When you’re looking for an influencer to partner with on social media, finding the best fit for your business is essential if you're to get the best bang for your buck. The ideal influencer tends to have three key abilities: the ability to grow an audience (often off their own back), the ability to create engaging content, and the ability to distribute it effectively. When you’re on the hunt, here are four questions that you must ask so that you can spot a potential influencer, and quickly gauge whether they'll be right for you:
1. How many people follow, and how engaged are they?
Although the size of a potential influencer's audience is important to a degree (follower count is a good start because you need to know you're working with someone who actually could help you reach your own target audience and 100 followers ain’t gonna cut it), it's worth nothing that a large following does not necessarily equate to strong influence. Instead, you need to consider how engaged their audience appears to be, or you risk throwing money down the drain.
Signs to look out for include the number of likes, views, and comments, particularly in relation to the overall audience size. On sites where follower and following numbers are displayed (like Instagram and Twitter), check to see how many people they are following vs how many follow them. Not only is it easy to buy a fake following on these sites, but one can manufacture a large “following” simply by following thousands of other accounts, who will often follow back.
For example, an influencer with 20,000 followers and 500 comments per post (2.5% comment rate) could generate you a better return on investment with someone who has an audience of 200,000 and only 100 comments per post (0.05% comment rate). Obviously, there are a lot more factors to consider (click-through rate being a major one), but it's worth remembering that a handful of smaller influencers with high rates of engagement could generate you a much better return on investment than chasing just one big fish, who might even be phoney.
Would a local influencer work better?
Depending on your business and target audience, it might not be a bad idea to start small and local to get some quick wins under your belt with nearby influencers before you tackle the middle and top tier influencers, who often have national or international audiences. Local influencers may not have a massive following (yet), but a small and engaged local audience is just as valuable as a big international one.
2. What's their content like?
The appeal of influencers to fans and brands alike is their great content, so taking scope of a potential influencer's social feed is easiest way to give you a feel for if they'll be a good fit. Consider questions like:
· Do their posts follow a specific theme, either subject or color-wise?
· Will their output fit seamlessly with your brand and appeal to your target audience?
· Do they post consistently? How often?
· At what time of day do they post? If not local, will your target audience be active on social media to see?
3. Have they worked with brands before?
Scan through the profile of a potential influencer for signs that they have worked with brands before. Uncovering recent examples is a great way to give you a feel for the way that an influencer might want to operate when it comes to working with your company - are other brands similar to yours? What kind of promotions have they run? Is the relationship long-standing or a one-off? Furthermore, a glance at a sponsored post's engagement levels (particularly versus the influencer's ordinary content) can provide a surface-level insight into how the promotion has been received.
4. Can you contact them easily?
Most influencers will be well aware that brands may be on the hunt for an opportunity to work with them. As a result, you'll often find a dedicated email address at which to direct your enquries. A quick scan of the contact details on their social media bio or About section should give you a good indication that they're open to collaborating. Many larger influencers also set up personal websites, with examples of past brand collaborations, more detailed information about how they can support your marketing goals, and sometimes even their rates - always worth hunting these down if available.
Over to you
So, do you think you could spot an influencer at first glance now? It's important to be able to distinguish a digital influencer quickly and easily so you can find the right people for your campaigns and capitalize on their reach among consumers in your target demographic.
Andrew Macarthy is a social media consultant and the author of the #1 Amazon Web Marketing Bestseller, 500 Social Media Marketing Tips.