Today's consumers will block, skip, and ignore disruptive advertising. The number of Americans who use an ad blocker will grow to 86.6 million people in 2017, a 24% increase from 2016, eMarketer predicts. Ad avoidance creates a marketing opportunity for using organic, natural touchpoints to reach consumers—including via influencers.
When developing content for your marketing and business, influencers offer a lift in engagement, reach, and even conversions. Influencers also have the potential to create world-class content on your behalf, furthering distribution, brand reach, and engagement to highly relevant audiences.
Why Use Influencers to Carry Your Brand's Message?
As the name implies, influencers influence. Their subject-matter expertise, reach, and sway can be a huge asset to your overall marketing strategy. A couple of more reasons influencers are effective:
They have a foundation of transparency and authority that advertising doesn't. They are real people with authentic opinions, beliefs, and thoughts, and so people have a natural affinity toward them.
When your business and content are connected with their brand, a strong association is created between the two, thus boosting your reputation.
How Do You Vet Influencers?
Not all influencers are the same, however. In fact, there are plenty of phonies and lame ducks out there. So how do you determine whether they can make a difference for your brand ROI? Here are three ways.
You need to select influencers who have a snug contextual fit with your business so that the content shared by the influencer reaches a relevant audience. Scott Disick and Kourtney Kardashian won't cut it for a B2B SaaS solution, for example.
To gauge whether the influencer is relevant to your brand, answer the following questions:
- Is the influencer an expert in [your brand's industry]?
- Is the influencer well-spoken in [defined topic].
- Is the influencer [place]-based (if geographic relevance matters)?
- Does the influencer's audience match the demographics your brand targets?
Reach refers to the number of online audience members an influencer has. It can be measured through followers, website visitors, and subscribers. Although the numbers vary for each industry, here are some baseline numbers based on influencer campaigns we've conducted for brands:
Followers. Does the influencer have more than "X" followers?
- Twitter: 10,000+
- Facebook: 10,000+
- Instagram: 10,000+
- Snapchat: 100,000+
- YouTube: 100,000+
If your industry is a niche, those numbers are likely too high. You'll have to look at your industry to see whether those thresholds make sense. The same goes for the number of website visitors and subscribers.
Website visitors. Does the influencer's primary website have more than "X" unique visitors per month? That data can be retrieved via Alexa.com. I suggest targeting influencer websites with 25,000+ visits per month.
Subscribers. Often, influencers will broadcast their subscriber numbers on their website. Look for influencers with at least 5,000 subscribers.
Although the number of audience members reached is important, it means nothing if the influencer doesn't have an active audience. Resonance refers to influencers' impact on their online audience; it's all about the message they send and the impression they make on their audience. It can be measured through online and real-world activities and metrics.
Ask the following questions.
- Is the influencer a speaker at industry events?
- Is the influencer a published author?
- Does the influencer hold a special degree, honor, or award?
Klout score: Does the influencer have a Klout score of X or greater? (We recommend finding influencers with a Klout score of 60 or greater.)
- How do people share the influencer's content on social?
- Are audience members interacting with content?
- Does the influencer's content prompt action?
Tools to Put in Your Arsenal
Tools can make identifying the right influencer easier. Here are some you can use:
- ClearVoice: ClearVoice Content Studio enables you to discover relevant voices for a given keyword. You can review where and how frequently influencers publish content and the social metrics of each piece. (Note, I'm ClearVoice's CEO and a co-founder.)
- Klout: As noted earlier, you can use Klout to determine an influencer's resonance.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn finds industry-relevant matches with its "search by industry" function, and you can see whether people are LinkedIn publishers.
- Twitter: This platform offers good insight on influencers. You can view the number of followers, tweets, moments, and content shared and that content's engagement levels. Tools like Twitonomy offer additional profile data on Twitter followers.
Some Parting Words
Make sure to create a campaign backgrounder as part of the influencer identification process. Include the targeted social channels, content types, goals, and KPIs. Doing so helps set up your brand and influencers for success.
Stay organized while identifying your influencers, too. Set benchmarks, rank the influencers, and keep a consistent and well-documented process. Don't shoot from the hip. Metrics and tools will help anchor your campaign.
Want more information on influencer marketing? Download the "How to Successfully Integrate With Influential Content Creators" guide.