How to Build a Long-Lasting Influencer Marketing Strategy

Katie Krische
April 28, 2021

Influencer marketing is more than a numbers game, especially when it comes to Gen-Z. For them, it’s all about building a real community around your brand and your products. 

Kendall Dickieson, social and influencer strategist for DTC brands, works closely with companies like Canopy and immi, and she’s been instrumental in driving influencer marketing.  

Lillie Sun is the DTC marketer behind Three Ships, who recently secured a partnership with Lauryn Evarts Bosstick at The Skinny Confidential

What can we learn from Lillie and Kendall about influencer marketing? How do you decide which influencers to work with? Let’s dive right into what Lille and Kendall have to say. 

Kendall and Lillie joined as guests on Gen-Z DTC (hosted by Commerce Club on Clubhouse), and shared their strategies for selecting and working with influencers.  


1. Dedicate time and resources to influencer marketing 

According to Lillie and Kendall, your community and your influencer marketing are two very different but important pieces in relationship management. 

“If you don't have time to execute them well,” Lillie said, “Then I would recommend separating them and having the right relationship management for both elements of either influencer marketing or community building.”

Kendall agrees. She emphasizes the importance of having a plan about how you’re going to implement influencer marketing—otherwise, it will always take the back burner.

“Without full execution, your plan will always stay a plan unless you have the time to fully get it done,” Kendall said.  

The key message? By giving yourself time and resources to devote to influencer marketing, you’ll be able to serve your influencers and your community better in the long run.


“If you have the resources to separate community-building and influencer relationships, please do. Because you're only going to give 25% to something that could have 100% behind it.” 

– Kendall Dickieson, Social and Influencer Strategist 


2. Prioritize customer conversions over having a large following 

Kendall and the Canopy team were so excited when one of the Kardashians shared their product in an Instagram story. But the story only led to about 50 new followers on Canopy’s page—a lot less than you’d expect from an influencer with millions of followers. 


Follower numbers don’t guarantee dollars

“If you see the following number next to someone's name, and it's really big,” Kendall said, “that doesn’t mean they're going to bring you money for your business.” 

It’s tempting to look at follower counts and see dollar signs. But a large following doesn’t necessarily translate to website traffic or customer conversions. Niches do. 


The right audience matters most

Influencer Charlotte Parler may have less than 200K followers, but her focus is on skincare alone, making her the perfect fit for a brand like Canopy who’s targeting the skincare space:


Source: @charlotteparler


Deciding between macro and micro-influencers will depend on your budget and your goals. Remember, with the right influencer and audience, a smaller following could lead to higher conversions. 


3. Evaluate influencer niches from the audience’s perspective   

Lillie shared a story about researching one big-name influencer in the skincare space.

She had millions of followers on Instagram, TikTok and Youtube, but her audience wasn’t quite aligned with Three Ships’ customers. 

“I was looking at her videos and I could just tell from a consumer’s perspective that when people watch her TikTok, they're not looking for her to make natural skincare recommendations,” Lillie said.

Lillie’s lesson: If the content isn’t what the audience is looking for, you’re probably not going to see as many conversions as you’d like. Make sure the influencer’s audience is primed for your product. 


A big name can be a perfect fit

A great example of finding the right influencer match is Three Ships’s partnership with Lauryn Evarts Bosstick at The Skinny Confidential

“She has a million followers on Instagram, so she's definitely a macro influencer,” Lillie said, “But she is known for living, breathing, loving skincare, and especially being really considerate of what she's putting in her body. So her audience was 10 out of 10—exactly who we were looking for.” 


Source: @laurynbosstick


Niching is all about serving the customers who are going to love your product. As you’re looking at an influencer’s content, ask yourself: what does the audience expect and what content do they want to see? If it aligns with your brand, you’re golden. 


4. Consider using location to target specific groups of people  

Along with focusing on a specific niche, another effective angle to take is geographic location.

Why? Because these influencers can help cover strategic areas.

When you’re trying to narrow down influencers, think about where your product is sold and start from there. 

Take Three Ships’ partnership with Target, for example. Lillie said, “Since we are all over the States, it's easy for us to find two to three influencers in each big area that we're trying to target, and have them promote Target stores for us to their followers.” 


Consider the climate where influencers are based

Location is just one of the many ways you can narrow down your target audience and choose the right influencer for you. While Lillie’s reasoning is to drive people to purchase their products in specific locations, Kendall uses location as a strategic way to market a niche product year-round.

For example, when marketing Canopy, Kendall focuses on influencers who live in dryer climates: areas like Arizona, Nevada or California, where people need a humidifier year-round. 

Their approach was to target specific groups of people who live where they need more than a winter or seasonal humidifier. Kendall noted, “We think about how we can get influencers to speak about our product so they’re able to influence and vet us for year-round usage.’” 


Source: @barefacedfemme


5. Treat your influencers with care 

To key to a positive partnership with influencers is to make sure they feel valued. Try to foster ongoing relationships with your influencers; don’t start strong and forget about them in a couple of months. 


Keep influencers well supplied

One way to build these relationships is to make sure influencers have everything they need in terms of support and products. 

Kendall has influencer relationship management down to a set schedule. “Every three months they're going to get a random package for me with the newest aromas just to keep them interested and make sure they have everything they need to want to keep creating content.”


“Everyone can always improve at nurturing.”

– Kendall Dickieson, Social and Influencer Strategist

Be attentive

Another tip is to get founders involved in the communication process. 

Have your founder send a note or special message checking in. “I think that makes a difference in building the influencer relationship and making them feel like they're really valued,” Kendall mentioned. “Treat them like normal people. Whether they're big or small.” 

The more you can nurture your relationships with your influencers, the stronger the foundation is set for your influencer marketing program. 


The key to Gen-Z influencer marketing: fostering community    

There are so many different directions you can go with influencer marketing. Are you going to focus on one platform? One niche? How are you going to decide which influencers are right for your brand?

High follower counts and big-name influencers only take you so far. Having a caring community is where real customer relationships are born.

So, what are the steps for choosing the right influencers for your brand? 

  • Separate your community building and influencer marketing to build lasting relationships with both groups.
  • Go beyond gathering followers and focus on driving sales for your business. 
  • Be customer focused, stepping into their shoes and selecting niche influencers who align with their values. 
  • Get creative with ways to target specific customer groups, including regions and locations.
  • Be kind to your influencers and give them a top-notch experience with your brand. 

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About this podcast

Hosted by Tina Donati and Katie Krische, Gen-Z DTC is hosted on Clubhouse within Commerce Club. We have super casual, low-key convos about marketing or DTC with the operators, agencies and managers. We talk about content, newsletters, community, social media and more, providing tips from the ground-level on how to market a brand and how to reach your Gen-Z audience.

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