We can only estimate how many influencers there are today – it’s probably somewhere between 3.2 and 37.8 MILLION.
And it’s safe to say that only a tiny fraction of them will be exactly right for your brand and your campaign.
Then how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? How do you find those influencers who can help propel your business forward?
It’s important to answer this question. While we firmly believe in the power of this booming branch of marketing – and the data proves it – we do acknowledge that a lot can go wrong in influencer marketing as well.
So, we created this guide to help you avoid common pitfalls and hire exactly the right influencers for the job. We want you to create awareness for your brand, grow your business, and create great experiences for your fans with influencer marketing – reliably and safely.
You do this by choosing the best influencers to represent you.
Here’s how to do it, step-by-step.
To Find the Right Influencers, Do These 3 Important Steps First
If you want to find the best influencer for your campaign, you have to build your foundation properly first. This will help you clarify what kind of influencer (or influencers) you are actually looking for.
The three steps below will help you lay a great foundation for your influencer marketing campaign:
1. Set exact goals for your campaign
Not all campaigns must have the same goal. Each campaign can aim to achieve different metrics, and each can feed into different parts of your brand’s funnel.
The main goals that businesses usually have for their influencer marketing efforts are:
- Improve the general visibility of your brand and create awareness
- Gain social media followers and boost engagement
- Generate leads for your business
- Increase traffic to your company website or/and build backlinks
- Conversions, such as email sign-ups
- Improve your brand’s reputation
- Generate revenue and social selling
Determining your main goals is an important prerequisite to developing a strategy for your campaign. It will then be much easier for you to pick the influencers who best fit into that strategy.
2. Determine your target platforms & campaign formats
Establishing goals in step one will help you determine which platforms make the most sense for you to have influencers make content for. This step will help you find those influencers who are most aligned with your planned campaign – because they’re naturals at the platform you’ll be using.
Here’s a quick breakdown of which type of audience you will find on each of the social media platforms:
TikTok: Particularly popular with Gen Z (other age groups are definitely on the rise though)
Instagram: A high percentage of Millenials are on IG
Facebook: Great if you want to target the older, wealthier Gen X population
The right influencer for your campaign will already be successful on the platform you’re targeting. If your brand appeals to a wider, more diverse audience, it might make sense to seek influencers who are active on multiple platforms – or hire one for each.
Also consider how you’d like to collaborate with and incentivize your chosen influencers. There are many ways of working with an influencer. Let’s look at a few different ones:
- The influencer becomes an affiliate marketer for your brand, often combined with giving out discount codes to their followers
- They host giveaways of your products for their audience
- They present products that you’ve given them for free
- They make their usual posts advertised as “sponsored by” your brand
- They take over your company’s account for a day
- They enter into a long-term contract with you and become ambassadors for your brand
The right kind of influencer will be able to accommodate you in the exact formats you choose.
3. Establish your messages & themes
Next, get clear on what kinds of messages you want to send in your influencer campaign and what themes they will fall under.
We divide these into four different content pillars which will make your messaging diverse and impactful.
- The Brand Pillar
Your brand is the focus. This pillar has content that revolves around your brand, whether the posts are high level, informative, funny, or inspirational.
- The Product Pillar
This type of content features a specific product – or line of products – such as a fashion brand’s new spring line. This could be done in an interactive Q&A or tutorial, for example.
- The Experience Pillar
This is where you highlight people experiencing your brand, such as influencers shopping in the store or cooking with your cookware.
- The Moment Pillar
Celebrating special dates, from birthdays to holidays and anniversaries. You could feature a virtual and/or physical Easter egg hunt, or show influencers receiving customized birthday packages.
You need someone who can make these messages and themes come to life in the way that you want – and once you’re crystal clear on them, you’re much more likely to pick the right influencer for the job!
Now that you know your strategy for your campaign that the influencer must be able to carry out…
Let’s dive into relevancy: How much does the influencer align with the niche and the topics surrounding your brand?
How to Pick the Most Relevant Influencers for Your Campaign
To do this, it’s helpful if you’ve already created your ideal influencer persona: The perfect person who would be the best fit for your audience and your campaign.
- Are of the right age to fit your target audience
- Possess the correct kind and amount of knowledge around your brand’s niche
- Are the right size for your budget and for maximum impact
- Have the right personality and level of charisma for what you want to communicate
- Dress and behave in ways that fit your brand
- Make content that’s already in line with your brand values
In short, they should represent your brand identity very well – as if they were a natural part of it!
How to Guarantee That You’ll Find the Best Influencers
As vital as the issue of how relevant the influencer is to your brand, is the question: Do they have authority? Both online and in your company’s niche.
