In any tech-based platform, there’s a learning curve and those who fully embrace a certain platform are affectionately known as a superuser. Super users are seen as ambassadors for that specific platform and are seen as an authority when it comes to extracting value from it. In social media, super users are referred to as influencers. These influences have carved out a niche for themselves and gathered a following in the process, a following that they then monetize by selling their reach and influence to brands.
As social media algorithms are now designed to favour users over branded content its given these influencers an additional boost in terms of reach on their respective platforms. One platform that has really seen tremendous growth in the now multi-billion dollar influencer industry is Instagram.
Insta’s simple image curation interface has allowed users to create online personalities that attract millions of followers over time and turning their profiles into perfect soundboards for brands to slot in their messaging.
Why work with influencers?
Businesses are currently sold the narrative that influencers are able to engage their fans by being their true selves. They express themselves through authentic and engaging content, which their followers look to for inspiration.
This authentic connection works similar to word of mouth marketing but with scale and allows brands to tap into this already established relationship in order to reach consumers in a more personal and endearing way.
While I do feel this can be the case for many micro-influencers the same cannot be said for every influencer. Not all of them have engaging profiles, not all of them are authentic, not all of them have the pull with their audience, not all of them have a relevant audience for a business to target.
So how the hell do businesses find the right influencers? Well, more often the case is they meet the wrong ones and throw away valuable marketing spend on these fluffy campaigns.
So how do you increase the likelihood of finding relevant influencers? Here are some of my tips.
Find influencers in your own audience
A great place to start and what many businesses fail to realise is that there could be influencers already using your product or service. They could have already posted about it or be willing to post about it easier since they enjoy your offering. It could be easier to negotiate rates, bring them in as a brand ambassador or get some free exposure.
Note: Not every influencer needs to be a paid for service, remember that.
There are services available that allow you to upload your content list, be it email or phone numbers in your database and have those contact details scraped and matched with their attached social media profile. Since you have the users email or phone number already it makes it easier for you to contact them for a collaboration.
A tool I’ve used in the past to find influencers in company databases is UserGems.
Find INFLUENCERS via hashtags
This one is a slow grind and self-explanatory. Break out the old excel sheet or Google sheet and start adding in relevant hashtags that pertain to your product, business or service. Hit that Instagram searches and start sifting through profiles, have a look at the followers, engagement, amount of posts and if they are open to collabs. Then slot the profiles that match your content the best into the spreadsheet.
Evaluate and the top 10 profiles you’ve found, assign each one a possible budget and start contacting them. Depending on their response you can always adjust your budgets but make sure you don’t compromise on reach. Make sure you set a CAC and a CPM for each influencer campaign and gauge what they are offering.
Note: Those who don’t actively have collab info in their bio are often the greatest untapped resources for buying up undervalued attention.
Find INFLUENCERS VIA GEolocation
If you’re a local business that is looking to work with influencers in your area then geolocation should be the strategy you should persue. Once again break out the old excel sheet or Google sheet and start adding checking out locations close by and also how or how granular you’re willing to go. You can also look at people who have tagged themselves at competitor stores or brands and start compiling your list.
Find INFLUENCERS via scrappers
If you’re not keen on the grind of curating manually there are plenty of scrapping tools available on the net, both free and paid services. These tools may make it easier to source a quick list of influencers that match your broader qualifications.
This may save you some time but it will still be up to you to personally check out and evaluate each profile for authenticity, reach and see if you could have a natural brand association with this influencer and their audience.
Find INFLUENCERS via agencies
As you can tell from my previous suggestions this is still quite a grind and you’re still not guaranteed that these influencers will play ball if they are priced reasonably, if they will follow through or if their audience will take to your message.
There is plenty of risks involved when sourcing your own influencers which is why influencer marketing agencies are becoming so popular. They do all the heavy lifting by sourcing the correct influencers, on the correct platforms, working with them on campaigns to create the correct messaging and ensure a high-quality product based on client budgets and ensure money is spent somewhat more responsibility.
All influencers aren’t created equal and many of them are still riding the wave as the industry is still very much in its infancy. As was the case with SEO a few years ago, companies are pouring money into influencers marketing regardless of ROI and looking at long-term branding and reach and influencers are happy to pocket huge sums for seemingly unimpressive campaigns.
I urge brands who are looking to use or currently use influencers and micro-influencers to be more scrupulous, evaluate figures and make sure they put the correct measurement protocols in place in order to gauge the real value of each influencer. If not, then I hope you’re happy about funding their next holiday as your next branding exercise.
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