Influencer marketing campaigns are nuanced and have a lot of moving parts, but there’s perhaps no decision more important in the campaign crafting process than choosing and vetting influencers. As the content creating heart and soul of the campaign, it’s vital that the influencers that marketers choose be effective, engaging, and brand safe.
Finding influencers is more than just a cursory Google search and a quick rundown of who has the most followers and gets the most comments. Here are the top 12 things that marketers should analyze and consider when choosing influencers for an influencer marketing campaign.
When marketers consider influencers for campaigns, one of the first things they want to know is how many people an influencer’s content reaches. Follower, subscriber, and view counts provide a simple metric for judging popularity and impact, but it’s worth noting that social media hacks like bots and pods mean that this simple metric isn’t always best for determining influencer value.
More in-depth than simple reach metrics, engagement metrics provide insight into how many people are interacting with influencer content. Likes, comments, and shares on content help marketers determine how active an audience is and how it reacts to different types of content. Marketers are looking for audiences that are engaged and invested in the content and the community surrounding it.
Influencer marketing provides an opportunity for brands to communicate with audiences through the voices of trusted creators, but some influencers may also provide a significant boost in brand awareness and perception among audiences. Smaller influencers (like micro-influencers) provide less in the way of brand lift because while they reach their own audiences effectively, visibility and reach are limited.
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Influencers create and post content on a number of different platforms, and each platform has unique advantages and disadvantages for reaching audiences. Instagram is huge for influencers — in fact, influencer marketing on Instagram alone is a $1 billion industry. The platform is growing and also has robust discovery tools to help users find new content. Facebook has a larger user base but isn’t as well-known for influencer content. That said, Facebook Video is growing and breakout stars like Laura Clery prove that the platform can be highly effective.
Snapchat, by way of contrast, has a relatively small user base (just 166M daily active users as of May 2017 — well short of the 250M daily active users that Instagram sees on its Instagram Stories feature alone), but that base is engaged. Users spend an average over 30 minutes per day in the app, and Snap reports that upwards of 3 billion snaps are created every day.
Like all other public figures, influencers have reputations and images that they project to their audiences and to the world. Whether they’re experts, tastemakers, or creative wunderkinds, influencers’ reputations can work favorably for brands, provided they’re positive and aligned with brand ideals. Cool influencers lend a degree of their audience-pleasing coolness to brands they work with, and expert influencers can help position brand partners as entities to be trusted.
There are dozens of different types of influencers, and they all approach the work of content creation differently. For marketing purposes, brands will want to look closely at an influencer’s body of work to identify key factors like visual and audio quality, substance, tone, category, and consistency. Marketers should look for influencers whose content is high quality, consistent, focused, and in line with brand goals and image.
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The influencer landscape is crowded, particularly in major categories like fashion, beauty and makeup, and travel, but the best influencers set themselves apart with a singular voice. Brands should look carefully at how influencers talk about people, places, and things, as well as the way that they talk to their audiences. Voice and personality go hand-in-hand, and brands want to partner with the very best.
Influencer marketing is most effective when it’s focused on specific goals, and part of achieving those goals is a thorough understanding of who, exactly, a campaign is meant to reach. Influencers are experts in their audiences, and partnering with them to communicate with those audiences about products, services, experiences, and brands that are relevant to them helps make messaging more effective.
A kitchen tool and gadget brand like OXO would do well to partner with food bloggers, YouTubers, and Instagrammers, and could even get more specific by partnering with vegetarian and vegan influencers to promote a new product that slices vegetables. Likewise, mommy bloggers are a natural fit for stroller or toy brands, but brands could dig deeper and find mommy bloggers who have toddlers to promote a toy intended for children 1-3 years old.
More attention than ever is focused on brand safety in the wake of YouTube’s ad controversy. Brands discovered that ads were being run during and alongside objectionable videos that contained hate speech and questionable conduct. The appearance of brand ads in conjunction with this content gave the impression that brands condoned the video’s contents. More than 250 advertisers froze their campaigns on YouTube, and while many have resumed following YouTube’s revised ad policies, the concern over brand safety remains.
In working with influencers who create content around their personalities, opinions, and day-to-day lives, brands must be aware of any past or potential impropriety that might leave them embroiled in controversy by extension.
Budget is key in any marketing campaign, but with influencer marketing, it’s going to dictate who marketers can work with, what kind of integration they can afford, and how many influencers they can use. There are no standardized rates in the influencer marketing industry, but marketers should use their goals, influencer metrics, and campaign structure to determine how much they’re willing to pay and choose influencers accordingly.
Many influencers — from those who cover makeup to those who make YouTube videos about building robots — already talk about the products that they use frequently. Marketers should research whether or not there are any influencers who are already talking about their products organically. Working with those influencers to become a part of their content and audience messaging is a move that feels genuine and authentic to audiences.
It isn’t just influencers who speak positively about a brand’s products that might make for a beneficial partnership, though. Even influencers who talk about a product’s flaws or cover a competitor’s products may be prime candidates. Partnering with these influencers allows brands to become part of a focused, relevant conversation.
Many campaigns may have brands partnering with influencers for a single post or series of posts, but it’s worth considering whether or not there’s a potential for an ongoing relationship with the influencer. Many brands already do this in the form of “brand ambassadors” — influencers who regularly promote a brand and its products on social media or in brand advertising.
Having influencers that reach the right audience, create quality content, and work well with the brand is a valuable asset that saves time in formulating future campaigns.