Working with Influencers: Everything Brands Need to Know from Discovery to Relationship Management

When people hear the word influencer, they often think of socialites who promote famous brands or their own range of products to their millions of followers on a social platform. However, companies advertised with influential people before the rapid spread of digital transformation. In the past, movie stars, athletes, or highly knowledgeable public figures often recommended products or services. But the growth of social media and the consumption of online content has led to the emergence of people who are not only consumers but also creators of content. As a result of their popularity and expertise, they developed a large fan base that engaged with their content frequently. This and the distrust customers have for brand advertisements caused businesses to realize people need social proof, which is genuine recommendations from people they trust. They could be a close friend or family member or someone they look up to for their knowledge or experience. Thus, working with influencers has become a prominent part of modern marketing.

What Is an Influencer? A Quick Rundown

An influencer is someone who has established a reputation either as a thought leader or an entertainer on or off social media. Influencers can indeed be celebrities who work in show business. As their faces are often seen in movies or the media, stars are perceived as more credible. Fans can identify with their personality or their work, and they strive to emulate their lifestyle. However, influencers can also be ordinary people who have risen to prominence on social networks with their funny and engaging content. Their posts are attractive enough to catch social media users' attention.

When influencers promote a product, our brains react differently than when we see traditional brand ads. Creators have a deep understanding of their followers and can tailor their posts to their needs and aspirations. They have the skills and creativity to integrate product endorsements into their personal storytelling. This creates an emotional bond between them and the public, and when influential figures recommend a product the audience listens to them rather than an unknown individual. Additionally, social media platforms enable fans to comment on and like celebrities' posts, further strengthening the bond between them.

Working with influencers: types and benefits

Let's explore what types of influencers are out there and how you can benefit from partnering with them. If you are familiar with the concept of influencers, you have likely heard of terms such as micro- and macro-influencers, momfluencers, petfluencers, and even virtual influencers.

Influencer types by size

Creators can be classified in many ways, but the most popular is by their size. Based on their follower numbers, we distinguish five types of influencers.

  • Nano-influencers: Among the two lower-tier creator categories, nano-influencers are the smallest. Their followers range from 1,000 to 10,000 and they are either growing in their careers or creating in a specific region or niche. Even so, don't be fooled by their small audience size. It is nano-influencers who have the highest engagement rates on social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram.

  • Micro-influencers: Despite being small in size, micro-influencers shouldn't be underestimated. They have an audience of 10,000 to 50,000, but they compensate for their low following with their online presence and engagement rates.

    The things that bind these two types of content creators are that they cultivate very close relationships with their communities, they are niche influencers, they are affordable, and they are the most authentic.

  • Mid-tier influencers: Climbing their way up the ladder, they gained 50,000 to 500,000 followers. There is a high chance that they began as micro-influencers, meaning they have extensive knowledge in one field but a broader audience than small influencers. Most mid-tier influencers have experience collaborating with brands. The latter also makes them more expensive, but they are still more cost-effective than mega-influencers.

  • Macro-influencers: Their audience ranges from 500,000 to 1,000,000. However, larger sizes come at a higher price, so businesses with bigger budgets select them. Macro-influencers have impressive reach and appeal, polished content, and they have authority in their respective fields.

  • Mega-influencers: Although they are the biggest social media players in terms of audience, this is the smallest tier. Mega-influencers can be superstars who established their reputation offline or celebrities who rose to fame on social media platforms. It might be harder to collaborate with them if they have their own product lines or merchandise. The major benefit of macro- and mega-influencers is their reach, which contributes to the increased awareness and exposure of brands. They have a strong media presence and are highly influential both online and offline.

Creator categories by niche

Another popular way to categorize influencers is by the topics they specialize in. Besides the size of the audience, businesses should pay close attention to whether the creator's content category matches their industry. In this way, they ensure that their promotional efforts are directed at a highly engaged audience. The top ten niches on social media are:

  • Fashion,

  • Lifestyle,

  • Beauty and makeup,

  • Fitness and wellness,

  • Traveling,

  • Food and cooking,

  • Family and parenting,

  • DIY and home decoration,

  • Tech,

  • Gaming.

