03 May What Makes a Valuable Influencer
When you’re first starting out with influencer marketing, the task of finding the right influencers can be a daunting one. You might not know where to look (check out this post if so) or how to sort out the valuable influencers from the rest of the pack. Today we’re focusing on that second concern, showing you the qualities that make influencers valuable (or not). Let’s get started!
We’ll start with audience size because it’s top on people’s minds and usually very easy to discern at a glance. We should highlight right off the bat, though, that it’s not the most important thing in determining an influencer’s value. In fact, micro-influencers (influencers with around 5k to 100k followers) can be the most valuable to brands; we’ll talk more about why in the next section.
The more people you can reach with an influencer marketing campaign, the more effective it is, right? In reality it’s a little more complicated than that, but that doesn’t mean reach isn’t important! You likely won’t find much value in influencers with less than 5k followers, for example. On the flip side, you may not be able to afford the rates of macro or celebrity influencers who can have hundreds of thousands, or even millions of followers.
So pay attention to the size of an influencer’s following on social media, especially on those platforms you most want to focus on. Between all the influencers you decide to work with, you want to have a collective reach that’s as high as possible without exceeding your budget or compromising on audience engagement. Speaking of audience engagement….
Reaching a large audience is all well and good, but what makes an even bigger difference is getting an audience to engage with the content that features your brand. An audience that engages with an influencer’s sponsored post is much more likely to absorb information out your brand, form opinions about your brand, repost or generate new content that features your brand, buy products or services provided by your brand, and in general give you a higher ROI, no matter what your goals are.
Micro-influencers (with an audience of 5k-100k followers) are likely to provide the highest audience engagement rates. Audience engagement tends to peak with a follower count within this size range for a few reasons. For one thing, these influencers can often better interact with their audience, and may appear more accessible and relatable to their audience. Their audience may feel a greater conviction that their comment, repost, or like will be seen, appreciated, and potentially responded to by the influencer. Their audience may feel a greater personal connection and therefore more loyalty towards these influencers.
No matter how large an influencer’s audience is, always take a moment to assess its level of engagement. The higher their rate of engagement, the better, of course. Influencers with smaller but more engaged audiences can be more valuable than ones with larger but less engaged audiences.
History of Working with Brands
This may sound obvious, but let’s talk about it anyway: If other brands are choosing to work with an influencer, that’s a good sign that influencer might be worth working with. That’s not just because other brands have deemed this influencer valuable, but also because this influencer has had experience with these types of partnerships before. As a result, they may have a better sense of how to communicate with brands and generate quality sponsored content.
Still, you want to be mindful of how an influencer has worked with other brands in the past. Don’t assume that because an influencer has worked with brands before that this means they’re a good fit for you. Look at their posting history and ask a few questions: Does this influencer work with just any brand, or are they more thoughtful and selective of which brands they work with? Have they ever worked with a brand within your niche before? What is their ratio of sponsored posts to unsponsored posts?
Ultimately, you’re looking for someone who has proven that they’re able to work with brands, but isn’t indiscriminate about who they’re willing to work with and how often. If an influencer will work with anyone and rarely posts non-sponsored content, consumers may deem their endorsement inauthentic. We’ll touch more on authenticity later.
Nobody wants to work with an influencer only for the result to be utterly forgettable—or worse, actively unpleasant—content. A quick look through their posting history should be enough to assess their photography and/or video editing and composition skills. It should also be easy to tell whether they’re able to write clear and captivating copy accompanying their posts. Your influencers should be able to create content you’d be proud to have associated with your brand. They should be able to produce something you’d want to repost from your own social media accounts. Their content should be capable of catching eyes and directing interest to your brand.
Beyond quality, you should also assess whether the content is on-brand for you. If someone is creating content that is lighthearted and goofy, but you want your brand to seem elegant and sophisticated, that influencer may not be able or willing to create content that you’d be happy with.
It’s crucial that an influencer give the impression of being genuine, honest, and trustworthy. The authenticity of an influencer is what makes influencer marketing so successful. According to Adweek, almost three fourths of all millennials and Gen Zers are opposed to being targeted by brands on their social media feeds (e.g. with traditional advertisements), but as much as 92% of them report that they are open to recommendations from influencers that they see as authentic. Consumers are increasingly savvy in spotting self-serving and disingenuous advertising, and more likely than ever to find it distasteful. But if an influencer can promote your brand with genuine interest and support, that can have a major impact.