THE KEY TO FINDING THE RIGHT INFLUENCERS FOR YOUR BRAND
Updated: Aug 30
A poorly fit influencer can be a drain on your business.
At best, it can fail to provide the ROI you are looking for. At worst, it can actually do damage to your brand reputation.
That’s why it’s key to find the right influencers for your brand.
When you find the right fit influencer, it can be a key to improving your brand’s perception with your audience and driving more sales.
Over time, building a long-term relationship with all your best fit influencers can be an incredibly effective way of growing your business.
In this article, I’ll unpack the key things you’ll need to consider when searching for those right fit influencers.
Table Of Contents:
WHY FOCUS ON RIGHT FIT CREATORS?
Every creator you work with is a proxy for an audience. There are large audiences and small audiences, cult-like audiences and disengaged audiences. Some audiences are topic-centered and others that are people-centered.
At the end of the day, to drive tangible results for your brand, you need to reach the audiences that are more likely to engage with your brand. In this scenario, that means finding the right fit creators for your brand.
I like to think of creators as archetypes for your customers. You may have multiple customer types that you serve and that means you may end up having multiple different creators that reflect the different segments of your customers.
The bottom line is, right fit creators will drive better results.
DEFINING YOUR GOALS
So, how do you know what a right fit creator will look like? Well, it all starts with defining your goals.
Every business is different and a brand’s reasons for deploying influencer can vary. While influencer frequently provides a positive lift on metrics across the entire funnel, in our experience, we see two popular goals most often:
Brand awareness A brand is investing in developing a long-term emotional affinity with their target audience. They recognize that the campaign may drive conversions as well, but that’s not the first priority.
Conversion A brand needs to drive short-term results and is looking for immediate ROI. They’re most interested in driving sales quickly.
What is the core takeaway here? Know your goals.
It will be much easier to define success when you have a strong sense of what you want to accomplish. You’ll know which creators are a good fit and which ones aren’t.
KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE
The next key step in finding the right influencers for your brand is understanding your own audience well. One of the things we always ask new clients is what they know about their audience.
The greater the insights you have on your audience, the better chance you have of finding a right fit creator that speaks to that same audience.
As I mentioned previously, creators tend to be archetypes for your audiences. These are people who your target audience looks up to as role models.
Does your audience tend to be white-collar workers who like to get outdoors? You may want to find creators known for their camping and hiking content.
Is your audience made up of young parents looking for ways to stay fit and healthy? You may want to find athletic creators with kids.
In some cases, you can also test out nearby categories to see if your brand resonates with a new audience. For example, if outdoor creators work well for you, then maybe automotive creators would be worth a try.
One final key insight this step is important for is to better understand the platform that your audience engages with the most. Are they more likely to be on TikTok or YouTube? Instagram or Twitch?
These are all important questions to ask when looking for right fit influencers.
If you’ve been following along until now, then you should hopefully have an idea of the creator type you’re going to target and the platforms you’d like to find them on.
From here, there are a few main ways to begin finding creators.
Use native search for relevant keywords and/or hashtags. Whether you search hashtags will depend on the platform, but the concept is the same. You’re looking for terms that your ideal creators will likely be using regularly.
Use search engines to look for influencers in specific niches. While it’s not a native way to search for creators within a platform, you can sometimes find articles that feature lists of notable creators within particular niches. You can search for things like “influencers + niche”.
Use influencer marketing software platforms. While these can be spendy for smaller brands, they do help streamline the searching process. One word of warning here though is that creators who have listed themselves on many of these platforms are often chasing a paycheck, which can sometimes lead to less authentic campaigns. This isn’t true in every case but it is something to look out for.
Partner with an agency that’s tested creators previously. Yes, we know we’re saying this as an agency, but this is actually a big reason that brands come to us. After being in the influencer industry for over 14 years, we have a pretty good database of creators for all major niches that repeatedly perform well, and we also have access to new creators that show promise. In addition, you can leverage an agencies strong relationships in the influencer space.
VETTING YOUR CREATORS
Now that you’ve found a handful of creators that you think might be a good fit, it’s time to do a bit of vetting.
This step of the process helps you dig into those creators to get a deeper grasp of whether they would be a good fit or not.
We typically use this step to explore a few different areas:
Reach Will this creator reach an audience that will be sufficient for our brand?
