Are you thinking about doing an influencer marketing campaign but don’t know how to find and partner with the right influencers?
Although finding the right influencer to partner up with might seem like a shot in the dark, the task is not as improvised as you may think, and there are several steps to ensure you find the perfect partner.
In this article you’ll learn how to choose the right influencers for your next influencer marketing campaign.
Step 1: Define the essentials
Before you begin looking around for influencers, you must define the most essential aspects of the campaign. These will help us narrow down our focus and ultimately find the most qualified influencers. Defining the essentials includes the following:
- Target market & demographics: Who are you trying to reach? Specifically, are you looking to target any age groups, cities/states/countries, genders, income levels, or professions? To illustrate, one influencer activation we did for a fashion store opening in Miami included an invitation to a group of female fashion influencers aged 22-27 years old. Prior to inviting them, we defined the store’s target audience which included females ages 20-30 years old, who were into bohemian fashion styles, who attended music festivals similar to Coachella or Burning Man, and who lived in South Florida. With this information at hand, we were able to filter and search for the right influencers who had a similar audiences & style but also that had a high concentration of their followers in the Miami region. This gave us a chance to reach the exact audience group our client was targeting.
- Objective of the campaign: Are you running a brand awareness or sales-driven campaign? Perhaps a traffic campaign? How can you satisfy your primary objective but try to leverage the activation to get even more out of it? Understanding the end goal will help you navigate through the crowds. One of our clients was seeking to get more sign ups on their fantasy sports platform, we did an activation with popular medium-sized basketball coaches, trainers and influencers that had a strong and engaged community looking to them for advice on their sport’s routine. Given the objective was to increase the number of sign ups, our influencers were able to promote the platform by experimenting the game live with their audiences and add customized links to the sign up page as well as an invitation to play in an invite-only tournament against them.
- Social channel(s): Do you want to execute your campaign on Instagram? Perhaps TikTok or YouTube? What about a combination of different platforms? Depending on the type of activation, content, results you want to achieve, influencers you want to partner with, you will want to choose the platform(s) wisely. Instagram campaigns tends to be more high quality content, experience focused & conversion oriented allowing the following to experience a brand while creating high quality content and traffic. YouTube for those wanting more in-depth, quality analysis videos that will have a longer lifetime, or TikTok for those wanting to make a big splash and have a more viral effect. It’s truly up to you.
- Dates of the campaign: Establishing the dates of the campaign will be extremely important for when we reach out to each influencer. Speaking from experience, influencers have planned content calendars, activations, and trips with weeks, even months in advance. If you have the dates of your activation established from the beginning, you’ll be able to coordinate with influencers with enough time to lock the campaign and shift around other commitments.
Once the essentials of the campaign are defined, we will have a solid base so we can begin our quest to find the most appropriate influencers.
Step 2: Research
With more clarity on the foundation of the campaign, you can go ahead and begin the research phase. With more than half a million influencers who are on Instagram alone, think about how big the pool of candidates really is across the many different social media platforms. When it comes to the actual research, you can use influencer marketing softwares that makes it easy to search a database and apply filters to narrow down your search based on demographics, location, follower size, etc.
One of our favorite softwares out there is Traackr. Traackr is a data-driven platform that lets you easily search and discover influencers with all sorts of filtering available, allows seamless campaign management from start to finish, and performs detailed campaign reporting. The platform essentially makes your life easier by centralizing data and insights, consolidating influencer conversations into one place and laying out every step of the contracting process. It’s a time saver with incredible features.
Don’t want to pay money for influencer database software? It’s not the end of the world. While it may take a bit longer, you can also do your own manual research. On Instagram, a way you can look for influencers is by doing a hashtag search with keywords that relate to the type of person you’d like to work with. For example, a hotel chain in Miami will want to work with a travel influencer, so the hashtag search could include the following terms: # travelinfluencer #travelblogger #miamitravel (or any city of interest + travel). Same goes for TikTok.
On YouTube, you can begin your search by looking for keywords of videos that could seem related to your business. For example a fashion brand may want to partner up with a YouTuber that does clothing reviews (or “hauls” as they are commonly referred to), so the search query might be “clothing haul” or just “haul” to see who pops up. You could also take a look at related videos when you find an exemplary video and that way you’ll easily discover YouTubers that are relevant to the type of content you’re interested in.
As you keep trying different types of searches, make a note of the influencers that catch your eye. You will be analyzing their profiles in the next step.
Step 3: Quality Check
Once you have gathered a number of influencers – I personally suggest gathering more than 50 influencers if possible – it’s time to check the quality and relevance of these influencers. Take a look at the influencers’ location, number of followers, number and quality of the comments in their posts/videos (you want to make sure the comments are not sketchy or spammy in any way).
If you have access to an influencer marketing tool, such as Chrome extension Upfluence, check each influencer’s key metrics. These include engagement rate, follower age groups, follower gender split, follower locations, etc. Remember to stay focused and always keep in mind the target market you want to reach. That way you’ll be able to select the influencers who have the metrics that match with the target market. You should also pay attention to their metrics in the sense that they seem like real people who are serious about their jobs as influencers. This means hopefully finding influencers with more than a 1.5% engagement rate, good quality comments that seem genuine and not spam, having an audience of people who live in your key markets, etc.