Pick an authority in their field and your campaign will have a great impact. But if you fail to vet their authority first, you can run into all sorts of potential problems.
How do you pick the most authoritative influencers?
By taking the following steps, you can rest assured you’ve made a good choice working with this person and your campaign will be successful.
They have a quality audience
A quality audience is committed to the creator – they engage readily with each of their posts, and their content is a part of their life that they take quite seriously! Also, a quality audience is not composed of people who are just there for entertainment and would never support the influencer financially … but they’re actually in a position to buy the products that he or she might recommend, and would do so happily.
Social media manager Jason Francis, of Social Media Samurai, says that "Quality trumps all. I know people with 30,000 followers struggling to raise $500 in a GoFundMe campaign, while people with 2,000 to 3,000 followers can move and influence them to the tune of $25,000."
They make quality content
In today’s day and age on social media, it’s not enough to only post selfies with some meaningless text. A “sponsored post” shouldn’t consist of just a random shout-out to your brand or the mindless placement of your product.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite – the best influencers are consistently creating content that’s captivating, creative, and authentic.
What does this mean?
It means they care enough about their audience to craft pieces of media and messages that really resonate. The content hits on their followers’ dreams and desires, addresses things they’ve recently had on their minds often, it can even shock, fascinate, and pull them out of boredom or sadness.
Making creative content means finding new connections, inventing new ways to get a message across, combining different forms of media, and injecting novelty by collaborating with different people in their niche.
Above all, they have to stay authentic while doing it. Their loyal followers want to feel like they’re “one of them” – that they’re a close, trusted friend. A good influencer will achieve this by speaking in a common tone of voice, keeping their content relatable, caring about and engaging with the audience, and generally staying humble in spite of their success, fame, and status.
How do you vet these things?
First of all, you can obviously check out their social media profiles and study the posts they’ve been publishing so far.
Secondly, see if they have a media kit available that shows off their best work and gives a good impression of both the “vibe” and the quality of their content.
Their influence is real
Fake followers are a real problem on social media. What good is it if the influencer you’re working with has 100k followers, but most of them have been bought from some shady service? Not much good at all, apart from having a nice big number in their profile.
Yes, social media outlets have been cracking down on these things, but fake followers are still common on all platforms.
How do you spot fake followers?
1. Manually go through their list of followers
Potential red flags you should look for are profiles with weird or unrealistic-sounding names, many profiles that are not followed by anyone, and profiles with no user image or something that looks like a stock photo.
Additionally, if the majority of their followers appear to be from non-English-speaking countries, although their content is English, that might be a sign that the followers are not real.
2. Check the engagement on their posts
A real engagement rate for social media is between 2-3.5%. So if you see a profile with an audience of 100k, but their engagement is consistently low, their followers may have been bought. They should realistically be getting thousands of likes per post and hundreds of comments.
3. Use a tool to check for fake followers
In addition to doing the “common sense check” we outlined above, you can use one of many influencer credibility tools such as grin.co, inbeat.co, and modash.io to let a fraud-finding algorithm confirm what you’ve observed by looking through their profiles yourself.
Their reputation and background are flawless
You want to carefully vet the influencer’s background. Make sure they’ve had no reputation-destroying scandals, shady business connections, or even a criminal history.
A simple way to do this is to search for “influencer name + scandal,” “name + controversy,” or “name + convicted” on Google.
Could they be damaging to your brand?
Do they have business dealings that might interfere with your campaign or potentially damage your brand’s reputation?
It’s important to check for this because the costs of falling for a fraudulent influencer could be very high.
Obviously, these things are unacceptable and any sign of these issues will quickly make you rule out ever working with that particular influencer.
Ideally you’ll want to find someone whose ethics and values are impeccable – in line with your brand.
Where to Find the Right Influencers - Platforms & Tools
Look for influencers in-house and among your fans
Most likely, many of your employees are already publicly advocating for your brand. You should look to channel and grow that enthusiasm! After all, who better to showcase what your brand stands for and be the credible faces of it than the people who built it?
Also, your leadership team is part of the face of your brand. Their role as social influencers is becoming increasingly important. One way to help senior executives successfully pick up this role is through personal branding.
Finally, your consumers can become a form of influencers as well. User-generated content (UGC) from brand fans and advocates can be very valuable and boost community engagement.
Each of these groups can be powerful brand advocates, but when combined effectively, the result is synergistic, delivering a massive impact.
Manually search on web platforms
Who’s already interacting with your brand?
