Before kicking off any influencer engagement activity, it’s important to research and define what qualities you want your core influencers to possess. Know which influencers your target consumer follows on social media and which voices resonate the most strongly.
Once you have decided on the core group of influencers that you’re keen to target, ensure that you then research every aspect of their online activity and the history of their posts. It’s also worth evaluating their followers and not taking follower numbers at face value; are their followers all “real” or does it appear that there may be “fake” or bought followers in the mix? This is usually easy to spot - lots of “egg” profile pics on twitter profiles or jumbled names on instagram is often an indicator.
Other things to look out for here are whether the influencer has promoted any of your competitors in the past. If they have posted recently regarding the benefits of a competitor product, then any post that you work with them on may appear insincere to their followers and therefore have much lower impact.
As well as core channels, investigate all of an influencers social real estate - whilst they may be a perfect candidate to work with on instagram, their behaviour on Twitter could be completely off brand. The last thing you want is to work with someone who may end up gaining attention for all the wrong reasons.
2. Don’t run before you can walk.
Don’t try and work with the number one Youtube star from the offset - it’s much more sensible to test out your strategy and execution with micro-influencers first. Test your content and the effect it has on traffic and then start scaling up once you’re happy that everything is working as it should.
No matter who you’re working with, micro-influencer or Zoella - treat them with respect and as you would any brand spokesperson, celebrity endorsee or member of the press. I find the most fruitful relationships with influencers are created when they feel part of your team, they have lots of information about your business and how the campaign fits into the wider business vision and have the freedom to do their best work.
3. Let influencers be authentic.
The idea at the very heart of influencer engagement is that these individuals have been successful in engaging a certain audience online through great content. Therefore, it’s key to allow the influencer to guide you in terms of what content their followers will respond to.
Time and time again I’ve worked with clients or brands who are prescriptive in terms of the creative or campaign copy that they want influencers to post. 90% of the time this results in content which looks awkward on an influencers social feed, sounds inauthentic and therefore doesn’t have the desired effect amongst the end consumer. It also makes for a bad working relationship with the influencer in question and frustration on all sides. It’s best avoided.
4. Mix and match.
To gain the traction and reach that you’re after, consider mixing and matching a group of influencers, rather than simply ploughing your budget into one online “A-lister”. Go for a blend of influential individuals who all compliment your brand and campaign message - e.g if you’re a fashion brand speaking to a creative, style led audience consider influencers from a range of worlds who resonate with this group e.g music, fashion, art etc.
A rich mix of influencers who all speak to your brand’s core message and core consumer individually as well as collectively can be powerful in creating a really meaningful message.
5. Process & KPIs.
A robust process across the entire influencer relationship from engagement to payment will enable you to scale more efficiently and effectively.
Be clear from the outset on the number of posts you expect, rough content/ message of posts and the cadence of posting. Although it’s important to allow influencers creative freedom, it’s also important that they understand expectations and can align messaging to your brand sentiment.
Influencer engagement can be a hugely impactful, cost effective and genuine way of communicating your brand’s core values to target consumers. It’s a tool that will only become more prevalent with the rise of social media platforms globally - best to start experimenting with it now and grow along with it.