When it comes to consumer spending, online content and social conversations have a significant impact on how and what people choose what to buy. While brand-crafted content is useful to consumers, the most influential content comes from like-minded people they trust.
Bloggers and others with loyal followers on social media are the new influencers. They have loyal readers on their blogs and distribute content to millions on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest. Social savvy individuals often know more about social media and engaging with digital content than brands and agencies. What makes them even more powerful is the niche-based content they produce, which is often in a very specialized area. There are millions of bloggers publishing content in popular areas like parenting, food, fitness, fashion and entertainment. Influencers can be segmented further to reach specific consumers like parents of teens, pet lovers, marathon runners, tech fanatics and organic cooks. As the volume of data available increases online, the more consumers want specific information aligned with their unique needs, interest and concerns. Working with influencers is a way for brands to reach people whose interests and demographics represent a highly qualified consumer.
Influencer marketing is the idea of partnering brands with these bloggers and other active social media users to create and distribute relevant content that is highly targeted and share it in an authentic and transparent way. But influencer marketing is a wasted investment if you’re not working with the right people. Here are five items to look for when identifying online influencers for your brand:
Before you look at unique visitors and other static metrics, its important to look at how aligned a bloggers’ content is with your messaging. While it might take some homework and research, read through a history of that blogger’s posts and get a sense for what kind of consumer they are. Just because a blogger posts recipes, doesn’t necessarily mean they are a match for an organic brand and a tech-savvy sports fan doesn’t make them a guaranteed match for your gaming app. Are you looking for budget-travelers, fashionistas, permissive moms or coffee drinkers? Is profanity or provocativeness part of your brand personality? These are important characteristics to look for in the content and audience of an influencer and are far more important than traffic.
Engagement is an indicator of how interactive a blogger’s audience is with the content. Do those readers respond, comment, and share? What percentage of readers are returning versus new? How much readers engage with the publisher and how often they return are indications of the meaningfulness of that relationship.
While not the most essential metric, reach is certainly important to consider. However, marketers should resist the urge to only look at unique visitors as a measure of reach. Traffic and followers are only meaningful to the extent that the influencer is reaching your brand’s target audience. For instance, if you are a hotel chain or car seat provider, a travel blogger with a small reach is more influential than a food blogger with 100,000 unique visitors. It is also important to consider what other social platforms your consumer visits. If you are a food or fashion brand, someone with a large following on Pinterest might be more valuable than someone on Facebook with a large fan base.
For many verticals, there is a direct correlation between how often a blogger posts and their traffic and rate of return visitors. As with marketing any website, it often takes multiple exposures to get a visitor to click and check out your site and you want to make sure they come back. When a publisher is consistently posting high quality content on a regular basis, readers are more likely to return, bookmark and share. Bloggers who don’t post as frequently tend to have a higher rate of turnover, fewer return visitors, and less loyalty.
This tip may sound counter-intuitive to a marketer but bloggers who have a smaller, respectable ratio of sponsored content tend to be more trusted and appear as more authentic. Personal stories that include genuine use or mention of a product, service or brand are more trusted than straight product reviews. Compelling, engaging stories also tend to be shared and commented on more than deals and product reviews. While its tempting to ask publishers to write a nice long review of your health product, encouraging them to share an inspiring story about what is on their bucket list will better capture the attention and hearts of readers.