6 tips to help you choose the right social media influencer for your business

By Gabrielle Stannus

Last month, Ben Peacock from the Republic of Everyone told us that in order reach your audience on social media we need interesting and authentic content published on platforms we feel comfortable using. Having that content online though is not enough to drive traffic to your website and ultimately your business. To reach a larger audience, you may choose to recruit a social media influencer.

Who or what is a social media influencer?
Ben puts it simply: “Really an influencer is somebody who creates a bunch of content, either about their life or about what they eat or whatever it is that they specialize in and then sells the right to that audience to advertisers. An influencer can put your brand in front of a new audience in various ways. If you have a specific plant that very few other people produce, you might try to create demand for that plant.”

Generally, influencers are used to sponsor a business’ content, conduct product reviews, participate in competitions and giveaways, collaborate on product and content and as long-term ambassadors.”

Ben provides the following tips to help you choose the right social media influencer for your business to partner with.

1. Get your story right first
Ben reminds businesses to get their story straight first. “An influencer is just a channel. If the content you put out there through that channel is boring, then it is boring. If it is interesting, it will get shared. Focus on what is your story for the world, the world will find interesting. Who are the people who are going to love that story, that you are going to love interacting with and ultimately your customers and now who are the influencers who you think fit into that story?”
2. Search the right channels
By now, you should already have selected the social media platform you feel most comfortable using and from which you are sharing your business’ story (see July article ‘ 4 simple tips to get your business started on social media’).

Which influencers are using the channel you are using, be it Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn and/or or Twitter? Use hashtags and conduct research on these platforms to find those people. Remember Google too!

3. Choose the right scale
Macro-influencers are those social media personalities with very high social media reach connecting with large-scale audiences (typically 100,000+ followers). More famous ‘uber’ influencers can command even larger followings especially, e.g. Kim Kardashian (144 million followers on Instagram).

“If I am a retail nursery or a wholesale nursery operating a certain area, there is probably a lot of wastage in that,” Ben explains, “You would be better off finding somebody who is local who will genuinely shop at your nursery and who would genuinely take plants home to a house that is in the same location as the rest of your audience. These people may not have as many followers. However, those followers are probably in your area.”

Micro-influencers are less of a household name with fewer than 10,000 people following them on their chosen social media platforms. However, micro-influencers can reach large personal networks both online and offline via word-of-mouth marketing and are generally perceived to be more authentic.

Take Jane Wei, Owner and Hairdresser at A Loft Story in Newtown, Sydney as an example. “Jane was brought on as a Plant Life Balance ambassador not only because of the plant-filled space she owns, but because she is a great example of a small business owner that's using greenery to appeal to her clients and employees. She has a highly engaged social community of over 10K+ and loves cross-promoting Plant Life Balance when publishing anything plant related,” says Ben.

4. Partner with someone who shares your values
“Do they actually believe in what I am asking them to say?” asks Ben.

“In choosing your influencers, the biggest mistake people make is they just go how many people has that person got following them. And it is inauthentic. It is mercenary, it is everything that is becoming wrong with the Internet. And it is the reason that you are getting all this negativity around influencers (Read: ‘ #couscousforcomment: the hashtag shaming Instagrammers who demand free food ’). There is this realization from the market that some of these people are blasting out whatever they paid to blast out,” says Ben.

“Ensure that that the person delivering you the service really is someone you want to do business with and truly represents your brand,” Ben suggests.

5. Consider your employees as potential ambassadors
Let your employees loose on social media during work time. “Encouraging your employees to be little ambassadors for the business they work for is one of the greatest things in the world. If all your employees are loving their job and enjoying the things they do and are building into their day just to take little snaps and little comments on their work throughout their day, then you suddenly, let us say if you have ten employees, that is ten little channels going out there telling people when and that following grows,” says Ben.

6. Choose the influencer you can afford to ‘pay’
By now you may be asking, just how much is this going to cost my business? This will vary depending on your which type of influencer you are working with. “You do not have to tell them you will pay them; they will tell you that. However, you do not always have to pay for influencers,” says Ben.

If you are using a ‘macro-influencer, you may need to consider the following in your promotions budget: usage rights, production fees, agency fees, campaign length, timing and exclusivity. However, a micro-influencer may be content with a good or free deal on your product or services.

Remember though, if you would not share a post yourself, why would you pay an influencer to share it?

An important warning!
When using a social media influencer to promote your brand, remember to clearly distinguish between advertised content and editorial content.

The infamous 'Cash for comments' scandal twenty years ago involving Sydney radio broadcasters Alan Jones and John Laws shocked Australian audiences.

Ben says of social media "We now have a situation where people cannot just pretend that advertising is content. Now pretty much every influencer is a cash for comment channel, so it blurs the line between 'Was I getting paid or not?'"

Do you need to let your audience know whether you have a paid arrangement or not? Yes!

According to Section 18 of the Australian consumer law:

"(1) A person must not, in trade or commerce, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive." 1

An influencer must therefore disclose if they have received remuneration to share content to avoid misleading their audience. It does not matter whether there was an intention to mislead the customer, rather that it did.

How to do this? Ensure your influencer includes hashtags such as '#ad' or '#spon' when reposting or sharing your content in any way.

1. Australian Government 2010, 'Schedule 2 - The Australian Consumer Law', Competition and Consumer Act 2010, viewed 21 July 2019, https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2019C00149/Html/Volume_3#_Toc6928093

Further reading
Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics: http://aana.com.au/content/uploads/2018/07/AANA_Code-of-Ethics_July2018.pdf

Marketing in the Digital Space code: http://aana.com.au/content/uploads/2018/03/180316-Marketing-in-the-Digital-Space-Industry-Practice-Note.pdf

The Complete Guide to Instagram Influencer Rates in 2019: https://blog.hootsuite.com/Instagram-influencer-rates/