It seems like you can’t read a marketing blog post these days without hearing about influencers. About how they’re the key to business growth, how they’re getting more targeted, and how they, shockingly, don’t even need to be real people.
What you don’t hear a lot about, though, is how to select them. There’s no shortage of content about why the right influencer could save your business, but where is all the advice about a framework for picking the right influencer?
In this post, we’ll explore how affinities – the inferred interests of your audience — can help brands pick influencers that reinforce their company’s core values and reflect their audience’s interests.
Building and Increasing Brand Loyalty with Influencers
Influencer marketing cuts a wide swath across industries. From hard goods and soft to lifestyle activities, travel, technology, food and beyond, companies in many industries have jumped on the influencer marketing bandwagon.
A good example: cars. There are plenty of blogs and forums devoted to cars. Many offer detailed breakdowns of car features and comparisons among competing brands. The authors and moderators of these blogs and forums are often courted by car companies as influencers.
But car buyers have many interests beyond cars. So, car companies don’t always turn to car experts to anchor their influencer marketing strategies. Instead, they may turn to social media “stars” with enthusiastic followers and at least a tangential connection to cars. That type of social media influencer has built a sizable following across one or more social media channels (YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.).
Followers are drawn to the influencer’s content because of their affinities — things they enjoy and seek out. It could be food, gaming, sports, travel, or some combination of these and other affinities.
One car company that has embraced this approach is Subaru.
Born in 1983, Devin Graham is an American videographer who produces adventure and extreme sports videos on YouTube under the name Devin Super Tramp. Graham was a natural fit for #MeetAnOwner and extended Subaru’s appeal to outdoor activity enthusiasts. He created three YouTube videos for Subaru, one of which captures him slip-sliding off a 500-foot cliff. In one sponsored post, Graham comments, “I’ve been driving a Subaru since I could drive at 16, and never thought I would have the chance to work with a brand I genuinely loved!” His efforts for Subaru generated more than 160K likes, plus 856 comments to 13 sponsored Instagram posts. The videos received 1.2M views and 45K likes.
Born in 1987, Shaun McBride is best known on Snapchat and YouTube, and as the owner of the Esports team, Spacestation gaming. For Subaru, he created a five-part YouTube series called, “Our cool Subaru car and cool things we do with it.” McBride’s family-friendly approach was quirky, engaging and reached a large audience. His YouTube channel hit one million subscribers in 2017. McBride’s campaign content included four sponsored Instagram posts that generated more than 31K likes and 292 comments. The YouTube series grabbed 1.2M views and 28K likes. YouTube engagement: 6%, Instagram 7.1%
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Choosing Influencers. What to Look For.
Subaru didn’t choose King, Graham and McBride at random. These influencers shared affinities that aligned with the company’s brand values: outdoor fun and adventure, family and safety. Affinities can tell you whether an influencer’s brand is a good match for yours. A good way to find an initial group of influencers is to search hashtags that are relevant to your company, product and brand values.
But your research into influencers shouldn’t stop there. You’ll also need to ensure that an influencer’s content is consistent with your brand’s messaging. For example, influencers who use profanity in their posts would probably not be a good fit for a company that emphasizes family values, even if affinities showed they were aligned in other ways.
Another thing to look for is post frequency. Generally, influencers who regularly post high-quality content can sustain larger, more loyal followings.
Of course, entire agencies are devoted to planning, executing and monitoring influencer marketing campaigns. Larger brands often go this route. But whether you run your influencer marketing efforts in-house or use an agency, audience affinities are the foundation of effective influencer marketing.