The power of influencers and why you need to look beyond the follower count

It’s no secret that influencers carry huge potential for brands and more and more are utilising their low cost, high impact tactics as part of their marketing strategies. For consumers, these influencers are the people they trust and they’re the ones they look to for recommendations when buying a new product or service so they certainly shouldn’t be overlooked or undervalued, but what makes a good influencer and how do you determine if they’re the right choice for your brand? Here are the four key things you should look at:

1. Audience Size
2. Engagement
3. Fan sentiment
4. Presence of partnership with other brands

In the beginning, it was celebrities who had all the power. With hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers, brands looked to them for product endorsements in the hope of boosted sales assuming that reaching masses of people would be most effective. However, with the boom of self-made Instagram gurus, bloggers and vloggers known for anything from being awesome at yoga to creating the most delicious looking smoothie bowls, a new wave of ‘stars’ were born and they didn’t necessarily have thousands of followers. It soon became apparent that consumers were more likely to listen to a lifestyle blogger with 12,000 or so Instagram followers who loves yoga and writes about which fitness clothing brands she genuinely likes to work out in compared with the ‘celeb’ who was probably being paid $1000’s to promote a product.

That’s where the numbers come in. Typically, the accounts with followers soaring into the millions attract all the attention but when you look closer, you’ll most likely find that the number of likes and comments they receive per post is pretty underwhelming as a percentage of their following. That’s why brands should be looking at users with less following and more engagement. 10 brand influencers each with 5-25k followers will no doubt be a more effective way to reach your customers than 1 influencer with 250,000.

Once you’re happy with their follower numbers and engagement figures, you’ll need to be sure they fit the personality of the brand. Is their personality reflective of what your brand represents? Do they speak positively at all times and do they interact with other users appropriately? Most importantly, are they themselves positively received by their followers? If their fan sentiment suggests negativity then any endorsements could be received badly and have a negative impact.

The last point is extremely important for ensuring your influencer partnership is genuine and that’s to make sure they aren’t currently in partnership with any other competing brands. An influencer is going to be more credible if they have a select few partnerships as opposed to seemingly supporting a wide range of brands, with some possibly irrelevant, day to day. That’s not to say an Instagram user can talk about one brand and one brand only but make sure there are no conflicting interests or direct competitor endorsements.