Influencer marketing is perhaps one of the most profitable strategies that businesses could invest in. A study conducted by SimplyMeasured showed that nearly 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from peers and trusted authorities while purchasing a product. Not just that, another study published by Tomoson found that businesses made as much as $6.50 for every dollar invested in influencer marketing. That is an ROI of 650%!

The effectiveness of this strategy however depends on how well you pick an influencer. An influencer that works for one brand or product may not necessarily work for another brand. A toothpaste brand would benefit when it is recommended by your local dentist rather than a top Hollywood celebrity. Not surprisingly, top brands in this space spend a significant amount of their marketing budget reaching out to dental experts for their recommendation.

So how do you pick an influencer for your brand? Here are a few important points to consider.

Talks to the same target audience

The first and foremost criteria for picking an influencer is that they must talk to the same target audience that you do. For instance, a company that makes fashion accessories for women must pick an influencer who talks to women interested in fashion. This could possibly include fashion bloggers, YouTube hosts and fashion journalists – people who are followed by the target audience that you want to reach out to.

Engagement over following

At the outset, it may seem prudent to invest heavily in an influencer who has an extremely large following. The rationale behind this is that even if a tiny fraction of their followers engage with your brand, it is going to be a good return on your investment. However, one study among Instagram influencers showed that the level of engagement among Instagrammers with lower following numbers (around 1000) were much higher than those displayed by Instagrammers with larger following of over a million.

Not only this, influencers with smaller following also tend to recommend fewer things – this helps brands avoid getting lost in the clutter of endorsements and recommendations. Add to this, the cumulative cost of hiring dozens of smaller influencers may work out to be cheaper than hiring one celebrity influencer.

Has a communication platform with followers

There is a thin line that separates an influencer from an endorser. An endorsement is done on your marketing platform using your communication channel. All TV and print ads that have celebrities on them are an example for endorsement. An influencer, on the other hand, has their own communication channel – either in the form of a blog, YouTube channel or podcast.

Also, you do not have to necessarily pay an influencer to recommend your product. Businesses get their products recommended by influencers in other ways like sending them free product samples or product brochures for their reference and review. Influencers may also charge money to recommend your product to their followers. In all these instances, the cost of outreach to your target audience falls on the influencer and not upon you.

Is trusted by followers

This is perhaps the most important factor while picking an influencer. While it is important to find an influencer who talks to the right audience and engages with their followers, it is a lot more crucial to pick one who is trusted. Social media celebrities who are well known to tweet or pin your submissions for a price are typically not trusted by their followers; regardless of how much they engage with their posts.

For an influencer to contribute towards product sales, it is vital to find one who does not sell their loyalty and are opinionated.

Finding an influencer who can match all of these criteria above is not easy. It is all the more difficult if you do not have a quality product. It is hence important to deploy influencer marketing only when you have a high quality product that an influencer is likely to endorse.

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