How to Choose the Right Influencers to Support Your Marketing Initiatives

March 20, 2018

by Sam Holzman

Inbound marketing has undergone a significant transformation in recent years. In the current age of rapid technological growth and social connectedness, customers no longer respond to traditional advertising methods. Instead, they crave real connections and hyper-personalized content. Fortunately, emerging marketing tactics like influencer marketing enable marketing professionals everywhere to meet the needs of the modern customer.

If you’re unfamiliar with influencer marketing, it’s a tactic that leverages the power of established industry experts and thought leaders to market a brand to an expanded audience. Influencers may be bloggers, content creators, or social media personalities– the common thread between them being their strong web presence and their command of an engaged audience.

Influencer marketing has proven to be an effective strategy to expose your company and products to a larger market. Consider these stats:

  • 93% of marketers reported that influencer marketing helped improve their visibility.
  • 94% of brands who have used influencer marketing have found it to be effective.
  • 57% of marketers found that influencer-generated content performs better than professionally produced assets.

Influencer marketing is clearly an effective marketing tactic, however, your campaigns are only as good as the influencers you align with. Today we explain the factors that make a valuable influencer, how to find such influencers, and how to use them to their fullest potential. Keep reading.

What makes someone an influencer?

An influencer is not simply someone who has a large following. Rather, an influencer is an individual who can sway public opinion and inspire purchase decisions among their audience. An effective influencer has a devoted following, often within a certain niche or industry. Their content, opinions, and online presence speak directly to the wants, needs, and pain points of their audience. The size of an influencer’s following will vary, and, often depends on how specific their interest or expertise is.

How to find an influencer to support your marketing initiatives

1. Know your target audience

The success of any campaign hinges on your ability to reach the right audience. Therefore, the first step to finding the right influencer is to have a clear and thorough understanding of your target audience. The best way to do this is to create buyer personas.

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. These profiles contain information on the people most likely to purchase from your company—think age, gender, job title and company size. They should also include more specific buying signals like common challenges, purchase preferences, and product opinions.

To create your buyer personas, analyze your corporate contacts database to identify trends throughout your customer base and successful buyers. Then, compile these trends into a singular profile for a complete picture of your ideal buyer.

Your buyer personas should inform your entire influencer marketing strategy – from the influencers you work with to the channels your influencers use to promote your products. Once your buyer personas give you a clear understanding of your target audience, you must identify and work with influencers who have an identical following.

2. Set clear objectives for your campaign

Before you start your search for the right influencer, you must set clear objectives for your campaign. Resist the urge to use influencer marketing simply because it’s the latest marketing trend. Rather, start with the question, “What are we hoping to accomplish?”

Common influencer marketing goals are to boost sales, increase brand visibility, or build a social following. Whatever your goal is, it must be measurable and have a clear timeline. For example: “Our goal is to increase sales of a specific product by 25% over the next three months.”

Then, craft a detailed plan that explains how influencer marketing will help you achieve this business goal. How will your influencers interact with your brand? How will you benefit from the partnership, both in the short- and long-term? What channels do you plan to use? How many influencers will you need to accomplish these goals?

Specific goals help you determine what to look for in an influencer. They also provide a benchmark to measure your success against. At the end of a campaign, you can see if you met, exceeded or fell short of your goals. Then, you can take your campaign results and apply them to future campaigns as you learn what does and doesn’t work.

3. Create influencer personas

We previously explained how buyer personas help you identify your target audience. Influencer personas help you accomplish a similar goal. With profiles that outline what you’re looking for in an ideal influencer, you can quickly determine whether someone is the right fit for your campaign.

When building your influencer personas, consider using the following data points:

  • Demographic information: Gender, age, etc.
  • Audience: What and how big should their audience be? It should consist of the people you want to reach, and should be big enough to expand your reach.
  • Value: Can the influencer deliver on your campaign objectives? i.e. Do they elicit action from their audience?
  • Activity: How active are they on social media? An influencer should have an active social media presence, with high-quality, frequent and consistent posts.
  • Profession/Niche: What is their expertise? This ties into relevancy.
  • Tone: What tone does the ideal influencer possess? Does it align with your brand’s?
  • Price Point: How much does the influencer cost? Can you afford them?

4. Research

Once you have a clear picture of the ideal influencer for your campaign, it’s time to begin your search. If you’re new to influencer marketing, you may not know where to begin. We recommend these social listening methods:

  • Search hashtags: If an influencer is the perfect fit for your company, there will be some overlap with regard to the topics you post about. Across all social media platforms, search industry or product-related hashtags to find people who post about the same things you do.
  • Google Alerts: Set up alerts for keywords that might direct you to relevant influencers. Include mentions of your brand and products, but focus on the content topics you cover – particularly the topics most related to your planned campaign.
  • Influencer marketing tools: Manually searching for influencers can be challenging and time-consuming. Luckily, there are a number of tools, many of them free, that focus on connecting brands to influencers.

5. Engage with your influencer

Once you’ve identified the right influencer, avoid the urge to immediately approach them with your campaign idea. Asking someone to promote your business before they get to know your brand is the wrong way to start a long-lasting, mutually beneficial partnership. So, engage with the influencer before you reach out. Follow them on social media, share and respond to their posts, etc. When it comes time to approach them with an offer, your past interest and engagement will go a long way.

Key Takeaways

Influencer marketing will continue to evolve and grow as a dominant strategy in the world of marketing. Over the next year alone, we’ll see new platforms and applications emerge that empower influencers even further. But regardless of these developments, the foundation of a successful influencer marketing campaign remains the same. It starts with understanding your brand, audience and message – and then seeking an influencer that truly fits.

Photo credit: Pixaby

About the Author

Sam Holzman is the Content Marketing Specialist at ZoomInfo where he writes for their B2B blog. ZoomInfo is a leading B2B contact database that helps organizations accelerate growth and profitability. Sam regularly covers topics related to sales, marketing, and recruiting, and likes to write about sports and travel in his free time.