Not trying to toot my own horn, but I was all over the influencer marketing game before it was even called influencer marketing. In fact, I pitched it in a job application with Fitness First many, many years ago. I came to my interview equipped with a proposal on how I was absolutely going to nail their Local Area Marketing role, and part of my suggestions included using local “fitspos” to promote the gym. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the job, but they still ended up executing most of my ideas. These days, it seems like everyone on Instagram is an influencer, or is trying really hard to be one, cos who doesn’t love #freestuff. Not only is everyone an “influencer” but everyone is shoving random products down our throats via their Instagram feeds, and some partnerships have me super perplexed. These are my suggestions on what to look for in an influencer, and what common mistakes you should avoid.
1. Are they the right fit for your business?
I get it, we all want to jump on the influencer bandwagon because all the big brands are doing it and why shouldn’t you? Before you waste your time and theirs, do some research on your influencers. Who are they currently aligned with, have they promoted competitor products? Does their lifestyle & values align with your brand? If you’re a protein brand and this guy or girl is a travel blogger, it’s probably not the right fit for either of you. Look at their style, how they take their photos, and consider if your product would slot into their perfectly curated feed seamlessly. Don’t try and turn them into something that they’re not.
2. Who are their followers?
Similarly to the above, if the influencer’s account is full of suggestive selfies and bikini shots, and you’re trying to target females with kids, you probably aren’t going to find your ideal customer through their audience. You can ask an influencer for an overview of their follower’s demographics, just to make sure.
3. All about that engagement
It blows my mind how many guys and girls are out there with ridiculously low engagement, getting sent free stuff on the reg. I had a client who had sent product to an influencer/”YouTuber” with around 7000 followers. A quick skim over their recent posts showed they were getting around 11 likes on their photos. ELEVEN. That’s 0.01% of their followers. It’s a complete waste of time sending product to people with accounts like this – AVOID.
4. Spot the fakes
Further to the bit around engagement, if someone has thousands of followers but are getting 10-20 likes on a post it’s pretty obvious that they’ve most likely bought followers. A quick flick through a person’s follower list will confirm. Look for accounts that are following 2,799 people, have 0 followers and 0 posts, and no profile pic. Usually a dead give away.
5. Trust no one
It seems that people will go to great lengths to pull the wool over the eyes of the Instagram community, and small businesses are usually the ones who take the bait. Make sure you have a written agreement and very clear expectations on what you’re looking for in a relationship with an influencer.