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PHOTO: Charles 🇵🇭

Influencer marketing is all the rage, but not every influencer is going to be worth your time. Like any marketing strategy, hiring an influencer requires careful study and research. This process takes time, expertise and hard work, but the payoff is clear: Digital Marketing Institute reports that influencer marketing campaigns earn $6.50 for every dollar spent.

One thing to know before you dive into this search process: there are a lot of influencers. Influencers are plentiful across every social media platform and within every industry. This abundance can make the search for the right influencer challenging, but it also means there are many opportunities to find an influencer who can serve your business well.

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4 Tips to Find the Right Influencer for Your Business

1. Develop a clear strategy

Ask yourself what inspired you to pursue influencer marketing. Your motivation to get involved in this marketing strategy will help you identify clear goals and outcomes. What are you hoping influencers will achieve that your existing marketing efforts failed to do?

A clear strategy will include a well-defined target audience, measurable outcomes and a system to measure those outcomes. Be as specific as possible when identifying the kind of audience you want your influencers to have and how you’d like to reach that audience — whether it be through website traffic, increased trust, sales or leads.

2. Examine engagement

After you’ve narrowed down your influencer candidate pool by industry/niche and audience size, it’s time to consider engagement. Measuring engagement is not as cut-and-dry as factors like audience size and subject matter, but it’s arguably more important. An influencer with 800,000 disengaged Instagram followers might be less effective than an influencer with 400,000 active followers.

An engaged following will comment on the influencer’s posts regularly and share their content often. Influencers with a highly engaged following will likely be able to provide statistics that demonstrate the effectiveness of their past work with brands. If you want to examine audience engagement before speaking with an influencer, tools like Social Bond and Upfluence can provide data about engagement on a particular social media profile.

Related Article: Why Your Content Marketing Needs an Influencer Strategy

3. Ask for help

If social media isn't your passion, then you might not be the best person to hire an influencer to represent your brand. The workforce of social media experts is expansive. If you’re looking to step into influencer marketing or add a new influencer to an existing line-up, you might want help from someone who is steeped in the social media marketing world.

If your company doesn’t have an in-house social media coordinator, it won’t be hard to find a qualified freelancer to outsource for this task. When you have a clear picture of what kind of influencer you want and what you want them to achieve, you can pass on these instructions to someone who knows more about this complex environment and pay them a fee to find the perfect influencers for you.

4. Know the risks

Using influencers to market your business carries a considerable level of risk due to the human element. If the influencer says or does something offensive, your brand has the potential to lose customers because of your relationship with that influencer. Hiring an influencer to represent your business is not something that should be taken lightly.

Once you have narrowed down your candidate pool, do some thorough research. Examine social footprints very carefully. Ask the influencer outright to share their complete online history — even their private accounts. Complete a reverse image search of the influencer to find associated online content. Tools are available to obtain public data that won’t show up in a simple site search.

Related Article: Has Influencer Marketing Lost Its Bloom?

Don’t Be Afraid to Redirect

If you start working with an influencer and aren’t seeing the results you want, don’t hesitate to change course. One of the beautiful things about influencer marketing is it shouldn’t take long for you to see results — it’s a strategy with a quick turnaround.

If you start with a clear strategy, examine engagement, outsource when appropriate and prepare for the risk factors, you are sure to find a highly effective influencer for your business.