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TOP 10 Tips to Engage Social Media Influencers for your Brand From one of Canada’s best PR agencies

By Deborah Weinstein

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There’s no doubt about it! Influencer marketing is the hottest new trend on the media landscape as brand marketers continue their eternal quest to cut through the clutter to win the hearts, minds, and wallets of fickle consumers.

For proof you need look no further than this chart from influencermarketinghub.com detailing a staggering $16.4 billion as the market size for influencer marketing in 2022. 

Source: influencermarketinghub.com

Part One of this blog explained The Awesome Power of Influencer Marketing: How to Build Brand Awareness, Trust, and Cred in the Age of TMI and this next instalment offers our TOP 10 Tips to Source the Perfect Influencers for Your Brand.

A full-service public relations agency with considerable experience leveraging influencer relations to propel brand trust, credibility, and sales, Strategic Objectives understands the importance of casting the perfect influencer partners to form meaningful and authentic buzz for your brand. That’s why we created these actionable TOP 10 Tips, based on our own hard-earned experience.

So let’s get started!

  1. Know Your Client and the Budget

Your search for the perfect influencer begins with understanding your clients’ goals and expectations. Are they looking for mass or niche reach, high engagement, targeting consumers in specific regions? This will help you decide if the influencers you’re considering will meet your strategic objectives.

Know your budget before you begin casting so you can determine the following:

  • How many influencers can you afford
  • Will they be nano, micro, macro or mega influencers, or a combination thereof. For clarification on these categories, see Part One

2. Know Your Audience

Understanding the consumer audience you wish to reach is fundamental to your success. Now you can dive into the “type” of influencer you want to find and recruit for your campaign.

Are you a barbecue brand looking to reach new grillers, a plant-based food brand looking to reach flexitarians, a beauty brand planning to reach skincare newbies, or a mosquito repellant wanting to reach outdoor enthusiasts?

Here’s how influencers we recruited created captivating content for our clients, Zoglos and Thermacell.

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3. Invest in Social Media Tools
Rigorously scrutinize your proposed influencers to see if they’re who they say they are, and to see if their followers are in fact living, breathing human beings vs. bots.

It’s wise to invest in social media measurement tools to investigate influencer statistics and their audience demographics (where do they live, how old are they, what are their interests?)

  • Tools like Klear and Hootsuite will help you decide if you’ve chosen the right influencer to meet your brand objectives.
  • They also help detect fake followers

Since the brands we work with are Canada-based, we always make sure our proposed influencers have a substantial Canadian following.

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4. Do Your Research. Sign a Contract.

Does your proposed influencer have a good reputation?

  • Look beyond their social feeds. Google will become your new best friend.
  • What should you look for?

- Scandal, racism, misogyny

- Criminal record, abusive behaviour

  • Does their language/voice match your brand?

Negotiate a contract.

  • This protects the brand, the influencer, and the agency.
  • Contracts ensure influencers deliver on key messages, timelines and approvals on creative content
  • Brand ambassador backfires are a real and present danger. You need look no further than Kanye West to see how brands are controversy-averse these days.

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5. Engagement

In partnering with influencers you should literally look for a match made in heaven -- where follower engagement is key.

  • Remember, your goal is to create actual, real human engagement with your influencers’ following for your brand. Always look to see if/how your influencers involve and interact with their fans.
  • Influencers should shine their light on your brand, so their followers like, share, adopt and advocate for it.
  • Remember those social tools we mentioned? Use them. They’ll help you measure the value influencers bring to your campaign.

6. Diversify your Cast

  • Diversity, which means incorporating a variety of races, body types, generations, and sexual orientations is essential to your influencer mix.
  • Brands that embrace diversity give consumers a sense of community and relatability by featuring people that look and sound like them.
  • This recent study from Forbes proves the power of diverse influencer marketing.

Our work with the all-Canadian brand, Annabelle Cosmetics, is a great example of influencer diversity. We partnered the brand for Pride 2022 with Canada’s Drag Race season 2 finalist and 2SLGBTQIA+ champion, Kendall Gender to support Rainbow Railroad, a global not-for-profit organization that helps 2SLGBTQIA+ people escape violence and persecution in their home countries based on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.

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7. Be Real. Authenticity is Key.

  • Do the influencers you’re investigating speak with a real and authentic voice? Do they integrate brands in their feeds in a meaningful way? Or do they push a non-stop stream of obvious ads?
  • Research says that only 59% of Canadians trust ads they see online, which is why it’s so important to vet your influencers to ensure they don’t overuse heavily produced ad content in their social media feeds.
  • Consumers prefer influencers who partner with brands and products they truly love, rather than those who promote everything.

Authenticity is of critical importance when it comes to casting influencers for our client ScienceUpFirst, a Canadian initiative dedicated to discrediting online misinformation --- where our primary goal is to recruit legit, credible communicators including independent scientists and health care providers to share really important news and information.

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8. Hire Trendsetters

  • Social media influencers are trendsetters trusted by brands to embrace their products and create positive awareness
  • Pay attention to trends. Understanding what consumers want will help you determine the type of content you’re looking for.
  • Consumers are attracted to video content across all social platforms, with TikTok the most popular of all! Look for influencers who keep up with social media algorithms. For instance, Instagram Reels, which, until recently, dominated Instagram, may soon be supplanted (again) by static posts.

Read more from Instagram's CMO here

Here are some recent examples of exciting influencer videos we produced for Annabelle Cosmetics and Kia Canada.

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9. Beware the Bots

  • There’s fake everything online, including fake followers.
  • Most fake followers are bots, not human beings, programmed to react to key signals, and boost an influencer’s engagement and reach numbers.
  • Fake followers erode an influencer’s cred, which in turn affects brand credibility.
  • An influencer with fake followers may have big numbers, but their engagement will be incredibly low, because bots can’t authentically engage. Bots are a brand time- and money-waster.

10. Think Long-Term

  • · Long-term partnerships build brand credibility, demonstrate brand loyalty, and show your audience the product or service they’re advocating fits their lifestyle beyond campaigntimelines.
  • Look for brand ambassadors with long-term potential, people you can trust to build a happy and mutually beneficial future

For example, Chris Hau is a fabulous partner on our Kia Long Term Vehicle Loan program. He’s driving the exciting new Kia EV6 for the next 6 months and documenting his experience living with an electric vehicle for the first time. As you can see, his posts truly demonstrate his love and connection with the brand.

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The Future of Influencer Marketing

What we’ve described in this two-part blog series is Strategic Objectives’ basic architecture for engaging the perfectinfluencers/brand ambassadors for our clients.

You will, of course, encounter numerous challenges along the way, but if you follow our ten basic steps, yoursuccess will most definitely be in reach.

If you're a brand looking to amp-up your influencer marketing, please get in touch. Our Strategic Objectives team would love to partner with you to harness the awesome power of influencer marketing to build brand awareness, trust and cred in the age of TMI.

Deborah Weinstein is Strategic Objectives co-founder and partner.

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We are one of Canada's Best Public Relations and Marketing Communications Agencies. Please contact us here to learn how Strategic Objectives can help you craft creative, news-making influencer marketing campaigns that amplify your brand message and boost consumer loyalty.

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