Youtubers, instagrammers, tiktokers, representatives of the world of sports, fashion and culture. Celebrities, participants in the next editions of reality shows, famous husbands and their ex-wives. Micro- and nano-influencers… It may seem that the pool of people with the aptitude and reach to become your brand ambassadors is unlimited. How do you choose the ones that are actually worth partnering with? Based on our own experience, let us suggest you what to look for when making such a choice.
Keep reading and you’ll learn:
- Does influencer marketing still make sense in 2023?
- What factors should be taken into account when choosing an influencer for collaboration?
- How to start cooperation with an influencer?
The tips and tricks in this article are based on our experience of working with influencers for projects in FMCG, beauty and technology sectors, but also in the field of science or non-profit initiatives.
Is it worth investing in influencers in 2023?
You may have heard that the effectiveness of influencers systematically declines. We, the audience, are tired of ubiquitous advertising and the ‘collaboration’ hashtag. In the meantime, more and more online content creators are rigorously analyzed by the authorities responsible for consumers’ right protection because they fail to disclose that their content is sponsored. It may seem that in times of advertising blindness, spending a considerable portion of company’s budget on influencer collaboration makes little to no sense.
But is the situation really that bad? Let’s look at some data.
As recently as last year, the global influencer market was estimated to be worth more than $16 billion. A 2021 study by IQS and Lifetube agencies found that 21 million Poles follow at least one influencer, and 74% of them rely on the influencers’ opinions making decisions shaped by their recommendations. Younger audience, which is already becoming and will continue to be a major segment of consumers, is especially susceptible to the influencers’ input. In parallel to those statistics, there is a Face Value Report, conducted by global consulting agency Kroll. It estimates that globally, more than 1 in 10 FMCG companies have gained between $1 million and $1.5 million through successful collaborations with influencers.
These examples show that the rumors of influencers’ twilight are exaggerated and companies still want to invest in collaborations. Polish respondents of the ‘Influencer market in Poland in 2022’ study, conducted by the Reach a Blogger agency, seem to agree with that statement. More than half of the companies that worked with influencers in previous years plan to increase expenditure on influencer marketing. Of that number, 8% wants to double the spendings..
What to look for when choosing an influencer?
We realize that a well-known name and a high number of followers are not enough to effectively advertise and, above all, sell a product. There is a number of factors that make an effective collaboration and unfortunately it’s easy to forgot them all, when a content creator offers us an extremely attractive price. But if it’s not only cost, then what to base our collaboration choices on?
The promoted product
One of the biggest advantages of influencer marketing is its versatility. Virtually every industry, including niche ones, is occupied by some influencers. On top of that, the multitude of channels (YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, blogs, events, dedicated Facebook groups, podcasts) available makes it easy to come up with a whole range of promotional activities. When choosing them for a campaign, make sure they correspond well with the product or service you are selling and allow you to best showcase its advantages.
Here is an example. One of our client’s – Waterdrop – flagship product were Microdrinks: fruit-flavored, dissolvable cubes that add some taste to water. The product itself, previously unknown on the Polish market, was quite mysterious for the audience: colorful cubes enclosed in individual boxes, looking like nothing they’ve seen before. Neither candies nor pills. We decided that the best way to show our product and how it works to potential customers was through video forms. Short films allowed us not only to present Microdrinks and accompanying accessories, but at the same time to teach the recipients how to use them.
When designing an influencer marketing campaign, you need to think not only about the target group but also about the style and environment of a particular content creator as well as what kind of formats they use. Furniture will look beautiful on photos, a language-learning app showcase will do great in a dynamic TikTok while it’s going to take a longer video on YouTube to fully present all benefits of a multifunctional electric screwdriver.
Determining the most important characteristics of the promoted product, its context and preferred channels will help you immediately narrow down the list of desired influencers.
The aim of collaboration
Collaboration with an influencer should complement your brand’s other communication activities. Most companies opt for influencer marketing for two main purposes: increasing brand awareness or boosting sales. Other reasons, as surveyed in ‘The influencer market in Poland in 2022’ study mentioned, are gaining positive reviews on Google, supporting SEO efforts and driving traffic to their website.
The aim of your campaign will affect the type and number of influencers you will decide to work with. If your goal is primarily to reach the widest possible range of diverse target audience, such as new customers, it is worth considering working with more micro- and nano-influencers, which will give your brand a chance to become visible in social media, and go beyond your regular audience. On the other hand, brands focusing on sales should primarily choose targeted activities on the profiles of high-profile and reputable influencers.
Compatibility with brand voice
It’s easy to get your head turned at the prospect of partnership with a high-profile influencer who brings to the table trust of their audience. However, even the most popular influencer who doesn’t resonate with the tone of your brand may not only fail to sell products, but also get us into trouble.
What do we have in common? Where lies the hot spot? These are questions worth asking yourself before working with any creator.
Influencers connected to our industry will be an obvious choice. Where else to promote sport products, if not through fitness influencers? Products for children on parenting profiles also seem like a great fit. It is a good idea though to go one step further and ensure that our cooperation with a chosen creator is consistent with the messages coming from both sides.
Let’s assume that an influencer heavily promoting a healthy lifestyle will overnight partner with a manufacturer of sweetened beverages. Or a person known for her conservative values will publish a discount code for a store with gadgets for adults. The audience may feel a rift between their current campaign and past activities. This, in turn, poses a risk of losing trust – influencer’s highest currency. At the same time, the brand’s regular customers, accustomed to its consistent image, may not take a campaign using controversial person or inconsistent image well. Case of Budweiser in point.
