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Social Media Alliances: how are they created, and are they sustainable as a long-term business model?

Business models worldwide demonstrate a keen awareness of the importance of strategic alliances to generate traffic and drive consumer engagement. Social media marketing alliances are just a modern extension of an age-old business technique, and, being proven to have many sustainable benefits in the long run, more and more brands are making partnerships with influencers an invaluable part of their marketing plans.

What is a business model?

A Harvard Business Review article states that business models describe how an organisation delivers forms of value, whether that be economic or social. It is a broad ranging term which covers the core aspects of a business, such as trading processes, organisational structures, and operational processes. This is in addition to estimating, costs, identifying target audiences and planning marketing techniques.

A brand’s business model determines their brand values, which in turn become an inextricable part of the model. The step-by-step plan of action that the business model will then generate defines a brand’s value proposition and demonstrates what is unique about a particular company.

On a simplistic level, a business model can be approximately broken into two parts. The first part includes the activities related to creation; whether that is something tangible (a physical product) or a service. The second part includes the processes associated with selling that product. This aspect of a business model will address reaching out to customers, product distribution and service delivery.

An influencer marketing business model: how does it differ?

An influencer marketing business model is a little different from the average. In creating this kind of business model, a brand will find an influencer with a connection to a target audience. This can be the brand’s existing audience, or a new demographic which the brand has yet to tap into. For example, in the past few years, there has been a noticeable drive to market products and services to millennial consumers.

Agreements between a brand and an influencer can vary according to individual needs. Influencers may receive free products and services as a result of their content promoting a company, or they may be paid a flat fee (or some other form of compensation) for their work.

Why do social media alliances work in business?

We are all aware by now of the sheer clout that social media influencers have in the marketing world (and if you’re not, check out this post on why micro-influencers are dominating the market!) Traditional business models and high budget marketing schemes are losing momentum in favour of more organic techniques.

How do we build social media alliances that last?

It’s no secret that building worthwhile social media alliances is difficult; bringing together brands and creators to develop something unique is a challenge, and ensuring that this builds brand growth and audience reward only makes things trickier.

The good news is this: it can be done!

In recent years, brands with big online presences (for example Missguided, ASOS and Nike) are turning to influencers to help promote their brands, and to help grow their own online following. It is hard to overstate the impact that this kind of marketing has had, with Missguided sales spiking by 40% as a result of a collaboration with ITV’s Love Island. They picked their partnership with an incredible understanding of the social media landscape, and executed an alliance which truly paid off.

Build trust

Whatever guise a relationship happens to take, they are complicated to maintain, and building trust takes time. That being said, there are certain traits a brand can cultivate which will help ease the process. Being candid about your goals from the beginning is essential, and from there you must remain transparent through every step of the negotiation of an alliance. From there, both parties should be delivering on their promises to prove that they are credible and worthwhile partners.

Collaboration

Companies working with social media influencers should be aiming to create partnerships in which knowledge and expertise can be shared profitably for everyone. In order to help this along, companies can pay attention to the content an influencer is posting outside of the campaign they have created. If your ideals happen to align, chime in and keep the conversation moving in a public medium. This not only allows a trade of opinion in real time, and in response to more organic stimulus,  but is shows potential consumers that both parties are invested in the partnership you have built. Ultimately, it takes two to tango, and interest and engagement from both sides with facilitate the continuation of a fruitful relationship.

Set out to be ambitious, not defensive

It is inevitable that business models will include plans to tackle competition on the market. However, if your marketing techniques are solely focused on this, your campaigns will lose motivation quickly. Your brand is unique, and exists because someone had faith in an idea which would appeal to consumers.

When embarking on a social media alliance, remember this. People will be more enthusiastic in their engagement with social media campaigns if they believe in the genuineness of the brand values an influencer is promoting.

If the campaign is merely a defensive move, it will be doomed to failure.

Communication is key

This seems an obvious piece of advice in creating a social media alliance. However it is vital that a clear channel of communication is set up at the beginning of the process, and that it is consistently maintained. Having clear expectations about the level of communication will facilitate dealing with any problems that may arise, and tracking the benefits of the partnership as they unfold.

Communication also includes outlining where there are issues as they crop up. No partnership is perfect, but it will be far easier to iron out creases as they occur. Leaving discontent to fester will not fix the problem, and will leave both sides of the alliance unhappy.

Interested in working with full time, pre-vetted hotel influencers? Click here to find out how Swayy can help you. If you are an influencer interested in a collaboration, read up on what we can do for you.

By Shannon Collins

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