Navigating Influencer Marketing
Author: Evolution Design Agency
October 23, 2018
I wanted to do a post on influencer marketing as it’s always a topic of contention! I’m often asked if influencers are a good way to spread the word about fabulous products, so this article is designed to assist you in spotting the genuine influencers and weeding out the fakes to help prevent you, as a brand, from losing money. I will give you some tips on how to assess influencer accounts and open your eyes to the shady practices that should raise red flags if you’re considering working with them…
This ladies and gentleman is how to do your homework before engaging an influencer.
What is Influencer Marketing:
In a nutshell, it’s when you approach or are approached by influential people, often those who have a large social media following, to promote your products. You then exchange money or products in return for the ‘influencer’ (influential person) to promote your products on their social platform(s), most commonly Instagram.
Firstly, just BE AWARE. Not everyone is genuine.
Since Social Media first got its wings, there have been those who use the platforms well, and those who abuse it. So often we hear sad stories of businesses who have connected with influencers who will rip them off, take their money and/or products to never be heard of again.
Now, that’s not to say they are all like this, but we want to ensure you only associate your brand with the right influencers.
Influencer Evaluation Tips:
Be wary of pages with fake followings that they have essentially stolen from other companies. Brands must be careful to not mistake a large account as an influencer because some people buy ‘followers’ and ‘likes’ to make their social profiles appear better than they really are. The problem with buying their audience and likes is the followers don’t genuinely care about their opinions, meaning they actually have no influence. These are called ‘vanity’ followers. They aren’t real, they don’t engage with the brand, they don’t buy from them, they are nothing but a number to give the impression of a large following. Fake influencers also act selfishly, for example:
- Did they approach you? Tread carefully and research the heck out of them!
- How long has their account been around? Check the first post date.
- If you approached them, do they respond to your request by asking about your brand? No? Is it just a price for a post? Red flag.
Inconsistent Follower Growth Rate:
You must do your own research on this (or use an agency)! If you choose to go it alone, use independent research tools to perform an evaluation. There are tools you can use to review how an influencers growth come about. Suddenly (red flag!) or consistently (green tick). These sudden spikes are obvious signs the influencer has bought their following. Yes, sometimes pages experienced rapid growth. But 99.9% of the time if the influencer has a spike in their following over a few days, it’s a red flag. This site shows the growth of an influencers page just by putting in their handle. If you can’t find their @handle that you’re looking for it might mean they haven’t reached almighty ‘Influencer’ status yet, another red flag!
- Take a look at the influencer in question, have their followers increased by 10k within a few days, or had any sudden spikes of growth? Yes? Then you can begin to be a bit suss on their growth… Red flag.
- If you have blinked and their following has doubled, this indicates that the followers are most likely FAKE! Red flag.
- Monitor what they do on Instagram. Are they constantly following/unfollowing pages and using an automated service? Red flag.
- Yes, some pages have huge engagement and get likes rapidly. But we’re talking about rapid spikes in likes!
Engagement Ratio (Likes & Comments on their posts):
If you’re a bit suss on a page that doesn’t quite meet “influencer” standards you may like to use this site for some brief stats, it’s not as comprehensive as it used to be but it will provide some overall info, like the engagement rate. You can also manually go through their feed and look at:
- Who likes and comments on each photo/post – are they all spam pages? Do the pages follow the influencer? No? Red flag.
- When you look at their photos/posts, how many likes do they have in comparison to their followers?
e.g. Do the likes on their photo/posts jump from zero to 600 in 2 minutes when they have 25k followers? Red flag.
- Do their photo/post likes stay stagnant for a day and then jump by 500-1000? Red flag.
Target audience demographics (Target Audience Analysis).
As a professional influencer who makes a living off posting content, or at least a significant contribution to their annual wage, they MUST know who their posts are designed to attract. And let me stress this – if they cannot tell you WHERE their following is (location), the DEMOGRAPHIC SPLIT (male, female, age etc), and what type of posts works BEST on their page they are not someone you should invest in. I’m not kidding! If they take their role seriously in being an ‘influencer’, they should have analytics coming out of their a$$ and you should feel comfortable asking them for these figures. If they can’t produce them, don’t waste your time. Don’t be afraid to grill them.
Are they a values match?
Whilst this industry remains very unregulated, be clever about who you pay to market your hard work. This is all about questioning them as a ‘marketing partner’ – that’s essentially what you’re considering them for.
- Do they share your values? What do they stand for?
- Do they have a similar approach to their marketing as you do?
- Do you consider any of their past posts inappropriate?
- Is the influencer constantly posting ONLY products?
- Do they have a relationship with their following which means their followers trust what they promote? Do they respond and interact with their followers in the comments?
- Or are the influencers just posting for the sake of making $$ off their page (which is fine, but this is where influencer marketing doesn’t generally translate to sales for you).
- Would you buy the products they promote?
This is all up to you to make a decision on…
Have a contract
And make stipulations. It is only fair for everybody involved if they know where they stand. If you have a clear-cut influencer contract, then everybody has clarity. They know their rights, they know their obligations.
- Will your sponsored post be at the top of their feed for x amount of time? Or will it get lost in their 3x daily posts?
- They must post it on THEIR account
- They must tag you
- Caption must speak fondly of the product / have your pre-approval in writing
- It must remain live for 30 days or more
- Agreed number of posts
- Which platforms it will be posted on
- Timeframe: must be posted with x amount of days
- Exclusivity, no other similar products posted within x timeframe
- Cancellation clause
- If it’s a product: who pays for return delivery, if required and timeframe, or compensation…
+ so, so much more to consider! GET IT ALL IN WRITING, and SIGNED! (get an agency to help if you have no experience in this!, please!)
Weigh up the risk
You can do all the research you like, have the best contract, and think you’ve got them sussed. But the fact is you may get ripped off. It’s a gamble, so if you have a view that you can afford to lose your money or product then you’re in the right place to take the leap forward and go for it!
Now that you know how to weed out the fakes, you are well on your way to selecting a good influencer to work with. I actually think influencers are a great tool to use in marketing (obviously not the be all end all), providing you choose the right influencers for your product.