How to Find Influencers – Using Data to Find the Perfect Fit

GRIN also recommends: Quick Guide to Earned Media Value 

How to Find Influencers - Using Data to Find the Perfect Fit grin influencer marketing

Over time, many marketers develop a strong intuition when it comes to finding the right creators to showcase their brand. But that only comes after they’ve taken the time to dig deep on influencer and campaign performance metrics.

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Image via eMarketer

But which metrics are most important when it comes to finding the right influencer? 

There’s no one piece of information that can give you the whole picture when evaluating an influencer. Rather, incorporating a healthy mix of quantitative and qualitative data can improve your creator recruiting significantly.

Thankfully, there are countless ways to spot that perfect influencer once you know what to look for.

What’s the difference between a good social media influencer & the right social media influencer?

Creator data can help you find influencers that do a fantastic job connecting with their audience. There are easily as many (or more) good influencers as there are bad (fake, inauthentic, etc.) influencers.

But if you run a high-performing influencer program, you don’t just want good creators – you need collaborative, brand-influencer relationships.

“Brands need to see influencers not as a transaction, but as a real connection.” – GRIN, Authentic Influencer Marketing

Just as you wouldn’t try to be business partners with every reliable professional, you’re not going to want to collaborate with every great influencer. You want creators who are going to match your brand’s mission, values, goals, and voice. 

Influencer data: The basics

Your first step for finding the right influencer is to separate authentic from inauthentic creators.

For example, fake influencers will try to buy followers and engagements to give the appearance of popularity and authority. Others may join influencer pods and participate in quid-pro-quo arrangements with other aspiring influencers.

To identify authentic, high-performing creators, you can examine the following basic data points:

  • Reach
  • Engagements
  • Credibility
  • Content volume

Reach

The basic way to understand a creator’s reach is to look at their follower count. Most influencer programs focus on recruiting creators with 1,000 or more followers on at least one social media platform.

On some platforms, you can also identify reach by post or video views. Creators with smaller followings can (and often do) expand their reach by using tags and hashtags effectively.

When creators nurture large audiences as followers, you can dig further to find out how engaged those followers are with that influencer.

Engagements

Any post reaction/like, comment, or share counts as an engagement. You can calculate a creator’s engagement rate by dividing the number of engagements by the number of followers:

# of engagements / # of followers = engagement rate

Because likes are considered a vanity metric (it takes very little effort for a fan to click the “like” button), many marketers prefer to focus on post comments and shares. Creators that cultivate strong relationships with their followers enjoy robust discussions within their comments, as well as a large amount of content sharing.

By taking a closer look at post comments, you’ll recognize creator-follower connections when you see them. Influencers that only elicit short or shallow engagements may not be coming by their engagements authentically.

Credibility

Many of the issues raised above – unengaged audiences, post comments lacking substance, etc. – can help you weed out fake influencers. But there are additional things you can track to help you know how credible a creator is within their industry.

For creators that brand themselves as experts, it’s always a good idea to check for relevant credentials. Doing so keeps you from accidentally partnering with an influencer that gives out bad advice.

You can also take a closer look at an influencer’s followers. Do any followers also have a wide reach? Are post engagements primarily coming from that creator’s followers or non-followers? Do any follower profiles look fake or fraudulent?

You can also examine a creator’s ratio of followers to followees. In 2019, a research team in the International Journal of Innovation in Management published a study demonstrating that audiences felt more at ease with creators who had a follower count that was higher than their followee count (the number of profiles that creator follows). This trust made it easy for those followers to take that influencer’s product endorsements seriously. Conversely, creators who followed more people than followed them had a more difficult time getting their fans to take action on sponsored posts.

The more practice you have building your influencer team, the easier it will be for you to accurately identify a creator’s credibility.

Content volume

It is difficult to maintain relationships with an audience when a creator fails to produce. A high follower count with low content volume is unlikely to help your brand gain momentum on that social platform.

When a creator posts consistently over an extended period of time, you can feel confident that that influencer is in tune with the needs of their audience and takes their role seriously.

When examining a creator’s content, try to identify how often they endorse products. Top-performing influencers typically post more non-sponsored than sponsored content. Also, they tend to be picky about the brands they partner with.

Building an ideal influencer profile

Who is your customer?

Your influencers should represent a segment of your audience. It’s a good idea to use your buyer personas as a guide to discovering new creators to promote your brand.

Which social media channels are priority?

It’s also critical to know where your ideal customers make social media connections and engage creators and brands. 

If you have a large budget and team, you may be able to leverage all major social channels well with the help of influencers. But if you’re like most brands, you’re going to achieve better results by mastering 2-3 social channels at first.

Once you’ve established yourself on those channels, your influencer team can help you expand to other social media platforms.

most popular social media sites in 2021 by number of active users grin influencer marketing
Image via Broadband Search

What are your influencer program goals?

To achieve maximum campaign returns, you should clearly state what you hope to gain with the help of influencers. Your goals – whether sales, brand awareness, website traffic, etc. – will dictate which creator data points matter most to your recruiting process.

