Influencer 101: A guideline for influencer marketing campaigns

Social media post example of influencer marketing

By Corie Fiebiger –  Communications Coordinator

More often than not, businesses and brands are turning to social media influencers to help spread their messages, gain awareness, and win over the masses. These pay-for-play personalities make it their jobs (literally) to make you happy and can change the way your business engages and interacts with potential customers. Successful social media campaigns must be a comprehensive mix of your personalized voice, authentic engagement, worthy visualsbranded and topical posts, and now influencer content. 

Relevant influencer content is great, but not all influencers create equal content. Here are some tips and tactics on what to look for when selecting the right influencer to meet your marketing goals.  

Create Campaign Goals & Targets  

Having a clear idea of your must-haves, required stats, and overall influencer objectives will help you understand the type of influencer you need and can keep you on track if you get overwhelmedNot everyone will be a fit, and it’s important to be particular.  

It will help to have campaign “must-haves” in place to help narrow down the sea of options at your fingertips. Are you looking for influencers in a particular geographic location? Do they meet your minimum follower counts and data markers? This could even be something as specific as what university they attend. 

If your campaign plans to use both paid and unpaid influencers, what are your musthave stats for both categories? Creating a list of influencer and campaign goals at the very beginning of your search will save you invaluable time.  

Find Your Influencers 

Though there might be a plethora of “perfect” people to choose from, finding the right influencer for your brand can be harder than you expect. There are numerous online tools and databases that can help you plug in requirements to find potential influencers. However, depending on the size of your company, brand or campaign, and therefore your budget, paying for influencer vetting software might not be an option. 

Even if you opt for one of these services, you may find yourself having to do additional vetting, as there is no software that can tell you that an influencer’s vibe and esthetic matches what you are looking for.  

If you are trying to build brand loyalty, then you will want to focus on influencers in the same genre as your brand. However, if you are trying to expand your brand awareness and build your audience, then trying out influencers within different categories will be important. For instance, a travel brand might seek out a lifestyle influencer to expand brand awareness by targeting yoga enthusiasts. Or a clothing brand might target a high-end fashion influencer to cement their brand’s reputation as trend setters in the fashion industry. 

One free yet timeconsuming way to find the right influencers for your campaign is by doing a simple search. Google is your best friend. A search for “top lifestyle influencers” delivers almost 24 million search results; each writer has a different opinion and has decided on the best influencers by looking through their own individual vetting lensesEach blog or article will have its best choices represented, so look at a few on a couple of lists to see which writer’s vision you most identify with. You may even find that there are influencers that are represented on multiple lists!  

There is a blog for every topic and an excess of writers to choose from. Another search that is helpful will be “top ____ blogs.” You will be hard pressed to find a blog that isn’t also tied to that blog’s specific social world. Depending on what you are looking for, and if you have the budget to support it, securing an influencer with a blog has its own benefits.  

Create Your Wish List 

You may feel overwhelmed by the large number of influencers to choose from. Staying organized and listing your favorites will be helpful, because this is where the real work and in-depth research begins. An easy place to start is with your must-haves and data dealbreakers. Look at their social sites and review their follower counts. This is an easy way to shorten your list.  

With that said, if you feel there is an influencer with amazing pictures, great content, and good engagement, but who doesn’t meet your minimum numbers, don’t discount them yet. You may find you have to readjust or re-evaluate your goals as you go along, especially if you have a very specific demographic. At the very least, these particular influencers might be a great way to get some free user-generated content that you can share on your own social channels.  

Vet Your Targets Against Your Criteria 

Another easy way to cut down your list is to consider the demographics and psychographics of the influencers you are vetting. Now that you have your list, it comes down to whether they represent who you are. 

Are they the right age, gender, geographic location, or does that matter? What are their interests and motivations and do those align with your product or brand values? Do they have previous sponsored content on their page?  

By looking through various influencer’s platforms, you will eventually get an idea of what you are looking for, whether that is a certain esthetic or something that will resonate with your already loyal following. Read their posts and study their digital habits; a simple “vibe check” can go a long way.  

More important questions to ask yourself: 

  • Are they relevant to your topics or brand? 
  • What is their credibility to products in your category? 
  • What is their sponsored engagement rate vs overall engagement rate? The only one that matters is sponsored engagement. 

