How to choose the right influencers for your brand

A detailed guide to choosing the right influencer for your brand and campaign

Table of Content

In 2014, one of the top football players and popular athletes of all time Christiano Ronaldo started promoting Pao, a ‘facial fitness tool.’ The campaign was mocked worldwide for choosing a footballer for a product like Pao and failed to connect with its target audience. 

The story is one among the many that showed that choosing an influencer for a campaign is a lot more than looking at their number of followers. For a successful campaign, marketers have to evaluate a lot of factors and choose influencers best suited for their brand. 

This article explores how to choose the right influencers for your campaign, the red flags to look out for, and where you can find creators for your brand.  

What is the importance of choosing the right influencer for your brand?

Here are five reasons why companies should spend time and resources to choose an influencer for their brand: 

  1. Choice of influencer can make or break the campaign
  2. Choosing the right influencers is important to reach the target audience
  3. The choice of influencer can significantly affect your ROI
  4. Influencer reputation affects your brand
  5. A good selection process is important to avoid influencer fraud

Let's have a detailed look into these reasons:

1. Choice of influencer can make or break the campaign

Influencers are at the center of every influencer marketing campaign and the wrong choice can be disastrous. For instance, a while ago, Volvo collaborated with chrisellelim, a fashion and lifestyle influencer with around 1.5mn followers to promote their brand. Even though the influencer had a large following and her audience trusted her, the campaign failed because it was completely off-brand for both Volvo and the influencer. 

Volvo ad with Chriselle Lim, an Instagram influencer. The picture shows the screenshot of an instagram with the caption on the right. The influencer and her partner standing in front of a volvo SUV with their baby.

When you work with an influencer, you’re putting your brand in their hands. And the success of your campaign depends on the creator's ability to move their audience.

2. Choosing the right influencers is important to reach the target audience demographics

Reaching the target audience is an important factor that determines the success of any marketing campaign. For a successful influencer campaign, brands should carefully examine their influencer’s audience demographics and ensure it aligns well with their target audience.

This is partly what went wrong with the Christiano Ronaldo campaign we mentioned in the beginning. The star athlete has had multiple successful campaigns with brands like Nike, Adidas, EA Sports, and many others. His followers look up to him for his recommendations about sports apparel and equipment. But they were just confused by the athlete promoting a facial fitness tool. 

Christiano Ronaldo ad promoting Pao, a facial fitness tool

3. To get good ROI

Influencer marketing campaigns are largely perceived as expensive, and with good reason. Major influencers may charge anywhere from $10k to $25k for a single post. The wrong choice of influencer can significantly affect a campaign’s bottom line.

By spending more time and resources to choose the right influencers, marketers can significantly improve their ROI and build a successful influencer marketing campaign. One of the best examples of this is from Sperry, a boat shoe company. Around 2016 - 2017, the company created a campaign with around 100 micro-influencers who had purchased their products earlier. The campaign saw a sharp increase in website traffic and their campaign got around 4.7mn impressions. 

By spending time on finding the right influencers, Sperry was able to create a successful campaign with minimal resources. 

4. Influencer reputation affects your brand

In an influencer campaign, a brand is using a creator’s ‘influence’ over their followers to promote a product or service or an event. And by working with them, a company is merging its own brand with the influencers’. This means that if the influencers make a controversial statement or face public backlash, it can affect the brand’s reputation too. 

An influencer looking into a handheld tripod with a smartphone attached to it. We can see mountains in the background

There’s no shortage of stories of brands rushing to drop influencers and issuing press releases and apologies after one of their influencers got involved in a controversy. In 2019, brands like Sephora and Dolce & Gabbana dropped YouTuber Olivia Jade Giannulli after her involvement in the college admissions scandal.

5. To avoid influencer fraud 

While influencer fraud is not as common as it was, the reality is that there are plenty of social media accounts that buy followers and engagement and even impersonate other celebrities and influencers. There are still plenty of fake influencers on just about all social platforms.

How to choose the right influencer for your brand?

Examine these factors in detail to choose the right influencer for your brand:  

  1. Influencer’s audience
  2. Influencer’s niche
  3. Engagement rate
  4. Brand and tone fit
  5. Brands they have previously worked with
  6. Success of their previous campaigns
  7. Overall public image

Let’s examine each of these factors in depth: 

1. Influencer’s audience

One of the first steps to choosing an influencer is to examine their followers and evaluate if they are who you want to reach through your campaign. You won’t have much luck trying to sell baby clothes through an influencer whose followers are largely motorcycle or car enthusiasts.

Before working with an influencer, check their audience demographics. 

2. Influencer’s niche

Followers of an influencer trust them with recommendations in an area they’re specialized in. For example, a fashion influencer’s followers will trust them if they recommend clothing or a jewelry brand. But the same audience probably won’t take recommendations on fitness or travel destinations from them. 

Image shows to hands holding passports in front of a monument

This was largely demonstrated by the example of the Volvo ad we discussed earlier. The brand may have had more success if they worked with influencers that often talk about cars or a related subject. 

3. Engagement rate

In many instances, marketers often turn to follower count to choose influencers for their campaigns. While audience size does matter, audience engagement often has a stronger correlation with the conversion rate. 

