6 Costs You Need to Factor In When Hiring a Social Media Influencer
If you aren’t annoying your friends taking a billion photos at dinner to post to your Instagram account in hopes of being an influencer, you’re probably a brand reaching out to a 13 year-old influencer to post about your latest fashion line of kids clothing.
Love them or hate them – influencers are here to stay and are on the rise. According to Mediakix, the influencer market was worth $1 Billion in 2017, projected to double over the next few years.
The age of traditional celebrities representing brands have been replaced by influencers - and they are calling the shots. The hottest restaurants aren’t being set by a New York Times reviewer, but a food Instagrammer with no formal culinary training.
But unlike traditional advertising agencies or old school media companies, the only credentials influencers have are a brand with a large amount of followers. There also aren’t clearly defined rules for working with influencers. There is nothing stopping an influencer from sending an invoice for posting a few photos after you already gave them free swag.
Especially if you are small brand, the first thing to consider is payment. Some influencers will work in exchange for your products or services, which can be a good option for smaller brands. But often times they have a smaller following and don’t have as much of a process in place for working with brands.
Paying an influencer outright can be appealing for brands trying to grow a following. However there a lot costs to factor into hiring an influencer including amount of followers, engagement rate, their representation, actual deliverables, and time.
Amount of Followers
The first factor when considering what influencer to use is the amount of followers. But pure following alone is not enough - you want to work with an influencer with followers that mirror the target market for your brand. One of the biggest benefits of working with influencers is their audiences are often niche audiences that are highly engaged (handmade cat toy lovers, we are coming for you). This allows your brand to target much more narrowly to a much more engaged audience that isn’t possible through other marketing channels.
Equally important, you want to ensure the influencer you are working with built an organic following and they didn’t purchase followers.
What’s the big deal if they bought followers? Aren’t followers still followers?
The problem with fake followers is that these accounts are bots, not a real people. So after paying an influencer loads of money to talk up your brand, their followers won’t convert to your brand because they aren’t real.
How do I know if they have fake followers?
First, check out Social Blade – you can enter any username on IG, Twitter, and Youtube and get a chart of any accounts follower growth for the previous 6 months. Look for large spikes (i.e following changing from 600 to several thousand followers in one day) to see warning signs of bought followers.
Second, look through their followers. On Instagram, do a lot of their followers have no profile picture, very few posts, or are following a large number accounts but have barely any followers? These are all signs of bots, or followers that were purchased.
Third, look at their posts. Are their posts getting tons of likes but not a lot of comments (i.e one photo has 200 likes but no comments)? Or do the comments appear consistently generic (i.e half the comments say something like “great photo”)?
If you find any of these things to be true about the influencer’s following, do not work with them and find a different influencer.
Even more important than the amount of followers is how engaged they are. Engagement rate is the number of likes and comments added together and divided by the number of followers.
Why does it matter if the influencers followers are engaging? Isn’t it more important that my brand is seen by a lot of people?
The goal with working with an influencer is to promote your content as an endorsement to your brand and encourage their following to convert to customers. So if influencer’s followers aren’t engaging with their content, they aren’t going to see the post you paid the influencer to post for you and they certainly aren’t going to become customers.
The key with building any successful brand is to tap into a niche space that isn’t being served by the market at large. The same logic applies to your marketing efforts – go narrow to go big. Take the influencer with 10K followers on IG and a 8% engagement rate over the influencer with 30K and 2% engagement rate to get the most for your money and the highest conversion rates.
Depending on the influencer, they may have representation or an agency they are working under. Keep this in mind, as they will always be a bit more expensive than those without (the agents have to get paid too). On the flip side, the extra cost will provide you with more protection on your end. Bigger agencies will have more protocols in place and often work with contracts, so you know exactly how much you are paying the influencer and what you should expect to get in return.
Now, this is the real deal: What do you want your influencer to do? Post to Instagram, go live on your Facebook page, take over your Instagram stories? Maybe all the above? Depending on your ask and what you are looking for, this will also factor into pricing.
Especially if this is your first time working with an influencer, it’s going to take up a lot of your time to find an influencer that has an organic following that matches your target market. Not to mention the time it will take to negotiate pricing with them, contracting, and managing the influencer.
Although costly and time-intensive, influencer marketing can be a great marketing channel for targeting niche markets with highly engaged markets. Make sure to do your research and vet a lot of potential influencer candidates and you’ll be on your way to creating a solid influencer marketing campaign.
Have you worked with an influencer before? Share your experience in the comments.