How to find the best influencers for your brand

Over the past year, Influencer marketing has been a great resource for many companies, no matter how big or small they are. There are many benefits from doing influencer marketing, the main one being the possibility of reaching out to an audience that is quite difficult to do with other types of marketing.

That being said, finding the right content creators is not an easy task. Sometimes, these types of campaigns might not have the results the brand is expecting, due to the selection of influencers. Choosing the correct influencer who brings authenticity to your brand will be key in order to get good results for your campaign. It’s not just selecting influencers who have a good amount of followers; there are many other variables that need to be considered in this process.

What types of influencers exist? 

Before we start any search on influencers, you need to know the types of influencers who exist:

Nano influencers: They usually range from 1,000 – 5,000 followers. They are usually new to this sort of business, but they are getting followers quickly. 

Micro influencers: From 5,000 – 50,000 followers. They work with small – medium size brands and they have good engagement. Their audience trusts them and they like the way they share their opinions about specific products or services. 

Top influencers: Those influencers who have more than 50,000 followers. They have been doing influencer marketing for a while and they work with medium – popular brands. They usually have high fees for each promoted content they share on their social media accounts. Many of these influencers reach a “celebrity” status after they gain 1 million followers or more. They are still influencers since they have great knowledge about a type of brand or field, but they can also appear on TV, in magazines, etc. The picture below shows an example of a top influencer doing a campaign with a well-known brand. 

With this terminology in mind, now it’s time to start looking for the best influencers for your brand. Here you can find 8 steps to make it possible:

  1. Identify the purpose of your campaign

What do you want to see from this campaign? Is it an increase in traffic, more clients in your restaurant or a better brand image? List all the goals you want to reach.

Set up a calendar for when and how you want to see those results. They need to be measurable metrics. For instance, if you want an increase in traffic make sure there will be utms ready to send to your collaborators.

Communication with customers is key. Now more than ever, people are using technology to communicate with each other. According to Smartme Analytics, these past months have had an increase in the use of communication apps. This could be a good sign for a brand to launch their first influencer marketing campaign. 

If you have done any sort of marketing campaigns before, include what worked and what didn´t here. Brands should learn from those mistakes and make sure the correct objectives are selected this time.

  1. Choose your target audience

Don’t leave this for the last minute. As a brand, you should know what your audience demographics and interests are. Do research with your main competitors and see what their audience demographics are to see if you are missing a group. Some of the crucial points to take into account are:

  • Look at your customer base: Select the data from the last year. Analyze the location, age, type of business they own, income level, marital status,etc. What makes them come to your brand? How frequently do they buy your products?. Conduct the necessary market research. 

If you want to reach out to a new target audience, check out this graph that shows the use of social media over the first quarter of 2020 by different age demographic groups.

  • Competitors target: Do your competitors target the same people? Check if the audience location and age are the same. Are they from a niche market that you can attack that hasn’t been selected yet?
  • Features of your product: Analyze your product. What makes it unique? Have you made any recent improvements to help your customers? Conducting a small survey is necessary to understand what your customers value the most or what they wish could be different. 
  1. Find influencers in your niche 

Now that you know your goals and audience, start discovering influencers. Here you should keep in mind:

  • Category of the influencer: Depending on the type of brand you have, you need to find influencers who have knowledge of that field or who usually post content related to that field. Sometimes, influencers might post about different fields and that is okay too. 
  • Location of the influencer: Where is that influencer from? There are several ways to know this. You can check the location of their posts or read their bio. Many times influencers have to travel to other countries for work, but they have a main location where they usually post from. 
  • Aesthetics of the influencer: In the analysis of your brand and values, you probably figured this out. If you have social media channels, check the posts that you have been sharing lately. Before your influencer posts content about your brand, you should have a feed ready for your leads to see. 
  • Audience of the influencer: The same way you have a target audience, the influencer has one too. Find out what type of audience comments on and likes their content. What age, location, interests, gender and languages do they speak? Try to match this as much as you can with your target audience or with the audience you want to reach with this campaign. 
  • Channels that the influencer has: When you set up your objectives for the campaign, you should have chosen a specific channel that you want to include. Make sure, when you are discovering influencers, that they usually post there. For influencer marketing, Instagram is the most used channel. However, there are other channels such as Youtube that might be better, depending on the product you have. Furthermore, there are channels like Tik Tok that just appeared in 2019 and are increasing in popularity for Gen Z users. 

  1. How to find influencers

There are two ways to find influencers, one might take you more time than the other. Let’s explain both:

  • Manual search: Select the channel that you want to explore and start searching for influencers. With Instagram, you can type keywords to find influencers or find ones in a specific location. However, the results might not be as accurate as the second option. 

Other platforms such as Youtube, are more difficult for finding influencers. You can use their search videos in your field or find reviews of your competitor’s products to see what type of influencers they are and find similar ones. 

  • Influencer marketing platform: These usually have filters and large databases of influencers where you can find the ones who are aligned with your brand. You save time compared to the manual search option, where you can get results in seconds. 

There are several influencer marketing platforms with influencers around the world. Let’s take a look at two of them:

Heepsy

Heepsy has more than 7 million influencers around the world. It provides filters like location, audience, channels, contact information, etc. You also can see the latest posts of the influencer on Instagram so you are able to see if the aesthetics match with your brand. It’s an affordable and intuitive influencer marketing platform if you want to start in this industry.

