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5-Step Strategy to Finding the Best Influencers for Your Brand

Published: March 4, 2020 Updated: March 5, 2020

Influencer marketing is one of the best ways to reach your brand goals. In fact, studies have shown that for every $1 you spend on influencer marketing, you’ll get a return on investment of $23 on average. With this marketing method, you can cut through the clutter and position your company directly in front of your target market. 

In an ad blockage, this shortcut to the front line is more important than ever. Consumers want to know they can trust a brand, and by working with influencers they follow, you’re awarded with the vote of confidence you need to push potential customers further down the sales pipeline. But a great influencer strategy starts and ends with a great influencer. Finding the right candidate takes time, but it’s a time investment well worth the research. Here’s how you can find the best influencers for your brand: 

Step 1: Define Your Goals

The first step in your influencer hunt should involve clearly outlining your goals. By defining your marketing objectives, you’ll be able to set better parameters for your influencer search. For instance, perhaps you want to focus on audience building, boosting brand awareness, or increasing engagement. Let’s assume your goal is to grow your following. In this case, your strategy might be centered around a contest or giveaway. Like most social media giveaway campaigns, participants would be required to follow, like, or share your content as a part of the contest entry rules.

On the other hand, if your primary goal was to get more traffic to your website, then a sponsored blog post might be another viable option. Sometimes, your core goals will overlap with one another. What’s most important is that you create goals that make measurement possible. 

Without the ability to measure your campaign, you’ll never know whether your influencer spend was worth it or how to improve in the future. Clearly defined goals help assess influencer performance and make it easier than ever to tweak future influencer relationships and content strategies. 

Step 2: Choose an Influencer Strategy

Once you have a thorough understanding of your influencer goals you can start to hone in on your execution strategy. Here are a few influencer marketing campaigns you can choose from: 

Social Media Takeovers

With the social media takeover strategy, you give an influencer permission to “take over” your social accounts. This influencer should not only embody a persona that aligns with your brand, but they should also be comfortable in front of the camera and have demonstrable experience engaging with their audience. The influencer will do their part to promote their takeover beforehand to get more users tuned in. 

Contests & Giveaways

As previously mentioned, contests are a great way to get people talking about your brand. Contests and giveaways are popular among influencer campaigns because they’re simple and mutually beneficial. Take a look at some of your favorite brands on social media and pay attention to how they build their own contests. As you sift through potential influencers, you’ll also take note of how they engage their followers during contests. 

Sponsored Content / Partnerships

Sponsored partnerships are a great way to get your content in front of your target market. With platforms like Instagram, you can filter out the noise and clutter of news feeds by creating sponsored posts—which combine the appearance of organic content and paid ads. Sponsored partnerships are great for brands that would like more control over how their brand is portrayed. Perhaps you have a creative vision in mind and would like to play a bigger role in the creative process. With this campaign type, there’s more opportunity for direct involvement. 

Affiliate Marketing

Many brands choose to arrange an affiliate marketing setup with their influencer. With this method, influencers are paid a portion of any purchases that occur as a direct result of their influence. This strategy is executed with unique links that make it easy to track referral purchases. Brands should weigh the pros and cons of this tactic. On the one hand, companies might not want to give away a portion of their sales, but on the other hand, it’s a solid way to encourage influencers to promote your product or service long-term. 

Guest Posting / Sponsored Blog 

It’s clear there are plenty of campaign types across social platforms, but guest posting is great for brands that want to leverage the power of blog content. Guest posting is a strategy where you post content on someone else’s blog, or someone posts content on yours. According to marketing expert Neil Patel, guest blogging is the best inbound marketing strategy out there (check out this blog post for data-driven proof). 

This is a great strategy for brands seeking to improve thought leadership and boost their SEO and digital presence. Find influencers who have great blogs relevant to your industry, and content them for guest posting or sponsored blog posting opportunities. 

Step 3: Know Your Audience

Understanding your target market is crucial. This isn’t to be confused with defining your goals—your customer persona should be defined with pinpoint precision. These are the people that follow the type of influencers you’ll eventually partner with. Many brands make this misstep when it comes to working with influencers. For instance, just because you have a travel product doesn’t mean you can work with any travel blogger. 

