According to experts, 2018 was the year influencer marketing changed. Brands finally acknowledged its power and are now ready to leverage it correctly. In 2019, budgets for influencer marketing are due to increase dramatically across the board. But then, how do you pick the right influencers for your brand? A lot of people think it comes down to numbers.
A lot of bloggers complain that brands base their judgement on numbers, losing the opportunity to work with great content creators with smaller following but higher engagement. Even though this is changing and there is a big focus on micro influencers, numbers are still important.
And they will always be. Engagement is a number too. Truth is, what motivates brands to work with this or that blogger is also the goals of their on-going campaigns. They will pick influencers that meet the particular goals and objectives of their campaign. As simple as that. I work in influencer marketing as part of my job and I am in touch with many bloggers of all sizes and niches.
I am going to list down what I look for when sourcing and working with influencers. And again, always, remember, it all comes down to the goals and objectives of the campaign.
1. Content creation
Me and you know it very well, creating good quality content takes a lot of time. How many photos to select just THE one that will make it to the grid? You know what I mean. I work in a startup with a very small team and we do not have time to create content. We try, sometimes to organize creative shoots, but that does not give us enough content to last for a month. Working with bloggers allows me to use their content and re-purpose on social media. When sourcing for bloggers, I go through their Instagram and look at the quality of their content. The photos needs to be clear, bright, high quality, on brand. If the campaign requires fashion content, I will look for fashion bloggers. How many followers they have does not matter so much there as what I am interested in is their content.
2. SEO & Backlink creation
As a business, SEO is key to bring people to our website and make the brand findable on search engine. It goes from Google ranking, website speed, ease of use to backlinks, keywords, mentions, tags, etc. SEO has a butterfly effect. It starts small but each small change and improvement leads to something bigger that will lead to something even bigger. The overall strategy is to increase DA and PA, along with traffic which will improve Google ranking and generate more traffic. Here, the number of followers you may have does not matter. It is your DA that will determine whether I want to work with you. However, a high DA on its own won’t qualify you for a collaboration. The quality of your content will, and whether or not you are a good fit for the brand.
3. Campaign specific
I work with a lot of bloggers and Instagrammers on content creation and will gift all year round. However, several times a year, I will gift specific bloggers who will suit a very specific campaign. Going back to my first point, if the brand decides to have fashion focus content on Instagram, I will only work with content creators that create fashion content very regularly. One or two outfit photos on your feed won’t make the cut. First because they won’t allow me to gauge the quality of your fashion content. Two because, your audience probably does not care for fashion much. So make sure you apply for campaigns you are eligible for. It will save us both times and you the deception of not being picked. For Mother’s Day, I will source parent bloggers. For Valentine’s Day, I will try to source bloggers in a relationship. Etc. Once I have found them, however, it all goes back to the quality of the content, their engagement and ultimately following.
4. Awareness generation
My take on influencer marketing is that, just like an ad on TV or in a magazine, it is purely there for raising awareness of a brand or product. I know that a lot of brands now are very much sales oriented when it comes to working with influencers and will require you to generate sales for them. Which is fair enough but rarely happens on the first collaboration, especially if you are a micro blogger. When sending products to raise awareness, I gift all across the board. Nano, micro, macro influencers, no discrimination. The following is not what I focus on. However, back to point 1, the quality of the content is a big focus for me. Along with engagement. Even more so when it comes to a paid campaign. Of course, the more followers the better as it allows the brand to reach more people. However, I have been in the situation where I could gift someone with half a million followers but did not feel like their content was on brand so ended up not working with said influencers.
5. Following increase
And that is where the numbers come in and where I will focus essentially on how many followers influencers have. There it is, I said it. If my goals is to increase the brand’s following on Instagram, I will not prioritize working with someone with 5000 followers. I will aim for as high as possible. Don’t give me that look. Business wise, it is what makes most sense. My goal is to reach as many people as I can, and a nano influencer will not help me meet that goal. Someone with a high following, however, is more likely to help. Because more people get to see my products so more people are likely to check the brand’s Instagram out. I still do however look at engagement and content. Because a giveaway with an influencer with a high following but low engagement will not give me what I want. I need to know their following is actively interested in and engaging with the influencer’s content. So I might rule out nano and macro influencers when my only goal is to increase the brand’s Instagram following, but I will still look at their content, engagement and whether they are a good fit for the brand.
When it comes to working with influencers, companies are often faced with a low or nil budget or a limited allowance of products they can gift per month. Thus, they will do what they think will raise the highest awareness the fastest, which is gifting and working with high following influencers. Business wise it makes sense. Back in the day, the average was 1% of new followers when working with an influencer. 1% of a 500k influencer is much bigger than 1% of a 5k influencer so the choice is not really a choice. Nowadays, growing on Instagram is much harder, especially if you have no budget. Which is why PR and influencer managers tend to focus on the numbers, which make nano and micro influencers feel left behind and looked over.
Good thing is now micro influencers are the star of influencer marketing, so whatever you do, decide to do or direction you take, make sure your content is always high quality and regrammable. Make sure you apply for campaign that already fits into your niche or theme. As I said, if you have two outfit photos on your feed but everything else is beauty, I am not going to select you for a fashion oriented campaign. Especially if my gifting allowance is low.
Working on both sides of influencer marketing, I know exactly how both sides feel. Which also probably helps me do a better job at working with influencers. Most of the time. I feel like sometimes, there is still confusion as per why a brand decides to work with A or B. It most of the times comes down to a business decision and campaign goals. After proper vetting on said influencers has been performed of course. Because brands are more and more cautious, and more and more aware of the not so good side of the industry.
I hope this post gives you more clarity on the influencer selection process and will also, maybe, help you get into PR and influencer managers’ shoes. Because as much as I agree that sometimes brands do take the piss, I have been in situations where nano and macro influencers alike took the piss at me for no reason and acted incredibly entitled.
As bloggers, do you understand why brands pick particular influencers? Why would you like brands to put most emphasize on when working with bloggers? Do you work in influencer marketing? How do you select your influencers?
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Thanks for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.
See you soon, love, Corinne.