There are currently over 570 million blogs out there and 86% of content makers use them, so it is more likely than not that your influencer will have this additional platform for you to utilize. With blogs I suggest looking at the esthetic and vibe. Does it look like someone threw together pictures of their family vacation on a WordPress template, or are there nicely organized sections and tabs to filter their content?  

Many blogs will offer media kits with extra information about their audience, previous branding sponsorships or partnerships, or how many subscribers they have to their newsletters. It is worth noting that previous sponsorships are great, but it will be important to ask what the success rate of that partnership was. Did they just make pretty pictures, or did they increase followers and sell product? 

It will also be helpful to know the blog’s unique visitors per month (UVPM) and domain authority (DA). These could also be featured on the blog. The DA is a search engine ranking score that is a measure of the site’s relevance to a subject area or industry and shows how successful a site is based upon search engine results. Generally anything over 50 is considered good. You can get this free overview of search engine performance from a software development company called Moz 

Budget and Negotiations 

You have your list, yay! Now it is actually time to reach out to your chosen influencers. After all of that time you spent on finding and vetting them, you want them to be a right fit and they want to be a right fit too.  

Just like your own “deal-breakers,” your budget may narrow down your list even further. Determining which one will offer the right results to fit your campaign will come down to feel and your marketing budget.  

Price tends to go up with the number of followers. If a blog post and newsletter mailing is part of your deal, the price can go even further. You may want to use paid influencers, unpaid influencers or both, depending on your budget and size of your campaign.  

Do some research online to find an example of the approximate influencer pricing for various types of campaigns. Many influencers who are trying to gain followers and popularity will work in exchange for product/experience, or whatever it is you are promoting. You can always ask them to do it for tradethe worst they can say is no.   

Online research should reveal the approximate influencer pricing for various types of campaign participation.

You’ve signed a contractnow what? 

Many times, companies will want a firm list of deliverables from their influencer. It is definitely okay to have a must-have shot list. If there is something you would like to feature, a certain product demonstrated, or event highlightedtell them. You are paying and they want you to be successful because it helps them to have successful content. 

Do nothowever, script their entire campaign. Give them creative prompts but not exact messages. Provide the message and vibe you are trying to communicate, but also give them some control and let them play to their strengths. They know their audience and what they will respond to, so work with them to decide the look of the posts and then let them do what they do best. Together, you may even go viral! 

Influencer marketing may not be right for every brand, but we find it to be an influential tool for brand awareness on specific campaigns. With a little time, clear idea of what you are looking for, the right tools for searching, vetting criteria and a contract in place, hiring the right influencers combined with unique and relevant curated content will help create a fully integrated marketing campaign.  

Is the Influencer Influential? How to Find and Vet Influencer Marketing Partners

By Chloe Janda — Communications Coordinator 

Finding the right influencers for your brand is like finding a needle in a haystack. It’s doable, but it takes a lot of time and effort. Except today’s social media haystack is more of a field… the size of Russia.

New influencers popup every day, and some aren’t even cognizant individuals. I’m not just talking about bots, catfishes, and dogs; I’m talking babies with blue checkmarks. Have you seen DJ Khaled’s son Asahd who recently released a Kid’s Foot Locker collection with Jordan’s?! Or Bretman Rock’s niece Cleo Mae who does nothing but be really cute and has a promotion inquiry email in her bio?!?! What. Is. Happening.

Okay, rant over.

Let’s get to the juice, how do we muddle through the real accounts with influence and avoid the #FakeViews AND find someone who will not only increase your brand reach but ultimately boost your conversions and sales.

As Communications professionals, finding the right partnership is an ever-evolving art where we factor in engagement, audience psychographics, influencer genre, whether partnership content can be both promotional and feel native, and how the partnership will reflect on our client’s brand. At (W)right On, we’ve got a few tools, tips and tricks to vet these internet mavens before ever recommending them to a client. Below are our six essential criteria when vetting an influencer.

1. Type of Reach – Is it the target audience for your brand?

Determining which demographics an influencer’s audience consists of (e.g. Millennials vs. Baby Boomers; Fitness Buffs vs. Parents) is the first step when vetting because you want to align your potential partnership with your goals.

For example, say Nike was looking to do a social campaign for a new clothing line and wants to reach a sports-focused audience. Two of the top sports social influencers are ESPN and Barstool Sports. Although they aren’t influencers in the sense of one person, they as publishers have an influential status in the social media realm and highlight differences in the type of reach.