For one of our clients in the airline industry, we were able to secure an influencer with top quality characteristics for an activation that took place in August 2019. The client inaugurated a direct flight between Montreal and Paris, and wanted an influencer relevant in the Canadian market to hop on that flight and promote it with their followers. Take a look at her metrics below. With 152K followers, her average engagement rate was pretty strong (6.91%) and the majority of her followers are from Canada with the targeted age group (between 18-34) making up 75% of her following.
To further illustrate what quality checking is, let’s see an example of the type of profile you do not want to work with. In the example below, we have an influencer that has an engagement rate below 1% and who has very spammy looking comments on their profile. You should make sure you look at all potential influencers’ comments to confirm they have a real following that is genuinely engaging. If you see these types of comments, you’ll want to red-flag the profile. We covered this influencer’s content and account name to protect their privacy.
Step 4: Make a List
Now that you have checked the quality and filtered out the influencers that are most relevant for the campaign, you will want to make a list with the influencers who qualified and all their key metrics. Make sure you include the influencers’ names, influencers’ handles, links to the accounts, email addresses (can be usually found on their profiles), number of followers, influencers’ location, and type of content. If you have access to an influencer marketing database tool, you should also include engagement rates, follower age groups, follower gender split, and follower locations. You may also want to add a column with any relevant notes that may be useful to point out. This will essentially help to see the big picture and have all influencer information in a centralized document. Here’s an example of what your list could look like:
I’ve also gone ahead and created a free template on Google Docs for you to get started. You can access it right here.
Step 5: Outreach & Selection
When it comes to outreaching, it’s super important to make sure to craft the right message. You must communicate with a friendly, yet professional tone so the influencer can feel comfortable about receiving your message but also get a sense that it’s a serious deal.
Try to include as much relevant information about the campaign as you can. Think of any questions the influencer might have after reading the email and see if you can incorporate the answers within the text prior to sending. You’ll want to reduce the amount of back and forth emails as much as possible, so clarity is key here.
Here’s an example of an outreach email:
Step 6: Contracting
After having a conversation with the influencers you outreached to, it’s time to make the final picks and get started with the contract. It’s important to ensure that the contract you craft makes the influencer accountable for all the deliverables and responsibilities he/she is agreeing to. The influencer must understand he is part of a larger activation and that he/she really needs to deliver for everything else to function properly. Many influencers that have a small following do this as a side job, so it’s crucial that they take it seriously. Influencers are also representing your brand and you want to make sure to hold them accountable in case they were thinking about doing anything that could damage your brand image.
You will also want to make sure that you include a media release portion in the contract in order to reuse the content created during the campaign for future ad assets. By laying this all out from the start, you’re setting the ground for a transparent and seamless work relationship.
Step 7: Tracking
Once the campaign launches, it is crucial to keep a close eye on the influencer’s activity. Check in with them daily, be available for any questions that may arise on their side and make sure you communicate with both the client and the influencer to respond to any requests on both sides. If the influencer made a mistake or is missing something that needs to be posted, make sure to let them know so they can adjust in time.
A key tip when it comes to tracking the actual activation is to create a group chat (iMessage, Whatsapp, GroupMe, any instant messaging app really) with the influencer(s). You’ll be able to get quicker responses and they can submit the content they plan on posting prior to doing so and get an approval from your team. You can also send them a list with the hashtags they can use (especially if there’s a branded hashtag for the activation). To make it even better, we always include a Content Guidelines sheet with contact information from our team, all the posting rules provided by the clients, and anything they need to keep in mind for this activation.
Below is an example of the guidelines we used for the activation with our client Corsair Airlines. You can see how we included all useful information regarding the activation, such as location, hotel address, flight information, expected deliverables, daily itinerary, content guidelines, estimated expenses, our contact information, etc. Doing a document like this one will ensure everyone is fully aligned on every aspect of the activation.
Prior to the campaign launch, however, make a note of any relevant insights that relate to the campaign objective (i.e. number of followers on company’s account, average number of visits to the website, average number of conversions from other ads, etc.). These will be needed for reporting on the success of the campaign.
Step 7: Crafting the Final Report
After the campaign ends, it’s time to request all insights from the influencers. For efficiency purposes, you can request a screenshot of the influencer’s insights for all the posts, videos, and/or stories they crafted throughout the campaign. Make sure to collect these insights as soon as the campaign ends in order to have enough time to record and analyze the campaign results. Once the influencer sends the insights, you can proceed with payment.
Here’s an example of a general overview slide from the report we put together for Corsair when we did an activation to inaugurate their Montreal and Miami direct flights to Paris with an influencer from each city:
But wait, this doesn’t really end there. It’s extremely important to maintain a good relationship with the influencer, especially if you’re happy with the results. Keeping a good relationship with influencers you’ve worked with will open up the opportunity of working with them in the future. Thank them for their partnership and let them know how satisfied you are with how the campaign turned out. You can even share some of your insights with regard to the impact of the campaign on your business so that the influencer feels valued. Below is an example of a great post-campaign email that is appreciative of the influencer’s work during the campaign and leaves the door open for future opportunities.