As an example, consider a niche product like portable shower product from RinseKit. Rather than work with any travel influencer whose Instagram features a series of beautifully edited travel photos, a better strategy would be to focus on influencers in a more niche travel segment like camping. Think about the people using your product or service. Your target audience should consist of the same type of followers that your influencer has. 

To humanize your marketing efforts, start by creating a detailed buyer persona. According to a study from renowned marketing consultant Mark W. Schaefer, three to four buyer personas typically comprise 90% of a company’s sales. 

“Buyer personas are written characterizations of the real buyers who influence or make decisions about the products, services or solutions you market,” says Schaefer. “They are a tool that builds confidence in strategies to persuade buyers to choose you rather than a competitor or the status quo… [they are] are extremely useful for developing and evaluating messaging, content and offers that differentiate your brand from competitors.” 

Reach out to current customers and conduct surveys to glean valuable insights into who they are. Additionally, use your current website and social media analytics to gather data about your visitors. You might even consider hiring a market research firm to spearhead these efforts for you. 

Once you’ve gathered enough information, you can start to build out your buyer persona profile. This persona should represent your ideal customer. You can use a buyer persona template (check out this template from HubSpot) to guide you. Your buyer persona should include information about their age, occupation, marital status, education, goals, and community. Not only can you use this buyer persona to determine your target market, but you can also use it as motivation for choosing the right influencer. 

Step 4: Finding the Right Influencer

Finding the right influencer starts with the perfect tool. With the proliferation of social media, the Internet is saturated with plenty of influencer marketing tools. These tools are cost-efficient and help you hone in on the ideal influencer for your particular campaign goals and strategy type. Some focus on specific platforms, while others offer detailed information across several social media channels. 

The Scalefluence platform is designed to help brands and agencies discover the most relevant influencers. Find influencers across major channels, as well as bloggers (a sector that many tools fail to include, which could make it difficult for brands to find the best influencers for sponsored blog posts). 

Search for candidates based on criteria such as follower count/reach, price, and other metrics. Then, communicate with potential influencers directly through the platform. What’s especially unique about Scalefluence is that it uses trackable links appended to each piece of content to help you view real-time results of your campaign. You can learn more about how to use Scalefluence to find influencers here

As you go through your results, keep a shortlist of your favorite influencers. Armed with important metrics collected through a detailed authentication process, you can then proceed with a more-hands on investigation by analyzing each account. Pay attention to their language and tone, visual style, and creative direction.

Ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Could you envision your product being featured on this page? 
  • Does this influencer match my buyer persona? 
  • Would this influencer use my product or service?
  • Do they come across as genuine and authentic (versus sales-y and promotional)?
  • Do they engage their followers in the comments section?
  • What type of content are they being tagged in?
  • What products have they promoted in the past, and how do those promotions align with my offerings?

As you go through each of those questions, you’ll be able to learn more by unraveling. Before you know it, you’ve found the right influencer. 

Step 5: Engage With Authenticity

Once you’ve found the right influencer, it’s time to reach out to them. For many brands and agencies, this can be the difficult part. But it doesn’t have to be. For starters, when you use a platform like Scalefluence, you can avoid the awkward financial negotiations: the influencer’s price is clearly listed on their profile and payments are managed directly through the platform using an airtight escrow service. 

With money talks a non-factor, you can focus on building a genuine relationship centered on authentic dialogue. Send them a polite and friendly introduction letting them know you’re interested in working with them. Let them know what your goals are and why you think they’d be a great fit for a partnership. 

By now, you have a campaign type in mind. Let them know what your content ideas are and what your brand goals are. Be careful not to send explicit directions; the best influencers like to have a little creative freedom. Instead, offer guidelines and wishlists. 

Once you’ve got a response from your ideal influencer(s), follow your gut. Influencers who are difficult to work with will exhibit those signs early on, but for the most part, chances are you’ll be met with great content creators who want to put out great work. 

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