Article

Owain Williams
Owain Williams 30 May 2018

Forget Metrics: This is what you should look for in influencers.

Marketers love metrics...no surprise there This can make it difficult when it comes to considering what really matters when it comes to influencer selection. In this article, we go beyond metrics and outline what we should actually be looking for in influencers.

I have been in the influencer marketing game for a while now and have worked on campaigns stretching from major international luxury hotels to Instagram worthy coconut bowls. There are many nuances when it comes to working with behemoth businesses and micro start-ups, but one thing the client always wants to know is:

“What metrics are we going to use to pick influencers?” 

My heart sinks. 

Let’s make one thing clear. If you are running an influencer marketing campaign and you aren’t using metrics to guide your decisions, you are being foolish. However, metrics should be exactly that, a guide. At best, the metrics you gather around influencers are indicators of much more important aspects that should be used to for influencer selection

Killer Reach

The subject of ‘reach’ is something that influencer marketing professionals can debate for days. But when it comes down to it, a major focus on reach is suffocating the real benefits of influencer marketing.

If you want predictable reach on your marketing campaigns then influencer marketing isn’t for you. On more than one occasion I have referred potential customers to experts in PPC or social media advertising as these tools offer much more predictability in terms of reach.  

Authenticity

What marketers should really be looking for when it comes to selecting influencers is a bit harder to sell. This is because they rely on human judgement more than they rely on metrics. In a modern marketing, data-driven world this terrifies people. Without a doubt, the top aspect that marketers should be hunting out is authenticity. Judging this isn’t an easy task, but asking a few key questions can go a long way to find those that deliver authentic influence. 

For example, take a look at the influencer interactions with their audience. Many influencers know that replying to comments will boost their metrics on many platforms. But judging the difference between ‘thanks for the comment’ and engaging their audience in relevant conversation around their niche is a big difference. Using tools to judge whether an influencer is purchasing fake followers is another good way to measure authenticity in some way. 

Relevancy

So you have found an influencer, you have run all the relevant checks and they look completely legit – great. But let’s not get too excited yet. The next thing we want from our influencers is relevancy to our brand. This may seem fundamental to many, but something we actually see going wrong all too often. 

Take for example an ethical yoga brand that wants to use influencers to represent them in the digital space. They find the ‘perfect’ influencer that loves yoga and comes across as authentic in their communication with their audience. But the brand hasn’t asked whether the influencer matches the brand – the campaign is a flop.

There are many aspects where influencer relevancy can miss the mark, this can stretch from matching on the brands values and ethics through to the style of the influencer content and the demographics of their audience. 

These differences do not necessarily mean that the influencer relationship will be a failure. In fact, they may even work to the benefit of the brand, allowing them to appeal to a new audience in a new way. However, relevancy should always be considered as clashes may cause issues down the line.

Expert Content 

As a reader of Digital Doughnut you are probably well aware of the phrase ‘content is King’. One aspect of influencer marketing that is so often overlooked is the fact that you are working with expert content producers who know, talk to and continuously create popular content that appeals to your target audience.  

When we are looking for influencers of course we should judge the effectiveness of the content based on metrics – likes, comments shares etc. But we should also spend some time to study that content. Would the influencers content spark your interest in a similar brand? Does the style match your branding in some way? Would your product or service look good in one of their images, videos or blog posts?

Brand Friendly-ness 

When I tell people I am an influencer marketing professional I often get asked “aren’t influencers a pain in the a** to work with?”

My answer… “sure…but so are some other marketers, business owners, CEO’s and everyone in between!”

It is true that many influencers are far too involved in their own world. But equally many gain success because they care deeply about others and want to help them or are so passionate about a subject that people can’t help but get infected by that passion. 

The point is, some influencers are easy to work with and some are a nightmare, just like everyone you come across in life. Except for the fact that with influencers a majority of their work is public. This means you can often tell how brand friendly they are by assessing past relationships and collaborations.

Have a scroll through their content and have a look at whether they work with brands a lot, whether their work is consistent or just one offs and generally how they talk about their brand partners. This is a good way to judge how easy they will be to work with. 

Initial conversations and willingness to talk/negotiate will also tell you a lot about whether they will be a pain in the a** further down the line. 

In this article we have taken a look outside of metrics and what marketers should really be looking for in influencers. It is pointless to say that metrics don’t matter, because they do. But this sort of data should simply lead you to influencers who can really make an impact and add value to your brand.  More important is authenticity, relevancy, the content they are producing and how easy they will be to work with. 

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