How to find the right influencer for your content campaign
Developing an influencer marketing project? Look for a genuine fit, not just high follower counts. Here's how to get started
Research consistently shows that trust in brands is waning as consumers look to their peers for guidance. A 2015 study showed friends, family and bloggers to be the top three most trusted sources of information for UK consumers. It’s against this background that the influencer marketing trend has taken off, fed by a growing number of social media stars whose loyal communities dwarf those of most celebrities and journalists.
But influencers aren’t just social media superstars – they can be anyone with visibility in and influence over a given community. Working with the right one is doubly beneficial: you aren’t just reaching a ready-made audience, you’re also entering a creative collaboration with the voice that built it in the first place.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? But it isn’t as easy as handing money to the first influencer you find. Not every individual will be a good fit, and some of them may not want to work with you – which often comes as a surprise to marketers used to calling the shots. It’s crucial that brand and influencer share similar attitudes to the topic and to content creation. If you approach influencer marketing as simply getting a popular face on your sales messaging, you’ll end either fail to get the project off the ground, or end up with a dud.
With that in mind, here are some tips on ensuring you find just the right match:
Know your target audience
You can’t do influencer marketing without understanding your target audience. In fact, you can’t do any kind of marketing without it. Have a detailed profile of your existing and target customers – age, gender, location, income level, interests – and a solid understanding of what drives their decision-making and how they behave online. All of that will help you choose the right influencer.
There’s no point working with someone who has a large Facebook following if your target customer spends most of their time on Instagram
Look for commonalities in areas of interest, personal profile, content habits and media use. There’s no point working with someone who has a large Facebook following if your target customer spends most of their time on Instagram.
Compile a longlist of influencers
Once you know what makes your audience tick and where to find them, begin researching the influencers they follow. Tools such as BuzzSumo can help you identify who the top influencers are in specific industries and communities of interest. Use this information to compile a longlist of potential candidates.
Make notes on their posting style, specific areas of interest, regular collaborators and social media activity. Does their tone of voice fit the bill? Are they funny or serious, casual or business-like? Go through your longlist methodically and scratch off any influencers that don’t match with your brand’s culture and public face. Bingo – now you have a shortlist.
Study their content
Now it’s time to look a bit deeper. Go through your shortlist and review as much of each influencer’s back catalogue as you can, from blog posts to social activity to LinkedIn profiles. How deep do their interests and passions go? Do they have experience of delivering on commercial projects? How active and engaged is their audience – are they commenting and sharing, either on the influencer’s own channels or on social media?
Think about how they deliver content, whether it’s through videos, blogs, lists or infographics. Finally, check the volume and quality of any sponsored content they have done. If their channels are littered with poor-quality or irrelevant commercial content, their authenticity may have been tarnished.
Look at their visibility
Where do your shortlisted influencers rank on search engines for keywords and search terms associated with your brand? Who else is linking to them? Do your homework on who is talking about your influencers. Research which outlets link back to them and who they work with. Backlinks from credible sources drive search engine rankings, so if trusted outlets are linking back to your influencer, their visibility is likely to be high. Furthermore, a link from their site to yours will boost your own ranking.
Go through all this and you’ll have a pretty solid idea of who to partner with for your influencer marketing campaign. What next? You just need an killer, perfectly tailored content idea to pitch to them. And that’s where the hard work really starts…