Some of your top followers might have sizable, related audiences themselves. If they’re already liking, commenting on, and sharing your brand’s posts, they might be a perfect fit for a collaboration. If you see your brand mentioned without it being sponsored content, that’s a great initial sign!
Think about your industry’s icons
It could be a good idea to check out the most well-known influential people in your niche – yes, they’re more expensive to work with than others, but they also have the biggest reach and authority.
Set up a Google Alert
It’s possible to create an alert in Google so that anytime your brand, a topic related to your niche, or the industry in general is mentioned, you get notified. This is a valuable option for finding those people who are immersed in your field, are always talking about it, and are ‘hip’ to the latest trends. These might be influencers you’d want to work with.
By searching hashtags on different social media platforms, especially Instagram, you can find people in your niche and those who are already working as influencers.
Do this by searching trending hashtags, hashtags about aspects of your field, and hashtags like #sponsored or #ad that tell you someone is working with brands.
Speakers at events
Usually, the most influential and authoritative people in your industry are paid to speak at industry events. Become familiar with the speakers on the list at conventions and other events and see who you could imagine working with for an influencer marketing campaign.
Look for blogs and niche authority sites
Search for websites and blogs that are written by influencers in your niche. Do this by typing in keywords related to your brand into Google and adding the word “blog.” There are also tools that automate this task, as we’ll address later.
Followers of other brands in your space
By doing a bit of competitive analysis, you can also find good influencers for your brand. Check out who is most engaged on other brand’s profiles and who has a good audience themselves. These influencers show they are invested in and proactive about marketing – which will be great if they’re working with you!
Find influencers with a similar audience as you
If you know your target audience, you know what other topics they’re interested in and which influencers in those niches they follow. For example, if your company sells popcorn, your audience might be interested in other related things, like watching movies. It might make sense to partner up with influencers in the movie space, so you can reach your audience in another sphere.
Set up a contact page for prospective influencers on your company’s website
If any influencers are browsing your website, they will see that you’re open to working with them and contact you. You just need to create the page on your site and provide a contact form – and they’ll do the outreach themselves!
Some influencers also have active LinkedIn profiles. To find them, look for the job description of “content creator.”
Search forums in your niche
In some niches, there are good online forums where the latest in your industry is being discussed. Look for those people who are constantly discussing and providing value, and who seem to have authority and influence within the community. Reach out to those people to become part of your influencer marketing campaign.
If you’ve gone the manual route and are not yet satisfied with your results – or if you’d rather not do all that work yourself – there are two other ways to find the right influencers for your campaign:
You can use influencer-finding tools or hire an influencer marketing agency.
Use influencer-finding tools
This is a tool to find competitor sites that your audience also likes to visit. These could be run by influencers you could potentially hire.
Influencity is an “Influencer Relationship Management” tool. It allows you to find, analyze, and organize influencers, as well as manage campaigns and forecast and measure the results of those campaigns.
Another full-scale influencer marketing platform, Upfluence offers campaign management, product placement outreach, influencer event management, and payment and transaction services.
Post For Rent call themselves the “one-stop-shop for influencer marketing.” Their services include influencer search, an influencer marketplace, the NEXT business manager, and managed service.
With Hype Auditor, you get influencer analytics, influencer discovery, campaign management, media plans, trends and rankings, and analysis of competitors and the market landscape on social media.
Created for finding influencers specifically on Twitter, Followerwonk lets you connect with those authoritative power users on the platform. It can not only search Twitter bios globally, but also analyze and compare accounts to find the right influencers.
Respona lets you find bloggers who are active in your niche. They will monitor for brand and competitor mentions and automate your influencer outreach.
Hire an influencer marketing agency
If this whole process of finding influencers, vetting them, and reaching out is something you’d rather not do yourself right now – influencer marketing agencies do all of it for you.
A good influencer marketing agency will have:
- A built-up network and database of relevant and trustworthy influencers
- A streamlined process for collaborating with brands and influencers
- A creative eye for which campaigns will have the most impact
- Proven experience with effective storytelling
- Seamless campaign management
- The expertise and tools to properly analyze campaign metrics
- An impressive portfolio and positive testimonials from past clients
- An influencer marketing strategy tailored to your demands and your budget
Obviously, working with an agency will cost more than doing the work yourself. On the other hand, you are free to focus on other tasks in your business and can trust that their proven process will give you a good return on your investment in your influencer marketing campaign.
There you have it: Your guide to finding the right influencers for your campaign this year. If you follow the steps outlined above, we are confident that you will be able to use the proven power of influencer marketing to bring measurable growth to your business.