By: Tawanda Carlton, PR Account Executive

Arii, an 18-year-old social media star with more than 2 million followers on Instagram, is a dominating figure in the social world. Recently, the Instagram star created a tidal wave of commentary when her influence failed in her attempt to sell the minimum number of t-shirts needed to launch her own line of clothing.

In the age of social media, companies understand  brand endorsement from a powerful social media influencer can provide valuable traction, visibility and potentially, increased revenue. However, not all influencers are created equal, as learning how to identify the right spokesperson for your brand has been invaluable since the onset of marketing.

The same brands that once turned to supermodels, actors and athletes to push their products now look to YouTubers and Instagram sensations to do the exact same thing.

According to a study from Convince & Convert, 22 percent of marketers rank influencer relations as their most cost-effective strategy. When aligned with a strategic content marketing strategy, this approach can yield noticeable results and wins for your brand. However, if you’re new to sourcing and selecting external influencers interested in partnering with you, what seems like an easy task can become difficult to navigate.

Whether you’re a large enterprise brand or a budding startup looking for “influential” notoriety, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions when it comes to choosing the right influencer.

Are they Relevant?

One of the first aspects to consider when choosing an influencer for your brand is to consider how aligned their content is with your core messaging. Our team recently worked with a startup beauty app where our goal was to strategically source hair, makeup and beauty tastemakers to help promote the app launch. What we found in our research and outreach is while some influencers were in a particular space, some of their personas and personal branding did not align with our client’s overall goals. By digging into their audience, messaging and appeal, we were able to source appropriate brand ambassadors for our client’s launch.

Do you Value Followers over Engagement?

When choosing the ideal influencer to leverage for your next campaign, the phrase  ‘numbers never lie’ should always be your guide. However, if you are looking at the wrong numbers, this popular saying may lead you astray. In short, the size of your audience on social media doesn’t matter, especially if no one is paying attention. It’s important to utilize engagement calculator tools to help you narrow in on how engaged influencers are with their community. Are their posts interesting? Do they share compelling content? Do they engage frequently or sporadically?

Brands will find an increased ROI when they target influencers with followers who are relevant, real and who engage often.

Tip: Consider micro-influencers. Micro-influencers (1,000-100,000 followers) often have very high engagement with their follower base and can at times become overlooked by brands in the social media campaigns they are pursuing. This group is just as effective as someone with 500K followers and more. Remember, engagement is key.

Will their Endorsement of your Brand Be Authentic?

As consumer sentiment shifts more and more towards transparency, authenticity has become increasingly important. While celebrity endorsements can attract high brand visibility and awareness, it’s essential to consider that a strategic influencer marketing campaign can also yield a larger more organic conversation as opposed to a traditional celebrity endorsement. An added bonus to consider is influencer campaigns are also more cost-effective. The ability to negotiate a fair price becomes easier. In fact, our agency was able to negotiate a much lower (but fair) rate for the influencers involved in our client’s launch campaign, allowing us to leverage additional influencers to help increase brand awareness.

Unlocking the power of influencer marketing requires a well-researched, careful, nuanced approach. By identifying the ambassador for your brand, you will be able to develop content that’s effective, meaningful and positive for your bottom line.