This is what you need to know before engaging an influencer

Influencers. What are they? Who are they? How do I find the right ones?

These are just a few of the questions my consulting clients will ask when we start looking at building quality relationships with people who can help increase brand awareness and sales.

This post is a long one but I hope you'll read it through to the end. The reason I've packed in so much info is that I've just met too many amazing small business owners who engaged with an influencer who wasn't right for their brand and, consequently, wasted time and money. I don't want you to do the same.  

So, what is an influencer? 

Also referred to as a Digital Influencer (DI), an influencer is someone who can, well, influence your target audience/s. That may be within their own circle of friends or by promoting your brand online and in real life.

They may charge you a flat fee, take a cut of any sales resulting from their ‘work’ with you (just like the  Amazon Influencer Program), or get paid in products / services.

Given 93% of people will research a product online prior to making a purchase, utilising an influencer can help spread the word about your brand and help ‘influence’ sales conversion. 

Who are they? 

Influencers span a spectrum as wide as the Amazon, but what you really need are people with an audience whose love for them is as deep as the Grand Canyon. You want to find trustworthy people who don’t simply adhere to ‘cash for comment’ for any and all brands.

The rise of the micro-influencer (people with 10k or fewer followers) is largely due to people losing trust in the larger players who, for a while there, seemed to post anything that paid (Frozen Pizza x A Certain Bondi Style Queen? #justnotbelievable).

How do you find the right influencer? 

By far, this is the biggest issue people face. I believe you have a few options:

  1. Pay a PR agency or middleman to do this for you. They’ll need a brief from you before sourcing and managing the influencer relationship.

  2. Subscribe to a service like Scrunch or Traackr to find influencers by subject matter, location, follower numbers, platforms and frequency of posting, as well as contact details and average post engagement. Depending on which platform you choose you’ll need to do the contacting and management yourself, or pay the platform an additional fee to reach out on your behalf.

  3. Find them yourself using your own social media /  email lists / website to advertise and / or analyse (you can download a list of all your social followers from a site like Magi Metrics). This is the most time consuming so be prepared for a few instances of trial and error.

Don't be fooled by big numbers.

I’ve worked with clients who have paid $5000 for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it midnight post and a return of just $25 in sales. I’ve had other clients who paid in product and saw immediate uplift in traffic and sales conversion. The perfect influencer for your brand may be someone who doesn't fit the mainstream description of an influencer. 

If you’re just starting out, analyse your own followers or networks first. These people are already engaged with your brand, making the idea of working with you more attractive. When looking for an influencer, make sure you can answer these five questions:

  1. Does this person actually like the products / services I offer? 

  2. What is my overall objective? Sales, traffic, email signup, social followers, brand alignment?

  3. How will I measure success? Do I have the technology to do this (i.e. Google Analytics dashboards set up, source codes or bit.ly links)?

  4. Does this person really align with my brand's key communication messages? Google potentials to ensure they haven’t recently engaged in activity not aligned with your business.

  5. Is this an ongoing relationship? Ultimately you want someone who wants to work with your brand now and into the future.

Don’t be afraid to ask for more information prior to locking someone in. Digital Influencers should be OK with letting you know their key posting times, what you can expect in terms of engagement and traffic, and, if they’re creating content, a draft or mockup of what this might look like. And ALWAYS get a written agreement in place, so that everyone is clear on what’s expected.

Fiona Killackey