It’s no secret that influencer marketing has taken the world by storm. Brands across industries are forming influencer-brand partnerships and collaborating with content creators to share their marketing messages and form authentic connections with their target audiences.
While influencer marketing is a powerful tool, one thing still holds brands back: working with too small a sample size. Partnering with only 10 to 20 influencers doesn’t result in statistically significant conclusions, and it easily leads to burnout.
What are the lasting consequences of this issue? For one thing, many marketers put their influencer marketing efforts on the back burner or end them altogether. They walk away believing influencer marketing doesn’t deliver because working with only a handful of creators has shown them unrepresentative and often unsatisfactory results. On top of that, far too many lose out on potential opportunities because they haven’t taken the time to find influencers that work best for them.
However, influencer marketing is an effort built on sustainability rather than immediacy. It takes time to perfect — and a big part of that is taking the time to identify and partner with the most effective influencers for your brand messages. More often than not, these influencers will have an established niche.
Contrary to popular belief, brands shouldn’t seek to partner with the most popular influencers just because they have a specific number of followers. Instead, finding the right influencers in a specific niche — influencers whose interests, behaviors, and values align with your target audience — is what will set you apart and set you up for success.
The Intersection of Relevance and Likability
Most marketers live and die by metrics such as number of followers, engagement rate, number of comments, etc. These are all important indicators of an influencer’s likability, which is critically important — people are more likely to try products their favorite influencers are raving about. Although likeability impacts influencer performance, the story doesn’t end there.
The golden sweet spot is the intersection between likability and relevance. In addition to being likable, influencers must also be relevant. Relevance is the other half of the influencer equation that marketers often miss. Even when they’re aware of relevance, the focus is mostly on an influencer’s number of followers and engagement rate.
Unlike likability, which is more easily assessed via the number of followers or engagement rate, relevance is more complex. While the more sophisticated marketers may use in-depth influencer data, such as audience demographic, income level, education background, interests, etc., these data are still too general to provide hyper-relevant insights. Not every Millennial woman in the high-income bracket who went to an Ivy League and is interested in fashion and shopping will have the same style.
Additionally, relevance can be deceptive. Too many marketers still think fitness accounts on Instagram are followed by girls who work out and pet accounts are followed by pet owners. That might appear true on the surface, but the best way to gain a competitive edge is to gather more information.
What you really need to be successful with influencer marketing is hyper-targeted relevance. When people open up their social media pages, they see hyper-targeted content. An Instagram ad won’t just show you food because marketers know you like food — it will show you the specific restaurant you were just discussing with your friend. On TikTok, a vegan will be shown vegan recipes.
Consumers have come to expect hyper-personalized marketing. In this digital age, preferences, behaviors, and interests are becoming less homogenous. And these behavioral traits and values are far more indicative than standard demographic profiles. To be hyper-personalized and effective in influencer marketing, your messaging has to reflect that truth.
Let’s imagine the case of a grandma who drives a Harley-Davidson. While she probably has somethings in common with other grandmas, she’s more likely to share behavioral traits with other Harley-Davidson fanatics. As a result, you’d want to reach out to her differently than you reach out to other grandmas — your messaging would need to be based on something more specific and nuanced than her age —like her love of travel or what kind of equipment she might need to maintain her bike.
In short, assuming an influencer is right for you simply because they share content related to your industry in a broad, general sense isn’t enough. By ensuring both likability and hyper-targeted relevance, you can locate influencers that resonate well with your target audiences.
How to Find Social Media Influencers for Your Brand
Knowing all of this, here are three specific ways to find the most effective top-quartile influencers for your brand:
1. Use a data-driven experimental approach to figure out relevance.
Activate a healthy sample size of influencers each month. For example, start with 30 influencers per month. If you are a skin care brand, have a few of those influencers create content in the acne care vertical, a few in the mom vertical, a few in the working women vertical, and a few in the male wellness vertical. Track views and engagement on their posts, and give every influencer a unique URL so you can track individual clicks and conversions. Then, let the data speak. Analyze which vertical works best, remembering the importance of statistical significance.
Repeat the process of data-driven experimentation every month to start refining and optimizing. For example, if the results in the first month tell you that working women and male wellness verticals have the most promise for your brand, activate another30 influencers in those verticals in the second month. This time, you can start to narrow down and tailor the content further. Target working women who are married versus working women who are single; similarly, focus on male wellness influencers in the fitness space versus male wellness influencers in the skin care space. Figuring out relevance is a disciplined process of testing that takes time and an open mind.
2. Understand the80-20 rule.
Most marketers know and have experienced the vast variability in performance among influencers. In fact, 80% of views, engagement, and conversions typically come from a handful of influencers who significantly outperform others.
When you are systematically working with a larger number of influencers every month, you will be able to talent scout for top influencers. Gather the top few influencers you identify each month and engage them more deeply. Work with them on PR and other brand campaigns for a more holistic approach.
At the end of the year, you will have a pool of top influencers proven to work for your brand. This will help you feel confident that these influencers fall within the intersection of likability and relevance — and are therefore the influencers who can powerfully impact your success as a brand.
3. Marry an influencer’s personal voice and your brand story.
When you have identified the most authentic, tailored, and relevant influencers to work with, take it to the next step and marry that influencer’s personal voice and your brand story. This combination is magical. It’s about telling your brand story authentically through the unique voices of individual influencers.
This marriage also allows your brand story to be shared through different perspectives, giving your messages a unified variety designed to reach different pockets of audiences in ways that will speak to them in a hyper-relevant manner. Your brand story is dynamic — let the communication of the story reflect that.
Influencer marketing is a steady exercise rather than a sprint. Be strategic about how you form influencer-brand partnerships, how many influencers you’re activating, and what you’re doing with the results from the campaigns. With time, you’ll have identified some of your most powerful brand ambassadors and will continue to reap the benefits of using influencer marketing because you took the time to see it bear fruit.
At Popcorn Growth, we use data to form hypotheses for your brand, help you run the influencer campaigns, and use data analyses to inform your decisions. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you find the right influencers to share your brand messages.