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Finding the Right Influencers for Your Campaigns

Smartphone and potted plant

There are several ways in which you can find influencers, but before you start you need to be crystal clear about who your target audience is, as many influencers work in specific niches that could be a great opportunity for you to find your ideal client base. 

Remember, just because you want to work with influencers there is no guarantee they will work with you. Think about what’s in it for them. Influencers are motivated by products that support their followers’ interests, competitions that help boost engagement, exclusive event access, early access to new product launches, discounts for their followers, payment for content creation, affiliate partnerships, co-created products and opportunities to create great content. 

Once you’ve identified some potential influencers, you need to reach out to them in a compelling way. The following steps will help you to connect with desirable influencers and form strong working relationships…

1. Direct Outreach

A lot of organizations start by targeting individuals that they like, and think may resonate with their brand.  For example, a travel-focused influencer might be an ideal option for a hotel brand, and a food influencer ideal for a restaurant.  

It may surprise you to know, however, that a very large percentage of influencers ignore inbound emails or direct messages from organizations keen to work with them.

This is because many organizations do not approach them in the right way. Don’t forget influencers in many cases have built up a credible audience that they are proud of and keen to nurture, and so a brand that doesn’t fit with their core values may not be considered.

However, if an influencer loves your product or service and would have bought it in their own right, then there is likely to be a good pick-up response. 

The best campaigns are those where the influencer is remunerated for content creation and provided a unique commission link that they can offer their followers. So, before you start to target influencers, build up a database of ideal individuals and start engaging with their posts. If you want to work with an influencer and have taken an interest in what they are doing for some time, there is a greater likelihood of them wanting to work with you.  

Once you have your influencer shortlist, use a spreadsheet to keep track of your outreach and communications. I like to use the following headers:

  • Influencer
  • Business name
  • Business type
  • Website address
  • Contact email
  • Tagline
  • Other notes
  • Blog followers
  • Facebook profile link
  • Facebook likes
  • Twitter profile link
  • Twitter likes
  • Instagram profile link
  • Instagram followers
  • Pinterest profile link
  • Pinterest followers

Now, think about how you may draft an outreach email or direct message (it’s unlikely in the first instance you will have a phone number). Below is an example of an outreach email, it explains the value of influencer marketing to the brand, it tells the influencer who they are and what they would like to achieve with specific deadlines in mind giving the opportunity for the influencer to quote for the project:

Hi, X

My name is Gordon, it’s a pleasure to e-meet you. I am the chief marketing officer for an exciting new fashion brand and noticed your engaging content.  We pride ourselves on creating great working relationships with influencers and we see it as a core part of our marketing strategy. We are looking to run a campaign in the coming months and would like to work with you on a paid partnership if this is of interest. Let me tell you a bit more about who we are.

We are a lifestyle fashion brand targeted mainly at women between 18-40.  We will be promoting our summer collection and would like to consider a series of photos, videos, stories in different styles. Typically we would like 2 stories and 2 Instagram posts over the campaign.

We would need this content by the 28th May.  We would provide you with a discount code and will need usage rights for one year from the start of the campaign. Here is the website for you to check out www.abc.com and our campaign hashtag is #fashionlabel.

Can you quote for the above campaign.

Please do ask if there is anything further you need from us.

Thank you

You may find that this process is very longwinded and initially to do it this way properly you would be right.

Finding influencers is only part of the job, managing the campaign and contracts can be time-consuming too. However, there are other ways to find influencers that you may prefer.

2. Influencer marketing platforms

There and hundreds of these on the market, some better than others, offering a wide range of services.

Some of the top ones have a minimum spend per month to use their platforms, so the best idea is to try a few demos to get a flavour for those that are out there before you commit. There is a detailed list of the top ones in the industry in my book, Influencer Marketing Strategy, but here are a few key things to consider to get started:

  • Do you want a global database and authenticated influencers, i.e. influencers who have registered to the platform?

