The art of finding and attracting the right social media influencers to your brand

Nine in ten consumers trust recommendations from individuals over brands, according to Nielsen. In light of this, it’s no wonder brands are engaging social media influencers to build stronger connections with their target markets.

Instagram now has more active users than Twitter and achieves almost 50-times more engagement than Twitter. Given the photo-sharing platform’s audience, it makes sense for brands to consider engaging Instagram influencers.

It’s important for brands to identify prospective Instagram Influencers who are the ‘right fit’. It’s equally as important for brands to craft a pitch that will increase their chances of attracting the right influencer.

Here is some guidance on finding and attracting the right Instagram influencers for your brand.

Part one: finding the right influencer
1. Focus on relevance over reach

Although it’s tempting to choose the top tier influencers with 1 million followers, this isn’t always the best option. Yes, it’s a great way to get your brand known among the masses, but be careful not to market your brands message to the wrong people. Choosing reach over relevance is likely to improve brand awareness, but chances are it won’t help your overall sales strategy.

When selecting an influencer, a little research will go a long way. Look at who is commenting on and liking their posts – are they the same gender, of a similar age and in the same location as who you are looking to target?

2. Choose engagement over follower size

With the rise in popularity of social media influencers, there has been  a rise in fake influencer accounts.  This often makes it hard to differentiate legitimate influencers from the not so legitimate ones.

The easiest way to differentiate between the two is to look at their engagement rate. If someone has 50K followers but is only achieving 50 likes per photo, chances are they have purchased followers.

We calculate engagement by adding up the number of comment and likes their average photo gets; divided by the follower size and times by 100. As a general rule, if your answer is less than 0.5%, there is little point in engaging them.

Engagement rate:  [(average post comments + likes) / follower size] x 100

3. Engage influencers multiple times

Engaging an influencer multiple times can help to build a strong rapport with your brand and their followers.

Just make sure you choose the right one to avoid wasting money, your time and the influencer’s time. We recommend running an initial campaign engaging a couple of influencers for one or two posts each. After the campaign has finished, take look at your metrics. Which influencer received the highest engagement? Which content did you like the most and has any driven sales (measured via a bio link in the influencers bio)?

From there, pick your favourite/s and engage them for a series of posts.  By engaging an influencer multiple times, they are well on their way to becoming powerful brand ambassadors and brand advocates for your product or service. 

4. Allow for creativity and authenticity

When engaging influencers, remember to give them the creative freedom to do what they do best – creating awesome content that their fans will love. Too many brand requirements take away from their personal branding and their followers will see right through it.

5. Compensate correctly

Compensation requirements will differ per influencer, however there are some general guidelines you can follow.

Some smaller influencers, around the 5K mark, are generally happy to promote brands in exchange for a free product or service experience. But once you start engaging influencers around the 15K mark expect to pay them in addition to gifting your product or service.

By compensating influencers correctly, they are more likely to go above and beyond for your brand. If they are happy with the relationship, influencers will often promote your brand for free time and time again.

Part two: attracting the right influencer

Once you’ve identified your prospective influencers, the next step is to craft your pitch.

Just like you would with a prospective customer, you need to sell your brand to influencers, convincing them why they (and their followers) need it. You can’t just throw money and a product freebie and expect them to jump at it.

If you haven’t engaged an agency to manage your campaign, the best way to get in contact with an influencer is via email or direct message on Instagram. It’s important to personalise emails and it’s a good idea to highlight something you like from their feed.

Once an influencer agrees on the collaboration, set out the campaign requirements clearly (e.g. feature the product in the shot and tag your brand handle in the caption), but don’t overload them with guidelines. Nothing screams sponsored post more than a carefully crafted caption from the brand and not the influencer.

Once the campaign is finished, remember to get in touch and thank them. The more positive the relationship is between the brand and the influencer, the more likely you are to achieve “earned” media from your collaboration – i.e. additional media that was not paid for or outlined as a requirement.

About the author 

Victoria Harrison is the founder of The Exposure Co., an Australian Influencer Marketing agency that helps brands identify and build effective relationships with influential Australian Instagrammers.