Opinion: Four steps to choosing the right influencers for your brand

Following last week’s launch of the Gorkana Guide to Influencer Marketing, Carli Goodfellow, director of digital influence at Cirkle, shares her very own four-step process for identifying the right influencers for client campaigns.

Carli Goodfellow Cirkle

Carli Goodfellow

Influencer marketing continues to maintain its trending status within the PR landscape. It’s become an omnipresent strategic pillar of brand communication strategies –  from global FMCG giants, to local businesses –  all looking for an authentic way to tell their brand story through the mouths of the most influential bloggers and social stars.

We are seeing a groundswell of book deals, TV series and branded merchandising as social media influencers take centre stage, so it’s natural that brands want to leverage the success of the most relevant individuals to drive their own reputational and business objectives.

2016 has seen investment in influencer campaigns soar and recent research from the PRCA suggests that over 85% of UK PR agencies are now offering “influencer outreach” for their clients.

But how are agencies ensuring campaign success when putting a brand’s reputation in the hands of ‘credible’ third parties?

At Cirkle, we follow a four-step process as part of our Influence in the Round proposition, to ensure we select the right influencers for client campaigns every time.

Step One: Define the right influencer for your brand 

It sounds obvious but the first pitfall is failing to acknowledge that not all influencers are equal.  We focus on the Three Rs of Influence: Relevance, Resonance and Reach. This ensures we deliver campaign impact, actionability and importantly advocacy for our campaigns.

Whether our client’s focus is on maximum – gold tier reach – for a mass awareness driving campaign, or mid-tier reach with an influencer that has far higher engagement among its followers, to meet a more action-driven objective, defining an influencer persona is key to establishing the role of an influencer within the marketing mix.

Planning should always include due diligence of any other brand affiliations, past or present, as no one wants to find out half way through a campaign  that their top tier blogger has their hand in the competitor’s sweet tin!

Step Two: Search for the most relevant influencers online

Relationships are the lynchpin of successful influencer campaigns and at Cirkle we have built up our own influencer network (Social Inner Cirkle) encompassing more than 1,000 influencers across a range of specialist sectors with a combined reach of over 20 million. The long term nature of these relationships means we have access to a pool of highly engaged influencers who genuinely want to partner with our client brands.

Searching outside of these walls can be a time consuming process but there are a plethora of tools to make the job less painful including social media monitoring and web analytics tools, to drill down and narrow the search from several thousand to a handful of on target, authentic social media influencers.

Step Three: Apply a brand lens

Even the smartest online tools and apps require an element of manual screening to vet and ultimately select your influencer line-up.  Checklists to establish a score for loyalty, authenticity, credibility and creativity allow our teams to ensure we only shortlist those individuals who are truly aligned with brand sentiment and ethos, rather than those who simply have the loudest online megaphone.

Influencers who already disclose a loyalty and positive sentiment toward the brand will often become the most authentic of brand advocates. Social listening tools make this an easy task to monitor brand mentions and cherry-pick influencers who are already pledging an allegiance and sharing brand love with their audience.

Step Four: Measure and qualify the success of influencer-led campaigns  

Clients can often be dazzled by vanity metrics such as “reach” or social follower statistics that give no actual indication as to the depth of engagement influencers have with their audience.

Measurement frameworks for influencer led campaigns need to look beyond campaign metrics of key message coverage and ‘opportunity to see’ statistics to focus on the value of influencers in their role as change agents who are ultimately impacting consumer’s buying behaviours, advocacy and loyalty. Where possible, social sales and commercial metrics should be at the forefront of influencer campaign objectives and KPIs, alongside the wider reputational impact of increased web traffic, brand mentions and subscribers.

So, selecting your client’s influencer line up is no mean feat. It’s a strategic challenge and, if mismanaged, can land a brand in hot water. Building long-term, meaningful relationships with key influencers will go a long way to ensuring you not only have the right advocates for your brand, but  individuals who will collaborate in the most productive and effective way possible to achieve the best campaign results for you and your clients.

  • Carli Goodfellow is director of digital influence at Cirkle and leads the agency’s Social Inner Cirkle offering, a bespoke influencer network of 1000 bloggers and social media influencers across key interest groups.

The Gorkana Guide to Influencer Marketing, which launched last week, shows GorksWP alerthow an “influencer” is defined, what impact they have on PR, whether an influencer campaign can really be determined as earned media and what PRs need to think about before trying to find the right person who can positively impact their brand.
Download your free copy here.

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