  • What type of influencers do you want to work with (B2B or B2C), and are there different solutions for each? For example, there are some platforms like Fashion Monitor who deal exclusively with fashion.

  • Some platforms have full campaign analytics, influencer payments, CRM systems, influencer contracts, communication tools – would that be beneficial to you?

  • What extent can you search the most? Ideally, it should provide gender, age, location, engagement rate, follower value (authentic mix) and the types of campaigns they have worked on, or special interests etc.

  • Some are marketplace platforms which allow brands to post briefs up on the platform and then select from the shortlist of campaign ideas that come back.

  • Checking that influencers have verified followers is important, you don’t want to work with an influencer who has fake followers. (Hype Auditor is a specialist in this field for detecting inauthentic behaviour).

3. Agencies – Influencer marketing, PR, Media, Talent, Marketing

There are different types of agencies but in essence all of them will help you to manage the entire campaign from brief to selection, management and results.

I often suggest to brands that have never done influencer marketing before to start off working with experienced professionals. If you work with a media or marketing agency already and they have an influencer division then this may be a good first bet because they already understand your brand and a trusted relationship has already been built up. If influencer marketing, as it often is, part of a wider marketing campaign, then having this under one roof makes good sense.

Established agencies have worked with vetted influencers before, so you are buying into this experience and are likely to get a good result, but it will be more expensive than working with a self-serve platform or doing it yourself. 

Influencer marketing agencies do have an edge here in the sense that their expertise is solely in this field.

Talent agencies represent the talent, and their role is to secure commercial partnerships for their influencers. Influencers that are under management tend to have sizeable audiences and usually will divert requests for opportunities to their management. You will negotiate anything via a talent manager and not with the influencer directly.

One of the benefits of working with experienced media professionals is that they have a good understanding of how campaigns may work well and what other opportunities may exist. For example, great content could be supported by a social spend to deliver even more engagement for your brand or business.

4. Influencer apps

There are several influencer apps available, such as Influencer Diary, where brands pay for listings and influencers sign up to go to exclusive events. If you pay for a guaranteed event listing, then you will get a number of influencers that have agreed to attend. 

Another is the Influence Room. Brands can swap products, campaigns and different experiences for social media coverage, press and personal appearances. 

An example of a campaign with MADE.com generated a social media reach of 2m using 22 influencers over 7 different campaigns.

Whilst not dedicated to Influencer Marketing, Clubhouse is also growing in popularity, with some of its groups focusing on influencer related opportunities.

5. Influencer events

More and more event organizers are realizing the value of using and working with influencers, but there tends to be a handful that might attend keynotes, panels or meet and greets. 

There are some events that are influencer focused, these are: Vidcon - a global event in various countries that attracts thousands of content creators and their fans. Summer in the City is another largescale event hosted in London. Borderless Live, an event held in London in the Autumn, has a focus on travel and related sectors.

6. Network communities

There are a few online communities on Facebook and LinkedIn where brands can meet. Some of these groups allow people to post opportunities and influencers can respond. However, I would still do your research to make sure you are working with the right people.

The Branded Content Marketing Association and other associations around the world are a great source for connecting with accredited members.

Key takeways

As we have seen, there are some great influencer marketplace sourcing platforms out there, in some cases representing thousands and millions of profiles. Whilst this can be a good initial selection process, knowing a little more about the influencer is important, so you must do your due diligence.

After all, they are representing your brand as well as theirs and you don’t want a conflict of interest to arise once the campaign has started. There are also fraud detection tools too, to make sure that the influencer's audience is genuine.

The most important thing to do is to find the right talent for your campaign. Get it right and your campaign will fly - get it wrong and it won’t deliver the results you expect. Therefore, researching the influencers first is super important.

There is so much data out there and if you don’t know what you’re looking for it can be a minefield, which is why I always recommend running a trial campaign, or at the very least work with an industry expert, if it’s your first time.

Remember you’re not buying a media asset but working with a talented person who is an experienced operator and should be treated as such.