The influencer selection processes of brands have definitely improved. Despite this, many of the biggest brands across the globe are still missing the opportunity to cut out wastage and optimise the budgets they are spending considerably more. How? By being even more selective with their influencer choices in 2019.
To many companies, collaborating with the highest profile personalities who achieve the most genuine engagement has been the opted route over the past couple of years. After all, they can speak to a larger audience and their ‘voice’ will be heard far beyond the realms of a faceless brand characterised by a logo. The majority of marketers are now addressing the fake follower issue that plagued the industry for years.
While seeking out those influencers with larger genuine followers might appear to be a logical rationale to increase exposure and therefore sales, we all now know it doesn’t always hold true. An ever-growing number of businesses are beginning to realise that they must be even more selective with their influencer choices, however.
In a recent interview, Chris Wilson, PMYB Co-Founder argued that “different people with similar, genuine followings have different levels of influence. You need to look under the car bonnet to find out what level of influence they have prior to working with them.”
The Shift Towards ‘Effective and Data-Driven Influencer Selections’
As an extension of a brand’s PR and engagement strategy, influencers have approximately double the engagement rate across industry marketing verticals, according to ‘The Influencer Marketing Report’ from Business Insider Intelligence.
So yes, influential people more engaging than most traditional marketing methods. However, even with such an advantage, many companies still don’t use influencer marketing to its full potential. Why? They need to get a much deeper, data-driven understanding of their influencers in the vetting/selection process. Currently, too many companies and agencies are missing out some key steps.
For a while, many have fallen into the trap of focusing on surface metrics, such as like counts and the number of followers. Despite this, these metrics look likely to become less important amid the reports of Instagram hiding likes for everyone. It is essential to delve deeper into these metrics so that you can measure the true level of influence and engagement. Now, markers must find alternate, more-insightful ways of justifying their influencer choices. Selecting better influencers because of better justifications will allow brands to start seeing a much greater ROI. You can learn more about how we personally select our influencers later in this post.
Finding The Right Influencers in 2019
There are proven processes for finding high-performing influencers to represent your brand. Below are a few key pointers that brands should consider before committing to working with influencers in 2019 and beyond:
Aligned Influencer-Brand Stories and Core Values
Before conducting a comprehensive assessment of an influencer’s metrics, it is very important to first establish whether their values and content are in-line with your brand’s communication strategy. By carefully going through the person’s content history, you can slowly start to build a picture of how the potential working relationship would be a benefit for all. Check the brands they’ve represented in the past. Check if their story aligns with the story you’re attempting to tell with your brand.
If someone posts content about their impressive daily fitness regimen, it doesn’t automatically make that person the ideal fit for a sports brand. Likewise, just because a person shares makeup tutorial videos, it doesn’t make them the perfect candidate to effectively promote natural beauty products to the brand’s target audience.
Identifying whether an influencer’s message and tone will be a match to the brand’s identity is key to the process. Here are several questions you should be asking:
- Is their tone of voice appropriate?
- How does the influencer connect with their audience?
- Are they provocative?
- Have they been involved in prior scandals that could harm the brand’s reputation?
- Are they thought-leaders?
- Do they share views or opinions that align with what you would post through your own brand socials?
- Is their personality compelling enough to get across your message across?
- Will the creative strategy align with the influencers you’re working with?
The answers to these questions carry far greater weight when evaluating whether or not they are right for your campaign. The commonly shared values between influencers and brands help to transform a good campaign into a great campaign. These answers provide better insights than simply analysing reach and engagement metrics alone.
Looking Beyond Engagement & Reach
Yes, followers and engagements aren’t the be all and end all, but they’re still important, especially when they’re genuine. As well all know, engagement displays the level of interaction between the target audience and the influencer’s content. Establishing how often the followership engages in the form of likes, comments and shares help us to make these conclusions.
Taking this a step further, calculating the percentage of new versus returning visitors is another important metric to look into. While every marketer wants to see an increase in both, returning visitors offer greater insights into the meaningfulness of the relationship with the audience.
