A few years ago, the world of influencer marketing was a little bit like the Wild West. Companies were starting to see the incredible potential of this marketing channel and influencers were all too happy to jump in and grab their piece of the action, regardless of their ability to deliver results.
With any new industry, there are people who are doing it well and people who are just looking to make a buck. Before the industry started to level out and find its equilibrium, it wasn’t uncommon for companies to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for sponsored posts that ultimately didn’t get them much (if any) ROI.
The good news is that things are starting to calm down. Influencer marketing can still be costly, but it’s now easier to figure out what’s fair and what’s a total ripoff. Companies and influencers are more realistic about influencer marketing and fewer people can be opportunistic and get away with it.
With that said, influencer marketing can still be risky. It can also be a great tool—if you approach it in the right way. People seek out information and advice on social media, and everyone from politicians and governments to bakeries is using social media tools to accomplish their goals. It’s the new “word-of-mouth” marketing and it can be HUGE for growth and reputation.
If you don’t find the right influencers for your business, though, you may as well be throwing coins into a fountain. Here are some things to consider as you look for the best influencers to grow your business.
Why it’s Important to Find the RIGHT Influencers
Partnering with social media influencers can help you grow your business. But, as with all things in life, finding the right fit is important. You can’t buy a shoe that’s a size too small and then complain that your foot hurts. Similarly, you can’t choose an influencer with the wrong audience or tone for your business and expect sales.
Some influencers are also better at generating ROI from their partnerships than others. Not everyone is comfortable with selling, and that’s okay—but you don’t want to rely on those influencers to build your influencer strategy and your business! You have to be strategic.
Get Clear on Your Goals
If you know you want to use influencer marketing to grow your business, then you’ve already got a head start on setting your goals. But it’s a good idea to get more specific than that so that you have some benchmarks to work with as you partner with influencers and execute your campaigns.
Obviously, it’s hard to predict exactly how your campaigns will perform. But it’s important to set some realistic, yet challenging growth targets to get you started. You can always adjust these later. But you should decide which metrics are important to you so that you don’t end up wasting time and money.
Choose the Best Social Media Platform
Knowing your audience is absolutely crucial for any marketing campaign. But in addition to knowing as much as you can about your customers’ lives, pain points, and preferences, do you know where they hang out in cyberspace? Depending on your business, you might have more success on some platforms than others, so it’s best to focus your resources on the best platform for your company.
Instagram is a classic choice since it’s popular, glossy, and teeming with influencers. But it’s not the only place you can find success, especially now that more social media platforms are gaining popularity all the time. TikTok, for instance, might be a better choice if your audience is younger or prefers video content. Put some thought into this and research different platforms if you’re not sure!
Consider Your Budget and Audience Size
Influencer marketing can be quite affordable, depending on the influencers you work with. Top celebs command high fees for just a single post, making them way out of reach for most companies hoping to grow their reach. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing—small influencers can also be important, depending on your goals.
If you have a smaller budget and you’re trying to build brand awareness, you might be able to get by with giving away free products as compensation. In exchange, small influencers create content and share it with their followers to promote your products. If you want to work with influencers who have more influence, you’re probably going to have to pay up.
Remember Your Brand Voice and Tone
Don’t choose the first influencer in your niche, just because they have a lot of followers. Engagement is more important than the number of followers—it’s much harder to fake engagement than it is to buy followers.
Take the time to really study each account’s feed. What’s the influencer’s style, voice, and aesthetic? Does it “click” with your branding? Finding the right influencers means looking at more than just raw data; it involves finding alignment with your brand’s values.
By choosing to work with influencers who have similar values, aesthetics, and voice, you’ll be increasing your chances of success. Not only will the content be more authentic, but you will already know that the influencer’s followers are likely to be interested in your brand. Be patient and selective when it comes to choosing influencers!
Evaluating Influencer Profiles
Researching influencers can be a daunting task. There are so many influencers and wannabe influencers out there that the idea of sifting through each profile can seem overwhelming. To get the process started, it can be a good idea to use some online influencer research tools so you can narrow things down and leverage the power of data to start evaluating profiles.
With that said, your human judgment is extremely valuable. These tools can help you identify promising accounts, but you need to go through them manually and look for the influencers you want to work with. A computer can’t catch everything (at least not yet)!
Remember, an influencer can have a beautiful feed, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to work with or know the first thing about creating promotional posts. You need to understand the basic principles of great social media content so you can confidently evaluate influencer profiles.
The influencers you work with don’t necessarily have to have experience in working with brands, but be careful in who you approach. Once you’ve got a dialogue going, pay attention to any red flags that might come up. Trust your instincts.
Proceed with Caution
The number one principle of finding influencers is this: don’t get lazy. If you do, you will waste money. Influencer marketing is inherently risky because you’re trusting people to be the face of your brand. You can’t be 100% sure that they will behave the way you want them to.
In-depth research, combined with clear goals and expectations, will go a long way in creating success with influencer marketing. Be patient and remember your ultimate goal: growth!