I represent health and wellness brands in their influencer marketing outreach. I spend my day online looking at amazing content and evaluating it to see if a particular influencer is a good fit for my brands. I am not unique in this task. I have several manager friends who do similar outreach and well… we talk. We’ve compared notes on our efforts, and I’ve used that insight to put together the following list of the top four things brands look for when deciding whether to work with an influencer. Spoiler alert: number of followers isn’t on it.
When working with influencers, my number one priority is to find someone who can truly connect with both my brand and their audience. I look beyond site views, email list subscribers and social media followers to find the experts in my niche. I would rather work with an influencer who has fewer than 10,000 followers but is an expert in their field than with an influencer who has 100,000+ followers but little credibility. I am not alone in feeling this way. Most managers I know cringe at the term ‘lifestyle blogger’. After all, what does that really mean? To us, that signifies a plan to discuss everything at a superficial level. True engagement happens when influencers demonstrate their passion and knowledge about a product or brand. As a manager, I’m looking for the deep conversations happening on social that I can use to introduce my clients and their products.
I spoke at a conference recently and had someone raise her hand to explain that she didn’t have a niche. I asked her to rethink her statement. She was positioning herself as a ‘mommy blogger,’ but is that what she really is? Or, is she in a niche like one of the following:
- Parenting under 5
- Natural Parenting
- Crafty parent
- Vegan parenting
- Parenting kids with food allergies
- Parenting free-range kids
You get the idea; this list could go on forever. The different brands that will be interested in her and her business will depend on how she defines herself and her site.
Don’t be afraid to dig deeper with your followers. You may lose some people, but you will gain loyalty and engagement. The reality is, you can’t be everything to everyone so don’t even try.
#2 Social Media Engagement
I am not going to lie: seeing the magic K or maybe even an M after the number of followers on Instagram does get an influencer noticed. However, as I stated earlier, numbers alone aren’t enough. A good brand manager looks beyond follower numbers and focuses on engagement. Heads up to bloggers: brand managers are well aware of the Facebook groups and Pods where influencers trade clicks and Likes to produce ‘fake’ engagement. Armed with that knowledge, brand managers look for authentic engagement on other sponsored or product focused posts. Here are four tips I give other brand managers when they are recruiting for new influencers:
- Look for engagement and comments on product-related posts. Pictures of food, babies and animals are fun but not a good indication of a successful partnership
- Read through the comments and look for authenticity. If there are too many “great picture” or “nice” type of comments, it’s a sign of possible forced engagement
- Avoid working with accounts that continually have posts with a high number of Likes but minimal or low proportionate comments
- Place influencers who have engaged YouTube and Facebook audiences at a higher priority, with YouTube being the queen. Instagram is great for short-term brand lift, but YouTube and Facebook translate to sales.
My advice to influencers: don’t neglect your blog or website. I’m seeing a trend where influencers focus on social media but neglect their original blog, or worse, forgo it all together. I get it. The instant gratification and feedback of social media is addictive. Conversation happening in the comments section seems to be a thing of the past. And, managers realize influencers can get distracted by the ‘hot’ platform of the moment. At the end of the day, companies do still want their marketing partners to have a more permanent online presence. Blogs and websites are better ranked in the search engines, which provides ongoing brand exposure with qualified new customers. New customers are beneficial to both the brand and blogger. Don’t take just my word for it. Julie Nowell of 3C Consulting and BluntMoms tells her influencers:
Every single one of the brands we work with looks at your website when we recommend you for campaigns. I have had them refuse HUGE sites, with GREAT social numbers, because the website isn’t clean and professional looking. Its crummy, but true. Brands are investing into boosting influencer content, and they won’t do that if they aren’t happy with the place they are sending their fans. – Julie Nowell, 3C Consulting
Wifelife.co is a great example of a clean, professional website that has been approved by some of my toughest clients.
Influencer Success Checklist for Bloggers
- Own your domain name. For example, stephanierobbins.com has more credibility than stephanierobbins.wordpress.com
- Clean template with minimal and selective ads, none of which should be animated
- A balance of sponsored and unsponsored posts
- Transparency in brand relationships and FTC compliance
- Quality and non-distorted images
- Use of original images. Not all photos need to be original but a site with only stock photography will not be well-received
- User-friendly navigation
- Void of excessive typos
#4 Email List
Not sure if collecting email addresses is worth the effort? Rethink that approach! Contrary to what millennials may say, email is not dead. When I provide email numbers to my brands, the negotiating table immediately gets turned in the bloggers’ favor. Why? Because they know the power of their own email lists to drive engagement and sales. Per eMarketer.com,
According to 80 percent of professionals, email marketing drives custom acquisitions and retention.
Those ‘professionals’ are your customers.
Three Ways Bloggers Can Grow Their Email List
- Have an email sign up form on your sidebar navigation
- Provide an eBook in exchange for an email address
- Conduct giveaways with email address being an entry
I hope you found this list useful. Will you be attending the Type A Conference in Chicago? Look for me on Facebook or Twitter to set up a meeting. I look forward to discussing this topic further with you this September.