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How to find influencers for your next social campaign

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Just as copy and creative can make or break an advertising campaign, selecting the right people for an influencer marketing campaign can make or break the objectives you’ve set.

But, how do you go about finding the right influencers?

The truth is, it’s a blend of technology and a human approach.

Where to look for influencers

SmartBrief talked with a number of influencer marketing experts who said they use technology platforms such as GRIN, Julius, Klear, Meltwater, SullyGnome (which focuses on Twitch), Tagger and Tubular, as well as their proprietary influencer network to find influencers.

“Tagger allows us to see actual audience demographics, broken out by age, gender as well as geography, including cities, states and countries. We also see breakouts on engagements which are super helpful,” The XD Agency’s Andres Toro said.

“Klear, on the other hand, allows us to not only size the audience, but also look at predictive ROI calculations, so we can predict engagement rates and reach,” Toro added.

If you don’t have access to these and other software tools, you can find influencers by understanding the nuances of each social platform.

“Instagram makes it easy to search for influencers by hashtags and locations, as well as offering the ability to explore who an influencer follows,” said Sway Group’s Julia Hunter. “We often find new, niche creators that way.

“For a geotargeted campaign, we’ll search by tagged locations,” Hunter added. “For a baby-focused campaign, we might search by hashtags like #secondtrimester or #babymoon.”

3BLACKDOT’s Irina Shames said TikTok offers opportunities to work with “new talent that hasn’t been in the creator ecosystem before because of how TikTok algorithm works [to enable] people to grow their channel quicker.

“Brands in the fashion category land very often on Instagram first because it’s such a visual platform,” Shames said. “More tech brands quite often are very savvy when it comes to Twitch. It’s a great platform because, while it doesn’t necessarily have the massive scale that YouTube offers, it does offer live engagement.”

Digging deeper to find influencers

Of course, once you find prospective influencers, you need to take a deeper look to make sure you have found the right match.

“While our approach varies from campaign to campaign, the most important point we make sure to look at is our influencer audience. We search for an influencer whose audience aligns with our campaign target audience,” said Bailey Lauerman’s Emily Mazurek.

“We also make sure influencer credibility is high and they have a true, authentic following, and relate to their audience with real-time engagements,” Mazurek added.

A connection with the brand also is important.

“We do a social listening exercise to vet and make sure there is true affinity for the brand seen not only in their work, but also how it’s perceived by their followers. We also talk with them, and gauge what they are like: Do they come across friendly, engaging? Do they seem busy/unresponsive?” Toro said.

“I can’t tell you how many times on paper [influencers] look amazing, and then in person they are a dud. Nothing sets you up to fail more than having an influencer who can’t engage with the client in person, on calls or isn’t buttoned up on deliverables,” Toro added.

Shames agreed, noting that finding the right talent means you have to understand their motivation and passions. “What really works with talent,” Shames said, “is tapping into their passion. It’s about understanding what the talent is really interested in and, if you find the perfect pairing, the talent goes above and beyond.”

Working with influencers: Best practices

Once you find the right influencers for your campaign, whether they’re new to you or you’ve worked with them before, there are still important steps to take to help ensure a successful influencer campaign.

Here are some of the best practices our experts shared.

Emily Mazurek/Bailey Lauerman

“Developing relationships is key to influencer success -- treat influencers as business partners rather than media vendors. While our technology provides valuable data we utilize for searching influencers, our human approach is the key to success. We create relationships we can nurture which allows us to better negotiate rates, collaborate on campaign ideas and provide added valuable content and outputs for client campaigns.”

Julia Hunter/Sway Group

Sway Group’s three best tips for working with influences are:

  • Be clear about expectations and timing. We recommend creating an influencer marketing brief that includes the timelines, watch-outs and deliverables.
  • Be flexible. Let influencers take the lead when it comes to the nuts and bolts of their content: they truly know their audience best.
  • Be respectful. Treat them as the valuable marketing partners they are, and pay influencers for the work they do on your behalf. Product freebies aren’t enough!

Irina Shames/3BLACKDOT

“We focus on exploration. There are a lot of talent that we have weekly, biweekly or monthly calls with, or some of their representatives to really understand what they’re interested in and what their career objectives are.

“We also ask them to fill out forms, asking them: What are your dream brands? What’s your next project and how do you think a brand can align with that? That information is really valuable in pairing up talent with brands.

“What we usually recommend to the brands and partners we work with is, we do the work to dig deeper and really understand the alignment beyond the metrics. It’s about digging deeper where that great creative magic happens.”

Andres Toro/The XD Agency

“In addition to the use of platforms, we go through an RFT process that allows us to expand beyond what’s on the platforms. Especially when sourcing celebrity-caliber talent.

 “We also craft a story. Smart brands pick a lane with each of their marketing channels. For example, experiential can’t usually tap into brand channels because they are already tapped out with numbers of posts, etc. So by using influencers in that space, we’ve seen a huge success.  

 “We also hand-hold. We do a lot of traditional talent wrangling tactics to keep them on their game, including putting together robust documents that essentially give them what they need going into whatever situation they are in. Live, on calls or as part of the post deliverable set. We make sure this is foolproof.”
 

Mike Driehorst is a SmartBrief senior editor, working on newsletters covering social media, advertising, agencies, interactive and multicultural marketing, as well as the mobility industry. After an early career in newspaper journalism, Mike worked in public relations, social media and digital marketing on both the agency and client side for 20 years before joining SmartBrief in early 2019.