Influencer Marketing Pt. 2: Finding The Right Influencer

If you missed Influencer Marketing 101: Part 1, read it here first!

Influencer marketing can offer instant brand credibility and increased reach to key audiences. But how do you decide which partners are right for your campaign?

Most often, I’ve found the best success with nano and micro-influencers. I usually work with a range of people who have anywhere from 1.5K-50K followers, depending on my client’s budget and overall goals. Micro-influencers typically have followings that are smaller and niche – whether that’s based on an area of interest or a geographical area.  And because they’re smaller, they tend to have more personal relationships with their followers and thus offer a great deal of consumer trust when they promote your product or brand.

Before you slide into these people’s DMs, you need to have a clear understanding of your ideal customer and what you want them to do as a result of your influencer campaign. The more clear you are in the purpose of reaching out to an influencer, the better you’ll be able to communicate those needs to them. It also helps gauge if they’re a good fit for your brand – and they can determine if you’re a good fit for theirs, too!

Finding the right influencer partners is possible – it just takes some research!

Narrow Down Your Audience  

Because influencers typically speak to a specific audience or topic, it’s crucial to know what audience you’re targeting for your campaign. This is a great opportunity to work with your team to define your ideal customer or do some target market research, if you haven’t already.

Some questions to consider: Where does your ideal customer live? How old are they? What do they like to do? Where do they work? What’s their lifestyle like? What social media platforms do they use?

Having answers to these questions will make your influencer marketing effort much, much easier. (Don’t worry. I offer tips on how to assemble your dream team of influencers below!)

Identify Your Objectives

Once you’ve identified your key audience(s), identify why you hope to engage with them. This is also known as setting your campaign objective.

Examples of objectives are:

  • Increase number of followers or social media interaction
  • Drive conversions, such as sales, email list signups, or downloads
  • Increase overall brand awareness
  • Increase positive sentiment about your brand

You’ll want to understand your goals of the campaign so you can work with your influencer partners to craft an engagement. This could look like a giveaway, a mention, a product review – get creative! Whatever you decide to do, it should offer tangible metrics so you can determine if the partnership was effective for you. You’ll likely want to partner with the highest-performing influencers again!  

Find Influencers to Work With

So you’ve got a firm grasp on the audience you want to reach and how you want to engage them. Now, you need to identify the influencers to help you meet those goals.

Here are some tips on how to find them:  

  • Start with your own audience. Dig through your list of Instagram followers to see if any of these individuals are a good fit to talk about your brand or product. This will make your ask to partner easier, since they already know (and likely love!) you.
  • Search Instagram. If you’re targeting a geographical area for a community outreach campaign or event, try searching on Instagram for relevant geotags (i.e. Downtown Sacramento, Napa Valley, Dallas). See who has posted recently in your target area, check out their profile, and see if they match your criteria for partnership.
  • Research hashtags. If you’re looking for industry influencers or those who post about a specific topic, search relevant keywords or hashtags on Instagram (i.e. #yoga, #dogsofinstagram, #coffeeaddict) and browse through the posts that come up.
  • Use “the Google.” Google blogs or YouTube channels about your topic and see which ones are relevant, frequently updated, and have good engagement across their other social media platforms.

Typically, a quick Google or Instagram search will point you in the right direction – and it never hurts to ask others in your industry about who they follow, too!

Determining If an Influencer is a Good Fit

When selecting influencers to work with, research is everything. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a data nerd.

It’s important to look beyond their number of followers. You also want to look at the average engagement they receive on their posts, if their voice and content matches your brand’s, past sponsored posts they’ve done, etc. to make sure they’re a good fit for your brand or campaign.

More experienced influencers, especially those who monetize their partnerships, likely have a kit they can send you with this information, but I always recommend doing your own due diligence. You can also double-check engagement rate and credibility with online tools such as Tanke and Hypeauditor, respectively.

Who you select to bring on as an ambassador for your brand is a big decision. With thought and research, it should result in a dream team of partners who care about your brand as much as you do.

