Influencer marketing has become a major buzzword in marketing the past three years. Companies, small and large have started to use influencer marketing as a new way of promoting their brands.
Traditional outbound marketing techniques have been losing their effectiveness for some time now. There’s also the matter of outbound methods being more expensive than digital marketing techniques. In fact, almost a third of marketers find outbound marketing methods to be overrated.
In a world where people turn a blind eye to billboards and pop-up ads, influencer marketing is a godsend. Relying on genuine brand-consumer interactions, it’s one of the best ways to improve brand awareness organically. And that’s probably what has thrust influencer marketing into the spotlight.
The way I see it, influencer marketing brings the best of word-of-mouth marketing, celebrity endorsements, and display ads to the table. I know the question that’s forming in your minds right now. So let’s address it.
Who Are Influencers?
Influencers are regular people like you and me. What makes them influential is their knowledge of the niche in which they operate. Their knowledge and expertise in their niches make them trusted sources of information and guidance.
Influencers attract fans and followers on social media platforms, where they have a strong presence. The engagement they are able to generate, and their influence make brands reach out to them for collaboration. So that these social media icons can help boost a brand’s visibility and promote their products.
As human beings, we tend to consider other people’s opinions when it comes to purchase decisions. Marketers understand this, and partner with influencers to promote brands as well as their products and services.
However, identifying the right social media influencers can be a tough task.
An Econsultancy study on the challenges in influencer marketing reinforces this. This study found that 73% of marketers find their biggest problem to be identifying the right influencers for their campaigns.
Marketers incorrectly assume that measuring the results of an influencer marketing campaign is the most difficult aspect. In reality, it is choosing the right influencers that determines the success of an influencer marketing campaign.
In order to recruit the right influencers, your influencer marketing goals have to be crystal clear. Your marketing goals will determine the type of influencers you need for your campaign.
Here are 5 things to look for when you’re trying to identify the right social media influencers for your brand.
#1. Does the influencer’s niche align with your brand?
A mistake that many marketers make when choosing influencers is not ensuring that their niche is relevant to their brand. Choosing popular musicians like Rihanna and Eminem may not be the best choice if your company specializes in software development.
Keep in mind that you partner with influencers because you want their audience to know more about your brand. So choosing the right influencer with relevant followers will help you gain access to the right audience you need to promote your brand. This will help you identify relevant social media influencers for your brand.
For example, consider popular YouTuber, PewDiePie, who is known for running his gaming channel. With a fan following of 59 million, you may think that partnering with him would be a good option to promote your brand.
But wait. Think about what your brand specializes in. If it is technology, you can consider partnering with him since his niche is gaming and technology. If not, you should look to partner with other influencers who would be relevant to your brand.
Playstation nailed it with the following sponsored campaign, as it was right up this influencer’s alley.
Image via Instagram
The main benefit of influencer marketing is the ability to reach a relevant audience for your brand. If you are able to do so, your marketing efforts will be truly successful.
An important thing to note here is that it’s not just your brand’s image and core values that matter. It’s equally important to consider the values of the influencers you’re reaching out to.
If you ask an influencer who’s vegan to promote your meat based business, you know the answer is going to be no. Not only will you be hurting their sentiments, but you’ll also show that you didn’t research them properly.
This is a very crude example for the point I’m trying to make. Remember to always thoroughly research potential influencers. Going that extra mile shows potential influencers that you care about them and value their ethics.
#2. Has your influencer been over-promoting any brand or products?
Excessive promotion of any brand or product looks spammy, and hence less credible. It gives a clear indication to followers that the influencer is simply doing it for the money. And not because they actually believe in that brand’s products.
Here’s what such an account would look like. Followers will lose interest in the influencer’s content, and sooner or later might unfollow them.
Image via Instagram
So, go through the past posts of your potential influencers to make sure they have not overpromoted any products or brands. Influencer recommendations lose credibility with overpromotion. So make sure that the content of your potential influencers looks natural and credible.
When personal stories are combined with product reviews or special deals, the content looks authentic. Remember, authenticity is the key to credibility.
For example, a beauty brand may ask an influencer to write a product review on their blog. The influencer may choose to write an article about the products she uses regularly and include the brand in it.
So when you’re identifying the right social media influencers, make sure that their messaging is authentic. And that they do not over-promote brands.
