactional. By offering something of value first and fostering a genuine relationship, you can stand out and build a mutually beneficial partnership that doesn’t feel like a scam. It’s a slower process, but the authenticity it brings is worth the effort.”

Nurture Relationships Over Time

CEO, Cyrus Partow, shares that to avoid appearing like a scam, focus on nurturing relationships over time. “Building rapport with influencers is essential. In a campaign for a tech-gadget brand, we started by following and engaging with the influencer’s content on social media.” 

Partow continues, “Slowly, we initiated conversations, shared insights about our brand, and showed genuine interest in their work. This patient approach led to a partnership that felt more like a friendship, making the collaboration more authentic and less scammy.”


Special thanks to Featured for their continued help in the creation of this blog post. Click below for more blog content from the Nativa.

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