Too often I see Brands randomly picking and choosing any “influencer” they come across that they feel will be a driving force in building enthusiasm and creating buzz for their brand.
Their decision often swayed by the number of social media followers they have or their blog’s monthly impressions as opposed the more important details they should be looking for in someone to work with.
As in any work relationship, what is it that qualifies that specific individual to be a part of your team? Fit, Rapport (Relationship), Background (experience, knowledge, etc.) and Passion for what your brand (and product) represent.

Coming from an HR background, if I was to hire someone for one of my positions, I make sure to do my research on that candidate. After all, they will be a reflection on your business. They can make or break your reputation.
You can have someone advocating anti-bullying and yet looking at their tweets, they are rude, condescending and ignorant towards their followers. On top of that, they may have a horrible reputation from others in their industry. Don’t ignore those — they’re often a red flag.
You may want to market coffee for example, yet looking at Instagram photos that person hasn’t even had a coffee a day in their life.

Bottom line: Make sure to do your research before selecting a Social Media Influencer.

I’ve had brands approach me that I’ve had to decline working with only because I know that I would never have interest in what their brand has to offer or that specific campaign didn’t align with my values and those of my readers.
I’m not going to take it because I’m getting a hefty compensation for it.
The same ways, I have approached brands to pitch to them simply because there was a great fit for me and for my audience demographic. It just made sense… we were compatible.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been let down because my blog reach wasn’t high enough for them, even though my social media engagement and blog activity said otherwise.
There’s a HUGE difference between a blogger and an influencer — let’s please not confuse the two.

I came across this great article written by Mia Pearson for a column she wrote on the Globe and Mail with this exact topic.

SELECT SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS WITH CARE
Influencers are that group of social media stars who always seem to be invited to the best parties or get the hottest new gadgets or clothes early and free.
Their Klout scores are double those of a regular person. They fill up your Twitter feed with pictures of their latest exploits, and they would have you believe their blogs get more views than your favourite magazine.

Some brands and agencies swear by influencer programs as a great way to reach potential customers, while a lot of pundits are speculating that the time for influencers is effectively up.

Both camps make some good points, so if you are thinking of starting an influencer program, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Look for a FIT
It’s surprising how many brands seem to jump on the influencer bandwagon without carefully evaluating whether or not the fit will work for their company or industry.
Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. If you can’t find any influencers who really suit what you’re trying to do, pull the plug. When the only people at your fashion event are tech influencers, people can tell that you’re reaching, and it will negatively affect your brand.

Be wary of the numbers
The recent changes to Klout’s algorithm and the subsequent outpouring on Twitter proved just how many people pay close attention to their scores.
No doubt, for some, it is pure competitiveness, but a lot of people have a vested interest in keeping their Klout scores high. They’re showing up on résumés for social media types, but agencies and companies also use those scores as a way of identifying influencers to team up with. For some, that’s all they use.
There is no doubt that Klout scores do show how active a person is on social media. The more platforms people use and the more frequently they use them, the higher their scores.
But just like the daily views of a website, the size of a Facebook fan page or the number of Twitter followers someone has, quantity doesn’t always win out.

Do your research
You will likely get better results from working with someone who has 300 really dedicated followers than someone with 10,000 people who follow them because they are likely to say inappropriate things.

Go long-term
One of the reasons agencies like influencers is because they have relationships with them and can count on them to Tweet about an event or do a quick review of a product in a way they can’t count on traditional media.
But, where’s the brand loyalty? critics ask. One day an influencer is singing the praises of your new product, and the next, the influencer is at your competitor’s launch.

Try to establish long-term relationships with key influencers.
That could involve bringing that person in-house for a special project or a series of blog posts around a certain theme, for instance.
A carefully selected partnership will be mutually beneficial. The influencer can become a brand ambassador in a true sense while gaining credibility for his or her own brand by connecting with yours.
The social media influencer isn’t dead. This can be seen in so many examples. With women being one of the highest users of social media, credible Parenting bloggers have become real movers.
The same goes with fashion, on-campus and technology personalities.

Select carefully. Aligning with well-respected influencers can still make a difference.

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