No one involved in online business can have missed the recent spectacular rise of influencer marketing. Offering a heady mix of social proof, targeted audiences, and bargain-basement costs, it’s no wonder that the technique is at the forefront of so many digital marketing strategies.
Unfortunately, as with any booming industry, influencer marketing has its fair share of charlatans working within it, and sadly it’s all too easy to waste your money by hiring an influencer who doesn’t carry as much clout as they pretend. What should you look for when sizing up a potential target, so that you can reap the rewards of influence rather than just burning through your budget?
1) A Respectable Following
Although raw follower counts are an unreliable guide to the potential of an influencer, there’s little use in paying an influencer who doesn’t have enough followers to make your campaign profitable. As a simple calculation, imagine you can generate a click-through rate of 2% of their stated audience. Work out the average value of your visitors from other sources, and see if the influencer is likely to send enough traffic your way to make the numbers stack up.
2) Active and Engaged Followers
A far better indicator of an influencer’s quality is the engagement levels of their following, rather than their sheer numbers. Do their posts attract plenty of comments and likes? Do these comments seem genuine, or generic and superficial? If a putative influencer doesn’t generate much engagement through their own posts, they’re unlikely to do much better with your campaign’s material.
3) Follower Interaction
Crucially, does the potential influencer engage back with their own following, or do they simply broadcast post after post without any interaction? A poster who never responds to comments is unlikely to develop much loyalty in their followers, and their influencing ability will be more limited than someone who generates a real sense of community around their account.
4) Quality of Posting
The caliber of posts an influencer makes on their own dime is vital. If their usual output is based on generic stock photos, cliched texts, and clumsy commercial messages, then you may not want to risk your brand by placing it in those surroundings.
Also, check that their feed isn’t already saturated with posts on behalf of other marketers. While you’ll struggle to find many pristine, completely non-commercial accounts that are worth approaching, you don’t want to be just one of many brands being pushed onto a jaded audience.
5) Real-World Presence
Lastly, the best influencers often have a presence outside of their social media accounts. If the influencer has a history of online interviews and features or a healthy amount of media appearances (however niche), then they’ll likely have more clout than one who is limited to their own social accounts.
There’s no doubt that influencer marketing can be a great success, but you need to evaluate the potential influencer carefully before parting with any cash. In an industry that’s so young and yet so lucrative, if you’re unwary you may find yourself throwing money at a wannabe rather than a figure with any real influence.