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When we think about what actually impacts our decision of whether or not to buy a product, the answer is simple. Recommendations. It might be from a family member, who recommended a certain restaurant. Or a friend, who recommended a pair of running shoes. Or, it might be someone you follow on social media, whose advice you trust. This is influencer marketing.

Gone are the days in which the catchiest TV advert, or the glossiest Superbowl commercial, generate the best ROI. In fact – given that a 30-second advert in the 2020 SuperBowl costs around $5.6 million – that’s far from the case. People have reverted back to paying for a service or product because someone they know recommended it to them.

You might argue that people don’t really know someone they follow on social media, but the most successful influencers are skillful at building rapport with their followers, without ever meeting them in person. That way, followers feel as though they know the influencer on a personal level, and are therefore more likely to trust their recommendations according to

This is where your business comes in.

Word Of Mouth (WOM) Advertising has become the most effective marketing strategy you can use. Yes, display ads, website banners, email campaigns, product placement, and Facebook ads are all still relevant. But WOM Advertising is the most effective of the lot, and it’s a strategy you can use to widen your audience, grow your social following, increase your site traffic, get more leads, and drive more sales. Social media influencers hold the keys to this. The question is, how do you choose the right one?

Make sure they fit the following criteria:

An Influencer Relevant To Your Product

Woman holding phone with blurry background
Woman holding phone with blurry background

If you run a fashion business, it makes no sense to hire an influencer who specializes in cooking. It’s simple; line up your field with the influencer’s – if you run a holiday booking website, use a travel-focused influencer to promote your services on their blog or social media.

Equally, you need to evaluate your target audience, and if it aligns with your influencer’s main audience – there’s no point paying for influencer advertising to teenage girls if your product is men’s shaving cream. You should also consider where your target audience mostly hangs out (is it YouTube, or Instagram, or TikTok?) and choose an influencer who has a large, active following on that platform.

An Influencer Who Fits With Your Brand Image

A woman filming a makeup tutorial
A woman filming a makeup tutorial

Let’s say that your business is in the fitness industry, and your company’s core values revolve around self-improvement, discipline, and hard work. It is vital that you choose an influencer who advocates that same message.

Keeping your brand’s image consistent is crucial to your growth, and you must view this influencer as an extended part of your brand.

An Influencer You Can Afford

A man going over his personal finance
A man going over his personal finance

Just as with any other advertising strategy, it’s important that you set a budget for your influencer marketing. Start slowly, by measuring your ROI (how much you spend hiring the influencer vs how much revenue/traffic they bring to your business). If you deem it worthwhile, increase your investment in that influencer as you wish, or branch out to others.

It would be reckless to rush in and immediately hire, say, Logan Paul – one of the biggest YouTube influencers – for a hefty fee before you’ve tested the waters, so feel your way in first.

Once you’ve chosen your first influencer, you must specify exactly what you want from them: the message you want them to include, on which platform, when, for how much. While maintaining this specificity, it will also be beneficial to allow your influencer enough creative freedom to be expressive. In recent surveys, it was found that – while they do want to be compensated – influencers value creative freedom even more than money.

Consequently, allowing your influencer this level of independence will help build a positive working relationship, in which they feel valued, and more motivated to recommending your business’ product or service.

What do you find most important in finding the right influencer for your business? Let us know in the comments.

This article was originally published in GREY Journal.