We can't include every industry or sub-topic here, but it's crucial to emphasize that the only way to connect with the right people and increase engagement is to choose an influencer who is knowledgeable in your niche.

Influencers by platforms

Although creators can be differentiated by the platforms they use, it's rare that they stick exclusively to one. You will often find YouTubers promoting their content on Instagram or on their personal blog, or TikTokers and streamers uploading their videos to YouTube.

High-quality and visually stunning images and videos are primarily published by Instagrammers. Instagram remains a highly sought-after social media channel for brands to market their products because of its visual nature and aesthetically pleasing content.

Some content creators produce written content on their blogs or websites, such as reviews, tutorials, and articles. Almost certainly, they are active on at least one social media channel where they promote their blog posts.

Podcasters are influencers who create audio content through interviews, guest appearances, or sharing their perspectives. Podcasting allows for in-depth discussions and storytelling. This is a great way to get a deeper understanding of topics such as politics, business, marketing, technology, and personal development.

As the second largest search engine on the internet, YouTube features a wide range of content, including music videos, cooking and DIY videos, and educational materials. As well as having versatile skills and knowledge, YouTubers publish content on the platform regularly and in several languages.

From beauty and style to cooking, entertainment and everyday hacks, TikTokers’ content can cover a wide range of topics. Videos on TikTok are renowned for the challenges, memes, and trends it offers, and influencers don't hold back from integrating them into their content.

Twitch is a popular streaming platform that allows gamers to broadcast and share their gameplay with their audiences. Twitch streamers develop unique gaming styles that make them stand out and differentiate them from other streamers.

Virtual influencers

Also known as computer-generated influencers, virtual influencers have gained popularity in recent years. Their looks and personalities can be shaped to match the tastes of their target audience or the aesthetics of the brand. In addition, businesses have full control over the content they share with their followers, they are always available, and with the growth of virtual and augmented reality, their presence is less uncomfortable. Brands have partnered with artificial influencers effectively in many campaigns, but not all have achieved success. Since computer-generated personas are controlled in terms of their personality and content, some users find them less authentic, and unable to connect emotionally with them.

How can you profit from working with influencers?

The right influencers can add a lot to your campaign. They can reach your intended customers and connect with them on a more personal level. Creators build trust among users and provide social proof if in doubt. Social media influencers successfully raise brand awareness and recognition. They can enhance people's perceptions of your company and establish your authority. Overall, they make your company cooler, approachable, and more human.

Marketers can select from a wide range of campaign types depending on their marketing strategy, goals, target audience, and budget.

The First Step in Collaborating: Discovering Influencers

So where and how to find the right influencer for your brand? Are there any influencer search tools or best practices? In summary, there are many ways and solutions to find influencers, and this section outlines the nine most common methods.

1. Influencer marketing platforms

They are all-in-one platforms with an extensive creator database that combine several tools into one package. Many influencer marketing platforms enable brands to discover potential creators through a discovery or marketplace feature. The filters in these tools allow businesses to refine their searches according to predefined criteria. HypeAuditor, a major platform on the market offers social listening and influencer lookalike search capabilities besides its discovery tool.

2. Social media listening

It's natural to search for social media influencers on different social media platforms. You can do this manually by using specific keywords, mentions, and hashtags relevant to your brand or industry in each platform's search feature. Alternatively, you can track conversations using social listening tools and identify users who often mention your brand.

3. Creator marketplaces on social media platforms

Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok have launched their own influencer marketplaces, where businesses can uncover creators based on audience demographics and other attributes.

4. Your customers and followers

Check out your avid customers and loyal social media followers. They are already familiar with your brand, have probably recommended it to their close friends and family, and have genuinely positive experiences to share. Teaming up with them will show people how much your brand values its customers and might encourage others to engage with you more.