Engagement rate Is this creator’s audience active and likely to interact with their content?
Past brand deals Can you find examples of prior sponsorships from other brands? It’s important here to see how they approach talking about products. You want something that more closely resembles a glowing client review, not a scripted infomercial.
Are they brand safe? I always remind brands that they are really blending their brand with the creators. You’re borrowing their trust, but they’re also stewards of yours. If their reputation would hurt your brand or vice versa, it may not be a good fit.
As you consider what your partnership with a creator might look like, it’s important to think through a few things up-front.
Are you comfortable with the brand advocacy mindset? For brands who have lived in the world of brand-driven creative and advertising, it can sometimes be jarring to relinquish control over the creative process. This is where talking points come in. We advise brands to try to keep their talking points to those that are absolutely necessary. At the end of the day, the creator knows how to talk to their audience best, and when they can speak about your brand more authentically, it’s more likely to drive results. Put another way, you’re more likely to see results from a campaign that looks more like a product review than an infomercial.
Are you hoping to repurpose elsewhere? An important question that brands need to think through before reaching out to creators is how they hope to use the resulting creative. This is important because the more you intend to capitalize on their work, the more they’re likely to ask to be compensated.
Would your brand benefit from influencer paid social? Another consideration when evaluating the creative is whether you would want to work with advertising through the creator’s platform. This can provide some benefit to the creators as well as the brand so this can sometimes be a meaningful part of the negotiation.
Ah, the ever-exciting topic of cost.
This can be a sticky question because it’s still the wild west out there. We’ve seen creators that are dramatically overestimating their rates based on their reach and engagement and we’ve seen creators that really ought to be asking for more.
If you’re working with a smaller budget or are trying to prove out influencer, a great place to start is with micro-influencers. There are some great budget-sensitive tools that you can use here like Swipehouse or Insense.
But once you have proven out influencer with a micro-influencer and you’re ready to seek out some of the larger creators that you’ve found earlier in this process, here’s are some considerations.
Avoid lowballing creators. You’re kicking off a relationship. And since you (hopefully) wouldn’t take a first date to a fast-food restaurant, we recommend avoiding doing the same with creators. In our experience, it’s best to offer competitive rates where the brand and creator can feel like it’s a win-win. If you start the relationship at a reasonable rate, and the campaign is a success, this helps leave the door open for establishing a longer-term partnership.
Consider usage. If you are asking to use their creative on an ongoing basis (in paid ads or on your site), this can affect the price. If this is an important part of your strategy, make sure you’re setting those expectations clearly with a creator when you’re asking for their rate.
The bottom line when it comes to expense is that you likely want a positive ROI. We ultimately recommend that you consider budgeting appropriately for the value you expect to receive both in the short term and long term.
Speaking of value, this brings us to measurement.
The last step of finding the right influencer is measuring results.
Wait, but doesn’t that happen after you work with them?
The journey of finding the right influencers for your brand doesn’t only happen during the initial search.
You can find someone who you think will be a good fit, vet and negotiate with them, and ultimately the campaign falls flat.
And that’s ok.
Every paid advertising expert will tell you there is often a period of calibration where the ad platform learns who is the best fit for you. The same goes for influencer.
And there is really no substitute for historic data when it comes to evaluating a creator. Have they worked before? Then there is a higher likelihood that they will work again.
The only additional words of wisdom here are that you need to have a reasonable framework for understanding how to measure influencer.
Why is that?
Well, too often influencer is measured using metrics from different types of marketing.
For example, someone from a TV background might want to measure YouTube in the same way, but a TV commercial doesn't stick around racking up additional views long after it goes live.
Or someone from a direct response background will only measure a campaign by the direct sales it generates via a coupon code in the short term, not taking into account the direct searches for the brand days or weeks after watching the video.
So what is the right way to measure influencers?
Based on third-party research we commissioned, many brands will see three unattributed conversions for every one attributed conversion.
The bottom line?
Like every brand will have different goals, every brand should measure the results to calculate whether they drove acceptable results based on your goals.
Define the specific results that you’re aiming for before you start
Look for creator archetypes that align with each of your customer segments
Be clear about content usage and understand how that effects costs.
There is no substitute for testing a creator with your brand.
Once you find a fit that works, look to lock it in.