What Factors to Look at When Identifying Influencers to Partner With?
Identifying influencers for your brand is tough. At least if they are going to be suitable.
In fact, 67.6% of marketers report that identifying influencers for their brand is the single biggest challenge of influencer marketing. This, of course, demands them to be relevant to the brand.
Sure, you could just reach out to the first individual on social media that you come across which has a large following and team up with them, but if you would, chances are you’d achieve far from desirable results.
A few years ago, the influencer marketing process wasn’t that complicated.
You looked for people with lots of followers within your industry, and then you reached out to them, and then it was all on.
And while you can still do that today, the influencer marketing process has evolved a bit, and marketers have realized that there’s much more to it than that, at least if you want to generate desirable results.
In this article, we’re looking at every single factor you should consider when identifying influencers, and then partner with them.
Because the influencer you partner with is the single most important factor to a successful influencer marketing campaign, but if you don’t know what you should be looking for, it can be tricky.
The first and most obvious metric that marketers look at when identifying influencers is their follower count.
This is probably the first sorting that marketers make.
But before you can do this, you need to decide if you are going to partner with micro-influencers, who are known to have a smaller yet more engaged audience, or if you’re going to focus on the top influencers with hundreds of thousands, or even millions of followers.
Note that influencers are normally basing their prices based on their follower count, which is why the more followers they have, the more it will cost to have them promote you.
So, firstly, you need to decide, do you want to partner with micro-influencers, who have a smaller, yet more engaged audience, or do you want to partner with an industry leader?
Deciding this will allow you to know exactly what you are looking for.
Obviously, an important factor to look at when identifying influencers to partner with is the niche they are in.
If you’re selling dog equipment, you don’t want to partner with influencers who share photos of cats, right?
When influencers are in the same industry as you, it means that they’ve attracted people who are genuinely interested in that niche and therefore consits of peolpe from your target audience.
In other words, by partnering with influencers who are in the same niche as you, the influencer has already done the job of building an audience of people who are passionate about that industry and gathering those individuals in one place, and ultimately presenting themselves as a trustworthy leader within that space.
The good news is that you can leverage that by having the influencer promote your brand, and recommend you to their audience, which consists of people who are your target audience.
If you partner with an influencer who isn’t operating in your industry, it means that they will have built a following of people who aren’t interested in your particular niche, which in turn means that they won’t benefit you as they will never have any interest in buying from you.
Quality of followers
Unfortunately, too many brands put too much emphasis on the follower count itself, rather than evaluating what that number means, and this is a huge mistake.
But it’s easy to see why, because looking at a number is far more concrete than looking at the quality of something.
If you think about it, the follower count itself means nothing. It is the belief of what that number will do for you.
And this goes the other way around for influencers, too.
While looking at the quality of the followers of the influencer can be a little tricky, with the right tactics, it isn’t impossible.
Firstly, you want to begin by looking at how many fake followers an influencer has. Because the worst that can happen is that you pay for an influencer to promote your brand, only to find out that all of their followers are nothing by bots that have been bought. And as a result, they aren’t generating any results to your brand.
Because if you think about it, why would spam bots buy from you?
They’re not even real people.
The most simple way to do this is to use an audit tool that estimates the percentage of fake followers the account has.
There are a variety of different tools out there that you can use, some free, some at a cost. A popular tool for Twitter is Twitter audit.
Note that all accounts have more or less fake followers – it’s inevitable, however, if a large portion of a following is fake, that’s when you should be a little suspicious.
A manual way is to go to their profile and tap on their follower count in order to get a list of their followers by doing this, you can see if you are able to tell if a lot of their followers are fake.
You can read the article how to identify fake followers, to get a better understanding of the tells of fake social media profiles, aka bots. Moreover, you can also read How To Spot Influencers With Fake Followers in order to avoid partnering with fake social media influencers at all cost.
Now, scroll through the list and look for accounts with weird usernames and profile photos. Go to their profile and see if they are following a disproportionate number of accounts compared to the followers they have. Also, take a look at their posts, and if they’ve shared any posts at all.
Something you need to pay great attention to is the engagement rate of the influencer you plan on partnering with.
Doing this allows you to see how engaged their audience is, and how much they actually care and are impacted by the influencer.
