Word-of-mouth isn’t a new concept. It’s kept your local plumber in business for years. It’s also what 95% of millennials consider a credible source of product information and 91% say drives consideration of whether or not to buy something.

Meet Pew Di Pie, Zoella, Smoosh and The Fine Bros. Not characters in a new Nintendo game but four voices that, combined, have more followers than the UK population. Fact. Well, maybe, assuming there's no crossover in their audiences ;)

Influencers are golden tickets to word-of-mouth, but it can be hard for brands to work out how to spot them, how to work with them and how to get the most out of them. So we've created this handy blog post to help you out. 

The basics: WTF is an influencer and why should you care about them?

An influencer is someone who has the ability to affect people’s thoughts, opinions and actions. They’ve built up enough trust and credibility with a certain audience to be able to have an impact on what they spend their money on.

They are not a face for brands or a voice for brands. Their opinions are their own and that’s what gives them the credibility that a brand ambassador or a celebrity doesn’t have.

What they offer you is access to new communities, an unprecedented understanding of their audience and fresh load of creativity when it comes to content creation.

They’re all bloggers, right? Not exactly. They can be bloggers, vloggers, social media tsars, brand advocates or high-profile people in an online niche community.  

The three steps to influencer marketing happiness

1. Objective + criteria = success!

Before working with an influencer, you need to ask yourself: are they a good fit? What do I want to achieve by working with them? Once you’ve done that, you can set some criteria for success.  Here are some starters for 10. If you’re brand objective is longevity, look for loyalty. If it’s brand awareness, you need to look for reach. If you want to boost positive perception for your brand, find an influencer known for authenticity and finally if your objective is engagement, you should be on the look-out for an influencer with creativity.

2. Find the the right influencer

Here’s the tried and tested We Are Social 5S model for successful influencer sourcing;

  • Scope: Decide on your objectives and how you would use an influencer to achieve them.
  • Search: Do some manual desk research to profile and validate any potential influencers
  • Sort: Rank candidates in line with key brand objectives
  • Stress-test: Is the influencer  working with competitor organisations? Are they over 18 years old? Are they open to being approached by brands?
  • Select: Secure final list based on brand objectives and corresponding influencer criteria

When it comes to approaching your influencer, don't start the email with ‘Dear (Insert name of influencer here)’. You’ve chosen the influencer for a reason -  make sure they know that. Show them how the opportunity is mutually beneficial and they’re not just doing you a favour. Be honest and explain what you think the opportunity is for them, and why they should get involved. Finally, don’t be a suit, speak to them as you would IRL.

3. STOP. Briefing Time!

You don’t always need to go BIG with influencers. They’ll work with you in various ways, so pick the level of involvement you want from them. Think about if you want them to share the story, be part of it or help you create it. Also if you’re willing to pay, have a budget in mind and match that with your expectations for the influencer.

The most important thing to remember when briefing influencers is that you need to give them creative control. Make sure they’re aware of the elements they need to include that are completely necessary - such as the inclusion of a product, or the use of a hashtag - but hand them the reins in terms of creative direction. Their fans follow them for a reason, don’t dilute their creativity by asking for the logo to be bigger.

In a nutshell…

Here’s our three steps to influencer success.

  • Objective + criteria = success: Have clear objectives before you approach an influencer
  • Find the the right influencer: Choose influencers who are relevant to your brand. The biggest doesn’t always mean the best
  • STOP. Briefing Time! Be upfront and explicit about your expectations and respect and understand their expectations.  But remember, the best influencer content comes when they are free to exercise their own creative control. Micro-management = dull content and an unhappy influencer.