Are you wondering how to go about partnering with the best influencer for your brand? While influencers have the potential to expose your company to a new audience, drive traffic and boost sales, successful collaborations require a strategic approach.
There are a whole host of things to consider before you go down the influencer road. I’ll help you understand how to choose an ideal partner and how to nail down a partnership that accomplishes your marketing goals.
Let’s jump right in.
Are they a fit for your brand and marketing goals?
So, you want to work with an influencer, but you’re not quite sure how to find the right one. The first thing to consider is whether your candidate is a good fit for your brand and marketing goals.
The best influencer is a fit for your brand
Customers and followers are savvy, so it’s crucial to partner with someone that aligns with your brand aesthetic and values. Pretty pictures and a high follower count are bonuses, but it’s vital to choose someone who already exhibits characteristics that speak to your brand DNA.
The power of the influencer lies in their community, so approach people who are invested in your offering or industry. When they promote a product or service on their channels, it can come across as a trusted tip from a friend.
For example, suppose you have a luxury kids apparel company. In that case, it only makes sense to partner with an influencer who invests in their child’s clothes. Alternatively, it wouldn’t make sense to partner with a food blogger who also happens to be a mom just because they have a large following (more on that below).
The best influencer partnerships align with goals
As with any marketing initiative, your goals should drive your choice of an influencer. Let’s say your goal is to create stunning imagery to highlight your product or service. In that case, you’re best to partner with someone skilled at photography, styling, and editing, and demonstrates these talents on their platforms.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to get specific key messaging out to a broader audience, choose someone in your niche who has a more substantial following who has the potential to reach more people.
An optimal time to value reach over niche is when you are promoting a philanthropic initiative with the goal of raising awareness and trending on a specific platform (a philanthropic campaign is one such example).
With these points in mind, here’s how to take a deeper look into the suitability of your influencer.
Social Media Audit
Have you done a social media audit of your influencer wish list? If not, it’s an essential step to ensuring you are partnering with the right one.
Social media audits can expose more than their niche. A thorough audit will reveal their values, personality and level of professionalism.
Here’s what to assess:
Bio – Bios may reveal some of their likes and dislikes, brand affiliations, past professions or what causes they support.
Photos and videos – Photos and videos will reveal their approach to producing content, and give you an authentic look at their personality, presentation style and behaviour.
Captions and posts – See what they usually talk about, what they believe in, and their writing style.
Competing brand sponsorships – Competing sponsorship deals or conflicts of interest. There also should be a healthy balance of sponsored and authentic content. If you notice that influencers have published three or more sponsored posts consecutively, their credibility may be at risk. The comments section is a goldmine for feedback on how their follows engage with sponsored posts. Positive and negative comments are useful to gauge the success of your partnership.
Authenticity – Look for well-thought-out captions that tell a story. For sponsored posts, the influencers’ captions should be helpful to their audience. They should explain why they’re promoting the brand’s products or services, how it can be used, or why they love it. Sponsored posts should also be tagged as such.
The most effective influencers (apart from celebrities) are those who engage in two-way conversations with their audience. The authentic and honest profiles are generally the ones that hit home.
Once you’re confident in the influencer’s suitability, it’s time to analyze their following – and I don’t just mean by the numbers.
How engaged is their following?
Do you automatically equate an influencer’s value to the number of followers they have? If so, you’re not alone. Their following is definitely significant, but the way you evaluate the number beside the profile pic should be qualitative versus quantitative.
Engagement metrics – the public shares, likes, hashtag citations, and comments of a post – reveal an influencer’s real impact. A high level of engagement means more people are actually paying attention to what they are posting and care enough to participate.
A stellar engagement rate is 4-6 percent but generally, you want to see an engagement rate of 2-3% on influencers’ posts. Posts in the high tens and twenties are considered “viral.”
While many big-time influencers have a large following and high engagement rates, they usually come at a high cost. If your budget allows, go for it! But if you’re looking for an effective and affordable collaborator, you might want to consider a micro-influencer.
