Influencer Partnerships That Do (or Don’t) Strengthen Brand Trust

Image of Mackenzie Scott
Mackenzie Scott
Published: Jun 2, 2021
Last Updated: Jan 5, 2022

The late author Zig Ziglar once said, “If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

Building brand trust with your target audience is as critical now as ever before, but it can prove challenging — whether you’re operating in the e-commerce space or not. 

That’s because 92% of people are more willing to trust the opinions and recommendations of other people than brands. 

The reason? 

Well, your target audience knows that, as someone with a vested interest in your brand’s success, you’re motivated by the bottom line. It’s the reason why you invest marketing dollars into paid advertising and so much time into implementing SEO strategies.

People who review and recommend your brand, on the other hand, don’t typically have as much (if any) personal stake in whether your brand gets more business or not. That's why third-party validation is so important.

To strengthen brand trust, you have to find ways to connect with your target audience credibly and on a personal level. Forming meaningful partnerships with influencers is one of the most effective ways for you to do this, if done right. 

In this post, we’ll share five factors you should consider before partnering with new influencers so that you can filter out ill-fitted partnerships and start making the right ones.

Influencer Marketing is on the Up and Up, and Here’s Why

group of influencers

By 2022, brands are expected to invest $15 billion into influencer marketing, and there’s several reasons why this is the case.

For one, social media influencers put in the work on the front end to create content that their target audiences want to engage with on a consistent basis.

When an influencer with high engagement rates partners with and endorses your brand, their followers are more likely to trust you because they trust and admire this influencer. 

By giving these followers a reason to trust your brand, you stand a better chance at converting them into new customers. 

Even still, not all influencer partnerships will yield the type of results you need. 

It’s important to understand which factors are at play in successful partnerships before you finalize your own partnership deals. But before we share those factors, here’s a breakdown of the four types of influencers who are part of the continuum of influence you could potentially work with:

  1. Nano influencers: Influencers with upwards of 10,000 followers.
  2. Micro influencers: Influencers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers.
  3. Macro influencers: Influencers with 100,000 to 1,000,000 followers.
  4. Mega influencers: Influencers with 1,000,000 or more followers.

Partnering with influencers at the macro and mega level might seem like the most strategic move at face value, but in the next section, we’re sharing why forming these types of influencer partnerships might not actually be in your brand’s best interest. 

4 Factors to Consider Before Signing New Partnership Deals

From the moment you begin your search for prospective influencer partners, there are four factors that you should keep at the forefront of your mind:

  1. Influencer-Brand Fit
  2. influencer Relatability
  3. Influencer Marketing ROI: Desired vs. Actual; and
  4. Terms of the Influencer Partnership

Without further ado, let’s discuss. 

Influencer-Brand Fit

If your only motivation for partnering with an influencer is their subscriber count, you might invest a lot of money and resources into a partnership that doesn’t yield the results you’re looking for. 

And that’s because having a lot of subscribers doesn’t mean that a) the subscribers are highly engaged or b) the subscribers will be interested in your brand. 

This is why it’s important to really take time to research the influencer market before initiating partnership deals. 

To gauge whether an influencer would be the best fit for your brand, it’s important to answer the following four questions:

  • Who is this influencer’s target audience, and are they effectively reaching this audience?
  • Does their content appeal to audiences that are more niche or generalized? 
  • Why and how does this audience engage with this influencer’s content? 
  • Is there an opportunity for audience overlap between your brand and this influencer?

Though nano and micro influencers reach less people than macro and mega influencers, their audiences tend to be more niche. So if your brand is targeting niche groups, this is an instance where a partnership with this type of influencer could pay off.    

As you research different influencers, it’s important to also consider who the influencers have partnered with in the past. Do they have an ongoing partnership with one of your competitors?

It’s best to narrow your initial search by asking these types of questions as soon as you can.  

Influencer Relatability

One of the drawbacks of mega and macro influencer partnerships is that these influencers are hard for the average person to relate to (and therefore trust).  

Mega influencers live mega lifestyles, which is to say that a partnership could send the message to your audience that the products are high quality, yes, but also expensive or unattainable. 

A partnership with these types of influencers could potentially backfire — making your target audience less interested in and trusting of your brand. 

Nano and micro influencers, on the other hand, are able to use their public positions to their advantage when it comes to relatability. 

Their smaller niche audiences make for a close knit community, which also means that they are seen more as equals than social media figureheads. Think of it as the influencer equivalent to word-of-mouth advertising among friends and family.  

Influencer ROI: Desired vs. Actual


As you plan out your brand’s influencer marketing strategy, your instincts might be telling you that you should partner with macro and mega influencers. And the rationale here is apparent: more followers equals more exposure and, eventually, more conversions.


Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. 

Let’s say that you want to leverage influencer marketing to get more people to sign up for your brand’s email newsletter. And let’s say you could either work with one macro influencer or three micro influencers.

The macro influencer could have more followers than all three of the micro influencers combined, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the macro influencer is the best option — especially when it comes to engagement and ROI. 

That’s because micro influencers tend to have higher engagement rates than macro influencers. More than 6.7 times the engagement, to be exact. 

Considering that a macro influencer partnership could leave you $2,000 to $50,000 in the hole (and that’s for each post they make), it’s risky to invest so much of your budget in one or two influencers who might not deliver the results you want. 

Instead of taking that chance, you could spend less money partnering with more micro influencers and see a better ROI because their audiences are highly engaged and trust their judgement.

Finally, more than a few influencers—including ones with huge follower counts—deliver almost zero ROI because they are "fake influencers," using nefarious means to inflate their "Fake Famous" status.

To make sure that your partnership has the best shot at being successful, remember to prioritize engagement rates over follower counts alone. 

Terms of the Influencer Partnership

As you search for influencers that will strengthen brand trust, it’s important to keep the previous factors in mind at all times. And that’s because influencer-brand fit, relatability, expected ROI and cost all reveal whether a particular partnership will benefit your brand in the long-run or not.  

Once you’ve selected a group of influencers you’d like to partner with, the next step is to define the terms of this partnership.

Trust is earned over time, which is why we recommend investing in several sponsored and branded posts over a set amount of time. 

While you have control over how your brand is represented, remember that the audiences you’re getting exposure to respond to genuine recommendations from influencers they already trust. 

A heavily scripted promotional post could come off as inauthentic, so as you work one-on-one with influencers, maintain an open dialogue about what they want and need to put out their best content to market your brand. 

Earning the trust of your influencer partners is crucial, as it has a domino effect on how they talk to their audiences about you.

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