Influencer marketing is swiftly becoming one of the most effective forms of advertising. The global market value of this industry has more than doubled since 2019 and currently sits at 13.8 billion U.S. dollars as of 2021. Marketers are flocking to this space to harness the power of influence and connect with millions of online users seeking inspiration, news, and entertainment from their favorite social media storytellers.
However, there are some considerations to take into account to ensure the success of your campaigns, one of which is picking the right influencers. Collaborating with relevant and authentic creators is undeniably important and can add significant value to your campaigns.
Here are a few tips to help you pick the perfect influencers for your brand:
Define what’s ‘right’ for your campaign and target audience
We can define the ‘right’ influencer in many ways but having a clear definition of what this means for your brand is paramount. The data we interpret, the conversations we have, and the selection policies we use need to be underpinned by a clear understanding of the criteria we’re looking for.
Should the influencer visually represent the target audience? Should the target audience be well represented among the influencer’s followers? Should they be skilled in creating a specific type of content that we know the target audience enjoys? These are all valid criteria that could each lead us down different paths, so it’s crucial to have a sense of clarity before we begin.
Acquire as much data as you can
It may sound obvious, but the greater and more accurate the data you have about an influencer, the better equipped you are to understand their suitability. The best practice is to get influencers to voluntarily give access to their first-party data from their profiles, as well as accessing APIs to get the benefit of richer and more comprehensive insight.
This point comes with an important caveat; you need to access and use influencer data in a GDPR-compliant and ethical way. This could mean receiving permissions from influencers and understanding the sources of the data you’re accessing and your obligations regarding how to use it.
Understand the influencer’s brand as you would your own
Influencers want to work in partnership with brands that share their values. They will also rightfully resist pressure to create content that’s not right for their personal brand or their audience. Data alone won’t give you the insight you need to understand the influencer’s brand and values – that must come from real people reviewing their content and speaking directly to influencers to build a relationship and understanding of who they are.
Although time-consuming, it can make the difference between a purely commercial relationship and a meaningful partnership.
Think about representation and inclusion
We know that representation and inclusion are important to consumers as well as to influencers. We also know of the reputational and ethical risks presented by ignoring these hugely important topics when planning a campaign. Being representative in influencer selection requires a sensitive, unbiased approach and is perhaps one of the areas in which our use of influencer data is most important.
Campaigns can, and should, be representative of a broad spectrum of society and brands should be mindful of this in their influencer selection.
Understand the kind of content you want and what you want to do with it
Influencer marketing is content marketing. Ultimately the content that the influencers create is the most important part of the campaign, so understanding what you want to generate and how you’re going to use that content to maximise value is vital.
This is another reason why understanding who the influencer is and having a human conversation with them is a big part of your selection process because you can start to get a better understanding of who they are and what kind of content they like to create that their audience engages with. Intelligent influencer campaigns should generate content that has power and value beyond its organic publication by its creator.
Therefore, it is also important to think about how we will use that content after it has been published. Make sure the necessary ‘rights’ conversations are had with creators from the get-go so that there is no difficulty in maximising the value of the content later down the line.
Don’t be distracted by ‘celebrity’
‘Celebrity’ or ‘A-list influencers’ can be a valuable part of your campaign. If that personality and brand is a good match for yours, then they can deliver great value through the content that they create.
However, the bigger the audience, the more fragmented it becomes, and therefore the engagement that creators can extract ultimately diminishes. This is because celebrity audiences are more likely made up of a broad range of people who may not necessarily match the brand’s target audience.
Therefore, you may struggle to cut through with the people you want to reach. The drop in engagement is also coupled with the fact that celebrities tend to be disproportionately more expensive than other influencers because of the added value of the talent that made them famous.
Partnerships with creators can be a highly valuable asset in a marketer’s toolbox, which is why investment in influencer marketing is growing at pace. However, this growth should not come at the expense of precision. Marketers need to do due diligence on the influencers they plan to work with, from the audiences they reach and represent to the types of content they create. That way they can be sure every pound or dollar spent is going to be working towards key marketing objectives and business outcomes.