When it comes to influencer marketing, the connection between the Influencer and the brand has the power to make or break any campaign. Historically successful campaigns are remembered for how well the brand and Influencer worked together to produce content that not only emulated and effectively communicated the ethos of the brand, but that also (crucially) played well to the strengths of the individual Influencer. Some of the best-remembered product launches are remembered by the personality chosen to accompany the campaign.
For example, Proactiv has used celebrity influencers to serve as product ambassadors since its start. Boasting stars like Adam Levine and Kendall Jenner as celeb partners, the brand has been able to reach new, engaged audiences over the years with its influencer program.
It’s essential for brands to find the right Influencers to promote their products and form a long-term partnership with Take the time to develop specific campaign goals, then determine the best Influencer for the job.
3 Steps for Finding the Best Influencer for your Target Audience
When searching for an Influencer to represent or promote a product, you may be looking for an ongoing product ambassador or brand partner, or Influencers to participate in an upcoming individual campaign. During the Influencer search, focus on remaining aligned with your campaign goals, rather than finding the newest, hottest Influencer at random. Think about brand safety, ideal audience and whose following matches that audience, and which influencer tiers will meet your campaign goals.
1) Determine your target audience.
One factor in developing your campaign goals is to define your target audience. Because your target audience is who you want your Influencer to help you reach and who they will be directly communicating their message to, in order to run a successful campaign, partner with an Influencer who:
- Appeals to your target audience
- Has a track record of high engagement with your target audience
- Is a member of the correct demographic to appeal to your target audience
- Aligns with brand safety and overall brand mission, vision, and values
Essentially, the target audience for your campaign will directly lead to fulfilling one of your campaign goals. For example, if you make a product intended to be used by Gen Z females and your goal is to increase sales, then your target audience would be Gen Z females. You would then want to identify Influencers who are part of the target persona and/or those whose audiences include your target persona.
2) Choose the right influencer tier for your goals.
This next step will determine how well you understand that target audience. Once you have articulated and defined the target audience for your campaign you can continue moving forward with your Influencer search. If you understand what appeals to your audience, then you can work backward from there to find the correct tier of Influencer to partner with.
For example, following the earlier example, if your target audience is Gen Z females then you would want to partner with a mixture of nano, micro, premium (mega), and celeb to not only reach a wide range of Gen Z potential customers but to reach them at varying levels of engagement.
For a complete overview of Influencer tiers and how to use them in your next campaign strategy, here are The Benefits, Pitfalls, and Differences of Influencer Marketing Tiers from Micro to Celeb.
3) Start your Influencer search.
The actual Influencer search itself will differ depending on whether or not you are utilizing an influencer marketing company or influencer agency to source Influencers. If you are, they will present you with a pre-vetted list of Influencers who you can search through to find one that aligns well with your target audience. If not, you will need to organically reach out to Influencers in order to begin your partnership with them. To learn how to begin approaching Influencers as potential partners, read on.
And if you aren’t using an agency or marketing company you’ll need to vet your own Influencers. To help you get started here is How to Manage Influencers: The Influencer Vetting Process.
How to Find Influencers on Any Platform
When searching for the best Influencer partners for your campaign, you’ll want to find individuals who thrive on the platforms where your campaign will live. Influencers vary, sometimes you’ll find one who is a mega TikTok Influencer but only a micro Instagram Influencer, or vice versa. Similar to how you determined the best Influencer tier for your campaign, you’ll also need to determine the right platform to run your campaign on. If your campaign is to be run across a single platform, then only the Influencers tier and engagement on that individual platform matter for your campaign.
When organically reaching out to Influencers yourself, the platform that will host your campaign should be the same platform where you make first contact with them. If an Influencer has specified their preferred form of contact in their platform bio (such as their email address or an agent through which to make inquiries) then it is best practice to reach out to them as preferred. Otherwise, it is standard to make the first contact through a direct message on the platform.
Finding Influencers on Instagram
If you’ve decided that your campaign will run on Instagram, then it’s time to start scrolling for Influencers. Start by searching for relevant hashtags to your brand and campaign, to look for Influencers who are already an active presence in that community. Then, take a peek at the campaigns run by your competition to see which Influencers they partnered with and how successful or unsuccessful they were as brand partners. Finally, scroll through your explore page and dive into the followers of any relevant Influencers you spot in order to widen your search.
What to look for in an Instagram Influencer:
- High engagement rates
- Genuine interactions with followers
- Authentic, high-quality content
- Being an active member of their online community
- A distinct presence on the platform
- Brand safe
Finding Influencers on TikTok
TikTok Influencers can be found in a similar fashion to Instagram Influencers. Start by searching the app for any relevant hashtags that fit your industry, then scroll through the content of the top users generating that relevant content. Look out for the users whose content you see again and again, and check their engagement levels to ensure they generate natural engagement.
Another way to search for Influencers on TikTok is through trends. TikTok rewards trend followers, what you are looking for is the trendsetters. Practically every day a new viral trend or challenge emerges on TikTok. To make sure that you’re partnering with the most relevant TikTok Influencers, pick a trend and follow it back to its creation. That is where you’ll find the content creator responsible for the trend and potentially a perfect Influencer for your campaign.
Additional ways that you can search for Influencers on TikTok is by location and by which “topics” their content falls under.
What to look for in a TikTok Influencer:
- A trendsetter and follower
- A person with a high degree of virality
- A unique voice and presence
- A signature style of content
- To be instantly recognizable on the platform
Once you’ve compiled a list of ideal prospective Influencers to partner with on your next campaign, you’ll want to begin the process of reaching out to them. For initial outreach, feel free to use a template (like one of these Influencer outreach templates) that you sprinkle with dashes of your brand’s unique personality. You want your initial outreach to be confident and warm, like a friendly firm handshake. Because the first contact you make with your prospective Influencers will set the course for the rest of your partnership, the messaging used should also be reflective of the brand’s voice and perspective.
Inspirational Influencer-Brand Product Partnerships
When we think of some of the most successful Influencer-brand partnerships, there are a few that always come to mind. It’s a testament to the strength of their Influencer as partners that these pairs have stood the test of time in pop culture. The mark of a truly powerful Influencer-brand partnership lies in one of their ability to invoke the image of the other one.
For example, to this day, Smart Water invokes the image of Jennifer Aniston. As the primary figurehead for the bottled water brand for over a decade, Jennifer Aniston appeared in countless commercials, advertisements, and paid posts became synonymous with the brand. She has strategically chosen her partnerships over the years, working with brands that promote healthy living and positivity. Even though her technical partnership with Smart Water ended last year, her partnership with the brand was so impactful that she is still a positive representation and reminder of the brand.
Source: Akron Beacon Journal
The best Influencer-brand partnerships— the ones that really make an impact on us— are those that tell a compelling story. When Lebron James signed his first contract with Nike he was only 18 years old and hadn’t even played in his first NBA game yet. Combined with his team contract, that 7 years, $90 million partnership made Lebron James the highest-paid player in the NBA. Almost twenty years later and Lebron James is still eating, sleeping, and breathing Nike in an effort to extend his partnership with the brand. An Influencer story like this doesn’t come around too often, but when it does it makes an impact.
Remember, finding the right Influencers to promote your product can create an impactful launch with exponentially more reach than brand-only efforts. Focus on finding the perfect partner for your brand and your campaign and the promotion will long outlive the activation itself. For inspiration on your next campaign, here are The Biggest Deals Between Brands + Influencers (+ Why They Worked).