For example, a goal to increase sales will be most relevant to those influencers with smaller followings but high engagement rates. These passionate audiences are often more inclined to take action when their favorite influencer endorses a product.

Similarly, creators with a wider reach are great for creating online chatter for your brand.

When setting your influencer goals and KPIs, consider which stage of the marketing funnel you’re hoping to address. This approach will help you refine your influencer recruiting process.

marketing funnel - how to incorporate influencers and their content in your marketing strategy grin influencer marketing
Image via GRIN

How will you track influencer success?

Your influencer KPIs will show you which data points are most critical to your campaign success.

For example, if you have the following key performance indicator…

To obtain 1,000 UGC posts, comments, and shares by [deadline]

…then you can be selective about your influencer prospecting by noting those creators who achieve great conversations within the comments section of their posts. Similarly, you can find creators who are great at generating participation for events, contests, surveys, challenges, and more.

Using the right data to create a social media influencer shortlist

How much influence does the creator actually have?

Many influencers operate as pseudo celebrities within a particular lifestyle or virtual community. You can pinpoint a creator’s influence by how large their engaged audience is.

Initially, you can examine follower counts. Next, you can note post impressions and engagements. 

Key data points:

  • Followers on main channel
  • Followers on other channels
  • Views
  • Engagements (likes, comments, shares, etc.)

Does the influencer align with your brand?

It can be tempting to onboard a creator just because you love their content and personality. But the influencers you recruit need to be a good match for your brand. 

It shouldn’t be a stretch for your influencers to promote your products within their non-sponsored, daily posts. Without this industry and interest alignment, that creator’s endorsements will feel inauthentic to audiences.

Key data points:

  • Bio keywords 
  • Hashtags
  • Tags
  • Industry credibility/authority

What is the quality of the influencer’s engagements?

Be careful about assuming that high engagement numbers mean that all or most of those engagements are genuine. Without auditing an entire creator profile, pull out a handful of their recent posts, and read the comments. 

Quality follower engagements will be specific, thoughtful, and relevant to the creator’s original post. Additionally, top-performing influencers are diligent to engage follower comments whether or not they are promoting a brand.

Key data points:

  • Number of likes 
  • Number of comments
  • Number of shares
  • Likes versus comments/shares
  • Tone of comments
  • Creator comment replies
  • Follower vs. non-follower engagement

Does the influencer have the right vibe?

Identifying influencers with the “right vibe” will take some time. But once you pinpoint your finest influencer relationships, you’ll be able to replicate your success by picking up on certain capability indicators.

For example, your best creator matches might have certain personality traits that fit your brand perfectly. They may also use specific words, phrases, and styles within their posts. 

When you identify these qualitative data points, look for other creators that match your ideal creator profile.

Key data points:

  • Voice, tone, & personality
  • Colors
  • Types of posts (image, video, blog, etc.)

Is the influencer easy to work with?

It can sometimes be difficult to know how easy a creator is to work with until you collaborate with them in a campaign. Just because a creator checks all your boxes doesn’t mean that they are reliable.

Identifying which influencers are simple to work with will save you time and money as you scale your influencer program.

Key data points:

  • Strong communication 
  • Ability to follow directions
  • Proactive in sharing campaign ideas & improvements
  • Genuine brand affinity
  • Brings creativity to the table

Finding influencer lookalikes for your top performers

Finding the right influencers doesn’t have to mean prospecting from scratch. Once you’ve found a handful of influencers that fit your brand, you can look for other creators that are similar.

This approach is called searching for influencer lookalikes. If you don’t already have a process for identifying lookalike influencers, consider using our free GRIN tool here.

Choosing from among your influential customers

Another way to find influencers is to search from among your most loyal customers. Many of your returning customers are influential on social media. 

After confirming their online presence and credibility, consider using these creators in a few campaigns to test compatibility with your brand. 

These influencer partnerships often work very well because you already know that they love your products and understand how they work.

Influencer recruiting tools

Spreadsheets

When you’re just launching your influencer program, you can easily manage your recruiting and creator relationships within a spreadsheet. After building an influencer shortlist, you can extract those data points that are most important to your marketing goals and brand DNA.

As you onboard your creators, record as many performance metrics as you can to pinpoint success when you see it. Doing so will help you identify your top performers and find lookalike influencers.

Automation

To scale your program without burning yourself out, you should consider adding an influencer management platform to your marketing tech stack.

With the right influencer software, you’ll be able to dramatically increase your productivity and find your ideal influencers more easily.

Conclusion: You will achieve maximum results by cultivating genuine brand-creator relationships.

As you build an influencer community, the most important thing is nurturing long-term relationships with your best creators. When you find that perfect creator relationship, you can extract key attributes about that influencer to help you find more just like them.

It’s also important to note that data-driven creator recruiting requires you to examine quantitative and qualitative data. It’s not just important to know “how many,” you need to look beyond the numbers to find out what makes your brand-creator relationships truly special.

Don’t waste any more of your time with the wrong influencers. Find the perfect influencers for your brand in just a few clicks with GRIN.

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