Choosing an influencer? What to look for.

Marketers create content for the purpose of engaging with their customers to persuade them to use their products or services. But engaging with the modern day consumer has proven harder and harder given the fast pace world. People lose interest at the slight hint of an advertisement. A positive recommendation from a trusted source trumps whatever beautifully written copy or most engaging video demonstration. And while brand-crafted content is useful and can help build trust with customers, sometimes the most influential content comes from like-minded people that your customers know and trust.

According to eMarketer, nearly half of marketers are upping their investment in influencer marketing in 2017. Brands understand that the voices of authentic, trusted creators are much more likely to break through the adblockers. Today’s shopper is savvy to overt selling, but she is actively seeking great ideas through it – even if it comes with a “promoted” #sponsored tag.

So how do you find the right influencers? The number one challenge marketers are faced with is finding the right person for the job. This includes not only finding the right fit for the position but also finding an influencer who identifies with your brand and wants to work with you. This ensures you have the best match possible for your brand, company, and products.

For you to get the right person who will push for the results you’re aiming for, you need to ask yourself a few questions.

  1. Are they really an influencer?
    You need to take into consideration several metrics to determine how influential somebody is. Focusing only on the number of likes and followers will not give the desired result since they can be purchased and therefore manipulated. Whilst social media platforms are working towards removing users and content that have been manipulated by bots, there are still a lot of ‘fake influencers’ out there. To determine how influential a person is, take a look at their comments section which can be a giveaway – thousands of likes but only 3 comments? Probably not a real influencer. Are the comments all the same? Probably a bot and not a real influencer.
  2. Are they an expert on the topic?
    So, the influencer has real engagement on their posts. But are they the right person to handle your product? Is a person whose specialty is sports qualified to speak say on the topic of real estate insurance? The influencer needs some sense of credibility on the topic if their followers are to trust them. Ideally, we want someone who is an expert in their field. Research and look to see whether they have sufficient knowledge of the subject matter. Klout.com, for example, will show which content you’re mostly engaging with and therefore conversant with.
  3. Does the influencer have an engaged audience?
    Is the chosen influencer interactive with their community (and whether the community engages back!) People feel more valued by people who respond to questions and chat with them. It’s easier to like a person who listens and interacts with you. Your brand does not want to pay for a passive audience that doesn’t take action and just sits and watches the world go by. We want the influencer’s community to spread our message to their community, who will hopefully spread our message on to theirs… and so on!
  4. How many people are their posts reaching?
    You have now established that the influencer has a well engaged community, but will they care about your product/ brand? Dig deep into the demographics of the community to ensure they are your target audience. That your brand is relevant to them – particularly if you’re targeting a very specific demographic. Demographics to consider include interests, gender, age group, and locations. Then ask ‘will we be targeting the right people if the message reaches them?’. Don’t forget that influencers will have different audiences on different social media profiles. The message may need to be tweaked depending on what channel we’re targeting.
  5. Have they worked with other brands? What other brands?
    Does your influencer have experience working with other brands? What brands are they? Did they work with your competitors? If they did, using them to promote your brand might be confusing for your audience. Secondly, looking at who they’ve worked with can help us decide if our product is likely to appeal to the influencer and its target market. For example, if we’re an ethical skincare brand, and the influencers worked with other ethical brands, this would be a good person to consider.
  6. Do they post regularly?
    A frequent poster has a direct impact on other important metrics like engagement rate, reach, loyalty etc.

Audiense advises that you should determine is an influencer is a micro or macro-influencer.

Kobe describes a macro influencer as influencers who have millions of followers on their social media platforms. They may be considered as “celebrities” in this industry. Brands and marketers can take advantage of their large following to connect with a higher audience reach for their sponsored content.

Snapapp describes a micro influencer as brand advocates who have a deeply engaged, niche audience. They generally have between 1,000 and 10,000 followers, and while they don’t boast Kardashian levels of stock-affecting social influence, they do offer opinions that are deeply trusted by their followers, who are generally like-minded folks looking for real talk.