5. Search Google for content creators

Engage with thought leaders who can help you expand your reach and engage audiences beyond social media. Search Google for content creators by niche and location.

6. Check your competitors

Specifically, examine your competitors' hashtags, mentions, and followers, as well as who they tagged in their posts. It is more likely that users and creators who engage with other industry players will have identical audiences as your target audience. Additionally, working with influencers who have cooperated with your competitors provides you the opportunity to benchmark your campaign's performance against theirs.

7. Campaign-specific landing pages

While you still need to analyze their metrics, let influencers find you through your website. Set up an influencer recruitment landing page that includes all relevant information about your brand, product, and influencer program, as well as instructions on how to apply. Make sure you spread the word about your campaign via various channels, including emails and social media.

8. Industry events

The internet is your best friend when it comes to identifying relevant influencers, but you should also try offline. Taking part in events and conferences is a great way to identify industry experts and key opinion leaders with whom you can collaborate and establish your brand.

9. Influencer marketing agencies

Agencies have unparalleled insights and knowledge about influencer marketing. They have relationships with numerous social media influencers, possess extensive experience screening creators and managing campaigns, keep current with the latest trends, and are aware of relevant regulations and laws. Partnering with an influencer marketing agency simplifies the process of working with influencers.

You can improve results by combining various methods or, better yet, by using influencer marketing platforms that allow you to analyze creators’ KPIs instantly along with finding and outreaching them.

It is inevitable that you will lose some candidates during the selection process. With this in mind, it is important to list at least three times as many creators as needed.

Creator Analysis: Finding the Right Fit

Now that you've identified influencers, let's research them. With influencer analytics, businesses can gather crucial information on creators' audiences, performance, and content. The more data they analyze, the better their chances of picking the right influencers.

A creator's follower count is easily accessible and a common way to estimate a campaign's reach. However, don't jump to conclusions based on the audience size alone. Always check the quality of an influencer's audience as well as their quantity.

Influencers' reach refers to the number of people who are exposed to their content. To reach a large portion of a desired audience, brands need to stick with creators who have a large following. Reach is viewed similarly to follower count as a vanity metric, which alone can’t be used to predict how successful a campaign will be.

Several influencers use illegal methods to grow their audience. It is very likely that the accounts they obtain through third-party tools are fake or stolen, and are controlled by bots. Working with influencers whose follower base contains a significant amount of suspicious accounts will ruin your reputation and cost you money. When analyzing social media influencers' profiles, check HypeAuditor's Audience Quality Score (AQS) to learn the overall quality of an Instagram or TikTok account.

The follower growth graph is also a method to determine whether an influencer has fraudulently inflated their follower count. If they increased their followers organically, the line is steadily growing. However, if it resembles a pulse rate chart with drops and spikes then they definitely utilized a gray-hat tactic.

By the time, you reach the point of researching influencers, you already know your target audience’s traits, like gender, age, geo, family status, hobbies, preferences, etc. So make sure you pick creators whose followers match your intended customers. HypeAuditor enables brands to filter influencers by their audience demographics and interests.

The engagement rate measures the level of engagement and interaction a content creator’s post receives over a period. ER takes into account the number of likes, shares, and comments giving a clearer picture of how well it resonates with users.

Want to know how to check Instagram Engagement Rate in a minute?
Use our tool for analyzing any Instagram account's ER:

Consider influencers whose values, voice, and style align with your brand identity and messaging. Brand alignment is essential if you want to ensure your marketing efforts are consistent.

Content quality is critical since the creator's posts will be at the center of the campaign. Make sure that the influencer's posts are relevant to the niche, that they engage the followers sufficiently, and that they employ high-quality images. Having worked with other brands, did their content comply with the FTC's advertising regulations? Did the promotion blend seamlessly into the story, or did it seem forced? Does the influencer have a history of scandalous content? Considering all this information will help you avoid compromising your brand's prestige.

