Influencer Marketing 101: How to Get Influencers on Board with Your Brand


Heather Hudson

December 04, 2020

In late 2019, Hudson’s Bay Company joined forces with Courtney Quinn of Color Me Courtney, a popular NYC designer and blogger. She used the brand’s iconic stripes as inspiration for a definitive new line of clothing to great success: the HBC STRIPES + Color Me Courtney collection was wildly popular and included women’s apparel, outerwear, and accessories.

It’s a high-profile example of influencer marketing—a partnership between a brand and a social media star—and it’s rapidly becoming the most popular way to connect with consumers. In fact, influencer marketing spending is expected to grow to more than $9 billion during a year when the global pandemic saw traditional marketing plunge.

In 2020 alone, practically every member of the Kardashian family continued to shill products, including their own, on Instagram. TikTok stars Falco Punch and Sky & Tami created dance moves for a campaign that promoted BMW’s new 1 Series sedan. YouTube channel “What’s Inside?” collaborated with Nike for a series of sponsored videos, including one that sliced open a pair of Nike Air VaporMax shoes to, well, see what’s inside.

If influencer marketing good enough for the world’s most enormous brands, what can it do for mid- to large-size retailers? Here’s how to approach and work with social media influencers so you can get in the game, and win.

Make sure it’s a natural fit.

If you’re selling luxury handbags, a teenage TikTok star famous for epic pranks is probably not the best influencer for you, even if that star comes with 2M followers in orbit. It’s critical to identify your ideal customers and look at who they follow and admire on social media.

**Also consider: **

  • What kind of music do they listen to?
  • Where do they shop?
  • What kind of movies and TV do they watch?
  • Which social media platforms do they prefer?

Armed with this information, you can start to investigate what kind of influencers show up in the same places as your target customers.

Look for engagement, not followers.

Although the number of followers matters, it’s wise to put more value on how well an influencer engages with their audience. There’s always the chance that followers have been purchased (a real thing in the influencer and celebrity worlds), which diminishes the impact of their influence.

You want influencers who are consistently engaging with their followers and are even allowing themselves to be influenced by their loyal audience. If you’re in a niche market, it might be beneficial to find an influencer with fewer, but more dedicated, followers. “Micro-influencers” with 5,000 to 25,000 followers have been found to have higher engagement rates and “nano-influencers” have even less, but their loyal followers are ardent fans and trust them implicitly.

Make sure your influencers are not “too” in-demand.

The ideal influencer is one who has a lot of loyal followers and is noteworthy for original or relatable content but isn’t so “big” that absolutely everyone has heard of them. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you want someone who’s not yet as renowned as they have the potential to be.

This is important because you won’t get value for your marketing dollars if you’re one of several brands your favorite influencer represents. Social media followers are finicky when they feel an influencer has “sold out” or seems to only care about sponsorships. One easy sniff test is to look at how many posts are sponsored over the course of a few days. If every other post is an #ad, it might be worth finding someone publishing fresh, sponsor-free content on a consistent basis.

Do your research.

Before inking a deal with an influencer, it pays to do your due diligence. Celebrities of all stripes have been taken to task in the media and beyond for past immoral behavior. It’s important to ensure the values of your social media brand ambassador aligns with yours.

Take a deep dive into all of their social media platforms and review past posts, even ones from many years ago. Look closely at the way they interact with their followers, who they follow on their social channels, and note any language or sentiments that don’t jibe with your brand.

However, it’s important to note that finding a squeaky-clean influencer who never ruffles any feathers may not only be impossible, but ill-advised. It’s okay to partner with someone with a strong point of view that not everyone likes; just make sure it’s a POV that you and your target customers share.

Give them everything they need to excel.

In the world of influencers, it’s a seller’s market. If there’s a particularly popular social media star, you can bet that they’ve been approached by other brands. Here’s your chance to stand out from the crowd by providing a professional pitch and the right contract and tools to make their job easy. Here are some things to consider:

  • Demonstrate a strong understanding of who they are and what they do. Know their follower and engagement numbers and be clear about why you want to partner with them.
  • Provide comprehensive information about your brand, including a strong description of your products/services, the demographics of your customers, and what you want to accomplish with a partnership with them. Show the influencer how the partnership will benefit them, beyond the paycheck.
  • Give them everything they need to create ideal content, including product details and maybe even a script or scenario you’d like them to try. Collaborations can include brand/influencer brainstorming, or you can give creative control to them.
  • Don’t forget the power of a discount code! Influencers love to be able to offer their followers a deal and it’s great for your brand too. (It also means you can track the sales they generate.)

Be explicit about the terms of your collaboration. Some influencer marketing partnerships go off the rails because the terms of the collaboration are not clear. You can avoid this mistake by drawing up a clear contract that includes the conditions of the relationship, including:

  • The number of posts
  • The post schedule
  • What product/service is being promoted in each post
  • How much engagement with followers is expected for each post

Ask them to send you reports on the reach and engagement levels of the posts you are sponsoring, especially for platforms like Snapchat and Instagram Stories where engagement isn’t publicly visible.

Whether you want to create a collaboration like HBC did with Color Me Courtney or simply hire an influencer to promote your brand in their organic and signature way, engaging in influencer marketing will put you in good company with plenty of big brands.

In an ever-evolving economy and marketplace, it’s as sure a bet as traditional marketing efforts.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not an exhaustive review of this topic. The content is not financial or investment advice. No professional relationship of any kind is formed between you and PayBright. While we have obtained or compiled this information from sources we believe to be reliable, we cannot and do not guarantee its accuracy. We recommend that you consult your personal finance professional before taking any action related to this information. PayBright is a provider of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solutions. BNPL providers offer plans with a variety of terms and conditions, including interest rates, fees, and penalties, and have different standards for qualifying for loans. Laws and regulations governing BNPL providers vary by jurisdiction. We recommend that you compare and contrast plans, read the fine print, and conduct detailed research into any BNPL provider before using their services.

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Heather Hudson

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