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Influencers 101: How to choose an influencer

Social media influencer

When choosing an influencer is bigger better? Probably not.

It may seem like a great idea to pick a mainstream influencer – someone with a huge reach that everyone has heard of – but actually this isn’t usually the best option.

Working with one mainstream influencer with 500,000 followers could cost the same as ten micro-influencers of 10,000 to 100,000 followers. In terms of numbers, you may have the same potential reach, but micro-influencers with a more engaged audience are likely to have more authority.

Brands can work with influencers to provide a natural and trustworthy message to target audiences on a more personal level. Influencers have the ability to push brands and opinions onto their followers. Find out what else makes an influencer in our previous Influencer 101 blog.

Link between influencers

 

Influencers should not be seen as a billboard for only pushing out your message. They are human and have spent time building up a loyal following. Many influencers are business minded and highly creative. They are very clued up about their audience and know exactly how to communicate with them in a way that will resonate.

Rather than picking an influencer and telling them what to say, brands can work with influencers to craft authentic messages that work for both parties. There are many examples of influencer campaigns going wrong when a message is copy and pasted directly from an email where the brand is telling the influencer exactly what to say.

Influencers are looking for brands that naturally fit within their normal narrative and style. By picking influencers that are the right fit, messaging seems genuine and relatable – the audience can see when the influencer’s heart isn’t in it.

The personality of an influencer must shine through and each influencer should represent the brand uniquely. That’s not to say that you can’t provide direction based on your brand goals but you must also let them have creative freedom.

Can you picture the influencer using the product or service in their everyday life? If not, they’re probably not the right fit for your brand. Influence is about emotion, brands need to resonate with the person.

There must also be some kind of value exchange for both sides – what does the influencer get out of it? Have a discussion about what they would like to achieve from your partnership. Sometimes this will be in the form of compensation for their time, other times they would like products to review, and sometimes an influencer will want to work with you because it will benefit their audience.  Every influencer and situation is different so it’s important to discuss expectations before starting a campaign.

 

So how do you find the perfect influencers for your messaging?

 

Well, as with most things it’s important to do your research. Remember, you’re looking for audience engagement over pure follower numbers.

Check their cross-platform presence. Some influencers will have built up their following mainly on one platform such as Instagram, but others will have a large following across multiple channels.

Ideal influencers will cover a niche audience that fits your communications strategy, they will be authentic and have a good reputation. They need to fit with your brand’s personality and have passions and interests in common with your brand.

It is also essential to check whether the influencer is currently working with other brands. They may already have links with your competitors or be sending out messages that will conflict with your own.

When you approach an influencer you must treat them like a real person – influencer campaigns are about real connections. Foster a relationship and get them excited to lend a hand.

Be as organised as you would be with any other campaign, the influencer needs to know what you want from them. You must also be open to suggestions and listen to feedback to create those perfect messages.

 

Planning calendar

 

Influencers don’t just have to be used for one project. By working across a program of campaigns you can build meaningful impact. With longer term partnerships you can discuss the results and performance directly with the influencer and adapt messages so they work best with their audience.

Remember that when you work with an influencer for a longer period of time they are more likely to be associated with endorsing and representing for your brand. A bit like celebrities, influencers are ‘always on’ and what they do and say could affect how your brand is perceived.

 

Final take away

Check that your influencer partners understand and adhere to the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) guidelines for influencers in the UK (other countries have their own standards that must be followed).

 

Had success working with an influencer? Comment below and let us know.

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