Not All Influencers Have “Real” Influence

Influencers… have you heard this word? Do you know what it means? Do you know what it SHOULD mean?

The term influencer means, in essence, someone that can make someone do, say, buy, view, etc., some thing.

On social media, people refer to individuals and businesses (but more-so individuals) that have a following (usually at least 10k-ish followers) as “influencer”. Today I ask a very important question:  Do all of these accounts on social media have REAL influence?

In short, the answer is NO!

I love to break it to you – not everybody on social media is a real influencer… Not everyone with followers can make their audience go do, say, buy, view, etc., some thing.

Over the past several years, I’ve worked with thousands of influencers, from 10k followers to tens of millions of followers, on branded social media campaigns for the world’s top brands. I have seen the results these influencer posts have driven – engagement, reach, brand awareness, sales, etc.

I’ve been absolutely shocked at times by the power some influencers have and dumbfounded at the lack of influence others have.

Does this sound like you?:  I am a brand/product/service provider that has heard about influencers but just don’t understand this whole world. It’s confusing to me! How do I know who to align myself with? How do I know they won’t go rogue and butcher the campaign? How do I know if their rates are fair? Etc., etc., etc.

I’ve spoken with hundreds of brands about influencer marketing. They all have questions and concerns about influencer marketing. The most popular and concerning one is:

How do I know which influencer to use?!

Here are the three MOST important things you need to look for when determining who would partner well with your brand:

  1. Content Alignment – Otherwise known as “brand safety”.

If you own a boutique that sells modest women’s clothing, don’t be tempted to email a female with 1 million Instagram followers that posts in bikinis and goes to the club every weekend. You need an influencer that posts content in a style similar to what you post.

Five years ago, I was in your shoes. My wife (@theshineproject on Instagram) had a business that was selling a fair amount of products for how long it had been open, and I discovered there were some people who amassed 50k, 100k… even 300k followers on Instagram. I thought, “I bet if I send them product and they post about it and tag us, we can increase our sales!”.  I began the arduous process of finding influencers, gathering their email addresses, figuring out how to get them to respond to my email, sending them product, and praying they post about it… Cumbersome and sometimes – not fruitful.

I even got burned several times. I’d send product to these gals and after it shipped, I would never hear from them again. It made me so mad!

I started noticing patterns, however, in the influencers. I learned who to approach and who not to approach. The response rate to my outreach emails started going up. More posts were going up. Sales were increasing. I sent some influencers product that did nothing in terms of sales. I continued learning. It was working.

I learned that if I was not targeting the right type of influencer to sell my wife’s bracelets and jewelry, even if they posted, I would not drive any sales. I had to target the influencers with followers that would want to buy the product. Sounds simple enough… but it’s similar to going to a car dealership and being wow’d by the Ford GT when all you needed was a Focus. Get what you need and can afford.

  1. Engagement – Likes, comments, views

Engagement is a huge indicator when determining if someone has “real influence” or not. If an influencer can get people to like and comment on their posts, there is a higher chance they can get them to do other things.

The great way to tell if someone has real influence is to read the comments on their posts and look at the number of likes and/or views their post has.

All content verticals have different engagement benchmarks, but as a general rule of thumb, an influencer that receives 2k likes for every 100k followers (2% engagement) is normal. Above 4%-5% is good. If they’re above 10%, that is great.

Comments are an even stronger indicator of engagement, but only if the comments are relevant to the post. It takes much more time to write a comment than it does to double tap a post. The follower feels more impacted by the post if they leave a comment.

  1. Their audience – Is your target customer a woman between the ages of 25-35? You’d better make sure your influencers have that audience!

How can you figure out if an influencer has the same audience as you?

Looking at the demographic of the influencers themselves is a great way. What type of content are they posting? Is it something YOU would post on your brand’s channel? Another strong indicator…

Another simple way is to tactfully ask your prospective influencers for their follower demographic. As shown in the below screenshot, you can see the age, location, gender, etc., of their followers. Don’t come right of the gate and ask them for this, though. Once they’ve replied back to your outreach email and want to know more about you/your company, that’s when you start asking questions to make sure it’s a mutually beneficial partnership.

Make sure to come back next week for more tips on influencers and influencer marketing.

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