There’s no denying that influencer marketing is where it’s at right now. Whether you’re a sprouting brand looking to bloom or an established business wanting to expand, you’d be lucky to find a marketing strategy whose ROI came close to that of influencer marketing. Though it’s been extensively examined as to why influencer marketing on social media is so successful, we’ve seemed to ignore the what. Specifically, what do influencers need to partner with brands?

When looking for brands to collaborate with, different influencers will of course have different motives. While one influencer’s goal may be primarily to grow their following, another’s may be monetary gain. Several requirements, however, seem to be common among a large majority of them.

Brand Affinity

Influencers like to work with brands they have a connection with. For small-time, new on the scene influencers, beggars can’t always be choosers. For influencers with large and engaged followings though, they can be more selective with who they partner up with.

These influencers tend to collaborate with brands that reflect their personality. They want their sponsored content to remain as authentic and natural as possible. This means pairing with brands whose product or service work seamlessly into the influencer’s existing lifestyle. Influencer marketing works because followers see the source as someone relatable and trustworthy. The less promotional and contrived it looks, the better it will be received by their followers.

For marketers, this means that you should look for influencers who already use or have publicly shouted out your brand. Often times, if it’s a brand they love, this brand affinity will trump the level of compensation they require.

Creative Control

Just like marketers have brands to protect and uphold, so do influencers. They are the product. Their social media feed is their brand and staying true and consistent to it is just as important as a business selling a product or service.

For this reason, creative control is incredibly important for influencers working with brands. Many influencer giants say they prefer not working with brand managers if it means having to give up too much control. Though they understand that there may be some guidelines or parameters to follow, they likely won’t be interested in collaborating if they aren’t able to stay true to their brand.

If you’re a marketer and plan on micro-managing every step of the influencer’s creative process, do yourself a favor and don’t. These influencers are successful and followed because they know what they’re doing. They have experience in creating awesome content. More importantly, they know what their followers like. And isn’t that why you wanted to collab with them in the first place, to reach their followers?

As a marketer, you can avoid ending up with crummy content by doing your research. Look at the work they’ve done for other brands and see if it lines up with what you’re looking for. Once you’ve vetted them, let them spread their creative wings.

Monetary Compensation

This one’s a no brainer. Influencers unfortunately can’t pay the rent with the free swag or discount codes you want to give them for working for you. They need cash. While you may be able to get away with not paying newbies who haven’t quite made it yet, those with real influence (who are the ones you want anyway) will require monetary compensation. How much, you ask? That’s a whole other beast that’ll have to wait for another day. As I mentioned though, the greater the love they have for your brand, the less they may be willing to accept to partner up with you.

A Premium for Exclusivity

Marketers don’t always understand that paying an influencer for a post doesn’t mean you now own them. In most cases, wanting exclusivity from them will mean paying up. Influencers will typically charge a premium for 30 days or more of brand exclusivity. Depending on the contract, what this means is that, for 30 days, they won’t post content from competing brands/products. If your brand is unique enough, you probably won’t need this. If you brand sells sticky bras or slim tea though, you’re better off including an exclusivity clause in there.


Every influencer is different. The best way to understand exactly what they require is to have a professional, open conversation about it. Though social media has a more relaxed vibe than boardrooms and penguin suits, keep in mind that it’s still business- keep it profresh. See what I did there? #sorrynotsorry