The Most Efficient Way to Source the Best Social Influencers

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[Originally published on the Dash Hudson blog]

The task of identifying social media influencers for brand marketing can make or break your social activations. Choosing poorly can lead to counterproductive results. But choosing wisely could help you become the next Away.

Whether you’re already in the influencer marketing game or just thinking about joining it, the below pointers will help decide your next play. 🥊

Karen Brit Chick has been using this Estée Lauder product for 2 years! Now that’s a quality partnership.

Instagram is an ever evolving ecosystem. The rest of the world is just trying to stay afloat and come to terms with its fluctuating nature. The next move is tough (see: impossible) to anticipate. Technology, tsk, tsk.

There are so many factors contributing to the fact that the visual social channel has taken over our lives, namely that there are more users than ever (cough, 700 million, cough) logging in daily to partake in sharing creativity and attempting to gain social influence. New tools are being added on the reg, business capabilities are increasingly robust, and the algorithm is never not being adjusted. Things move fast. Real fast.

Take for example the subject of top social media influencers, a brand new industry that also constantly appears to be in mutation. It all started pretty innocently, but the lines between real life and virtual dimensions inevitably began to blur. While Instagram content resonated with audiences early on for less polished imagery that lent posts an air of authenticity, it didn’t take long for visuals to veer into a more glossy territory as the medium’s practices progressed.

Things always get more sophisticated as time goes by — upgrades through maturation. The influencer marketing industry has already lived through many iterations since taking shape a few short years ago. Now the FTC is intervening, Instagram itself is getting involved, and small guys are suddenly on everyone’s radar. Indeed, influencer marketing trends are veering into micro territory. What a time to be alive.

No matter the stage at which the influencer niche finds itself in, there are certain rules to follow that remain unwavering: you have to find the right people to partner with. It sounds easy in theory, but so many brands get it wrong and don’t identify the right collaborators. Merely enjoying one’s work is not enough of a criteria to tap them for a social media campaign.

Because not everyone has the kind of network that REVOLVE has been able to build for the company’s marketing efforts, we thought we’d lend our wisdom on what you should be examining when seeking an Instagrammer to hire. This way you can avoid fiascos and actually get ahead.

Time to find influencers!

Aimee Song, power influencer and Instagram partnership button beta user.

1. Aesthetic First

We’ve mentioned this time and over again: Instagram is first and foremost an exercise in branding. If you’re going to dip your toes into the influencer marketing pool, better optimize your results with someone who’s aesthetically aligned with your brand image. Think about your customer: who are they and what resonates with them? You want to hire an influential instagrammer who hits those standards for the partnership to truly pay off.

There’s nothing worse than spending half your marketing budget on collaborations that yield a disjointed message from your ethos.

2. Think Outside the Box

Sure, you know who you like and you probably personally follow some big name influencers whose style you admire. But are they truly the right fit for your company goals? Unlikely. There’s something so obvious about using the same influencers as everyone else. Time to roll up your sleeves and put some good old fashioned elbow grease into a discovery mission. Scour the ‘Gram for refreshing names you’ve never come across before.

It’s the tried and true way to find amazing and unexpected popular users who fit your brief.

3. Numbers Second

By numbers, we mean follower volume. It can be very tempting to go for the clout behemoths, because — hello! — impressions. But the industry has changed its tune and began finding value in other things, notably quality of impressions. The bottom line is that if you like an influencer’s work but are feeling ambivalent about their diminutive audience, don’t despair: micro influencers are actually a thing. Like, a big thing.

Plus they’ll cost you less. That means that you can go wider instead of deeper. Disperse a handful of soldiers hawking your cause instead of banking on just one. WOM is v v v underrated (see: Glossier).

4. Make an Investment

There’s a big difference between a paid advertisement and genuine enthusiasm for a brand. The latter is what the Millennial generation is famously sensitive to (surely social media can be thanked for intensifying those feelings). A brand paying someone to leverage their influence is the summit of Instagramming enterprise, but you can’t blame either side for sacrificing authenticity in the name of profit.

That said, exerting a sense of authenticity within those transactions is the key to developing a successful campaign that will drive conversions. We’re aware of the tough nature of the beast, but it can be done. The way around appearing fake is to build relationships with your influencers, and to work with folks that you foresee long term partnerships with. These are the ambassadors that will pay off in the end, not the post-it-and-forget-it types. Capish?

5. Find Known Enthusiasts

To piggyback on top of my previous point, if your hired help is already a genuine fan of your merch, their audience is likely prime for conversions. Those types of partnerships will earn your brand some organic points, a much more valuable currency than whatever your transactional collaborations will yield. Commission your existing fans and see for yourself.

Let that marinate for a sec.

Bonus for DH Fam members: Use Location Monitor in your Dashboard

The Dash Hudson Location Monitor is a spiffy little tool that helps you dig up the best UGC from any given place in the world. It’s also an excellent function for influencer excavation. Whether you have a physical brick and mortar storefront or want to target a specific type of user according to a spot they frequent, this functionality will surface the top user-generated content from that location within any desired time frame.

This makes sourcing influencers painlessly fast and easy, all while potentially making you discover high quality instagrammers who weren’t even on your radar.

For example, when checking out the Two Hands Cafe geotag in the past 7 days, we found this lovely lady, who could likely be a really solid option for an international fashion brand.

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It can be incredibly tricky to keep up with the fluctuations of the social industry. Most brands just try to keep their heads above water, while not an insignificant portion of them fall radically behind. But the great ones thriveand devise ways to not only navigate the sinuous arteries of social, but also manage to stay a step ahead of each curve.

Influencer marketing can be hugely beneficial, whether you’re just starting out and trying to grow your brand or your growth has slowed down and needs a boost. But it needs to be done right to be effective, and that begins with finding the perfect partner.

Ball’s in your court. 🎾

Want to learn more about Instagram best practices and visual marketing? Hit us up today.

Visual marketing platform built for and used by the world’s most discerning brands and publishers.

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