So you’re looking to promote your products (or services) and you realise that influencer marketing might be the best way to do that. In that case you’ll want to be careful about which influencers you have representing your business, as it can be quite common for many social media personas to have fake followers as a result of using bots, buying engagement or using engagement pods.
In order to find and hire an influencer to market your product or service, you’ll first need to establish who your ideal customer is. From there you will be able to narrow down the types of influencers that your business could potentially work with. If for instance I was selling beautifully-designed notebooks, I could reach out to a mommy-blogger as a potential influencer, as it’s more than likely that her followers are likely to be female bloggers that appreciate their desk space being pretty and organised – however I can appreciate that this might be a stereotypical assumption!
I wouldn’t however hire an influencer without first making sure that their following and engagement is legit, that’s why I first dive into each account first before spending any money. There are a few things you can do to check whether the influencer has faked their numbers, all with the purpose to avoid wasting your hard-earned money, but first you’ll want to know how to find influencers who are willing to promote your business.
Do you see yourself becoming a social media influencer? If so, then you’ll probably want to check out this post on how to get yourself verified on Instagram. It breaks down the criteria that you’ll need to meet in order to be verified, and can apply to influencers, businesses & more. Check it out today!
How to find influencers to work with
Quite often when we refer to influencers we usually think of Instagram, so I’ll explain the best way to find Instagram influencers for you. What you’ll want to do is to highlight as many hashtags that you feel would be relevant to your ideal client, for instance a tattoo artist might search for #tattoo. You’ll need to search for your chosen hashtag and then check out the most popular posts within that hashtag.
The reason you’re looking at the ‘top posts’ as opposed to most recent, is because these are far more likely to include posts from influencers. Click on each post and then click-through to the profile of the account that posted the content, from there you can check out whether they’re an ideal influencer to work with, based on the amount of followers they have and how engaged or relevant their following is.
Alternatively, if you’re a local business and your demographic is somewhat varied, you can use a slightly different method. For instance, if you’re a local restaurant and you just want to put bums on seats, you can search for a location instead of a hashtag. For example if I looked at the top posts for Guernsey, Channel Islands I could find influencers in the area and then drop them a direct message with a discount, or an offer for a free meal, in return for a good review and shoutout for my business.
How to prove the legitimacy of the influencer
There are many ‘influencers’ out there who deceive the public with the amount of followers, likes & comments that they have, so you’ll need to be extra vigilant to avoid wasting your money or products on frauds that have nothing more than a dozen legit followers, many of which are probably related to them. In order to separate the real deal from the rest, you’ll want to do the following…
Read through the comments
Check out the comments on their posts and see whether they seem genuine or not. The first red flag you might notice is if the majority of their comments are generic statements such as “Great post” or “I love this!”. Comments like these can be easily spammed out to an abundance of accounts with the use of a bot, it’s highly likely that the person leaving this comments has never even seen the influencer’s account.
Whilst writing, I must ask you not to use bots to automate engagement, platforms such as Instagram are cracking down on this hard, limiting post engagement and will even go as far as banning your account entirely. Don’t do it.
Ask for the stats
Most influencers, especially on Instagram, will have access to detailed statistics on the reach, engagement and demographic of their posts & followers. Such statistics will include the amount of people who have seen the post (“Reach”), the amount of times the post has been seen or watched (“Impressions”), as well as the gender, age and location of their followers. The latter will be especially important if you’re a local business looking to target people in your area/country.
You should be asking for the statistics on their posts, stories and account in general. Platforms such as Instagram will be able to provide in-depth stats on each post, which can also show you how many times the post has been sent between friends, saved to people’s collections and also how many profile visits have happened as a result of the post.
How influencers can fake their followers
As mentioned earlier, people can fake their follower count by purchasing bots to automate their account activity for them. The most common way of doing this is to set the bot to follow as many accounts as possible, then unfollow those accounts after a few days before repeating the process over and over again. Likewise they can usually set the bot to like posts, leave generic comments & DM their new followers. Not only is this highly frowned upon (and against Instagram’s terms & conditions), it doesn’t add much depth to the relationship between you & your new followers.
Aside from bots, you might find that ‘influencers’ have paid for their following or engagement, which is a horrible tactic to deceive you & I into thinking that they have a large following, however this is next to pointless given that they’ll never get any repeat business – if they get any to begin with.
On top of this, influencers might be a part of engagement groups (a.k.a. engagement pods) which are groups of accounts whereby they share their latest posts with each other, and drop likes & comments on each others posts as a way to beat the Instagram algorithm. Again, this tactic is frowned upon and is an attempt to deceive their followers into believing that they get a lot of likes & comments.
Whatever you do, do not attempt to copy these tactics as you will have your account banned by Instagram.
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How to promote your brand with influencer marketing
If the post looks overly sales-y then the engagement of the post is going to suffer, especially in comparison to the rest of the posts on the influencer’s account. Instead you’ll want to have the business fit seamlessly into their content without disturbing the consistency of their account.
This becomes much easier if you’ve got a product to sell, which they can sneak into an image or video such as them wearing one of your t-shirts or watches, or even downing one of your alcoholic beverages. As an example you’ll often find that model, Kinsey Wolanski, will often drink (and promote) BANG Energy Drinks in the middle of her prank videos, without diminishing the quality of the video itself or “selling-out”.
Bare in mind though that the influencer will need to mention that the post does contain an advertised product or service, for instance they will need to include the hashtag #ad in order to clearly differentiate the post from unsponsored content. Usually though the influencer will be clued up on this, and they will be at fault if they don’t implement it on their posts.
How much to pay for an influencer
There is no set fee for influencer marketing, but as you can imagine the rates tend to align themselves depending on the amount of engaged followers that the influencer has. The best method to find out how much to pay, is to use a shotgun approach by messaging as many influencers within your target market and asking them for their rates.
It will help if you keep a record, such as on a Google Sheet, of the amount of followers each influencer has and also how much they charge, you can then evaluate what the average rate is and how much you are willing to spend. In doing this you’ll find that there are certainly bargains to be made in influencer marketing – you might even find that some influencers will accept a free product or service as payment!
Influencer marketing can be a great way of showcasing your business to your target demographic, however extra precautions should be taken to establish the legitimacy of the influencer’s followers and engagement rates, to ensure that you’re not being shafted financially. For the best results, you’ll want to reach out to as many legit influencers as possible for information on their rates and audience statistics, and trialling a few at a time.
If you still need help getting in touch with reputable influencers, or even just establishing who your ideal customers might be, then feel free to book in a free consultation here.
What’s your experience with influencer marketing? Would you consider yourself to be an influencer yourself? Let me know in the comments below.