Last but not least, keep your budget in mind and uncover creators’ estimated prices. An influencer marketing platform can help you find out how much an influencer charges for an Instagram post, Story, or video.

Tools and solutions for influencer analysis

To gather and display all this data you either can use spreadsheets, like Excel or Google Sheets, and visualization tools, like Google Data Studio, or create customized reporting templates with Adobe Illustrator or PowerPoint. However, you have to collect and calculate statistics manually and update them frequently.

Major social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube provide creators with analytics insights about reach, impressions, views, and engagement. Naturally, you need to ask creators to share this data with you if you want to gain insights into how their posts perform.

The creator reports offered by influencer marketing platforms provide more detail than basic performance metrics. You can explore social media influencers’ audience composition, following growth, their estimated asking prices, EMV, and regularly used hashtags and analyze how their latest posts performed.

Influencer Outreach and Negotiation

Pre-campaign communication is all about familiarizing yourself with creators' content so that you can formulate your first message. Various discussions take place between your brand and the influencers before a campaign launches, including discussing its details, settling payment and legal issues, and reviewing and approving content. Here, we'll give you an overview of the different steps involved in influencer outreach and negotiations.

Get to know the creator before you contact them

This might sound strange at first, because how could you get to know someone without contacting them? By this, we mean you should study their social media posts, what their content is like, and how engaging they are. Keep an eye on their activity, their hashtags and captions, the quality of their imagery, whether they participate in challenges, and how they react to industry news. Share and like posts you find useful and informative to help their work. Get your brand noticed and show your recognition by commenting on their content. After all this, you will be able to create an outreach message that is tailored to them and leads to a higher conversion rate.

Creating a captivating initial message

Especially if it is your first time approaching a creator, keep in mind that they may receive partnership requests from other businesses as well. Creating a memorable message to cut through the sea of emails and making it personal will show them that you appreciate what they do.

  • We don't want to stress you out at the start, but the subject line plays a big role. Your email may be ignored or scrolled over if its subject line is clichéd, too long, or clickbait-like. You can pique the influencer's interest with an engaging question, communicating the benefit of the partnership or creating a sense of urgency. Oh, and try to keep the length between seven and nine words!

  • Give a short background on who you are and what company you represent. Emphasize what makes the company unique, its vision and mission, and why the influencer is an ideal collaboration partner.

  • Briefly describe the details of the partnership, such as the number and type of content, the length and scope, and the payment. There is no need to attach a multi-page campaign brief with detailed descriptions and expectations. Provide them with only the most basic information that will help them make a decision.

  • Indicate to them what value you can provide them for their efforts, whether monetary compensation, a boost to their brand, exclusive or early-access products, or a commission.

  • End your message with a clear CTA, like describing the next steps, requesting a call, scheduling a meeting, or offering to share more details via email.

  • Connect with creators via email whenever possible. Influencers often display their business email addresses on their social media bios and about pages. Contacting potential business partners by email is the most professional method.

Always follow up on the first email if you don't get a response

Despite your best efforts, a social media influencer may not respond to your outreach message. In some cases, there are banal reasons for this, such as technical difficulties with their emailing software, being very busy or overburdened, or an overflowing inbox. What you should do is follow up on them in an email after around a week in a concise message referring back to your first email and expressing your continued interest in a collaboration.

Alternatively, you can take a different approach and engage with their content on social media or send a direct message to catch their attention. Either way, follow up at least three times after your first outreach. If there is still no response, continue the conversation with other candidates. Here, we would like to refer back to our previous statement that at least three times more influencers should be enlisted than necessary. When situations like this arise, it is invaluable to have an extra number of creators on hand.

Moving on to the negotiation phase

Your communication has reached another milestone. You must provide influencers with a comprehensive description of the campaign. In your brief, define the campaign name, goals, dates, products to be promoted, the key message, target audience, channels, references, and content ideas, along with specific points about the deliverables. Provide details about the content format, how many times they will have to publish, hashtags, mentions, captions, and what to avoid.

