Love it or loathe it, influencer marketing remains one of the strongest, fastest ways to build brand credibility. A spinoff of word-of-mouth marketing, influencers put a scalable spotlight on your brand and talk you up to all of their followers. When done well, you may average $5.78 for every dollar spent on influencer marketing. Keywords: when done well.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. To see any type of ROI on influencer marketing, you first need to understand the landscape. This means choosing the right influencers to rep your brand and knowing how to successfully collaborate with them.
Don’t Skip the Process!
Influencers are everywhere. So why can’t you just connect and let them start promoting you?
Just like any 30-second commercial or a static ad that takes seconds to admire, there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to bring your brand to life. Influencer marketing is a process, plain and simple.
Following this process correctly has become even more important in recent years with fake influencers on the rise. Brands can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars thinking they’ve partnered someone with pull — only to find out the influencer inflated their following or engagement metrics. Not only does this kill any chance of an ROI, it also potentially erodes your brand by handing it over to someone who doesn’t align with your core values, audience, or goals.
Tips for Finding Influencers for Your Brand
Heading down the wrong path is a fate most marketers would prefer to avoid. Let’s look at some tips to help you stay on track with influencer marketing.
1) Understand the Different Levels of Influence
Ironic as it may seem, finding influencers is not the first step of a successful influencer marketing campaign. In fact, influencers won’t enter the process until much later — you’ve got to lay some groundwork first, starting with knowing what you expect to get out of your campaign.
There are different tiers of influencers. There’s celebrity status, where big names like Adele, Britney Spears, and Justin Bieber are household names and have millions of followers on social media. This is what typically springs to mind when brands think of influencer marketing, but the digital era has opened new opportunities for smaller brands to cash in on smaller audiences (and on smaller budgets).
Influencers are often named according to their audience size:
- Nano-influencers: 1,000-10,000 followers
- Micro-influencers: 10,000-50,000 followers
- Mid-tier influencers: 50,000-500,000 followers
- Macro-influencers: 500,000-1M followers
- Mega-influencers: 1M+ followers
Typically, the more fans an influencer has, the more expensive it is to use their influence. But don’t think that bigger is always better. Many brands are finding favor by connecting with smaller, niche audiences that are highly engaged and relevant for the brand.
Before you start reaching out to influencers, think about whether it makes sense to pursue a big celebrity or if someone in the nano- or micro-influencer spheres could be a better use of your budget.
2) Define Your Target Audience
Deciding the level of influence you need works alongside your audience. You need to understand who your audience is before you can choose an influencer to connect with them, as your audience will often inform the rest of your strategy.
If you already have a well-defined customer persona, keep that profile in mind when choosing your influencers. If you don’t have a defined persona or prefer to segment your audience, think about the core characteristics your audience shares and go from there.
3) Choose Your Platform
Knowing your audience will help you decide where you can best reach them. Be it Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, for example, choosing a platform first will help you narrow your focus when it’s time to connect with influencers.
That’s because influencers have built their reputations on specific channels. One might have a huge following on IG, for instance, but their visibility on Twitter might be non-existent. And even if you do partner with an influencer who’s active on multiple platforms, their audiences on each might be completely different.
4) Decide on a Budget
One of the most common questions we hear at Linkfluence is: How much does an influencer charge? The simple answer is anywhere from $25 to $1M or more. That doesn’t help, does it?
Influencer rates are complicated. The average price depends on their level of influence (aka the size of their following), experience, the platform where they’re promoting you, demand for that particular influencer, the type of content they’re producing (e.g., quick mention, video, etc.), follower engagement and reach, and your industry, among other factors.
Recent research on influencer rates show that the average cost of an influencer post across all industries is $271. For just micro-influencers, that price drops to $83 per post. And for influencers with 100K+ followers, the price jumps to $763 per post.
It’s clear that there’s a lot of value in doing your research. Finding an influencer in your industry with the right size audience and within the right budget range is a lot like a connect-the-dots puzzle. Once you start connecting the right dots, your ideal end result will start taking shape.
