Perhaps the most important—and yet most difficult—part of an influencer marketing campaign comes before you ever make a pitch.
Finding the right influencers takes time, and according to a Mediakix survey, 61% of marketers still say it’s difficult to find influencers who properly align with their brand.
Many marketers rely on follower count and engagement rate, assuming those metrics will help them find high-quality influencers. In a day of fraudulent influencers, removal or concealment of “likes” and imperfect software, it’s important to go beyond the numbers. Brand marketers should instead evaluate the following when vetting influencers:
Use demographic data to gauge the likelihood of followers’ becoming customers. If your product is primarily targeted to females, you want an influencer with a largely female audience. For example, if an influencer has 20,000 followers but only 25% of them are female, that means only 5,000 will be interested in your brand. Likewise, don’t waste money reaching followers on the West Coast if you’re marketing an experience in New York City.
Certainly an influencer’s personal demographics matter, but it’s even more important to know the demographics of their followers. Influencer discovery software will have this data, but ask for a media kit and do your own research to get an idea of who their audience is. Additionally, their audience demographics may differ from one platform to another. Make sure you have the demographic data you need for all targeted platforms.
Quality of content
You partner influencers should have a unique voice that aligns with your brand and its values. The topics that matter to them should matter to you. Is their content interesting and engaging? Would you want to follow them? Influencers who create authentic, inspiring content for their followers will be motivated to create the same content for your campaign. Failing to look at content could mean your campaign falls flat with their followers.
Don’t discount their aesthetic either. Ideally, you want to be able to use their imagery on your own channels. Their creative content should be an extension of yours.
Check that influencers adhere to FTC guidelines when you evaluate their content. There should be clear and visible disclosure statements indicating that the content is sponsored. Influencers who already follow best practices are often much easier to work with. If you don’t see disclosures in content that looks sponsored, consider it a red flag.
FTC compliance is also a good measure of influencers’ professionalism. Not only do they want to follow best practices, but they also want to be transparent with their followers.
Frequency of publishing
Quality should always outweigh quantity, but the frequency with which influencers publish does matter. Influencers who post daily or a few times per week are simply getting in front of their followers more often. Their audience knows when to expect content and seeks it out.
Content from influencers who post sporadically can go unnoticed. An irregular posting schedule could make it difficult for them to hit requested deadlines. Examine content frequency when vetting influencers, especially if your campaign centers around a particular season or holiday.
Some influencers publish on just one platform, often Instagram or YouTube, while others publish blogs and maintain a diverse social presence. There is value in both types of influencers; however, an influencer who owns their own platform may be ideal. In the age of algorithms, it’s possible that even the best content won’t be shown in users’ social media feeds.
Consider working with an influencer who publishes regularly to their own website. They’ve already established a loyal readership, so you may be able to reach more people than if you were at the mercy of Instagram.
Follower count and engagement rate can help you narrow your initial pool of influencers. However, you can easily waste your influencer budget if you don’t consider higher-value, qualitative factors.
Ellen Borza is the manager of SEO and online PR at Web Talent Marketing.