Thinking / What makes a powerful influencer? And what makes them right for your brand?

What makes a powerful influencer? And what makes them right for your brand?

By now, it should be evident that influencer marketing has grown to play an integral role within the world of marketing communications. It’s no surprise that, according to the Influencer Orchestration Network, 59% of U.S. marketers planned to increase their influencer marketing budgets in 2016.

Now influencer marketing is no simple science, yet time and time again we have seen that the key to every successful brand partnership is as simple as finding the right influencer to maximize your client’s impact.

But what is less apparent is what makes a powerful influencer. And what makes them right for your brand?

For starters, they need those to influence. Daniel Saynt, CEO and CCO of Socialyte, asserts that a valuable influencer has, at the very least, 50,000 followers across multiple social media channels. While it is true that an influencer must have a substantial following, a misunderstanding of Saynt’s claim is also where influencer marketing can go horribly wrong.

A campaign is doomed to fail when marketers assume that success is based solely upon their influencer’s number of followers. What is actually key here, is differentiating impact from noise.

To illustrate, let’s look at Scott Disick’s now infamous Bootea Instagram “fail” from last month. In late May, Disick posted the following to Instagram.

The caption reads: “Here you go, at 4pm est, write the below. Caption: Keeping up with the summer workout routine with my morning @bootea protein shake!”

Disick’s post sent his nearly 17 million followers into hysterics (and Bootea into panic), yet his careless copy and paste is not only reflective of a mistake on Disick’s part, but further, a pitfall in influencer marketing. Bootea failed to recognize that Disick could make a lot of noise with his massive following but lacked the authentic passion for the product and the subject matter expertise needed to impact his audience’s purchasing decision. This obvious apathy translated into the botched post, and the rest was history.

Marcus Thomas LLC Account Executive Erin Orsini, citing the Disick incident specifically, elaborates that “when an influencer and your product do not align or mash up there’s a disconnect that is visible. It doesn’t work for any party that’s involved because it doesn’t have the natural feel that it should.” 

Orsini has worked extensively with influencers on both Swisspers® and Troy-Bilt® projects. I sat down with her to learn what can make or break an influencer program, and she laid out the three keys to finding the right influencer for your brand.

1. Subject Matter Expertise

Orsini could not stress enough that an influencer must be a “subject matter expert” within their particular area of interest. Consumers turn to those they trust in order to make purchasing decisions, and influencers who have established themselves as an educated source of unbiased and relevant information within their fields have an audience that will not only listen but trust their endorsement as well.

2. Passion

A second essential characteristic is passion. According to Orsini, “why influencers are subject matter experts is because they are passionate. When they have that passion for their subject it really comes through.” A successful influencer program can be as simple as looking for brand partners who love what they do.

3. Authenticity

Finally, an influencer must both project authenticity and authentically endorse your product. As in the case of Scott Disick, you do not want an “oops” moment that reveals how little regard an influencer actually holds for your product. Those mistakes can easily be avoided if your brand and influencer have cultivated a relationship founded upon real mutual interests and respect.

Luckily for us, these three characteristics usually go hand in hand. Orsini explained that influencers typically become subject matter expects because “they have that passion for whatever subject they’re dealing with. It gives that very authentic feel. It comes full circle. When you get somebody who knows what they’re talking about, has a passion for it, that has a captivated and engaged audience you’re going to have a successful program.”

To read the eMarketer article on the power of influencer marketing, click here.