5 questions to ask yourself before investing in influencer marketing

WHOSAY CMO Paul Kontonis shares his insights into the world of influencers and how to find the perfect match for your brand.

Over the last year, ad spend has grown by 40% on social media platforms. In turn, the demand for influencers has proven increasingly valuable for marketers, as brands try to reach consumers through the voices of trusted personas.

While the social space is becoming more cluttered with ads, sites such as Facebook continue to update their algorithms to prioritize people over brands on the newsfeed. That's good news for keeping in touch with your high school pals, but even better news for brands leveraging influence as marketers report an average of $7.65 return on each dollar spent on influencer marketing.

But no matter how much an influencer is paid or how much ROI they deliver, these personas need to be managed to ensure the brand’s campaign objectives are met.

This is where finding the perfect match plays a significant role in the success or failure of influencer marketing.

Like other forms of media, advertisers can discover influencers’ brand affinities and measure their performance against KPIs. While this data is consistent with other forms of advertising and measurable in eCPMs, eCPVs, eCPEs, eCPCs, etc., brands are getting more than a 30-second spot, they’re essentially picking a distribution channel that will break through the advertising clutter.

Finding the right talent match that can help you do this is like dating. There’s a lot fish in the pond, but only a select number of soulmates. That's why you should avoid influencer marketing pitfalls and mismatches by asking yourself these five questions before committing to talent.

Who’s following the influencer?
Researching the demographics of an account’s followers is a must, but it’s only the first step. Are they engaged? Do they like and comment? Do they tag their friends in the comments? It’s important to consider the influencer’s engagement metrics so that brands can tap into highly responsive fan bases.

Does the influencer’s audience align with your audience?
Just because the influencer has 3.7 million followers doesn’t mean he or she is a good match for your brand. There are up to 90 ways to characterize an audience and each influencer campaign may use 10 segmented audiences, on average.

Look into their followers’ affinities for your type of product or service and those of your competitors. Luckily for brands, affinities cluster in pockets, which means certain personas may be a home-run while others are a strikeout. Use data combined with intelligence to discover which influencers' followers have a preexisting disposition towards your product.

What’s the influencer’s history?
It may sound simple, but you should follow your prospects on social media. Create a secondary account if your own personal feeds start getting too cluttered.

Does the influencer have any history of making questionable posts? Do they have any management that will ensure the campaign stays on track? And lastly, how well do they fit the creative concept?

We found that only 10% of influencers are professional, manageable, brand-safe, and creative, and therefore, we suggest you only work with talent that has been vetted by experts.

Who can you afford?
We believe that talent falls into four categories: "celebrities" like Sofia Vergara; "influencers" like Baddie Winkle; "trail blazers" like Milly Bobby Brown (rising stars); and "micro-influencers" like Theo the French Bulldog (killing it in their niches).

Be open to using a mix from every level of influence in your campaign to maximize reach and engagement. No matter the influencer level, you should research the influencer’s stats beforehand so that you can negotiate a fair price. Remember that sometimes one or two talent personnel can be more effective and efficient than 10 or 20.

What are your goals?
Knowing the KPIs in advance provides clarity for your influencer decision and getting a handle on benchmarks allows for future campaign optimization. It is best to prioritize your campaign based upon one of the following: awareness, reach, sentiment, or action. Media measurements like eCPMs, eCPVs, eCPCs, or sales will be your metrics. The campaign metrics are forecastable and performance can be guaranteed if all the pieces fall into place.

Paul Kontonis is CMO of influencer marketing agency WHOSAY.

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