The influencer’s previous collaborations under the magnifying glass
They should be analyzed in two aspects.
First, in the context of the creator’s alignment with the brand voice discussed earlier. It applies not only to the overall image of a given influencer, but also to the promotional activities followed. One of the more illustrative examples in recent years is the case of a Polish actor – Borys Szyc. While participating in a long-term McDonald’s promotion and appearing in burger commercials, Szyc starred in a spot for the plant-based beverage brand, aimed at people who want to limit their animal-based products consumption. Many perceived actor’s action as driven solely by money and lost trust in this ambassador, which directly affected the effectiveness of ongoing activities.
And while we’re on the subject of contradictory collaborations, the golden rule ‘jack-of-all-trades, master of none’ applies.
If you represent a brand looking to promote and sell its product, you have to know there is no worse influencer than an ‘advertising pole’ kind. Laundry detergent, insurance, magic stretch mark cream and language courses for children – all on one profile. Several or even a dozen advertising collaborations in one day. Each story ending with a promotional code. How to promote your product effectively in such chaos?
It’s easy to imagine that this would be very difficult or even impossible. Working with such influencers, even if their followers count is impressive, is more often than not wasting budget.
Therefore, long before starting cooperation, monitor the channels of a creator you consider to approach to see how many partnerships they’re involved with and what is the quality of those collaborations.
The influencer’s community
Seeing hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers or YouTube subscribers, we may think there is a crowd of loyal fans just waiting for new recommendations from their favorite creator.
That doesn’t have to be the case. The key factor that can determine the ‘to be or not to be’ of our campaign is the real engagement shown by the audience of a given influencer. I’m not even talking about extreme cases of buying tens of thousands of virtual likes and subscribers. You need to be aware that the real audience of content is significantly lower than the number of subscribers, and the group of people carefully watching and interacting with the material, even smaller.
Consider influencers who have gained popularity in a relatively short period of time, such as reality show contestants, but also celebrities: tv shows actors and people known from the step and repeat banners. Their accounts are followed by tens of thousands of people, only a small number of whom is genuinely involved in the content they add and rely on their recommendations.
Instead, look for influencers who interact with their audience in a real way, have a long-standing fan base and enjoy their trust. Collaborations with such people are simply more effective, even if you pay more to reach fewer people.
Natural ambassadors and not so obvious choices
There are times when influencers recommend your product to their audience just because they genuinely like it. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s worth seizing the opportunity. Especially if it is about an influencer who matches your brand requirements. This type of cooperation can be a natural continuation of the process and help you easily pass the first, extremely important stage of promotion – proving to your potential customers that it’s a real recommendation and not an advertisement just for money.
Such genuine and free referrals do not always fit the categories of influencers we usually consider for partnership. That’s why, it’s always good to be open to the idea of collaboration with non-obvious ambassadors as well. Such an exception to the rule, whether preceded by an influencer’s organic recommendation or resulting from a planned action, can be an interesting activity that distinguishes your brand and attracts the attention of the audience.
Who does your audience follow?
This is one of the primary questions to answer. As you certainly know your target audience, determining what it is interested in should not be a problem. If there already is a community around your brand, such as people following you on your social media profiles, you can easily check which influencers spike the most interest among your customers.
If you happen to have additional interactions with customers, such as meeting them at industry events or having your own Facebook group, it’s best to ask them about their favorite influencers directly.
Insight gained that way will be extremely valuable, both in case of sales-oriented campaigns (as you approach an influencer followed by your real customers) and brand awareness initiatives. There are bound to be people among the chosen influencer’s followers who are not yet familiar with your brand.
Your budget and influencer’s statistics
You may ask yourself, why two such important aspects of collaboration, as budget and statistics, are discussed last. Well, as I’ve mentioned earlier, if we focus only on spending a lot of money on cooperation with an influencer with seemingly good statistics but there is no spark between the creator and your brand, it will not be money well spent. When considering whom to invite to cooperate, it is worth considering in parallel the factors described above and those more practical aspects:
- budget – can we afford to cooperate with a given influencer at all, and if so, to what extent?
- profile statistics – in terms of first target groups, the overall engagement and the number of likes or comments in relation to the number of followers.
Last but not least – how to approach an influencer?
Once you have a list of your dream influencers (along with a back-up list of second choice creators), you can begin the collaboration process.
Firstly, a tasteful approach would be to write an email to the influencer or his manager with a formal invitation to cooperation. It is an opportunity for you to introduce your product or service, explain why you want to work with this particular person and ask whether the interest is mutual.
Worth considering might also be sending samples of our products to the influencer. It gives them a chance to learn about the product or service even before the cooperation. This way, both parties will have all information they need to join the campaign or reject it in a timely manner.
In the next steps, it is time to agree on the details of the cooperation, the contract and the brief. And then what? Well, if it all goes as planned, you await a successful, preferably long-term cooperation, satisfying for both parties. If not… that’s a topic for another article.
The process of selecting an influencer is crucial to the success of a campaign, regardless of what other communication activities we have planned. It’s worthwhile to devote enough time to it, and use the support of professionals. Agencies, such as Planet Partners, will help you plan your campaign and select influencers for it. They will also coordinate the entire process of contacting and cooperating with the creators, making sure that the brief is met and help you in case of problems.
Want to take advantage of influencer marketing opportunities for your brand? Feel free to contact us! We will create a campaign tailored to your needs.