Choosing the Right Influencer for Your Brand
Everything you need to get started with influencer marketing.
By Arielle Mullen, Digital Strategist
We recently shared a breakdown of our top tips for navigating the tricky waters of using social media to interact directly with your audience on our blog.
Although that article was published in a pre-pandemic world, the insights covered have only become more important. As an avalanche of businesses make the shift to digital, we thought we’d tackle another big piece of the digital marketing puzzle: influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing — something nearly everyone is familiar with (at least in some sense). Although influencers have been the butt of the joke in many a late-night sketch, the undeniable truth is that even if content is sponsored (i.e. paid for), nine times out of ten it’ll be more capable of swaying opinions than even the most well-crafted commercial.
Even when we know a piece of content is sponsored, we will trust the opinion of a stranger over messaging from a brand.
We’ve seen countless examples of influencer marketing gone horribly wrong. It seems like it should be fairly straight forward — a business approaches someone with a dedicated following and sponsors them to post about their product. Simple… right?
But how do you find someone who will represent your business correctly?
How do ensure they hold up their end of the bargain? And how do you measure the ROI from working with them in the first place?
Here, we’re sharing our answers to the frequently asked questions we receive about working with influencers.
How can I find influencers to work with?
Research, research, research. Although there are databases with their contact information as well as influencer agencies like our friends at Apex Drop, more often than not, you’ll pay a price to access them. For small and midsize businesses just getting into the influencer marketing game, we recommend starting with an internet search for influencers in your industry. Look at the social media profiles of your competitors. Are they working with influencers? Which ones? Create a list of your findings and head to Instagram. Use the recommended profiles feature to find other similar profiles, and add them to your list! Conducting this research can take a sizable chunk of time up front, but as you start compiling your database, you’ll find that spotting someone who’s a good fit will become easier and quicker.
Pro-tip: When creating your influencer database, be sure to include a column labeled “score.” On a scale of 1-5, rate them on how well you feel they’d represent your business. This will give you a good jumping off point when it comes time for outreach.
What should I include in my database when conducting my initial influencer research?
Include columns for the following information:
- Influencer (their name)
- Website (website URL)
- FB username
- IG username
- Pricing (many influencers with a larger following will include price sheets in the footer of their website).
- Focus (do they have a particular niche they cover?)
- Score (how good of a fit is this influencer for your brand?)
What should I be looking for on an influencer’s website and/or social profiles to determine whether they’d be a good fit?
Although influencer marketing can be a valuable tool in your strategy arsenal, if you’re not choosing wisely, it can quickly become a wasted investment. When looking at a particular influencer, ask yourself the following:
- Are they relevant to my business & industry? How aligned is their messaging with yours? Do they share your brand values? Are the social channels they use the best fit for your audience?
- What’s their reach? How far does their influence stretch? How many followers do they have on each platform?
- What’s their frequency? Do they post consistently, on all platforms? Are they posting unique content to each channel? How far back does their posting stretch?
- How often are people engaging with their posts? Across social media and their blog, are people commenting, sharing, and/or liking their content?
- Is their content authentic? This is a big one. Even if content is sponsored, if it’s sincere and weaves a personal story in, it’ll be much more successful than a simple, straight-forward review.
Pro-tip: When looking at an influencer’s followers, make sure they’re not made up of mostly bots. Look at the profiles leaving comments on their IG and FB posts. Do those profiles have any pictures posted? Are they only following people with very few followers of their own? If a large number of their followers have profiles that look fake or spammy, there’s a good chance they purchased their followers. Hubspot has a great guide for detecting fake followers, or, if you just want to do the “quick and dirty” checkup, you can also use tools like Instacheck.
How much do influencers charge for sponsored content?
The short answer: it depends. The number of followers, engagement rate, and format of the content can all impact pricing — not to mention that any materials, resources, etc involved in creating content for you will add to potential costs for the influencer, who will pass that on to you.
If you’re a small business just getting started with influencer marketing, start with micro-influencers — people with less than 20k followers. You’ll often be able to work out a trade of your products or services in exchange for content without pay.
If you have budget to put towards paying influencers, this rate calculator will help you get a ballpark idea of how much to offer for payment.
Pro-tip: Regardless of how you plan to compensate influencers, you should always have a contract in place to protect both parties. It should outline the exact specifications of how they’ll be compensated, when they’re expected to post (often this is a time limit, like 30-45 days), where the content will be shared, the length and format of the content, how you want your business to be tagged, and the repercussions of what will happen if the contract is not honored.
How & where should I contact someone I want to partner with?
If they have a website, look there first. You’ll often find a dedicated email that’s intended for “partnership inquiries.” If the influencer doesn’t have a website, try their Facebook or Instagram.
Pro-tip: Don’t be afraid to follow-up! If you haven’t heard back from them in a few days, reach out again. Just remember to always be polite and respectful. Many influencers receive a ton of messages, and while it’s possible that they might have read yours and decided you weren’t a good fit, you might have just gotten lost in the shuffle. If you haven’t heard back after 2-3 messages over the course of 4-6 weeks, just shrug it off and move on.
How should I approach an influencer I want to work with?
For best results, have a campaign and plan in mind. Instead of simply inquiring about whether they’d like to work with your brand as an influencer, be ready with the following information:
- What would you like them to create? Format, length, focus, etc.
- What are you offering? Monetary compensation, products, services, etc.
- Why do you feel they’re a good fit for your brand? What values do you share? Do they engage with their audience in a similar way? Are you in the same niche?
- When do you need them to post the content?
- What are you hoping to get out of the partnership? This is a big one. More often than not, influencers who partner with you want to make you happy. Meaning? Be specific. If there are details or features you want them to be sure to include, be transparent!
That’s it! Do you have questions about influencer marketing that we didn’t cover? Check out MTO EDU: Office Hours, where you can ask any digital marketing question under the sun, and receive direct support from our agency team, LIVE!