How to Select the Best Influencer for Your Business

Use reach, relevance, and resonance to align influencer marketing with business goals.

Annette Garaghty, VP of sales and marketing at knife company Wüsthof, wanted to drive deeper engagement and conversions on the sales floor while also telling the story of the 200 year old brand. She engaged brand experts to provide product content to 145 retail salespeople. Those salespeople spent an average of 34 minutes with Wüsthof content online and engaged in over 5,500 product conversations with store customers. The Wüsthof influencer marketing campaign increased sales 350% over stores that didn’t participate in the influencer campaign.

Influencer marketing is an increasingly popular component of social marketing, offering new sources of content and greater potential reach into desired audiences. “Choose influencers based on audience reach, brand relevance and their ability to resonate with followers for favorable outcomes,” says Jay Wilson, research director, Gartner for Marketers.

Influencers have been an advertising staple since New York Yankees baseball legend Lou Gehrig first appeared on a Wheaties cereal box in 1934.

The appeal of influencers lies in their perceived ability to drive positive word-of-mouth among their loyal follower bases and the promise of conveying brand messages in an authentic way through content created by a trusted individual on behalf of the brand.

However, there’s risk in influencer marketing. Brands need to make sure they’re following the FTC’s guidelines around disclosure. Influencers can engage in conduct and create content that not in line with brand values. As disclosure increases, consumer trust in influencers may wane.

Along with establishing disclosure processes and monitoring,  setting clear goals and metrics for defining success, successful influencer programs start with developing the right criteria for evaluating and choosing the right influencers for your brand and campaign.

Choose influencers based on their reach, relevance and resonance

Three key attributes contribute to influence — reach, relevance and resonance. Use and weight these attributes to identify and compare influencers for your particular program based on your goals, business model and industry.

  • Reach is the ability to amplify a message to a large audience or a desirable niche audience
  • Relevance is the strength of the connection between the influencer and the brand, industry or topic
  • Resonance is the ability of the influencer to drive desired audience behavior

Determine influencer type based on desired audience

Once you’ve determined and prioritized your attributes of influence, consider the type of influencers best aligned to your goals and the role they’ll play. Influencers could be media types such as journalists and bloggers, celebrities, industry influencers such as trade media or analysts, customers or employees. Choose the influencer type that best fits your needs based on your desired audience and campaign goals.

Determine influencer role based on program goals

Influencers build awareness and engage audiences around an issue, brand, campaign or offering by creating or sharing content, delivering audience access and insights or facilitating direct audience engagement. Determine the points along the buy/own/advocacy journey where influencers have the largest potential impact. Clarify your program objectives and goals along with which of your objectives influencers can most effectively support along the customer journey to determine influencer role(s).

“Consider what you expect from the influencer in return,” says Wilson. “Clearly specify your expectations, performance benchmarks and program timelines. Do so in a way that demonstrates mutual respect and understanding for your brand and theirs.”

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