By Anne Malambo, head of PR and outreach at contact lens retailer Feel Good Contacts
From 1986 to 2011, Oprah Winfrey ran one of the most successful talk shows of all time.
Not only did she interview more than 37,000 people during her 25 years (by her count), she also helped to launch careers and boost the sales of many businesses in what soon came to be known as ‘The Oprah Effect’.
In the era of social media, you don’t have to be a celebrity powerhouse like Oprah or have a TV show to capture an audience or to become an influencer, in fact, studies show that people are just as, if not more likely, to make purchasing decisions based on recommendations from friends or peers.
This has opened up a whole new marketing avenue for businesses to explore, as they seek to leverage the popularity of bloggers and social media influencers, and the trust that their followers have in them, in order to improve their brand awareness and boost traffic and sales.
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Influencer marketing can become a very successful component of any business’ digital marketing strategy, but brands must be careful to pick the right people to work with. Targeting those with the highest number of followers is ill-advised, instead, brands should use a four-point system to determine whether an influencer would fit their company image and messaging, and provide them with a good ROI.
We take this approach at Feel Good Contacts, by measuring influencers based on what I like to call ‘The Four R’s’: Relevance, Reach, Reputation and Rapport.
It sounds like common sense, but brands should first and foremost consider whether an influencer is relevant. With an abundance of research tools on the market, there’s no excuse for not finding the most appropriate targets. An ideal influencer will talk about the topic you’re already pitching, or at least something very similar. In some cases, there is room for crossover. Perhaps you’re a fashion brand that wants a travel blogger to snap themselves in one of your of your outfits while on an adventure, in which case, collaboration would work well.
You should also gain a good understanding of an influencer’s target audience, to determine whether it aligns with your own. Upon contact, most will provide a ‘media kit/pack’ or at least a basic breakdown of their audience profile, by gender and age.
Don’t be afraid to delve deeper by asking the influencer to send a list of similar businesses they’ve worked with, including a few examples of their work (if you can’t find it easily enough on site).
Once you’ve determined whether an audience is relevant, it’s time to look at the audience itself. It’s no secret that social media platforms are rife with fake accounts and that influencers are spending money to artificially boost their follower count. In fact, one recent study found that while influencer budgets are on the up, 12% of Instagrammers are still buying fake followers. 96% of respondents in the same study cited ‘quality of followers’ as a top priority when selecting creators to work with.
Luckily, there are a number of tools available that can help you determine whether an influencer’s followers are fake. Other giveaways include accounts without a profile picture, dodgy sounding account names, bios that are very generic or similar to other profiles and accounts with a disproportionate number of followers to those that person is following.
Another good way of measuring the legitimacy of an audience is to look at engagement levels. Do a lot of people comment on the influencer’s blogs? Do they get a lot of likes, comments and shares on social media? Does their audience seem interested in their competitions/giveaways, and genuinely interested in striking up a conversation with the blogger/vlogger/Instagrammer? Influencers that regularly interact with their followers is a bonus.
Top tip: Don’t discount smaller, ‘micro’ influencers – they often have higher levels of engagement. Keep in contact with them as their following grows!
An influencer with a bad reputation is going to ruin your reputation. It is also important to do some due diligence on bloggers to make sure their behaviour is in line with your brand’s values – even if it’s just a case of scrolling through their social feeds and checking whether they’ve been mentioned in the news. There have been many cases of bloggers saying/doing controversial things and this can severely ruin a business’ credibility, or force them to terminate the collaboration, wasting both time and money.
Another thing brands must consider is the quality of an influencer’s work. What is the quality of their images and videos, are they taking them on a smartphone or a highly pixelated digital camera? Are they well edited? Is what they’re producing – whether it’s video, images or text – engaging their followers and getting a response? Is the overall design and layout of their website/feed professional?
Once you’ve found the right influencer, you’ll want to introduce yourself. The best thing to do is to write an email that’s personalised – it’s fine to have a standard template, but there should be parts of it that can be left open to customisation.
While it’s good to strike up a friendly conversation, it’s equally important to get to the point by providing an overview of what you are expecting from the influencer and asking them to provide a media pack/price list if they have one.
When negotiating, take into account the influencer’s overall following, engagement, quality of work and authority before settling on a final price. It is highly advisable to have a blogger’s agreement that outlines both the responsibilities of the blogger and the brand. This way there is little room for miscommunication and disagreements on both sides.
Google Analytics is your best friend when it comes to measuring success from influencer marketing. This platform gives you access to a whole host of information, including statistics on total and referral traffic, new users, time on site and goal completions/conversions. An increase in followers on your own social media channels could also be another KPI.
A word to the wise – influencer marketing isn’t for you if your only KPI is to increase your organic search rankings through SEO. Google guidelines state that where payment or products are given in exchange for editorial, any subsequent links must be given the ‘no-follow’ attribute. Most bloggers should be aware of this, but it is your responsibility to ask them to change it if you detect otherwise. Using the NoFollow Chrome Extension makes this task a breeze.