Stay tuned for Part III: Tips for a Flawless Influencer Engagement 

Influencer Marketing 101 (Part I)

I did a poll on my Instagram last month about what followers were most interested in learning about. Influencer Marketing was #1 by a landslide. I wasn’t surprised, either. “What is influencer marketing?” is one of the most common questions I get from new clients.

I love working with influencers for client campaigns so much. Not only do I have the privilege of working with some of the nicest and creative individuals on the internet, but the return of these partnerships for my clients is so worth it.

So, here it is. A whole series of blog posts to give you the ins-and-outs of influencer marketing. Consider adding it to your to-do list of things to benefit your business during COVID and before the holidays. (And stay tuned in the coming weeks for Part II and III!)

Part I: Influencer Marketing for Business

I started using influencer marketing as a tactic in client campaigns about five years ago.

The social media landscape then – and, still, now – was making it difficult for brands’ content to be seen on Facebook and Instagram. The changing algorithms on both platforms decreased reach of my clients’ posts, and the decreasing consumer trust in social media advertising wasn’t delivering the cost effectiveness and results it once was.

Enter: Influencer marketing. It quickly became one of my favorite forms of social media marketing.

In working with influencers to talk about my clients’ events or products on their own social media platforms, I am able to introduce messaging to target audiences in a creative, authentic way. The message comes from a person or public figure they already follow, so audiences are far more receptive to it than they would be to any advertisement or post in their newsfeed.

So, what exactly is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is a powerful public relations tool. Brands work with influencers to endorse their event, company or product on their social media platforms or blogs. This partnership can be organic (unpaid), paid, or trade.

Audiences follow influencers’ blogs, YouTube, and Instagram accounts because they are interested in what that person is posting and have similar interests or lifestyles. Working with an influencer to talk about your brand to their audience lends third-party credibility to your brand. This can generate awareness, engagement, and sales.

Even if your partnership entails sponsored or paid content, there is an element of trust there that the influencer won’t promote content that they don’t actually enjoy. I think this is even more true for industries like craft beer and hospitality. An influencer doesn’t want to post about a beer that isn’t good or promote brands they don’t align with. This can ruin their credibility with their followers.

Back up. What’s an “influencer”?

It’s pretty much like it sounds. An influencer is anyone who has a social following based around a certain subject area, or is a thought leader in their industry. Their audiences look to them for education, inspiration, recommendations, and/or entertainment. Their platforms can vary, too. Typically we think of “Instagram influencers,” but it can be anyone who has an engaged following on any platform – a blog, YouTube, Medium, Instagram, TikTok. You name it.

There are different types of influencers. There are nano-influencers, who by definition have 10,000 or less followers. Micro-influencers have 10-100K followers. Mega- and macro- influencers have hundreds of thousands or millions of followers.

I typically work with nano- and micro-influencers for client projects. These influencers tend to have higher engagement rates because their audiences are small and typically niche. This allows them to actually have relationships with their followers. And it means more brand trust and engagement for you!

While the size of their following is a great initial criterion, it’s not just about the numbers. When working with influencers, it’s important to be mindful of more than just audience size the makeup of their demographic – gender, age, geographic location, interests, etc. We’ll get into this in Part II.

Some Examples of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing, in the way of social media promotion and blog mentions, has worked particularly well for driving attendance at my beer festival, Art of Beer Invitational, over the past several years. I also used it to awareness about 2019 Sacramento Beer Week and its kickoff event, the Sac Mac & Brew Review. I can attribute at least a quarter of our ticket sales (but it’s most likely more) for each of these events, solely to the influencers we worked with. Believe me when I say it’s worth it.

I set up special pairings of the beer and mac n’ cheese for Sacramento influencers ahead of the main event.

Earlier this year at the start of COVID, when breweries started to do online sales, I coordinated drop-offs and shipments of my client’s beer to select influencers throughout California. In turn they saw boosted sales, heightened social media engagement, and increased brand awareness in their target markets.

These types of partnerships are typically low-cost and can be mutually beneficial to both parties. The best part? They create relationships between influencers and the brands that can live beyond the initial projects.

Read Next: Part 2 – Finding the Right Influencer