Influencer marketing is so popular that it is rare to find a successful marketer who has not tapped it. In fact, studies reveal that influencer marketing is now overtaking traditional customer acquisition channels such as organic search, email marketing, and display advertising.
According to a poll conducted by Tomoson, influencer marketing yields a $6.50 return on investment for every $1 spent. Moreover, it is estimated that influencer marketing will become a $10 billion industry by 2020.
Despite the growing popularity of influencer marketing, its undeniable advantages, and the millions of dollars being poured into campaigns, the success of marketers is not guaranteed.
What makes the difference between a winning and a wasted investment is the choice of influencer. But with millions of Instagrammers, YouTubers, and bloggers of all kinds, how do you find the best match for your brand?
How do you identify influencers who can increase awareness, drive sales and convey your key messages? In this guide we share some tips and insights to help you choose the right influencer.
Set your objectives
Without research and planning, the choice of an influencer feels like a gamble. If you don’t want to bet on the odds, you first need to outline the main objectives of your influencer marketing campaign. Go with S.M.A.R.T. — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. There are also three important aspects to keep in mind.
- Target audience (age, gender, location, income, etc.)
- Influencer’s content type
- Influencer’s role during the campaign
Once you have created a social media portrait, you can start seeking out the influencers who will connect you with your target audience and help you reach your goals. For this to be of use, however, you need to be able to track and measure your progress. You have at your disposal numerous free data analytics tools or paid services providing the evidence you need to fine-tune your campaign.
Followers are not everything
Most businesses and individuals tend to focus initially on an influencer’s number of followers, but more doesn’t always mean better.
Once limited to well-known names and figures with huge followings, the influencer market has expanded to include macro-influencers (with between 100,000 and one million followers), micro-influencers (with 5,000 to 100,000 followers), and even nano-influencers, who have around 1,000 followers.
Partnering with people with a larger or smaller following comes with pros and cons. For instance, micro and nano-influencers typically have a tight-knit relationship with their audience, as well as higher engagement rates and lower price tags for advertisers. Their high-profile counterparts, on the other hand, have a broader reach and more experience in working with brands.
Authenticity is key
Another important consideration when talking about the number of followers is its authenticity.
Research indicates that brands stand to lose over a billion dollars due to fake influencers, who have low-quality audiences consisting of bought likers, commenters, and followers. This is why you don’t want just any influencer with a large following to market your brand.
You can use data analytics tools to inspect the influencer’s audience quality and engagement rates.
Beyond the numbers game
Bear in mind that even if authentic, the number of an influencer’s followers doesn’t mean they are capable of affecting perceptions and purchasing decisions. Just because an Instagram model has thousands or millions of admirers on the platform doesn’t mean she or he can affect consumer behavior. In selecting an influencer to promote your product or service, you should look beyond single-metric definitions like the number of followers.
The best influencer for you is the one who is the most relevant to your brand’s offerings. Influencers typically specialize in some niche. Looking into the main categories – such as fashion, travel, food, motherhood, and video games – can be helpful but should be no more than a starting point. You need to dig deeper and narrow the criteria for your influencers to create a strong match.
Invest in social listening by taking the time to find out and process which influencers are already fans of your brand. It ties in with studying who your fans are following, which can easily match you to whom your brand’s target audience is aligned with. After creating this detailed image of your social media findings, you can then look for the perfect influencer for these categories. Also, consider their platforms, content themes, past brand collaborations, and tone of voice.
For example, if you are McDonald’s and wish to collaborate with an influencer, you do not want influencers who have shown a liking for Burger King or have in the past mentioned that they don’t eat fast food.
Another important consideration is what other social platforms your customers visit. For a food or fashion brand, an Instagram star might be more suitable than someone with a large fan base on Facebook.
Communication is key
Making the final choice of an influencer to collaborate with is more or less a job interview. Communicate with the candidates and ask them about their previous marketing campaigns, current interests, and future plans. Assess their answers, personal engagement with the planned project, and desire to deliver results.
Don’t forget that these people have typically built up their fan base through certain personal qualities, including creativity. Therefore, they may offer some valuable ideas for your marketing campaign – trust their judgement too.
If you have any further questions about choosing the top influencers for your brand, you can reach out to us or leave a comment below. Our list of the top 500 Instagram accounts is also a good start for research, allowing you to explore influencers and get full Instagram audits.