Engagement rate as well as the type of engagement shows the connection between an influencer and their followers. Even if a nano or a micro-influencer has a small following, if their followers regularly share their posts or leave good comments, they are likely to trust the creator’s recommendations and take action. 

The opposite is also true. Even if an influencer has a large follower count and engagement rates, if their comments are filled with trolls and spam content, marketers may have a tough time driving conversions. 

A loyal audience weighs more than a large number of followers when choosing an influencer.

4. Brand and tone fit

It’s not enough to find a creator that works in the same industry as the brand you’re trying to promote.  

An influencer sitting in front of a ring light holding up a tshirt

For instance, if a fashion company is known for its soft themes, pastel colors, and wholesome approach to branding, it may not make much sense for them to work with an influencer who is known for their very loud voice and aggressive themes. 

5. Brands they have previously worked with

There are multiple aspects to this. For starters, if they have worked with your competitors, it may not be a good look for your brand if they work for you. But it also may be an opportunity to draw customers from your rival brand. 

Another aspect is if they have worked with brands with a negative reputation. If a business they have worked with later became known for scams or defrauding their customers, it may not be the best idea to work with them. 

6. Success of their previous campaigns

If they have had previously successful campaigns, it may be an indicator of the quality of an influencer's content and audience. Their previous collaborations could also indicate whether they’re easy to work with or not and can even be an indicator of the success of future campaigns. 

7. Overall public image

This is fairly obvious; you would want to work with an influencer that has a fairly good image. If they have had recent negative press or if they got into some controversies recently, it may not be the best idea to work with them.

What are the red flags you should look for when choosing an influencer for your campaign?

It may not be easy to figure out which influencers are best suited for your campaign. But it’s slightly easier to figure out if you should avoid working with a creator. Here are a couple of red flags to look out for. 

Sudden changes in follower count or engagement rate

If an influencer exhibits sudden follower growth there’s a possibility that they have purchased followers or engagement. 

Of course, you shouldn't consider this as conclusive evidence of influencer fraud. Influencers may also experience sudden organic follower growth if any of their content suddenly went viral. 

At the same time, the absence of sudden follower growth doesn’t mean they haven’t purchased followers. There are services that send fake followers in small batches to avoid these sudden spikes in the metrics. 

Too much spam in the comment section

Odds are if an influencer has a solid following, there will be some spam in their comment section.

But if there are just too many spammers in the comments, it may indicate that they don’t engage well with their audience. Over the course of time, the creator may lose the followers’ trust. 

It’s best to avoid such influencers. 

Large following despite poor content quality or irregular posting frequency

This is once again an indicator that the creator has purchased followers. Most social media platforms require influencers to post regularly to maintain their reach and following. If people don’t like their content, it will kill their reach. 

And of course, if they are sharing poor-quality content, it may not look good for your brand. 

Negative press

If they have received negative press recently, it may be a good idea to avoid them, at least for a while. If they constantly get negative attention in the media, it may look bad on your company or brand. 

Of course, a negative press is not always a bad thing, especially if it's for a good reason or values that your brand represents. 

Followers without profile pics or without posts

This is once again another indicator of influencer fraud. Businesses that sell fake followers rarely put in the effort to make complete profiles with profile pictures or even full names. These profiles also tend to have zero posts and single digital followers. 

Marketers may find a couple of such profiles among followers of even major celebrities. But if there are too many of them, it may suggest a problem. 

Poor reputation among other marketers

Before working with an influencer, it may be a good idea to run their names with other marketers in the industry. This way you can be aware of any issues while working with specific influencers and stay clear of them. 

It may also be a good idea to avoid influencers who have worked with your direct competition or have promoted opposing products or services. 

What are the different ways to find influencers best suited for your brand?

There are many different approaches that marketers use for finding influencers. The first and the most obvious is to manually go through social media platforms and look for influencers with a good following and engagement who are a good fit for your brand. 

But since you don’t get a lot of engagement or audience demographic data with this approach, it's tough to find the right influencers.

Another approach to influencer search is to go through an influencer marketing agency and find a creator suitable for your campaign. Agencies usually keep a close watch on the influencers they manage as well as their follower demographics and engagement metrics.

But it can be a bit tricky to work with influencers when you have someone in between. And of course, you’ll be limited to the influencers the agency works with. 

One of the best ways to find influencers would be through an influencer marketing platform. These platforms offer a plethora of data about influencers, audience authenticity, engagement metrics, and previous campaigns, and many even offer a direct line to the influencers on the platform. 

There is no shortage of influencer marketing software that can help marketers with everything from just finding influencers and creators to building campaigns and tracking metrics. If you choose to work with an influencer marketing platform, just ensure that the platform offers both public and authenticated data.

Ready to build the next big influencer marketing platform? Check out Phyllo

Phyllo is an influencer marketing platform for other influencer marketing platforms. We help companies to build their own influencer marketing products with access to authenticated and public influencer data. Instead of building systems to access and update data from multiple social media platforms, startups, and influencer marketing agencies get a single channel access to all the data they will need.  

With our solution, businesses can launch their product in no time and with minimal resources. 

Ready to get started? Sign up now to get immediate sandbox access. 

Prateek Panda

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