Influencer Marketing for Beginners: Who Really Influences Your Customers


Tips for Identifying the Right Influencers to Work With

Renowned marketing expert Jay Baer once commented that “true influence drives action, not just awareness”, and never has this phrase rung truer than in the age of influencer marketing.

By now, most savvy brands have cottoned onto the fact that influencers are one of the most (if not the most) powerful marketing force of recent times, and are working closely with digital celebs on all manner of exciting projects. However, for those newly dipping their toes into the fast-flowing waters of influencer marketing, it can be easy to get swept away by the tide.

If the world of influencers, follower stats and measurable reach still seems a little hazy to you, you’re not alone. Starting out is the most challenging stage of the process, as there are so many unanswered questions, the most common and prominent of these being simply ‘Which are the right influencers to work with?’ Identifying the individuals that will, as Baer says, drive action rather than just awareness is a difficult, precise, and essential process.

So how does one go about it?

One of the most salient things to remember when selecting influencers for your brand is that, ultimately, audiences will always shy away from anything that is obviously ‘advert-like’.

Today’s consumer is much more self-sufficient, preferring to research products, or to hear about their benefits from a trusted source. An influencer can brilliantly fill this gap – a bridge between brand and consumer in which both place their faith. So the question remains – what should one take into consideration when identifying the right influencers?

1. Stats are important, but not everything

It can be tempting to base your influencer selection on things like social followings and readership stats, but these digits mean very little if the people they represent aren’t going to be interested in the product you are offering. What is important however, is that the influencer’s content aligns with your brand’s message. Check through their archived posts and old social to really get a feel for what they are about, as well as if they have worked with any brands in the past. This is the best way to check that their audience is going to directly reflect your target market.

A good way to get this right is to profile the audience you want to reach through influencer marketing in minute detail. Once you have done so, think about where this audience is likely to get information and inspiration, what kind of people they are likely to listen to and what content topics will most interest them. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes, and ask yourself who you would listen to and trust. The answers to these questions should guide your search for influencers.

2. Pay special attention to engagement

Once you have identified a number of potential influencers, look at the engagement of the content they produce. An influencer can tick all the boxes in terms of stats, followers and subject matter, but if the audience they are speaking to isn’t listening, they are of little use from a marketing perspective. Look at things like comments, retweets, likes and shares, as well as where they are all coming from. This will give you a great idea of how inspiring, trusted and engaging the influencer is, and, to wheel our old friend Baer back in, whether their influence drives action.

It is also apt to register where the influencer’s content is coming from – are they influential on Instagram? Do they get more engagement through their blog posts, or Facebook updates? The influencer’s platform is relevant to which you work with, for example, fashion brands would be well advised to pay more attention to Instagram and Snapchat stars, whilst service providers might find more success when working with bloggers and vloggers.

3. Look at the authenticity of the influencer’s content

If consumers have grown weary of being obviously advertised to (note how even behemoths like John Lewis are no longer producing product-heavy adverts), the last thing you want is for the campaigns you collaborate with them on to look like an advert. Check their previous social posts, blog content and online presence for how they have handled brand collaborations in the past, and indeed how much of their output is from their own personal perspective as opposed to recycled or contrived. Consumers trust influencers as they feel they know them. Therefore a successful brand ambassador is one who talks about the brand in an open, personal and accessible way.

4. Assess the ‘actionability’ of the influencer

Armed with the above information and having filtered through potential bloggers, vloggers and social stars, you should now be in a position to make a pretty educated guess as to whether or not an influencer will spur your target market on into becoming actual customers. If you are in any doubt about this, the influencer you are considering is probably not right for you after all.

Final thought

Influencer marketing works where traditional marketing fails, as it is essentially an ‘opt-in’ deal. Consumers choose whether or not to listen to and engage with an influencer, rather than having their agenda and opinions imposed upon them. For this reason, the most crucial aspect of influencer marketing for a brand is to pick the voice that your target market will opt to listen to.