Influencer Marketing: One-Night Stand or Long-Term Relationship?

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As influencer marketing has risen with the likes of Klout Perks, exclusive Kred events, and the rise of Social Media Brand Ambassadors, there is one thing that strikes me as contradictory to the whole concept of social media marketing: If social media is about creating long-term relationships of value, why do so many companies target influencers for one campaign and move on?

As others who read this blog already know, some of the contributors here, including myself, have been the recipient of exclusive giveaways through Klout, Kred, PeerIndex and direct outreach from brands. What’s interesting, though, is that rarely is a deep, long-term relationship created between influencer and brand. It seems like a, for lack of a better word, “one-night stand” where brand marketers are satisfied with the results of their campaign and the influencer has fulfilled their end of the bargain as well – and both sides move on.

Isn’t there value in having a longer-term relationship in social media as there is in life in general? I’ve had a few engagements with brands recently that serve as a good reminder that brands should be continuing to engage with their targeted influencers long after their outreach campaign might have ended.

The Engaging Gogo

My relationship with the airline wifi service provider Gogo is one such relationship. Actually, our relationship got off to a bad start when I first used them as I was having all sorts of connectivity issues in the air. After contacting them upon arriving at my destination, they were very diligent in responding back to me and offered to help make up for the bad experience I had. It was that gesture that brought me closer to them, and more recently when I was able to use their service again, I tweeted at them that I was looking forward to being with them up in the air.

Screen Shot 2013-06-09 at 7.58.21 AM

They quickly responded back in a natural way – and then offered to send me some swag. I’m definitely not one who participates in social media to acquire swag, but I accepted the offer and then completely forgot about what they sent me for awhile. Recently, as I post pictures of my travels on Twitter and Google Plus, I have found Gogo to be actively engaging with me as if I were one of their friends (yes, there ARE brands that are engaging on Google Plus!). Here’s a snapshot of our G+ conversation:

A conversation I had with Gogo, who responded to one of my photos posted on my personal Google Plus page.

A conversation I had with Gogo, who responded to one of my photos posted on my personal Google Plus page.

All of this has kept them top of mind with me, and I will admit that for my current trip I actually went looking for a bag that they sent me (pictured below) to use.


My Gogo swag (not pictured: accompanying solar-powered backpack)

It doesn’t take much to create a list of influencers on Twitter or Google Plus circle and then engage with them regularly on social media. I have certainly not experienced anything like what Gogo has done. Have you?

The Continuing All Nippon Airways (ANA) Brand Ambassador Program

All Nippon Airways is in a league of its own in its long-term view of its Brand Ambassador program. Satisfied with the results of its first program to help both promote the introduction of their Inspiration of Japan service from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Tokyo as well as their being the first in the world to commercially fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, ANA has decided to bring back its Brand Ambassadors of John Pozadzides and Cali Lewis of fame, Yukari Peerless, and myself (Neal Schaffer) to help promote the introduction of the 787 Dreamliner on their new Seattle to Tokyo and San Jose to Tokyo routes. Unfortunately, since the creation of the campaign, we all know that the 787s have since been grounded worldwide until battery issues are resolved.


All Nippon Airways Brand Ambassador Tour of ANA’s Haneda Tokyo Airport Maintenance Facility.

This hasn’t stopped ANA in developing a long-term relationship with their Brand Ambassadors in hopes of reaching their ultimate objective: Promoting the ANA brand to social media users in hopes that when they fly to Japan, or Asia, that All Nippon Airways is at the top of their mind. If the 787s are delayed, there are other ways of utilizing Brand Ambassadors to help spread the word about their excellent service and destinations they serve.

This will be the topic of a second blog post regarding this Brand Ambassador experience, but ANA has decided to join forces with another brand looking for exposure to the same audience: The Okinawa Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, representing a prefecture that is often domestically considered the “Hawaii of Japan.” I look forward to blogging about this unique “brand mashup” and sharing the experience throughout the various social media channels using the hashtag #NealFliesANA for my own personal experience as well as out group hashtag #ANAokinawa.


A view of the Okinawa coastline from the Hyakuna Garan Resort in Nanjo-city, Okinawa.

As brands, have you taken a long-term approach in fostering relationships with brand ambassadors as well as influencers that span across multiple campaigns? As consumers, do you have any similar stories of brands that have been engaging with you and creating a long-term relationship?

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer


Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness & @socialtoolssmmt | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker
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Neal Schaffer


  1. davinakbrewer says

    I want to say long term, I want to say invest in the relationship, always, always. But there’s a devil on my shoulder reminding me of the brands to which I’m most loyal – Coke, Disney, Apple, Clinique, etc. – and they kinda don’t need me, don’t need my advocacy or that of any true influencer to make me more or less loyal. It’s also a risk, the bigger you are the harder you’ll fall when your ‘advocate’ does? I mean, look the steps companies take to distance themselves from people like Lance Armstrong; I realize celebrity endorsers are different .. still.

    There’s also the idea of ‘long-term’ and how are we defining it? Is social or ‘influence’ going to be the same in 5, 10 years? Doubt it. Again you’re talking major, global brands who are interested in that kind of commitment; not sure how many consumers – esp. like me, committed to the best deal at the time – will invest in that kind of relationship. It pains me to type that, truly but as I think of brands reaching out to me, it’s more along the lines of ‘don’t forget this deal, here’s a birthday discount now come buy’ kind of thing rather than true relationship building.

    Again, I want to say long term, I know often it IS right. But the ‘one nighter’ – esp. for a developing brand looking to make a name, a splash – that might be all they need. Once they’ve gotten enough interest, they can engage themselves to build loyalty, deliver good on products/services – won’t need as much advocacy or ‘influence’ anymore?? FWIW.

    • says

      Hey Davina,

      Thanks for the read and your thoughtful comment. It’s funny because I just saw a tweet that said, “What’s wrong with a one-night stand if it keeps your partner coming back for more?” You provide a different perspective but equally thought-provoking.

      I suppose it depends on the brand and their objective for their influencer outreach program. However, even if you are looking for short-term benefits, I still say that the long-term approach will always be the best. Look at it this way: You chose someone because you thought they were influential. Isn’t that a relationship you want to keep your life?

      Not to say, as you pointed out, that there aren’t short-term benefits to be had, but I’d rather see more brands take a longer-term approach as All Nippon Airways has done because I truly believe it will end up “influencing the influencer” deeper. Isn’t that, after all, what the objective of their marketing program is all about?

      Thanks, as always, for the thought-provoking conversation Davina!

  2. says

    I really like what you have to say here Neal! It was a great read and you really did quite a good job of bringing to light many of the issues/misconceptions of social media. Thanks for sharing.

  3. says

    Nice post!
    In terms of “one night stand” or “long term’ relationship here, does it mean it has to depends on the nature of businesses and how they find it important to engage with influencers?

    • says

      Thanks Niem! That’s one way of looking at it, but aren’t the best relationships created when they are long-term ones? Should be the same in social media as it is in real life, no?

  4. says

    I couldn’t agree more that the real purpose of influencer relations is that there is a relationship. It is not a one night stand. Your example with GoGo is a powerful example of not only building relationships, but also the power of listening to the customer and delighting the customer with a positive experience. They did their job splendidly.

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