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Working with Influencers Part 2: Sourcing the right partners for lasting relationships

The ultimate goal of marketers is to reach the largest possible number of people. Or is it? In the digital age, when it’s never been easier to get in front of a crowd but it’s getting harder to stand out, brands are focusing on consistently reaching the right people instead. The key to success? Long-term partnerships with the right influencers.

Looking for influencers? Here’s where to start.

Journeying into the influencer marketing world begins with self-examination: Who does your brand want to reach? What social causes does it care about? Does your brand want to be seen as funny? Sustainable? Inclusive?

These answers will help determine what social media platform is right for you – are you B2B focused? Consider LinkedIn. Want to show you’re great at customer service? Maybe Twitter. Are you a cafe serving beautiful lattes? Try Instagram.

Once you decide on a platform, narrow your answers down to keywords. Words can become hashtags, which you can use to navigate the platform, increasing your likelihood of finding relevant influencers. Free online tools such as Searchmy.bio and Buzzsumo can automate this process.

Influencer and brand. Is it a perfect match?

Once you spot potential marketing partners, it’s time to test whether they’re a good fit for your brand in the long run. Keep the following in mind:

  • Follower count: Relevance is more important than numbers

Nano influencers don’t have as many followers as celebrities. But they might be seen as more genuine or attract passionate followers who care about topics related to your brand. These factors play a crucial role in the receptivity of your campaign.

Additionally, be suspicious of a sudden increase in followers. This might indicate that some of them could be fake, and fake followers likely won’t convert into customers because they might not be genuinely interested in the topics your brand is talking about.

  • Engagement rates: Look for both quantity and quality.

89% of marketers see engagement metrics as the primary barometer of a campaign’s success. This is usually measured in numbers of comments, likes, subscriptions, views, and shares a post receives over time. 

But an influencer’s credibility, not just popularity, affects the public response to your brand. So look out for qualitative metrics too: Do you spot comments with positive feedback? Is the influencer initiating conversations you want to be involved in?

  • Content consistency: do your values match up?

Brands and influencers often use a social cause they both care about to justify their relationship. But if your values aren’t consistently aligned, the partnership could be called out by the audience, seen as inappropriate – and this can quickly backfire for both brand and influencer, as Kendall Jenner and Pepsi won’t easily forget.

Starting the relationship on the right foot

Influencers are real people, not faceless marketing departments. So be personal with them, but remember that being on social media is often their full time job. Ensure that both parties see the benefits of a long term commitment and that your expectations are aligned from the start. 

For example, 57% of marketers say influencer created content used in other channels outperforms brand created content. So consider including a clause in the contract that will allow you to do that and be clear about how you intend to use the campaign’s material.

Lasting brand-influencer relationships should mean that everybody wins: both parties can grow while consistently producing authentic content, satiating consumers’ thirst for online recommendations and reviews of places and products. 

Being prolific on social media is a make or break deal for brands. There are 3.48 billion active social media users in the world, and many of their purchase decisions originate online. A token of that is the UK’s first ‘resident influencer’, recently hired by Zizzi. 

This means that yes, we now have the most millennial job title ever. But also that long-term relationships between influencers and brands are not a temporary trend. They are permanently transforming the world of marketing, and legislation is keeping up to make it easier for users to distinguish paid from unpaid content. Ultimately, what this all means is that it’s official: word of mouth has moved online.