ESPN’s content has a more professional, traditional and news focused tone and their audience demographics are 76% male with a median age of 48. Barstool Sports still has a mostly male audience, but their content appeals to a younger base because it is more edgy, flippant and a little crass.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Heading into work tomorrow morning after drinking a million beers this past weekend @oldrowofficial (Via @Braccoz @nboccab )

A post shared by Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) on

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Russ is still holding off Lamar in our experts’ latest MVP ballot ???? (via @espnnfl)

A post shared by ESPN (@espn) on

Since ESPN’s content and audience aligns more with Nike’s target customers and overall brand tone, they’d likely choose to partner with them over Barstool.

Depending on your brand or client partner, there are types of influencers that will be better suited for your goals. At (W)right On, we often work with influencers for our hospitality clients, particularly setting up site visits for Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite and Welk Resorts. Both destinations are ideal for families, so we’ll partner with Mommy bloggers and travel influencers.

A very handy tool we use to ease this vetting process is HypeAuditor. With their free account, you can view a brief analysis of audience demography and interests. For example, below is Asahd Khaled’s audience stats and to the right is 52 Perfect Days, a blogger we’ve partnered with.

P.S. HypeAuditor is a great tool, but it only analyzes Instagram and YouTube so depending on your campaign it may not be as helpful.

2. Are they considered an authority on certain subjects?

HypeAuditor’s audience interest report (shown above) is a great at-a-glance option to see which topics the influencer is most known for. For example, in the hospitality space, we target travelers and lifestyle influencers who are consistent in this focus.

But more than just interest, you want to be sure that the influencer’s “lane” aligns with whatever your message is for the campaign. For example, if your client has a high-end razor, you’d want to partner with an influencer who is known for their luxurious lifestyle. If your client is offering a cheap shoulder season vacation package, you’d target a budget travel influencer.

3. Audience Authenticity – Reach vs. Impact

When finding influencers for your brand to partner with, you not only want folks whose follower demographics match those of your brand but also ones with an authentic audience filled with real people actively visiting their social channels. When researching, check for:

    • Are there any boughts or bots? HypeAuditor’s one-off reports are $30 and offer a full analysis of true followers, but the free one also shows a chart of yearly follower growth. Here is 52 Perfect Days’ stats:

4. Engagement vs. Followers – Are they responsive and growing?

To get that high ROI, your message needs to be seen. To do so, check for:

  • What is the quality of the comments? Are they spammy or real people?
    • You’ll have to manually look at a few posts for this, but comments are important because it means they’re resonating with their audience, which assures your brand campaign will be seen.
  • Average likes?
    • This one’s easy enough because all you really need to do is look at their number of followers and check a couple posts for how many likes they average. If they have 100k followers but 85 likes on most posts, those are most likely bought followers.
    • This can also be quickly assessed using tools like HypeAuditor to view engagement rates or another nifty tool, PeopleMap, which primarily analyzes Instagram. Here are a few reports from PeopleMap:

Also, be sure you look at different posts to get a true average. For fitness influencers, their shirtless post-workout poses might drive much more engagement than a selfie while they’re traveling. Knowing what types of posts do the best will help you better evaluate fit and help you determine what sort of content might be most suitable for a partnership.

5. Quality of Content – Tone, Writing Style, Topics

When researching influencers, especially bloggers, evaluate their ability to tell a story and frame it well. It’s hard to make sponsored content feel organic, but it’s impossible to do if the influencer has built an audience purely on personality and not on content or storytelling. Reading their posts is a start, but also ask:

    • What is the overall tone of their content? Is it authentic, static, dull, relatable, short, trendy, basic, long, like a blog?
    • Does their tone align with your brand’s tone and values?
    • How often do they post?
    • Where is the content published? Multiple social accounts, blogs, media websites?
    • What topics do they primarily focus on and which ones receive the most engagement?

6. Previous Brand Collaborations – Quality and Quantity

Each influencer approaches partnerships and campaigns differently. Some want comped meals and activities, while some charge a fee. Depending on your campaign goals, budget, and expected ROI, in addition to vetting the quality of the influencer’s audience engagement and past partnership posts, you should also consider:

    • Have they promoted brands before?
    • How many?
    • Are they your competitors?
Of course, there’s no fool-proof formula for evaluating whether an influencer partnership campaign will pop or flop. Influencer marketing is constantly changing, so it’s important to stay up to date on the latest industry trends and listen to feedback from influencers.
Remember, these are only the essentials, so if you want to learn more and avoid that field of hay, reach out to us!