How to choose the right influencer for your brand

The importance and the key points on how you can choose the right influencers for your brand endorsement. 

What role do social media influencers play in marketing your brand

With any marketing campaign, product or brand promotion, selecting the right tools is the key. Similarly, when it comes to social media marketing and brand endorsement selecting the right group of promotors / social media influencers is like selecting the right tool.

What role do social media influencers play in marketing your brand

Brand and product promotions with influencers has become a normal practice in the last few years, not only small to mid level brands but even large scale corporations and brands take help of influencers to promote their brand or product. Take Sony, Apple, Unilever or any large scale hotel chain, you will see at least one social media influencer marketing program.

My background in social media market and brand development

Why did I decide to write about this topic?

For those of you who do not know. I started travel blogging (and this blog) just a few years ago but for the last decade or so I have been working as a multi-disciplinary creative (specialized in visual design and direction of photography). I had opportunities working as in house brand development person as well as from the agency side. I spent these years building brands, from a visual design, marketing, and branding point of view. Later with my background in photography, I started working with brands to build bespoke content as well as using my social media channels to share brands’ stories. But in the very saturated and fast-growing influencer market, one of the things I recently noticed is how a lot of brands have recently started throwing cash to those social media influencers, get their brand or product hit that “trending page”

Unfortunately in most of the cases, the result and ROI was not as expected. The brands were left with the unanswered questions like “why did we not make any sale, our influencer had 1 million followers”

The fact is, very few brands actually conduct a social media buying and influencer audit.

It has all become about how many number of followers does the influencer have. A lot of the influencers who are charging a fortune might not even have a real following, engeagement or relevant following and of course then the results are disappointing.

So let’s get to the solution. 

How can I choose the right influencers for my brand

Here is the key question. With a saturated market of influencers and bloggers, how do you choose the right influencers for your brand. What to look for in an influencer or blogger to make sure the partnership turns out beneficial for your business. 

Let me crack it down for you even though I might get a lot of hate by some for putting this in a black and white document with 100% transparency. Brands and individual business owners have suffered for the last few years, spending large amounts on influencer marketing with very low results. So here are a few basic points you can follow and look for, before you choose an influencer to endorse your brand or product. In this article I’ll be focusing on Instagram as the social media platform, but similar research tactics can be applied on other platforms.

1. Look for authenticity

Gaining followers is a piece of cake. You can buy followers for as low as $3.99 these days (with instant delivery). Do not fall for that trap. If someone has 1 million followers it does not mean they are the all real. There is in fact a big chance that they are fake followers.

How to spot fake followers?

There are couple of ways of doing that. You can use one of the online tools to check for fake followers like Modash . These tools may not always be accurate but then there’s a manual way of checking this too, which might give you more accurate results.

Go in their followers’ list and check for:

  • Ghost followers with no photos or random names with strange combination of numbers
  • Followers with almost no posts and yet following a lot of accounts
  • Followers who are following thousands of pages but have barely 10 followers themsleves.

Go to their comments and look for:

  • Irrelevant and spammy comments
  • Comments full of emojis
  • Repetitive comments
  • Repetitive comments by the same accounts, on different photos
  • Generic looking / copy pasted comments

Go to their posts and look for:

  • Very low engagement compared to their number of followers.
  • Engagement from fake accounts / ghost followers (as described in the first point)

2. Look for relevancy

Very important. Let’s suppose you work for an automotive company and want to work with some influencers promoting the newly launched car model. Now if you end up hiring an influencer with a high number of followers but who is a beauty blogger / influencer, then it is a completely wrong pick.

The influencer may not tell you that, and try to cash our his / her millions of followers and make promises to increase sales of your car. But most likely that partnership will not bring you a high number of purchases. In other words, you’ll end up wasting that social media budget in the wrong direction. Which unfortunately I have seen multiple marketing departments do (sorry marketing peeps).

Similarly if you are a cosmetic brand and end up collaborating with someone with millions of followers in gaming industry. It is just a wrong match. 

So look for influencer / promotor / blogger who caters to your or relevant industry, even if he or she has lesser number of followers. High relevancy is more important than high numbers.

3. Look for fans’ loyalty 

Just like you’d trust a brand that is trusted by many others. Similarly for influencers you should go with ones who have a loyal fanbase. Just having a random bunch of followers who do not really care about the content does not make a strong profile for an influencer. You want to work with the influencer who’s followers are loyal to him / her and trust his / her word. 

4. Look for their persona

An influencer is a lot like a brand ambassador of your brand. If someone has a bad reputation (for whatever reason) that can also reflect on your brand. So do a little background check and read through some comments too.

5. Look for the niche

Very similar to point number 2. Try to work with someone who specializes in the relevant industry and not just a jack of all trades. Someone who’s selling a new product every day builds an image of a sales person. The image they build is that “they will endorse any brand that pays them”. With such influencers, the trust level of their followers is pretty low. Instead work with someone who stands of something, anything but something and some belief. 

6. Active across multiple platforms

Ideally, look for someone who has activity and following across different platforms (facebook, youtube, etc) That ensures (a) fan loyalty (b) a more vast spread reach for your brand.

Conclusion

If you are the brand owner, even if working with an agency, make sure you look in depth to who you work for. Do not fall for number of followers and likes but look for quality. Use the above described methods to find out if the influencers have real following and engagement or not. Go for quality over quantity.

Also an important question to ask is if the brand or product necessarily needs an influencer endorsement or not. 

Have an interesting story to share about your experience in working with social media influencers? Please share in the comment section below.

Interested in working with me?

If you have an interesting project or product, for which you require my services in creative content creation, digital marketing and consulting, feel free to drop me an email at [email protected]

Alternatively you can write to me on my instagram @mustafa_sheikh 🙂

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