Social media influencers can be crazy effective and skyrocket your growth. But only if you find the right one. Here's how you do it
The basics: who are the influencers
Influencers are accounts on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube) that have an audience or a considerable number of followers who are subscribed to this account. Most often, the account belongs to the person or a persona (not a real one but a movie character, for instance — here's an example — Ted Lasso account on Twitter https://twitter.com/TedLasso) Sometimes it can be an imaginary character with specific characteristics that engage a particular type of audience.
Types of influencers
Obviously, you can categorize influencers based on the platforms they have chosen to build their audience. Some are the stars of YouTube, some crash it on Instagram. Some do two or three platforms simultaneously.
The most common categorisation for marketing though is by the following base: how many followers an influencer has. It starts from 1000 followers (nano-influencer) and goes to 1M+ followers (celebrities).
You might think, who would deal with the folks who have just 1K followers? It's not much but the growth of the followers base usually comes with the price — the decline of engagement level.
It doesn't mean that when you have 1M+ followers they like and comment on your posts less than folks who follow an influencer with 2K audience. But PROPORTION is very often smaller (1% of engagement for big accounts is a norm, while nano-influencers can get 15-20% of engagement rate).
Influencers: how much does it cost to use an influencer
The number of followers still plays the major role in terms of pricing. The basic industry standard is that the price tag begins from 10% of the followers base (that is, if an influencer has 1M followers they can request 100K for a post, while someone who's got 10K might request 1K for a post). However, these lines are very flexible and depends on:
— the engagement rate (can drive the price up or down)
— the industry (B2B influencers who have a good audience interested primarily in business topics traditionally charge less than B2C influencers who cover food, fashion, sports and travel)
— the platform and the type of content they deliver. YouTube bloggers have the highest price tags because video content is believed to be more engaging and memorable. Instagram influencers follow next, as they also deal with the visual interaction. Twitter and Facebook probably would be less expensive. But again, every use case is different. If you manage to court Anthony Pompliano — one of the largest influencers on Twitter in crypto space — to promote your snickers he won't charge less than IG blogger.
Influencers: how to choose the right one
When I was launching my e-comm project (an online store for Asian grocery and cosmetics) 7 years ago, I decided to use influencers to boost the traffic in the first week after the launch and to build a long-lasting relationship with the users from the get-go. I already had 3 off-line stores up and running but informing our regular customers was not the best option — I did not want to vandalise the existing traffic. I needed a new one.
Therefore, I went with influencers. First, I decided to hire an agency to help me with finding the right people. I needed 10 accounts on Instagram and Facebook who had 5K-10K followers, preferably located in my area (food delivery was tricky 7 years ago), who posted actively about Asian food or Asian cultural traditions, engaging their audience to try out new recipes or flavours in their regular cooking routine. I needed a high level of engagement and quality comments (not the type of "cool dude, do it again"). The agency offered me generic food bloggers who had no idea about Thai, Chinese or Malaysian cuisines. I went online and spent 2 weeks researching the industry field. Finally I've come up with the list, sent it to the agency and offered to contact them.
— But before reaching out, send me the text you'll come up with for confirmation. — that was my instruction.
In 2 days the agency send me the text that was, again, totally generic and offered money in exchange for promotion straight away.
I fired the agency and went online again. I went through every account's posts 3 months back, chose the most engaging, saw what people asked about — and crafted a personal proposal for everyone. Mostly, I introduced myself, explained that I was launching an online-store and then made a reference to the most engaging posts from the influencer's history. I told them something like "look, this post brought you x10 more likes and comments than any other. People were mostly asking X (for instance, can I swap galangal into ginger in TomYum soup). What if we send you ingredients for Y for free and you cook and in the process find an answer to the X. You will provide your followers answers that they need and mention that you've got ingredients in our store. Win-win".
My response rate was 90%. 13 out of 20 influencers I discovered agreed to do promotion in exchange for basically... food 😅
Another 5 asked for a small fee that was totally affordable.
Influencers: tools to use for the search
Overall, I spent almost a month preparing this campaign. You can do it too. However, there are tools that can speed up the process now.
SparkToro (https://sparktoro.com) helps to identify the influencers you need and their most engaging content in 5-10 minutes. This option is actually free. You can filter influencers by audience size, platform, location and exclude some specific accounts.
If you want YouTube though, you need BuzzSumo (https://buzzsumo.com)
Here it's not so peachy. On a free plan you can get access to only basic search without filtering down to the audience size. You still can filter down to the country and language but it's not enough obviously. Still, the paid plan is $99 a month. So if it can save you a month of work and you can actually make more in these 30 days — why not pay?
Influencers: how to reach out
I've already explained in my example that sending a DM or a cold email with a generic business offer is not the best strategy you can adopt. It drops down a response rate and honestly, increases your spend on this marketing channel. Instead of money you can offer so many different things and utilise so many forms of cooperation! I cover the most popular of them in this article: How do you use influencers