It’s a critical question: how do I choose the right influencer for my business?

I’d argue, choosing the right influencer to help you execute a marketing campaign is nearly comparable to making a hiring decision (and we all know that hiring mistakes are notoriously costly for small business).

Influencers, after all, are brand advocates at times paid on a project basis to create digital content and drive sales for your brand but always recruited on the assumption that they offer their partners access to a desirable audience.

The right influencer will unlock for you potential customers or pre-qualified marketing leads, if you will. Their audience will naturally fold into your pre-existing audience and ultimately become a recurring customer and fan. That’s the goal, right?

How to Choose the Right Influencer

When deciding on the right influencer for your business, the first step is to examine their audience. You’ll want to judge or evaluate the relevance of the influencer not just by their audience demographic, but by the quality of their audience. How engaged are their fans?

Engagement refers to any type of interaction with a post: likes, comments, shares. As a general rule, engagement is a measure of enthusiasm and positive brand sentiment because loyal fans are the ones you’ll typically find interacting with brand and influencer accounts online.

On the flip side, consumers also take to social media for customer service. They’ll use the immediacy of Twitter or Facebook to post a complaint in hopes of a quick response.

When you set out to the choose the right influencer for your business, you’ll need to do a little research. Look at past posts. Are their engagement rates high? Is the sentiment positive?

Okay. They’ve got an active followingpoints in their favor. Is their audience relevant to your brand?

Audience Relevance is Key

There are hundreds of thousands of influencers online and while the goal is to develop a working relationship with those whom would make great brand advocates, your decision-making process should revolve largely around their audience.

Just as you want to partner with influencers who have a highly engaged following; you’ll also want to get as specific and niche as possible.

Here’s how to gauge audience relevance. Forget your industry for a minute.  Let’s say you are a restaurant owner. Your industry is food and beverage. Obviously, it makes sense to recruit a series of food bloggers or critics to review your food.

But what sets you apart from your competitors?

Are you vegan-friendly? Locally-sourced? A tourist hotspot? Do you have an unique locale history? Once you identity 4-5 key  differentiators,  you both can narrow your influencer search and identity niches which apply to you but exist outside the food and beverage bubble.

If your restaurant is vegan-friendly target vegan food bloggers. If your restaurant has been in business since 1890, look into travel influencers or city tour companies.

In order to choose the right influencer based on audience relevance, you need to frame relevance in terms of audience interest. Everyone’s interested in food but that doesn’t guarantee that your restaurant will appeal to even 20% of your local market. Identity the handful of niches you occupy and recruit influencers who represent those niches.

How to Choose the Right Influencer Platform

We’ve looked at audience engagement and relevance. Those are the key criteria for identifying the right influencer fit for your business. But how do you actually apply those criteria? How do you discover and then make the connection with the right influencer for your business?

You have options. There are influencer search engines, campaign management softwares, marketing agencies, and freemium tools that give you limited access to a list of options.

Of course, I’d suggest Muses as a go-to tool. With Muses, you can filter by location and industry, access each and every one of an influencer’s social profiles and website directly within the app and, most importantly, chat with the influencer directly.

The communication component is crucial.

If you go through an agency, for instance, you’ll pay big bucks (which may be your preference!) to have an account manager handle all of communication for you. In which case, you’ve relinquished a great deal of control to the agency. Again, that may be your preference.

Influencer campaign softwares mostly focus on analytics tracking  which is important but comes into play after you’ve already identified your influencers and executed the campaign.  Muses allows you to get to know your influencers personally before you put any money on working with them.

The difference between choosing the right influencer and choosing the wrong influencer for your next marketing campaign, is the same difference between a potentially anomalous spike in online sales and totally wasting your monthly budget on a ill-conceived, poorly executed initiative. You want to get it right the first time, don’t you?

For more inspiration and guidance on brand awareness campaigns, check out these posts:

Plus, give Muses a try and let us know if it helped you successfully choose the influencer for your latest campaign. We’d love the feedback.