Authenticity is Even More Important in 2019
Your Vetting Process May Need to be Reworked
People naturally engage more when interactions are genuine. Collaborating with influencers that are true advocates for your brand, your products, and your services or even your cause, allows their unique personality to come to the fore. This enhances their ability to create and disseminate high quality, authentic content that resonates with their followers. At PMYB, we’ve come across a few influencers that have pretended to like a product just to be paid for a campaign with our clients. However, it is very obvious when this occurs. When this happens you should immediately opt for better alternatives that clearly have a connection with your brand. Audiences can clearly see when an endorsement sounds disingenuine, and you should be able to as well.
In fact, when this begun happening, we decided to start delving deeper with our influencer Chromo-Analysis vetting process. We added a much more comprehensive way of measuring brand affinity and interest alignments between our clients and their target audience, as well as the influencers and their followers. This has improved our process of ensuring the content of influencers chosen comes across more authentically and naturally.
Not Every Follower Trusts who they Follow
Many people follow influencers because of their status. Many people follow influencers, whether or not they trust them – This is particularly prominent with celebrities and reality stars. Not all of them, of course, but it’s considerably common. As a result, you need to ensure that you select influencers that are generally trusted and admired for the right reasons.
Being more selective when it comes to influencer choices builds trust among audiences. More audiences will trust your brand and they will care about it more. Niche communities will especially see right through an influencer who doesn’t stand firmly behind the brand they represent. When this happens it can, in fact, do more harm than good as Pepsi found out in a 2017 campaign with Kendall Jenner.
The short advert that saw Kendall effortlessly diffusing tensions at a protest by handing a police officer a can of Pepsi, was criticised on many fronts. One of the main points of contention was the fact that she has never really been known as being an activist for anything worth noting. This occurred at a time when rallying for many different causes was at an all-time high. Coca Cola’s main rival eventually had to pull the plug on the ad, removing it from all of its official platforms due to the public outcry.
Pepsi’s ad may have been interpreted better and come across more authentic if two things were done prior. Firstly, the ideal influencer (or influencer agency they were working with) could have quickly educated them how insensitive the entire concept was and potentially advised them against it. Secondly, people might have been more receptive to the message had it come from the more ‘trusted source’.
The main purpose of marketing and communication is to earn and build trust. Every interaction with customers presents an excellent opportunity to nurture that trust. By teaming up with trusted and adored influencers within target communities, brands can affirm their accountability and transparency and be elevated in the minds of their audience.
The Importance of Influencer Outreach & Relationship Management
Once brands have shortlisted the influencers they’d like to collaborate with, the outreach stage commences. Here, it is important to establish clear communication to benchmark expectations and objectives. Through these interactions, brands can begin to build a good rapport with influencers.
Thereafter, measuring the results of influencer outreach itself will be advantageous for future efforts. By doing this, brands will understand the success level of their partnership program and where improvements can be made.
At the end of the day, the management of the established relationships will tell the true tale. Onboarding influencers is just one side to the story. Because they are human beings, genuine connections and empathy will need to reign supreme in the end. Staying in touch them, being receptive to feedback, welcoming change and sharing insightful data on the effectiveness of campaigns will all contribute towards a seamless and mutually beneficial working relationship.
Common Traits For Success
Ultimately, the best influencers are known to possess several common traits. Brands should specifically target personalities who are:
- Credible – They have built a reputation as being extremely knowledgeable about their niche.
- Compelling – Their audience cannot help but engage with their content and become immersed in the topic of discussion.
- Though leaders – They are trusted sources who move and inspire their audience through informed perspectives.
- Passionate – It is clear that they genuinely love what they do. It is evident in their posts and interactions with their audience.
- Strong communicators – They can clearly deliver your message in a way that resonates.
Furthermore, their content and audience should be aligned with the brand’s values and offering. Through being more selective with your choices, your company can better leverage the power of influencer marketing, while building long-lasting, authentic relationships within your target communities. As a result of this methodical approach, you can significantly improve campaign effectiveness and maximise ROI in 2019.