5) Prepare Your Outreach Messaging
Once you have an idea about the type of influencer you need and the audience you wish to reach, you can start creating a shortlist of influencers that fit the bill. From there, you’ll want to reach out to them personally and start vetting them for your campaigns.
Outreach is also a process. It’s not like hiring a contractor to fill a role or handle a task. This is your brand we’re talking about, and your influencer needs to know how to talk about your brand, how you want to be positioned in front of their audience, and what you hope to achieve from your influencer campaigns.
This is also a chance for you to learn more about the influencer: who their audience is, how they work, what types of content they create, the results from previous campaigns, etc. Learn what makes them so popular in their field.
Finding a strong influencer is a two-way street, and it takes time to build quality relationships.
6) Find and Vet Influencers with AI Consumer Intelligence
We’ve covered a lot of steps to set the foundation for your influencer campaigns. They’re all too important to skip, but you can speed up the time each one takes by using AI consumer intelligence tools like Linkfluence.
AI consumer intelligence in influencer marketing helps you find, vet, and connect with influencers in your niche. Because AI tools work across multiple channels at scale, they can find information faster than you could manually. What’s more, they also connect the dots between entities, actions, behaviors, and engagements to sniff out fake influencers and focus only on those who have real authority.
For instance, Linkfluence’s platform aims to discover which influencers are leading conversations online, how engaged their audience is, and even who your competitors are working with. You can also get insight into the type of content your audience likes, their interests, and other details that will make your campaigns a hit. Plus, you can track the performance of each campaign to know just how well your influencers are working for you.
Best Practices for Working with Influencers
After choosing your influencers, there’s still plenty of work to be done. Yes, you’re paying them to do a job, but the best influencer campaigns are those that take a partnership approach. You both have skin in the game and both have something at stake (your brand and their reputation). Since you both want a positive outcome, these tips can help fuel your collaboration.
7) Explore Different Promotion Strategies
Influencer campaigns are not one-size-fits-all. There are different ways that you can work with your influencers, and it’s worth discussing with them how they can best present your brand in an authentic and impactful way.
Some examples of promotion strategies include:
- Offering a free sample of a product in exchange for an honest review, unboxing video, etc.
- Getting a product review without offering a sample
- Offer products for the influencer(s) to give away
- Run a competition between several influencers to see who drives the most sales
- Pay for a sponsored post
- Write a guest post on the influencer’s blog
- Pay for the influencer to create some type of original content that you can repurpose in your other marketing (e.g., a video demo, etc.)
Keep in mind that each of these takes varying time and effort to produce, and therefore may affect your budget in different ways. Building relationships with your influencers ahead of time can lead to more honest, productive conversations to help you both find that “sweet spot” in promoting your brand.
8) Nurture the Relationship
Even when you form good relationships with your influencers, it’s essential to keep the conversation going. Continue nurturing these relationships over time so that they build real value. If you get great results from one campaign, you’ll know who to call for your next one.
Plus, they will benefit from learning more about your brand. Forming deeper partnerships allows your influencer to highlight your brand more authentically and ultimately deliver more value to their (and your) audience.
9) Respect the Influencer’s Creative Freedom
One of the things a lot of brands get wrong about working with influencers is trying to control the entire process. It doesn’t work that way.
Keep in mind that the audience has a relationship with the influencer, not your brand. The audience trusts the influencer, and in turn, the influencer knows what their audience likes and responds to.
While you do have some say in how your brand is represented by an influencer, it’s ultimately up to the influencer to do what they do best. They can be more authentic and give the audience what they want when they have creative freedom.
This is why research is so important! You don’t just want an influencer, but rather an influencer who you can trust to have creative freedom of which you’ll approve.
We said it earlier but it bears repeating: AI consumer intelligence tools can find these matches faster than you could manually.
Make Every Campaign Truly Influential with Linkfluence
From finding influencers to vetting them and building strong ongoing relationships, brands want to make confident decisions in the era of fake influencers and influencer fatigue. The time and research it takes to make these decisions delay the ROI, potentially allowing competitors to get ahead.
Linkfluence's influencer marketing platform is changing the landscape of influencer marketing as many brands know it. We track influencers across six million topics to find the most authentic connections for our users.