seeking the right influencers, influencer marketing tipsInfluencer marketing remains one of the most effective and popular PR and marketing strategies. As the digital version of old-fashioned word-of-mouth, influencer marketing carries a level of trust and credibility not found in most other marketing methods.

By partnering with popular social media personalities, through either earned or paid arrangements, organizations can place their promotions before large numbers of customers and encourage them to take desired actions. Influencer marketing has become more prevalent as consumers, especially younger people, grow skeptical about brands’ paid promotions and impatient with online ads, especially mobile ads. Research shows that consumers trust experts and people they know more than advertising. Influencers are especially, ah influential, in fashion, travel and entertainment industries.

But how do marketers find the right influencers? Most brands cannot afford working with major celebrities.

The Biggest Influencer Marketing Challenge: Finding the Right Influencers

Identifying appropriate influencers remains the biggest influencer marketing challenge, according to the Fashion and Beauty Monitor and Econsultancy report. The survey of marketers in the fashion and beauty business reveals that:

  • 73% of respondents say identifying the right influencer is the greatest challenge.
  • 84% of influencer research is through manual searches of social media platforms and forums.
  • 59% of respondents say engaging with influencers is a challenge.
  • 39% of respondents are held back by budget constraints.
  • 63% believe influencers are expensive for brands with budget constraints.

“The emergence and rapid uptake of social platforms has undoubtedly created an increased appetite for word-of-mouth marketing led by digital influencers. Yet, the report confirms there remains a disparity in the way influencer marketing is currently practiced and the massive potential there is still to leverage,” says Sarah Penny, Fashion and Beauty Monitor editor.

Serena Ehrlich, director of social and evolving media at Business Wire, recommends these steps to locate influencers.

  • Identify who shares your company news across their social channels, publications or blogs.
  • Find who advocates for your competitors and your overall industry. Who has the largest voice and who best aligns with your own organization’s tone and goal?
  • Turn to your tools. News release distribution services like Business Wire provide organizations a list of who shared their news releases on social media. “This is an influencer list! Simply go through it and see who you want to add to your list,” Ehrlich urges.

Social Media Monitoring

Social media monitoring services can uncover even more social media influencers who mention your company and brands.

Consider people outside the conventional definition of influencer. They could be journalists or bloggers, but they could also be partners, employees or simply people with a passionate interest in your area. They don’t necessarily need enormous numbers of followers.

Research shows that micro-influencers have more engaged followers and engagement rates decline as the number of followers increase. A social media measurement tool can identify influencers with healthy engagement rates within your niche as well as measure the effectiveness of PR and marketing campaigns.

Marketing and PR departments often seek influencers who match their audiences precisely. However, in an article for Inc., Amanda Pressner Kreuser, co-founder and manager partner of Masthead Media, recommends casting a wide net. Consider influencers in topic areas your audience cares about outside your specific niche.

Bottom Line: While influencer marketing offers an effective strategy, finding the right influencers can be challenging. It’s essential to seek influencers who align with your brand’s tone rather than personalities with large numbers of followers. Use the available digital tools to identify appropriate influencers.