As a brand looking for the next influencer to partner with for a sponsored post or campaign, you’re rarely starved for choice. Influencers come in every shape and form, figuratively speaking, and can range from several hundred followers to hundreds of thousands or even millions. Some agencies out there even specialize in compiling influencers from all kinds of fields and with all kinds of followings to make it easier to pick the right one for you.
Whichever may be your case, and whatever the purpose you’ll need an influencer for, there are some universal qualities you’ll need to look for in these online celebrities if you are to strike a successful professional relationship with them.
Here are 5 traits to look for before hiring an influencer.
1. Correct Niche/Focus
Perhaps what you should look for first before hiring an influencer is whether their content actually relates to your product or service. This should go without saying, but it’s still possible to see brands advertising with big name influencers just for their follower count, when their content is in no way related to their proposed product or service, which means they’re really fishing in the wrong pond. Fitness enthusiasts follow fitness influencers – there’s no point in advertising a new protein shake with gaming influencer just because they boast a 100,000 followers.
In fact, multiple studies have shown that engagement rates tend to be higher the smaller the follower count. For example, research by Mediahub shows that influencers with 1,000 followers generated 85% higher engagement than the ones with 100,000 followers.
Homing in on the correct niche is a good first step, but it’s not enough. Many influencers cover the same sectors or niches but in different ways.
One beauty influencer might be all about the glitz and glamour, while another covering the same topics might adopt a more relatable persona for women to relate to, helping fans come to terms with being human as opposed to perfect, as many followers would want to appear.
When a high-tier brand like Dior considers between these two influencers, they’d often go for the first kind, one that propels its luxurious, superstar brand. Another company, one that targets teenagers instead, for example, is better off picking the second kind of influencer, which is more likely to set a better example for young girls while also extending this positive message to their own brand and products.
After you’re certain the influencer you’ve picked suits your brand, the next step is to inspect the authenticity of their online presence. You’d be surprised with the amount of influencers that utilize fake followers to artificially inflate their numbers.
Last year, fake followers in influencer marketing were estimated to cost brands $1.3 billion in misused funds, according to Cheq, a cybersecurity company focused on the digital media space. You can be certain this figure increased in 2020, so you’d do well to vet an influencer before you sign any bank checks.
On top of having the right audience, personality and being authentic, it always helps if the influencer in question has marketing experience.
The last thing you’d want is for the influencer you thought was perfect for your brand to carelessly show off the sponsored product into their post or YouTube video. The thing fans hate the most is a sellout, and if your influencer of choice is not able to properly integrate the sponsored product/service into their content, or to properly explain why they think it is a good fit for their fans, the marketing campaign will fall flat and you’d have wasted your investment.
An influencer with marketing experience (with other brands, for example) is used to promoting goods and services to their followers in interesting and engaging ways that fit their persona.
Even if this is the first time you’re advertising with an influencer, it’s highly unlikely to be your last. In every facet of life, it’s always important to try and strike good, long-lasting relationships. Things aren’t any different in the influencer marketing space.
Look for influencers who exude a sense of professionalism, be it in their communication with you (such as emails and direct messages), punctuality, and tone.
Try to build meaningful relationships with these influencers, and you can enjoy many months (or years) of joint prosperity. Followers are more likely to take note of your brand if their favorite online personality often advertises your product in new and exciting ways. Additionally, influencers are likely to give you a discount for multiple posts, which is money saved on your end and income secured over the long run for them.
Be nice, honest and professional – it’s the right thing to do, and it pays dividends.