Micro-influencers and Nano-Influencers
If you’re unfamiliar with the terms, a micro-influencer has between 1,000 and 100,000 followers and a nano-influencer has less than a thousand. They usually focus on a specific niche, rendering them a leader in the space. As a result, their followers share their interests and tend to be more engaged.
Many companies have found success with this model, including Tom’s of Maine.
The natural toiletry brand partnered with nano-influencers like Rachel Ibbison, who has just 1,482 followers, to raise brand awareness.
Each nano-influencer encouraged their followers to publish their own posts with the product. This strategy created a snowball effect that reached 4.4 million potential customers in the campaign’s first three months.
The takeaway? More followers doesn’t always guarantee visibility. Depending on your campaign goals, working with a group of micro or nano-influencers will yield a higher return on investment and inspire the behaviour you’re seeking.
Tip: You can use audience demographic features, available on influencer marketing platforms, to identify influencers and micro/nano–influencers who have an audience in your target location, age, or gender.
Lastly, we’ll look at what to expect from your influencer collaboration.
Will they meet your expectations?
So, you’ve chosen a solid fit for your brand and your marketing goals. You’re confident that the influencer will produce on-message, well-composed, creative, consistent, and optimized content for social media.
You’re off to a good start; but before you ink the deal, it’s important to decipher whether you can work together. By this I mean, you need to gauge their level of professionalism and whether they are easy to work with.
Regardless of thein Insta star power, you don’t want to be caught invested in someone who doesn’t answer emails in a timely manner, isn’t amenable to collaboration or worse, doesn’t adhere to the tenants of the deal.
You can ask for references or engage the influencer in a conversation to get an idea of their work ethic.
In nailing down the deal, you’ll also discover how they work and if you click.
Here’s a quick checklist to reference as you are crafting your agreement:
- A start and end date. Whether you’re planning an ongoing or fixed collaboration, both parties need to agree upon the start/duration/completion dates. For example, if you’re paying for a post on the influencer’s website, specify the minimum timeframe the article must be live on their site.
- Scope of work with concrete and specific deliverables. Get very specific here with a list of explicit deliverables the influencer must produce to satisfy the agreement. For example, “one 1500-word blog post with x number of images featuring xxx, plus supporting Instagram posts featuring this in the photo on the day it goes live, and every 2 days for a week”.
- The rights you’re purchasing. Are you asking for all rights to the work? Or just first publication? Is the influencer allowed/paid to republish the content on their social and owned channels after a specific amount of time? Spell this all out.
- The delivery format. Do you want the influencer to use your content management system like WordPress? How do you want to receive their social media content? Will you do the internal linking, formatting, etc.?
- Edit approvals. Reach an agreement on how the edit and approval process will be managed for all pieces of the campaign.
- Derivative content. Do you plan to create derivative material from the author’s work? For instance, will you use blog post sections in an email sequence to your database? Or to translate the content into other languages? If so, can the author review and request edits on these pieces of content?
- Advertisements. If you plan on promoting the content through advertising and paid promotion, it must be included in the contract.
- Content distribution – channels, frequency, and schedule. Spell out which channels you expect the influencer to promote their content on, how many times, and what days and times. For example, suppose they are helping to launch a product. In that case, you should have a precise, agreed-upon promotion schedule that ramps up in the days immediately before it’s available for purchase.
- Metrics. How will you define success of the partnership? Number of leads generated? The number of social shares? Getting a social share by a specific influencer you haven’t previously engaged with? Be transparent about your expectations to ensure all parties are poised to deliver.
- Give them creative licence. You chose to work with this influencer because you liked their style, so allow them creative freedom to make the content their own. Guidelines and specific criteria is essential, but micro-managing them will not result in their best work and jeopardizes authenticity – a repellent for engagement.
This post has scratched the surface of the topic of influencer marketing. My goal here was to help you figure out how to find the best influencer partner for your brand and set you up for success.
Adopting a strategic approach that adheres to the points above will help to make your campaign a success.
Good luck and let me know if you’ve found this helpful. I love your feedback!