Izea

Izea is a campaign management tool where most of their customers are larger enterprises that need a platform to cover bigger campaigns. They offer a database of a couple million influencers with different filters such as engagement or audience demographics. Influencers in the United States are the most popular location that they have available. An option to organize your searches is also available as they have a list feature. 

As you can see these are two similar but different platforms depending on the budget and needs you have.

  1. Analyze influencers’ performance metrics

Now you might have a couple of people who match the conditions you set up for your campaign. It is necessary to take it one step further and analyze their performance metrics. Even though you think they could be a great candidate for your campaign, that person might not have the best metrics in their posts. Some of the metrics that you should calculate or find in an influencer marketing platform are:   

  • Engagement: This is to find out if their audience is following and interested with the content they share. If you are going to invest in one or more influencers, you should be aware that their audience is going to comment, like and visit your website or profile. Consider their latest posts to have a clear idea on what their engagement is. If you check different articles online, you will see that an engagement rate of 6% is considered very good. However, many times, it depends on the type of influencer and followers they have. An engagement of 6% for an 80K influencer might not be as strong as for someone who has 20K followers.
  • Authenticity: Another metric that should be analyzed during this process is the authenticity of the influencer (i.e. How fake or real their audience is), because you don’t want to collaborate with influencers who have a fake audience since your products won’t be seen by the right people. 

There are several ways to do this.You can see if the influencer has many followers but not that many likes or comments; that can be a sign of fake authenticity. If you check their comments and those users don’t have followers or their accounts are empty, it might be a sign of fake followers.Those techniques are more typical than you think, so try to keep an eye on them when you are selecting your content creators.  Here is a sign of fake followers: over a very short period of time you see many spikes in the follower growth. 

  • Follower growth: As followers are very important for the influencer and your brand, knowing their growth rate is essential to know what type of true influence they are having lately. Also, if you see that the influencer has increasing and decreasing numbers of followers in very short periods of time, it could be a sign of buying fake followers to impress a brand. 
  • Cost per post: A useful metric to know if your budget can cover their fees. Sometimes, influencers have these cost per post fees due to their influence and results they are able to obtain for brands. Moreover, you are using their image, so they set up a quantity that needs to be paid apart from the product or type of collaboration you want to reach with them. 

In order to access this, you can wait until you contact them and ask for their media kit, or set up an account with an influencer marketing tool that will provide you these sorts of metrics.

  • Brand mentions: Last but not least, you need to check their brand mentions. Have they just worked with your competitors? If that is the case, they might have a contract to not collaborate with similar brands. 

You should know what type of brands they work with or who they tag in their posts, to know if they have the same values as you. Check what type of collaborations they do and if the results they have (Likes and comments) are in the result range that you want to obtain from your campaign. 

As mentioned in the previous point, you can select to calculate these metrics manually or purchase an influencer marketing tool that has these sorts of metrics implemented for your candidates. The choice should be made depending on the time, knowledge of this business and budget that you want to invest towards your collaboration. 

  1. Create a list with your top choices

Now that you have the metrics considered, you might have several candidates to pick from. Create a spreadsheet or add the influencers in a list with the platform that you are using. Make notes, review their metrics and compare your influencers. 

Depending on your campaign and budget, you might want to collaborate with one influencer or more. Share this list with your teammates and follow their recent posts for a couple of days to see how they interact with their followers.  

  1. Reach out and negotiate

In this list, you should have the metrics and most important information about them. This should include their contact information. Many influencers offer their public contact information in their Instagram bio. Visit their profiles and add them into your spreadsheet. Another way to find this information faster, is using an influencer marketing platform. If you don’t want to contact them via email, you could have the first contact via direct message on their social media platforms.

In this first contact, it is important to explain your proposal without giving them too many details. Share how their profile and your brand can be a great combination and describe the product or service that the information will be about. Be open for any questions or concerns they might have, and ask for their media kit. There, you should find insights about their profiles, such as results they have gotten from other campaigns and the fees they get depending on the amount of content they create. 

Here you can learn more about approaching influencers and starting a negotiation process:

Remember that if the collaboration is positive, you should maintain that relationship for future collaborations with them. Keep in mind that your influencer might have other collaborations on their calendar and your campaign might be delayed. The agreement that you reach with them might include a part that states the approval of the content before its being published. Let the influencers be creative, but also be clear about what you want to see from the campaign. The more information they have, the better it will be for them when creating these posts.

  1. Launch your campaign and analyze

After an exchange of emails, calls, contract-signing and your sending them your product, your campaign should be live. Monitor and track the results of those posts and keep communication open with your influencers at all times. If your objective was increasing traffic, check your data during the campaign and track your sales. You can set up an automated report with Data Studio from Google to help you track the results of traffic and audience of your campaign. 

After the campaign finishes, create a report of the results and share them with your team and the influencer. If you followed the steps when discovering influencers, the results should be positive. If that is the case, let the influencer know and leave the conversation open for future campaigns. 

Summing up

Influencer marketing is not as easy as it looks, but it clearly can be very profitable if you select the right influencers for your brand. According to different studies, brands are set up to spend more than $15 billion by 2022

Be aware that all the work of finding influencers can be done manually, but there are also influencer marketing platforms that are affordable and can easily help you to find and analyze influencers in just seconds. 

About the author

Patricia Garay works in the marketing department of Heepsy, an influencer marketing platform that helps brands and companies to find the most suitable influencers for their campaigns.