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An influencer community is an increasingly important component of the marketer's toolkit.

It can help you leverage word of mouth, deepen your relationships with experts and fans, and give you a space to gather insights about your product or service.

But you need to be sure that you're doing it the right way, so you don't end up in hot water with the FTC (and don't destroy consumer trust of your brand).

The FTC's endorsement guidelines all come down to one simple thing: don't be a snake in the grass. Be up-front and transparent with all of your influencer and endorsement campaigns.

The great thing about an "owned space" influencer community is that you have all kinds of opportunity to train and guide your members in a private environment before they go out into the social world to spread your message.

You also have abundant chances to build a long-term relationship rather than a one-time transaction (excellent article on this point by Jay Acunzo).

Best Practices for an Influencer Community

Train for disclosure from day one - when you're on-boarding new influencers, let them know the rules immediately. Include wording in your signup terms of use that clearly states what's expected. Have them click to affirm that they have read the guidelines.

Provide actual examples and messages - show new influencers what a great interaction looks like. Set up a custom page with images, videos, pre-written content, and information that sets up your team for success.

Give your influencer team something specific to do - provide defined missions or tasks and then have them check back in once the mission is complete. Allow them to show the content or media they created with other members for inspiration.

Don't forget your own employees - who knows more about your business than the team that's leading the charge? Just be absolutely sure to train employee advocates to clearly disclose the relationship if they are doing promotion.

Involve the legal team from the outset - get input from legal before you even launch the initiative; avoid an adversarial relationship with them, and you won't encounter roadblocks when it's too late to adjust your strategy.

Foster peer-to-peer relationships - give influencers and community members the chance to get to know one another, via live events, robust profiles in the community, and easy ways to find new relevant messages from each other within the community.

Use survey tools to gain insights from the influencer team - quick surveys can generate activity and can be an easy first step into self disclosure within the community. It's often less intimidating to respond to a multiple choice question at first, than to write a bio paragraph. Share survey data across your organization, to increase the business value you're getting from the community.

Are you running an influencer community?

What is your best tip regarding leveraging influencer relationships for your business?

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