Determining the size of an influencer’s community has become a primary concern when identifying influencers. Every audience will contain both macro and micro influencers, each with their pros and cons.
So how do you decide between micro and macro influencers?
Macro influencers are generally more costly to use as their identity as a household name demands more. Although they have a bigger reach, their engagement is quite low. They rarely offer a personal touch to the campaign and therefore might not result in the desired ROI. They are basically good for getting your brands name out there. For people to notice you. Micro influencers, on the other hand, are perfect for consumer engagement. Their reach might not be as broad as macro influencers but they certainly have a community that they actively interact with and will probably translate into a better ROI for your brand. They are also cheaper to higher and easier to maintain a relationship with once it’s established. It is therefore beneficial to spread the cost over a few micro influencers, reaching a variety of different segments rather than investing your entire budget into a single macro influencer.
You should also consider your objectives before deciding between the two types of influencers. Are you looking to associate your brand with a variety of niche audiences or establish a more generalized mass appeal? This will guide you on which type to choose for your campaign.

A study from Takumi clearly shows the difference between the two.

Takumi Study on influencer engagement

Advantages of using Micro Influencers

  • They’re authentic
    Micro influencers work in a similar way to word of mouth – when they share a photo on Instagram of them enjoying a nutri-bar snack after a workout, you don’t question it (even if their photos are sometimes a little staged).
    It’s often easier to believe a micro influencer has actually bought or used a featured product. They tell you the nutri-bar is delicious and it’s high in protein, so you make a mental note of the brand.
    This kind of authenticity attracts engagement, awareness and brand recall. So, the next time you go to buy a snack, you remember that extra yummy brand name you saw on Instagram.
  • It’s cheap
    Since influencers generally base their prices on follower count, micro-influencers are a lot cheaper to partner with. They have 6.7X more cost-efficient per engagement.
  • A micro influencer campaign is easy to execute.
  • Engaged following
    As mentioned, micro-influencers usually have a higher engagement rate than large influencers as the engagement rate tends to decrease as the follower count increase.
  • Better conversion rates
    Micro influencers usually establish themselves as experts in specific niches and topics. They build a community of loyal followers who are interested in that topic. Their followers trust their reviews of the products associated with the given topic thus they can generate a higher conversion rate for brands.
    In fact, a STUDY has shown that a whopping 49% people say that they trust influencer recommendations to guide them in their purchase decisions. This, of course, also includes when influencers recommend brands that they are partnering with. A common way that micro-influencers promote brands is through personalized discount codes. This further encourages purchases, as people who look up to the micro-influencers becomes happy when the person they look up to being able to save them money, it works as a way to further incentivize people to purchase. And for you as a brand, discount codes allow you to track how many people have bought as a result of the micro-influencers promotion.
  • Micro influencers can cover a bigger range of niches. They offer a wider variety of topics.

 

However, they also come at certain disadvantages.

  • Relevant micro influencers are had to come by. It’s hard to look through multiple accounts with the required audience size, age, specificity…
  • They are harder to work with. A company might need to engage multiple micro influencers to get the job done.
  • They have a lower reach as compared to macro influencers.
  • An individual micro-influencer has less ability to create brand awareness than a larger influencer has.
    The work involved with working with 10 micro-influencers is probably more than ten times the effort involved in working with one macro-influencer.

 

After you have found the right micro influencer, you can then go ahead and get started. But how exactly do you do this?

The magic happens when your micro-influencers passion lines up naturally with your brand, product, and campaign – that’s why finding the right micro-influencer is critical. The most effective micro-influencer campaigns are natural partnerships, you should always start at home: connect with your existing brand advocates.
Most social media management tools will report on who your top brand advocates are, so why not start within your own ranks? Start by taking a look at your own social channels: who is retweeting the content you post like clockwork?
Hashtags are another great way to find good fits for your brand. Searching for the most specific hashtags that are brand relevant for you will help you narrow down who has the right niche reach to marry with your message.
Once you have your micro-influencer brand champions identified you can check out this handy-dandy guide to actually interacting with influencers (it’s got do’s, don’ts, all the good stuff.)
And last but not least, plan big and think small. Your influencer marketing is most effective when done as a part of a campaign, especially when you’re working with the more limited reach of micro-influencers. Plan for multiple posts from a few different micro-influencers to build a rising tide of dedicated brand advocates who drive organic engagement.
And last but not least, plan big and think small. Your influencer marketing is most effective when done as a part of a campaign, especially when you’re working with the more limited reach of micro-influencers. Plan for multiple posts from a few different micro-influencers to build a rising tide of dedicated brand advocates who drive organic engagement.