ultimate guide to influencer marketing

Influencer Marketing: The Ultimate Guide

 Why influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is simply tapping into someone else’s audience that you feel matches your brand values.  This has been going on for as long as marketing has existed. In this instance I do not necessarily mean using a celebrity, although this is an option, I am referring to digital influence and many traditional celebrities simply don’t have digital influence these days.

Digital influencers or Micro Celebrities (a term I loath) or “citizen celebrities” hold a lot of power these days – in case you didn’t see or you didn’t notice, President Obama used YouTube influencers to spread his message about healthcare.gov

It’s a complicated time for us to get information out, and this group can really advise us in terms of ‘how do we reach people? – President Obama

Benefits of working with a social media influencer

  • Access to their audience – One of the main reasons, in this digital age, you should be working with influencers is to tap into their loyal audiences.  Many “celebrities” simply don’t have digital clout these days.  As perfectly pointed out by our partners at The Youniverse in this post on how “Traditional Celebs Failing On YouTube” <– we cannot recommend this post highly enough.
  • Brand trust / actionability – By aligning yourself with someone who is respected, or highly regarded in your industry it gives your brand instant credibility with people who may not have heard of you before.  This helps smaller or newer companies break through and reach new customers and gain market share.  For brands that are already well known it continues to build upon the trust and kudos of being a committed customer of your brand.  You must however always make sure to be explicit in some way that the content is paid for or sponsored to avoid getting into trouble with the relevant advertising bodies, if done correctly this does not take away from any creative idea.
  • Distribution – Content is King but distribution is Queen.  It doesn’t matter sometimes how good your content is, if it is not distributed in a strategical way then often it won’t get seen.  That is unless you have a boat load of cash to spend on distribution, in which case, we can smell that kind of content a mile off — think branded YouTube content with 100,000’s of views but no likes or comments, hmmmmm.

How to identify an influencer

  • Facebook Influencers – Facebook can be quite challenging as you have certain privacy policies to deal with and many third party tools simply don’t have the access.  I would recommend using something like Social Bakers or Brand Watch who have good bench marking capabilities.


  • Twitter Influencers  – There are many tools that can help you identify “influencers” on Twitter – we would recommend Social Bro or Followerwonk.  These services really help you drill down into the the minor details of accounts at scale.  Niche influencers can be found by what is written in their bio or by their location, then the data can be filtered by audience size, tweets per day, influence scores etc.
  • YouTube Influencers – You can use a service such as Social Blade which give detailed analysis on views, subscribers, potential channel earnings (to help you think about how much you will offer the YouTuber in question for partnering with your brand.)  I must stress that some of the financial figures will be based on estimates as there is no way that Social Blade will have eyes on exact earnings, however publicly available data is being tracked so you can trst things like subscribers and views.


socialblade youtube influencers

  • Vine Influencers – Currently, identifying Vine influencers is a bit of a manual process.  Look at the popular pages.  Identify people who are consistently there and see if they would fit your brand message by looking through their account at their average engagement stats – likes, revines etc.
  • Instagram Influencers – there are several market places available where you can be introduced to instagram influencers such as  – TOTEMS Connect, Instabrandlabs, Snapfluence, Brandnew.io – again when identifying someone look at how many likes and comments they get (especially when they don’t use hasgtags), the quality and relevance of their pictures and how many followers they have.
  • Google + influencers – You can use a number of tools to identify Google Plus influencers in particular niches.  We would recommend  Nod3x – Below is a fantastic hangout which walks you through how to find Google Plus influencers using Nod3x by Lee Smallwood and Wade Harman

How to contact an influencer

You must bear in mind that content creators with decent sized audiences get a lot of request for work, every single day. You must remember you are not the first person to contact them, and probably won’t have been the first person to contact them that day, but you need to break through the noise of other work requests, how do you go about doing that?

  • Managed / Self Managed – If you want to get through to an influencer you have identified using one of the methods about you will usually find that they are contactable in a few different ways. In most cases simply looking at their social bio will give you a clue on how to get in touch with an influencer.  However you need to be aware of a few things before you contact.  If it looks like this person is self managed, you may think that it will be even easier to get through to them however this often isn’t the case, without professional management content creators often miss emails. It can only ever be judged on a case by case basis. Remember the golden rule, content creators must be respected!
  • Build a relationship – You can be a fan of their work, you can comment and start to build a relationship as you would with anyone online.  This will be a good ice breaker when you eventually get to speak to them
  • Get to know their content – there is nothing worse than speaking to an influencer and not fully knowing and understanding their content, target market, style and way they do things.  You will end up looking unprofessional if you have not done your homework.  You can get to know a particular influencer by following them, subscribing to their work and seeing how they portray themselves over several social media platforms.


Different types of influencer marketing

You can use an influencer to promote your campaign or to work with your brand in many different ways digitally

  • Blog posts
  • Social Posts
  • Host or participate in a Google Hangout
  • Branded YouTube content

Here is an example of branded YouTube content:   The Ford Fiesta Movement lent Olga Kay a Ford paid for the car’s expenses.

How to get more mileage from your influencer relationship

You need to make sure that people are contractually obligated to help spread your message.  Although the people you work with will more than likely only work with your brand if it is something they like, or agree with, that doesn’t mean they will naturally spread your message.

  • Social Media Obligations – Make sure that it is agreed from the start how many times the content will be shared throughout each relevant social media platform the influencer has presence on.  This re-enforcement will help your content go even further, in the past I have even gone as far as naming a time and date for each social share, it is that important.
  • Work on the creative – the key to success is coming up with a creative idea that matches the influencers personal brand, the more natural the content is the better it will be received by their audience.  You don’t want to just look like blatant product placement (bonus points for Wayne’s World GIF below)
  • Be clear and communicate – You don’t want to let content creators interpret your brief, as your brief may be terrible! Make sure you stay in contact with content creators and work re-edits into your agreement, to ensure the content that is produced hits the mark.

How to measure the success of  influencer marketing

You have now worked with your influencer.  They have created and distributed content on your behalf and hopefully you have had a positive experience.  A few things to look at depending on how you have defined success:

  • CTR – Click through rate from your call to action
  • Subscribers / follower increase – measure the increase in subscribers / followers for your own social channels during your promotional period – how different is it to your usual growth.
  • Social shares – how many times has the video / tweet / blog  / influencer content been distributed
  • Views – how many times has your hashtag / branded video been viewed
  • Engagement – How many likes, dislikes, comments, shares etc did your influencer content get directly.

I have a campaign but I can’t find the right influencer

Here comes the sales pitch….So even after all of this you are struggling to find the right influencer for your campaign.  Colehouse and our digital partners are experts in this area, so if you are struggling then we would be happy to provide some assistance.   If you want more info about digital influencers and how to work with them to get better reach for your brand or campaign then please get in touch:

Update April 2015:

Existing rules have been clarified by YouTube and other advertising bodies that state that YouTubers doing brand collaborations must make it explicitly clear that it is an advert. More info here.