5 Questions to Ask Before Working with Influencers

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Influencers have become an integral part of a sound digital marketing strategy. Whether it is engaging with an Instagram influencer to promote a product, a food blogger to develop a recipe or inviting local social media influencers to an exclusive event, there’s no denying the power these individuals have in reaching large and loyal audiences—and in affecting people’s thoughts, decisions and actions.

Influencer marketing is not a new idea. Whether it is a Hollywood star making a cameo in a commercial, a local radio personality appearing at an event, or a sports idol endorsing a product or service, famous people have long had a leading role in marketing and advertising campaigns. Today, social media and blogs have offered both celebrities and those with skills, passions and specific interests a new platform to establish influence and affect behaviors.

Working with influencers is a highly effective way to help increase awareness, drive sales, develop leads, build support and establish credibility. But remember—influencers are people, too, so like any other business decision, proceed carefully.

Consider a few basic questions when developing an influencer engagement strategy to get the most return on investment and build lasting mutually-beneficial relationships.

  1. Is the influencer a natural fit for my brand/organization? There are tons of creative, successful influencers out there, but, just because they are good at what they do doesn’t mean they are the right fit for your brand or organization. Consider your mission and goals, then identify influencers who would be a strong match. Just because an influencer lives in a geographic area, for instance, doesn’t mean he or she would be the right fit for a local campaign. Think: Is the influencer reaching your target audience? Is their content in-line with the values of your organization? It’s important to look for people to engage who would be a natural part of your promotional strategy, so it’s an authentic and positive partnership.
  2. What are the influencer’s strengths—and how can I best leverage those for my brand/organization? Some influencers have blogs or websites, some don’t. Instagram stars may not shine so bright on Facebook. Hugely prominent bloggers may not be as strong on certain social channels as they are on others. Consider what skills and assets are needed for a partnership to be successful. What social media platforms are most important? Does having a blog matter? Identify influencers who are strong on the networks you will be using most and where your audiences are most present.  
  3. What’s my budget? For many influencers, working with organizations and brands may be a main source of income. Some are willing to work in exchange for products, services or access to events or experiences, while it is not uncommon to require paid compensation. Before developing a budget or promising a partnership with an influencer, do your homework. Contact the influencer and take the time to explain the project and get a clear estimate. Influencers may have set rates for services and media kits they will happily provide. They may be willing to negotiate, especially when combining multiple services, such as social media outreach and a blog post, or multiple campaigns.
  4. Have I established clear expectations? Influencers want the projects they’re involved in to be a success just as much as you do—but that means they need to know exactly what’s expected. Clearly communicate to influencers what the goals of the project are, what their role will be, what they will be required to do (such as how many blog posts, number of social shares on which platform, key dates and deadlines) and how and when they will be compensated. Consider drafting a partnership agreement that outlines expectations to keep both the influencer and the sponsor on the same page. Most influencers welcome contracts because having an agreement in place helps cut down on miscommunication.
  5. How will I measure success, and do I have the tools and knowledge to do so? Know how influencers will fit into overall promotional goals and set realistic expectations. Asking influencers for reports detailing social media and website analytics for sponsored content will help show the potential reach of messages and illustrate engagement. Understanding how to present results will help in communicating the ROI of working with influencers. Consider including analytics and screenshots in reports to show how an influencer played a role in reaching a goal. Keep in mind that the awareness and buzz created by partnering with influencers isn’t always completely quantifiable and the effects may not be felt instantly but more over time, as the relationship with the influencer deepens and more people are reached.

Inspire PR Group has developed strong relationships with influencers of many types with various focuses, from food to travel to fashion and tech, in locations throughout the country. View our Portfolio to find several of our influencer engagement campaigns, including a 2.5-day farm-to-fridge tour for the American Dairy Association Mideast, an exclusive tasting event at Ocean Prime Orlando and influencer engagement for the Butler County Visitors Bureau to highlight the area’s attractions.