Social Media Marketing

Seeking Influencers: 3 Questions to Ask Before You Choose

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Social media has created many exciting phenomena. One of the most interesting is that of the influencer. Often these are ordinary people, made famous by their catchy or creative posts. Other times they are more traditionally famous people. Either way, these influencers can make a pretty good living by promoting brands or products to their large group of followers.

Whether you’re considering an actor, athlete, or “regular person” as an influencer for your brand, there are a lot of risks involved. You have to know your audience, create a message that resonates, and then choose an influencer who embodies those needs and your company’s overall values.

Fortunately, social media posts, conversations, interactions, and even photos and videos contain profound insights into what your target markets want and need, like and don’t like, where they’ve gone, what they’ve eaten, what they wear, and much more. Likewise, their social media interactions show who, and what, influences their decisions.

Whether you’re choosing a traditional celebrity or a social media star, there is no shortcut to finding the right person. Thoroughly analyzing this wealth of data available is the only way to choose a brand ambassador that speaks to, and with, your audience, and shares your values. There is so much to think about!

Here are three fundamental questions to ask in your search for the perfect influencer.  

Does Your Influencer Resonate With Your Target Audience?

Identifying your target audience is something you should do when you start a business. But we’re talking about more than “men 35 to 45” or “women who make over $100,000.” Sure, these groups are often used to segment ads on traditional media like radio and TV, but you need much more for a successful influencer campaign.

The first step is making sure that your broad target market is also drawn to the celebrity. This may seem obvious, but how many ads have you seen—on TV, on social media—where your first reaction is, “Hmm, I wonder how they decided on that person to represent them.” If you know your target market is generally men over 50, make sure your chosen influencer appeals to that group—maybe a Hall of Fame athlete rather than a young pop star. Yes, this is broad, but it’s an essential first step.

Do the Followers of Your Influencer Have the Same Interests as Your Target Audience?

Identifying your target audience in broad terms prepares you to answer the all-important second question. This is where more in-depth social research can pay real dividends and let you look at things beyond gender, age, and the traits we use to roughly segment.

For example, use the social data available to understand what your target market is talking about, and compare those topics to what fans of your potential influencers are discussing. If the primary interests of your target market are travel, dining out, minivans, wine, and movies, and the interests of your potential influencer’s followers are beer, football, movies, gardening equipment, and baseball, you probably don’t have a match.

Overlapping interests is maybe the most important thing for having an influencer resonate with your audience in a meaningful way. If your audience and your influencer’s audience are naturally talking about and interested in the same things, your campaign is set up for success.

Is the Influencer Already a Fan of Your Brand?

The Holy Grail of finding an influencer, of course, is finding a true advocate. Someone that is already a fan of your brand and products without being paid. For example, a men’s clothing company might leverage a celebrity who already has pictures on social media of themselves wearing the company’s jeans.

The great thing about finding an influencer like this is that the message rings so true—because it is. Social media users are very savvy. If they sense a campaign isn’t authentic, there’s a real danger of turning them off. Finding an advocate that’s already a fan, and has a following that knows he’s a fan, gives you the best opportunity for a campaign that sticks with potential customers.

Of course, not every potentially great advocate for your brand will come out of this analysis with a qualified “yes” to all these questions. As always, in marketing, it’s not black and white, it’s many shades of gray. But, by using all that social media data you have at your disposal, and asking the right questions, you can find an influencer that resonates with your intended audience and gives your campaign a real lift.

Do you have an influencer strategy? How did you select your influencer? Tell me about your process in the comments.

Summit CTA 2018