This article could potentially save you a fair few thousand dollars, so it’s worth the 5 minute read. When I first launched The Sugarfree Box, over a year ago now, I knew that I needed to collaborate with some influencers to help grow our audience. I had bootstrapped the entire business, launching with about two weeks’ lunch money set aside for marketing. I figured that a single post from an Instagram influencer who received between 500 and 1000 likes per post would result in a sea of sales. That I could spend the rest of my life in the Maldives, sipping coconuts and reading trashy novels on a hammock, whilst my business whirred along in the background.
It wasn’t to be. Of her 150k followers, only a handful visited our website and not a single one purchased. Within a few days, the post wasn’t even visible above-the-fold on her Instagram feed. The money I had paid this influencer would have been better spent on a fancy pair of shoes. And the worst part was that I had used up my budget and couldn’t afford to work with other influencers until I started making more sales. I was stuck.
I’ve since worked with some amazing influencers – big and small, paid and unpaid. The best results have always come from influencers with whom I’ve build a relationship. If you can, find out who some of the influencers in your niche are and reach out to them with the intention of building a long-term relationship. Wine them, dine them and make them your number one raving fan.
If you’re looking to scale quickly, you probably don’t have the time to spend getting to know each and every influencer. So, you have to rely on metrics when picking influencers to work with. But which metrics are important? Which ones are irrelevant?
Most importantly, what else should you be looking at? Read on to find out.
Look into their engagement.
The number of likes and comments doesn’t mean a whole lot in the age of automation and bots. Read the comments on their posts. Stalk the pages of the people who’ve liked their photos. Find out if they’re human. Check that they’re in your target demographic. If you ship only within Australia, but their audience is mostly Russian, your return will be a whole lot of nada.
Don’t be afraid to ask the influencer for a screenshot of their Instagram page demographics.
Look at who they’ve previously worked with.
Have they worked with a lot of your competitors? If so, this might hinder the success of your campaign as their audience might already be committed to your competitor’s products. If you have any contacts at the brands who’ve worked with the influencer, ask them what they thought of the experience. They might refuse to comment, but you never know unless you ask!
Look at how often they post sponsored content
If they’re posting sponsored content daily, then consider it a red flag. Their followers might have become immune to the influencer constantly pushing products on them and be less likely to purchase.
You can generally spot paid posts by looking at the hashtags. Sponsored content should have #ad or #spon in the caption or in the comments, but there are still plenty of influencers who don’t disclose it.
Look at previous brand content they’ve posted
Is it visually appealing? Have they used a good call-to-action? Does the caption entice their audience to purchase or find out more?
Ask yourself this: If all else fails and you get no sales from the post, is the content good enough that you can share it on your own website and social platforms (with permission, of course)?
Look at what other platforms they’re on
Are they solely on Instagram, or do they also have a ‘tribe’ of Snapchat followers? Do they have a blog? An email list? A Facebook group?
If they have any of these then consider running a campaign across multiple platforms. The more touchpoints, the better!
Look at their metrics
You’ll need to ask the influencer for these, but they should be happy to give them to you – unless they have something to hide. Follower count and engagement rate don’t mean a whole lot. Reach tells you how many unique people have seen the post and impressions tells you how many times the post has been seen. Ask them if they have any success stories to share from working with previous brands.
Once you’ve picked the influencer…
The hard work doesn’t stop there. Consider doing a series of post, rather than just one. You’re better off having them endorse your product multiple times, so that their audience become familiar with your brand.
Finally, make sure you track the return on investment (ROI) of the partnership. Give the influencer a unique discount code to share with their followers, so you can track exactly how many people are purchasing from their posts.
Have you had any influencer marketing horror stories or successes? Please share them below in the comments!