How to Choose an Influencer for Your Brand

Bob Gilbreath
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Key Takeaways

​What? Almost half of marketers are increasing their investment in influencer marketing.

So what? The rise in influencer marketing means marketers should take a closer look at using external service providers.

Now what? In selecting a provider, marketers should evaluate partners on high-level capabilities and experiment with front-runners by giving them campaign work before settling on the right influencer of record.

​Sept. 15, 2017

Marketers are boosting their influencer marketing spend, meaning it's time to take a closer look at external providers

Influencer marketing is certainly top-of-mind for marketers, but it continues to be one of the most puzzling pieces on the path to purchase. It’s a landscape with hundreds of vendors that mix software, data and service to connect brands with tens of thousands of tastemakers.

Now is the time to select one or more influencer marketing partners that will help you clear the cloudiness and build your business.

Influencer Marketing is Rising in Importance

According to eMarketer, nearly half of marketers are upping their investment in influencer marketing in 2017. Brands understand that the voices of authentic, trusted creators are much more likely to break through the adblockers. Today’s shopper is savvy to overt selling, but she is actively seeking great ideas through it—even if it comes with a “promoted” #sponsored tag.

Influencer marketing is moving from a nice-to-have option to a strategic priority for everyone from startups to billion-dollar brands—and that means it’s time to go deeper with external providers rather than hopping to and from each shiny new sales pitch.

Who’s Doing the Work?

The first question is whether you plan to manage influencer campaigns in-house or through outside partners. If in-house, you are likely in the market for a self-service software package that can help you identify influencers, manage the back-and-forth and measure results. Alternately, the full-service approach means you are working with an agency or partner that takes responsibility for arranging all details of a campaign—and usually guarantees a minimum result. Full-service partners may have their own software or data to help deliver insights, report results, and/or manage the back-and-forth communication.

This decision comes down to your priorities, budget and time. Self-serve solutions work best for brands that have modest needs and are mainly looking to manage a small group of fans who will post periodically. However, if you are looking to truly invest in influencer marketing and scale with significant spending, a full-service approach is better. The external partners are not just taking work off your plate, but are experts in their field who will drive improvement that should pay for itself.

From the Linqia report, "The State of Influencer Marketing 2018"

What to Look for in Your Influencer RFP

Use whatever process your organization prefers to request information (RFI). The most effective methods usually solicit a dozen providers, followed by in-person presentations with three to four finalists. Your questions and evaluation criteria should be about high-level capabilities rather than a request for proposal (RFP) for a specific campaign.Consider covering the following areas:

  • Company differentiation: With so many players in the market, the first place to start is by understanding how each firm stands out. If this question is not answered clearly there is no reason to go further.

  • Influencer quantity and quality: You will want to understand how a partner grows and nurtures its network, both to ensure there will be enough people to choose from and that the quality of the output is consistently strong.

  • Targeting and verification: Influencer marketing should be held to the same standard as all other digital media spending, which means your messages must hit your brand’s specific audience. This is also where you can tackle the issue of bots, fraud and purchased followers by asking for proof that your campaigns are hitting real people—preferably checked by third-party verification.

  • Pricing, process and team: This is where a robust rate card can help you compare among firms. Make sure you also understand the timeliness and process of each campaign. And don’t forget to ask to meet the individuals who will be working on your business.

  • Results measurement: Influencer marketing is still maturing, especially in its ability to link directly to ROI. Here you should look for partners that can help you build success measurement into campaigns, working both with your preferred methodology and bringing their own options to the table.

  • Innovation roadmap: Because you’re looking for a partner for the long haul, you should probe around each company’s history of launching new products and plans for pushing the envelope over the next one to two years.

  • Trusted recommendations: The world of marketing is small enough that you should find back-channel feedback on these companies from friends and colleagues at your own company or others.

From the Linqia report, "The State of Influencer Marketing 2018"

Start with a Few and Invest with the Best

Too many marketers believe that an RFP should result in a single company commitment at the end of the process; however, this means they miss the chance to experiment and make sure this new partner wasn’t just the best at pitching. Instead, go with two to three partners and give them assignments for upcoming campaigns. Let your marketing team experience working with each company, and look at the results of the campaigns. After you will have much more knowledge of their differences and the confidence to make the right long-term decision.

Once you pick the right partner, be sure to bring an investment mentality to the relationship. That means committing to at least a yearlong contract at a set spending amount. Smart marketers will also take the opportunity to get more involved in their partners’ new-product development processes and be open and direct about what capabilities they hope to see added in the months ahead.

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Author Bio:

Bob Gilbreath
Bob Gilbreath is founder and CEO of Ahalogy.
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