Calculating the engagement rat is essentially just taking follower count divided by likes and comments.
Doing this allows you to get some kind of idea of how engaged their audience is. What’s more, if you notice that they have a rock-bottom low engagement rate, it may or may not be an indication that they’ve purchased followers.
Sentiment of engagement
Just like follower count, looking at the engagement rate in the form of numbers will only tell you so much.
To get a better understanding of how engaged their followers are, you need to dig deeper into what they are actually saying, and how the influencer is impacting its audience.
The best way to do this is obviously to look at the comments that have been left on the influencer’s post.
Essentially, what you are after is not a follower count, but it is to reach and impact the followers of the influencer.
And the only way to do this is if the followers of the influencer are engaged.
If they’re not, it will be impossible to impact them and ultimately get them to covert.
This is why you need to focus on engagement in first hand, and follower count as something binary.
Begin by looking at the comments of the influencer.
Do they show that the followers have been deeply impacted by the influencer or do they show that they’ve commented without even looking at the post?
Do their comments reflect a truly engaged audience?
For instance, there’s a huge difference between a comment saying “nice!”, compared to a comment saying “awesome, I have been there too, I enjoyed it a lot. How was your weekend, I know you bought a new car. Did you enjoy it?”.
The latter obviously shows a completely different level of engagement compared to the first comment, which really doesn’t really shows a lot. For what I know, it could have been made by a spambot.
Therefore, above anything else, you need to look at just how engaged the followers of the influencer are. The more engaged they are, the more impacted they’ll be when the influencer talks about your brand, thus granting you better results.
It is very important that your brand resonates with the influencer. This is why the type of content they share is highly relevant.
Not only is it important that they share high-quality, but it is important that you and the influence shares a similar type of content. This will prevent a disconnect when the people go from the influencer’s profile to your brand’s.
And it will make the campaign come off as much more authentic, thus allowing it to be more trustworthy and ultimately drive more and better results.
In order to run a successful influencer campaign, the influencer should be creating the content. Some brands have run campaigns where they send the image they want the influencer to share with their audience, but this isn’t a recipe for success. Because when they do, the post comes off as inauthentic, and it doesn’t resonate with the rest of their content.
Since they are going to create the content for the campaign, you obviously want to partner with an influencer that you know can create good content. You don’t want to partner with someone who creates low-quality boring content.
Similar to the previous point, you want the influencer to be as similar your brand as possible, as it will make for the most seamless experience for their audience, thus preventing a disconnect when people go from the influencer to you.
This also goes for the voice and tone that the influencer uses.
If your brand is known to have a personality that is conservative, and very modest, and the influencer is known to swear a lot, it’s not a very good match.
However, if both the influencer and brand have a personality and tone that is happy, cheerful, and positive, that’s great.
Look at how many partnerships they’ve done
This is something that is very relevant to look at.
If you go to their feed and see that they’ve done ad after ad, you might want to think twice.
Influencers are known to be trusted individuals in their industry, however, if they are running inauthentic promotion after inauthentic promotion, their credibility and authenticity will decrease, thus harming their trust.
What this can lead to in the long run is that when they partner with brands, they are able to drive worse results, because they’ve promoted so much.
There’s nothing wrong with an influencer doing lots of promotions for brands as long as the campaigns are authentic. That is the single most important thing.
However, if you see that they promote for instance a BMW one day and say “this is the world’s best car”, and then the next week, they promote a Mercedes and say “this is the best car in the world”, you see how it’s a bit counter-intuitive, and how it can harm their credibility?
If they are then going to promote your brand, and they have already promoted several of your competitors, that influencer might not be the best pick.
Different from what many think, there are a whole lot of other things that you should be looking at apart from the follower count of an influencer if you are looking to run a successful influencer marketing campaign.
Influencer marketing campaigns are only successful when the brand has partnered with an influencer that has an engaged and relevant audience, resonates with the brand, and then fulfills all of the criteria listed in this post.
Understand that an influencer doesn’t have true influence over people just because they have lots of followers, or because they write so in their profile description.
If you need help identifying influencers that match all these criteria, we offer our influencer directory, and also our influencer list service, where we go out and hand-pick individuals who are relevant to your brand and that helps you run successful campaigns.