As you can see in this post, the influencer talks about her personal experience while promoting the brand. This makes the post look more authentic.
Image via Instagram
An easy solution to this problem is to find influencers who are already patrons of your brand. That way you know that their content is coming from a genuine place of fondness and appreciation for your brand.
#3. How good is your influencer at engaging audiences?
Engagement usually refers to the number of likes, comments, and shares a social media post gets. Engagement proves to be a crucial identifier when it comes to choosing relevant social media influencers. This is because likes, shares, and comments indicate how much the audience loves a particular post.
The right social media influencers will also have a good engagement rate. This refers to the percentage of people who like, share, or comment on a post out of the total followers. Someone having a million followers but getting only 100 likes per post on an average, are not right for you. Chances are, those followers are not genuine.
So the number of followers alone can not determine if your influencer is really influential. It’s their engagement rate that determines how much the audience engages with their posts. It also helps to determine the conversion rate of a sponsored post which is the motive of any marketing campaign.
Authenticity, the factor that makes your influencer trustworthy, is the key to a high engagement rate. It has been seen that micro-influencers are the ones who create more authentic and trusted content. The expertise they are able to demonstrate using their content and their knowledge helps them generate high engagement rates.
Influencers who are able to share their personal stories and journeys creatively are deemed truly authentic. This makes them appear more credible in the eyes of their followers. When engaging stories are attached to sponsored posts, they look less promotional and more credible. And as a result, their engagement rate increases.
Grin’s influencer marketing platform allows you to filter influencers on the basis of engagement rates. This can help you narrow down on the right social media influencers for your brand.
While it’s important to find influencers who have high engagement rates, there’s something to be wary of - fake followers. The recent changes in Instagram’s feed ranking algorithm has given rise to comment pods.
These comment pods, fake followers, and bots can give influencers higher rates of engagement. This engagement will be transferred over to your posts. But that’s no reason to be happy. These puffed up numbers won’t ever result in actual sales. Clearly, for the benefit of your business, it’s important you weed out such influencers.
#4. How far is your influencer’s reach?
Some brands have brand awareness and visibility as their main goals from influencer marketing. If this applies to you, then an influencer’s reach is a very important criteria for selection. The influencer having the largest number of followers will help you reach out to the maximum number of people.
Many marketers consider the reach from influencers to measure their returns on investment. If you’re trying to run a campaign that boosts your visibility, you should find influencers who have a large following.
Beauty brand Glossier partnered with YouTuber Amy Serrano, who’s a beauty vlogger, to promote their products. With Amy’s reach of 181,000 subscribers, the campaign turned out to be a big hit.
Image via YouTube
Grin allows you to filter social media influencers using “reach” as a criteria. You can find out the level of reach an influencer has, and make your selection accordingly.
#5. How good is their work portfolio?
You now have a list of prospective influencers. It’s now time to start your influencer outreach. Once you are able to connect with the right influencers, set up discussions and share your requirements.
Before you actually start the campaign, you can ask them to share some examples of their past work. Needless to say, do this only once you have established a good rapport with them during your initial discussions.
Also review their social media accounts. Check out the comments in particular. Do they have a good track record when it comes to promoting content? Does their audience appreciate them partnering with brands, or posting promotional content?
This will help you get a feel of how the influencer’s content is perceived by their audiences. This is another key factor in your quest to identify the right social influencer for your brand.
Where Can I Find The Right Social Media Influencer?
Now that you know what to look for, you should start your search for the right influencers. Grin allows you to filter influencers by location, social network, and engagement rates. It also allows you to see your potential social influencers’ content type and provides you with verified contact information.
But that’s not all that it can do for you. As an influencer marketing platform, Grin is a complete package. It can help you with your outreach process, keep track of your shipments to influencers, and payments too.
With analytics and performance tracking important factors as well, Grin provides you with the right tools. You can monitor your campaign performance, and check the impact your influencers are having on your brand.
The process of creating an engaging and thought-provoking campaign can be tough. Choosing the right social influencers for your brand can help your marketing campaign reach its maximum potential. Data regarding their engagement rate, reach, and past work can help you decide which influencers are best suited for your campaign. With a bit of hard work and research, you can easily make it possible.
Do you use another other metrics or characteristics to identify the right influencers for your campaigns? Let us know in the comments section below.