Parallel to this, begin preparing the contract. A written agreement between the brand and influencer must cover payment and legal obligations as well as usage rights, and it must refer back to the description of the deliverables.

  • Compensation: Both parties must agree to the details of reimbursement. You can compensate creators with a one-time fee, a commission, or offer them free products. You should specify whether the payment will be made in installments and when the installments are due.

  • Legal: You need to obtain the creator’s permission to use and reuse their content on multiple channels. You must specifically establish where and how long you will use their texts. A relevant section of your contract must specify if you don’t want influencers to work with other clients during your campaign and in the months following. Bear in mind, that exclusivity and content usage rights increase influencer prices.

  • Reiterate the details about the deliverables and the scope of the campaign.

As soon as both parties agree on the terms and the contract is signed, content ideation can begin. Share brand guidelines, product samples, and any other assets and resources that will aid brainstorming with creators. Involve influencers in the process and let their creativity shine through. To avoid mistakes, misunderstandings, typos, or stylistic errors, review content drafts at least once before posting.

Influencer Relationship Management During and Post-Campaign

Don’t assume your work is done, once the campaign starts. At any moment, errors can creep into your meticulously planned campaign strategy. Although you’ll remain in the background, you must support your creators whenever they have questions or doubts. It is in both of your interests that the campaign is successful, so answering questions and resolving problems quickly is extremely important. This includes the timely provision of various supplementary materials, products, and other resources.

You need to work out a backup plan in case influencers don’t post or their content turns out to be controversial. Attempt to clarify the situation as soon as possible. Consider postponing the publication date or using another influencer's post on a different channel instead. Take note of such cases and learn from them. Even the most careful influencer screening and negotiation can contain errors, which can lead to similar outcomes.

Be sure to acknowledge their efforts during and at the end of the campaign if everything goes smoothly.

A final tip: monitor the performance of their posts to make changes on the fly. Using these statistics, you can determine which creators perform well and with whom you should collaborate again in the future.

Maintain a good relationship with influencers if you are considering including them in your upcoming programs. After a campaign has ended, there are several ways to keep in touch with them. You can tell them about your other products, encourage them to attend industry events, interview them, etc.

Email marketing platforms and automation tools make scaling and automating your communication easy. These solutions are usually equipped with email templates and analytics tools for measuring conversions. Additionally, they simplify and automate monotonous tasks for businesses. Nevertheless, multiple influencer marketing platforms offer similar features. Influencer outreach and relationship management tools from HypeAuditor streamline the whole process of identifying, evaluating and recruiting influencers in one place.

Summing It Up

Congratulations! You've come to the end of our exhaustive guide on how to work with influencers. Listed below are the key takeaways for you to keep in mind:

  • Working with influencers provides social validation and enhances your brand’s credibility.

  • Creators can help you connect with highly targeted audiences and supercharge your marketing efforts.

  • Think about your goals, your target audience, and your budget before you start searching for influencers.

  • Select creators in your niche at all times.

  • Ideally, you should longlist three times more candidates than you need.

  • Evaluate social media influencers' actionable and vanity metrics.

  • Get more responses by personalizing your outreach message.

  • Be clear and professional in your communication and emphasize the mutual benefits.

  • Remain in touch throughout the campaign.

  • Incorporate top influencers into your future marketing plans.

Want to partner with influencers who will be right for your brand?
Find the best creators with HypeAuditor Influencer Discovery and its 137.5M+ account database.
Anna is an influencer marketing expert and content marketing writer at HypeAuditor. She enjoys discovering new social media trends and features.
Topics:Relationship ManagementDiscovery
July 25, 2023
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Anna is an influencer marketing expert and content marketing writer at HypeAuditor. She enjoys discovering new social media trends and features.
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Want to partner with influencers who will be right for your brand?
Find the best creators with HypeAuditor Influencer Discovery and its 137.5M+ account database.