If you work with influencers then you will know by now that finding the right influencer to work with can be tricky.
Let’s say you’re looking for a fashion influencer to work with on a new range of ladies hats. They need to have a blog, as well as robust social media followings and be based in the UK.
Head over to Instagram and do a search for a fashion blogger. You’ll quickly come across the #fashionblogger hashtag, which boasts some 110 million posts. Fantastic! That suggests there’s a huge sample size of people out there for your brand to work with.You’ve got a problem now though, a problem that many an Influencer Manager is very familiar with. Just how do you go about sifting through those 110 million posts to find the right people?
Looking down the list you can quite quickly strip out a number of male fashion influencers who are unlikely to be the right partners for us on this campaign. Further down the list a few looked promising, but then turned out to be based in the US. Again, not the right influencers for us to work with on this occasion. Finally there were one or two London-based fashion influencers who also blogged and seemed to fit the bill… although one of them currently features very few posts where she is wearing a hat.
Searching through Instagram’s one billion active users in this manner to find your influencer is clearly going to be time-consuming and ultimately unsustainable, particularly for a brand-based campaign which requires a substantial amount of reach, so where do you turn?
Historically the answer might have been an influencer agency. Agencies sign up influencers to their ‘book’ and when a brand arrives at the door with a requirement they search their book to find influencers who match the requirement.
Brands are, rightly, getting more specific in their requirements when it comes to the partners they select to work with. Where ‘fashion influencer’ may once have been the only requirement, now it’s more than likely that a brand brief will include factors like our example; they’ll need to be able to promote ladies fashion, be in the UK, have a blog as well as social profiles and have an interest in hats. And that’s before we’ve checked they have the right amount of followers, that their followers are engaged and that their social history is clean.
Perhaps there are 100 such influencers out there, but what percentage of those 100 would any given agency have signed up? Perhaps, generously, we might say 10%? The fact that we want influencers who blog as well could be a killer factor that cuts an agency’s database down even further.
The perfect hat influencer could be out there, but if said perfect hat influencer is not within your chosen agency’s database then they’re not going to be suggested to you as a partner to work with. You’ve missed out on your ideal influencer partner and some all important reach. Your chosen influencer partners are going to number 10, at most, when they could number 100.
You are also likely to miss out on the opportunities available through micro influencers. Agencies tend to only partner with influencers who have amassed large follower counts. Micro influencers tend to have between 3,000 and 25,000 or so followers, far below the follower count of the influencers who work with agencies. Whilst it might seem logical to chase larger follower counts, micro influencers consistently boast engagement rates which beat those of their peers. They tend to be more responsive on their social accounts, fostering a dedicated audience and driving buying behaviour. They could work for you but by partnering with an agency (and their database) this segment of the influencer market will remain closed to you.
And that’s the real kicker: by choosing to work with an agency’s database you will probably never know the results you could have achieved. Your campaign will run with the influencers on the agency’s book and it may well still generate some good numbers. But those numbers will be solely reliant on and relative to the agency’s database. You will have missed out on reach and influence you didn’t even know were there.
There may be a right time and place to use an influencer agency, but be aware at how limiting that choice could be to your success. Frame your reporting in the relativity of the agency’s database to give a fair reflection of the influencer marketplace as a whole - this will help you to assess the other influencer opportunities out there. Make sure you don’t miss out on your perfect hat influencer!
By Mike Duma
Influence Network Co-Founder & CEO