September 17, 2019

Influencer Marketing 201: Working With Influencers

Christina Sirabella

So, your brand wants to leverage an influencer. This is exciting! And it’s likely a good idea, considering that the influencer marketing industry is booming and it’s poised to reach between $5 billion and $10 billion by 2022. Audiences view influencers as both trusted content creators and advertisers, and influencers shape the lives and purchase decisions of their audiences to a degree that traditional marketing never could.

But with Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube (the most active influencer platforms) boasting monthly active user counts of 300 million, 1 billion, and 2 billion respectively, how do you know which of those users are actually influencers? And there are so many kinds of influencers—from micro to macro to fashion to food (and some that aren’t even human)—so how do you determine which of those influencers can best represent your brand?

To help answer some frequently asked questions about working with influencers, we talked to Brittany Hennessy, bestselling author of Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media and co-founder of Carbon August, a technology company building solutions for influencers. We also tapped Jacqueline Elkort, Community Management Supervisor here at Likeable, so you have our take.

 

What’s the best way to start the process of finding an influencer?

Poll your audience and ask them who their favorite influencers are. You’ll see similarities in their content and will learn what your audience responds to.

LIKEABLE’S TAKE: As a brand, you know your customer. Find a pool of influencers you think your customers and potential customers would follow. Then, ask those influencers for their demographic data and see which ones are the most targeted to your audience.

What should a brand determine about itself before searching for influencers to partner with?

Who are you talking to? What are their hobbies? What’s the aesthetic and tone of voice of your brand? These are all questions you’ll need to have a real answer to before you can partner with someone to create content on your behalf.

LIKEABLE’S TAKE: One way to answer some of these questions? A tone of voice exercise.

When would it make sense to use a micro influencer vs. a macro influencer?

When your budget is restricted or the audience you’re seeking is based in a specific location. But the best influencer campaigns have both micro and macro influencers.

LIKEABLE’S TAKE: For example, if you’re a grocery store in the Philadelphia metro area, your best bet would be to use a micro influencer that knows the city and the community and can speak authentically to this smaller demographic of people. For more information about the pros and cons of micro and macro influencers, check out our blog post here.

What should a brand look for when vetting influencers?

Brands should look for influencers that actually use their products, can create great content, and can show that their audience acts on their recommendations. If those boxes are checked, metrics like follower count and engagement become less important.

LIKEABLE’S TAKE: This also depends on your goals. For example, if getting usable content for your channels is one of your goals, you should look for high-quality content that they created and brand partnerships that were done in a thoughtful way.

How can a brand separate real influence from the imposters?

Are you looking for awareness or are you looking for conversions? Anyone creating content that audiences interact with has influence, but whether or not they’ll be a match for a particular campaign will depend on your goals.

LIKEABLE’S TAKE: If they have a high follower count, do they also have high numbers of likes and comments? Who is commenting on their page? Is it all only other people who think they are influencers? Is it bots? Or is there evidence of real fans who seem connected to the content and to the person who is posting?

Which platforms have seen the most success with influencers? Which have seen the least success?

It depends on the vertical and demographics. YouTube is great for beauty tutorials, gaming, and family vlogging. Instagram is fantastic for travel, fashion, and beauty. On Pinterest, home decor, food, and fitness posts perform very well. Younger audiences are on Snapchat, business professionals are on LinkedIn, and influencers in entertainment and politics are on Twitter. Facebook might have the least traction, but even that is no longer true with the growth of Facebook Watch.

What are some logistics about the process of working with influencers that come as a surprise to some companies?

Everything takes much longer than expected. Also that many influencers are extremely business savvy.

LIKEABLE’S TAKE: There is so much that goes into an influencer campaign. It’s campaign management, content production management, and talent management all at once. It’s a balance between managing the timeline and campaign, managing the content, and working with multiple personalities. The best tactic is to plan ahead as much as possible—also, prepare for things to go wrong and for timelines to be pushed to the limit.

When negotiating contracts, know that although you can use the going rate for influencers (very roughly about a $10 CPM), influencers of the same size can have a huge compensation rate range. Be prepared to negotiate, to fairly compensate, and remember, they are running a business (so don’t expect them to work for free or low rates). Think through what you need from the influencers, like number of posts, usage rights to the content, or repost permissions for your social media, and use this along with your overall budget to come up with a range you are able to pay them. If the influencer is larger, with over 100,000 followers, expect to negotiate with a talent manager.

How has the industry changed since you started working in it, and how you do see it developing in the future?

The people who were good are getting even better. This goes for both influencers and marketing professionals. At the same time, because there is so much money at play and at stake, there are plenty of influencers and marketers that are involved in the industry but do not have what it takes. As this industry becomes more competitive, the cream will rise to the top. Influencers are really waiting for brands to let them run with their ideas, and brands are really waiting for the metrics to back up their spends. Both of those things will happen in 2020.

 

Influencer marketing might seem like it’s all açaí bowls and yoga poses, but as you read in this article, it’s much more than that. Your brand’s campaign will certainly benefit from using influencers—but only if the ones you choose are aligned with your goals, aesthetic, and budget.

Need help finding the right influencer for your brand’s campaign? Get in touch.

Tags: Influencer Marketing, Instagram, Pinterest, Strategy, YouTube

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