[Guide] The Social Media Management Maturity Model

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Published July 25th 2018

Influencer Marketing Explained: FAQ

It's an area equally celebrated and criticised. There is a lot of value in influencer marketing when it's done right. We've answered some of the most common questions around it to help you get started.

Don’t know where to start with influencer marketing?

We’ve put together this FAQ, which we’ll be updating over time, with the most common questions people ask and search for around influencer marketing.

FAQ Contents

  1. What is an influencer?
  2. What are micro-influencers?
  3. What is influencer marketing?
  4. How to start influencer marketing
  5. How to find influencers
  6. What makes a ‘good’ influencer?
  7. How to reach out to influencers
  8. How to work with influencers
  9. How to track influencer marketing
  10.  How much does influencer marketing cost

1. What is an influencer?

An influencer is someone who can influence the actions of their fans and social media followers. The action could be anything from changing opinions to buying a specific product.

An influencer could be absolutely anyone, it all depends on the community they’re part of and what you’re trying to acheive.

For example, Kendall Jenner is a classic example of an influencer. She’s a huge celebrity, has tens of millions of social media followers, and her fashion and make-up choices influence her fans to do the same.

But then so is Louisa Clements, a food blogger with followers only numbering in the thousands. While not famous like Kendall Jenner, her following engages with her recipes and blog influencing how and what they cook.

You don’t have to have gigantic followings or appear on TV to be influential. Smaller niches have their own influencers, like Clements, and these are often just as valuable.

2. What are micro-influencers?

Micro-influencers are influencers with small audiences and followings. While they are not well-known, they are often very connected and involved with their area, and being influential within it.

There’s not set definition, but you wouldn’t expect a micro-influencer to have followers in the tens of thousands (although you can define an influencer as ‘micro’ relative to their area).

While micro-influencers don’t have the reach of the bigger names, they still have a lot of value and are often more genuine and discerning with promotion.

3. What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is the use of influencers to achieve business or organisational aims. The most common way is for an influencer to recommend or talk about your product or service in order to promote them to their fans and followers.

They’re just like celebrity endorsements, except an influencer doesn’t have to be famous. They just need an engaged audience who takes them and their opinions seriously. Therefore, when an influencer talks up a product, people will be genuinely interested in it.

Influencer marketing has surged as social media has grown. Platforms like Twitter and Instagram allow anyone to build huge followings, whether they’re an artist or a cyclist.

Due to the social nature of these platforms, people gravitate towards one another to form communities around things like interests. It’s these communities that companies can reach with the help of influencers.


  1. A boxing equipment company pays 20 amateur boxers, popular in their area and on Instagram, to use and review their boxing gloves. They agree on a video review, and that the boxers will use the gloves in all their fights for the next year.
  2. A finance company is releasing a new app for saving money. They contact over a hundred influencers around various topics that their target market (21 – 26 year olds) might be interested in. They’re given the app for free and encouraged to talk about it on their social platforms.
  3. A video game company is struggling to build hype for their next release. They strike up agreements with three YouTubers and Twitchers with huge followings to play through their game in a series of videos to get people interested.

4. How to start influencer marketing

If you’ve decided influencer marketing might be something for you, the first step is to set out clear and identifiable goals for the project.

It’s all too easy to start throwing money at big influencers to talk about your products, but this isn’t the best approach for everyone.

You need to decide what success looks like.

To get started, consider the following:

  1. Who are you trying to reach? Is the target audience broad or niche?
  2. What are you trying to acheive? Are you selling products or raising awareness?
  3. What metrics will you use to measure the project?

Once you have that sorted, you can start thinking about what form the influencer marketing will take.

Think about what platforms will work best, whether there will be video involved, if it’s just the matter of a review, or if you’re expecting something more substantial from the influencer.

Also consider events and how the influencer work will fit into your wider strategy. Getting things aligned will help you achieve stronger results.

5. How to find influencers

Here are some of the most common ways:

  • Search on social media platforms (our post on Twitter search will help here)
  • Search on Google
  • Use influencer marketing tools like Brandwatch Audiences or Buzzsumo
  • Ask your customers
  • Research around your target audience, such as attending events
  • Keep an open eye on all types of relevant media
  • Hire an influencer marketing company to do the work

6. What makes a ‘good’ influencer?

This is where things can get tricky. There have been lots of articles in the news talking about influencers with fake followers, while some people have lost faith in influencer marketing after poor results.

There’s no denying this has been the case, particularly among bigger influencers, as more money has poured in from companies all over the world.

What it means is that you need to be stringent in your assessment of an influencer. A big following on Instagram means nothing if no one actually engages with the account.

There’s a few things you can do to get a better picture of your influencer:

  • Look through their social accounts to see how many followers they have and the kind of engagement they get
  • Use tools like Brandwatch Audiences to analyze and rank influencers instantly
  • Ask for data from the influencers, such as website traffic and social media engagement (be wary as this can easily be faked)
  • Use Moz to see the strength of their website
  • Ask if the influencer has any good references from companies they’ve previously worked for

7. How to reach out to influencers

Once you’ve found your influencers it’s time to get in touch to see if they want to work with you.

You should approach this like you would any other business interaction. Be professional, clear, and upfront.

A lot of influencers will have plenty of experience with all this (while the bigger ones will have managers or agents to do it for them). Many will have details on how to get in touch on their website or on their social media profiles.

For example, Zoella, a huge influencer and vlogger, has a link to a contact page on her manager’s site for business enquiries. Once Upon A Wine, on the other hand, asks for enquires through direct messages or email.

Once you’ve found the right contact method, explain what your project is, what you’re hoping to achieve, and how you’d like them to be involved. It’s likely they’ll have some ideas too (if they’re interested) so be sure to take their experience on board.

It’s a good idea to get budget and outcomes decided as soon as possible. This means everyone is on the same page and everyone can move in the same direction quickly.

8. How to work with influencers

Influencers aren’t any different to any other business contacts. Making your living livestreaming computer games doesn’t make someone any less serious or deserving of professional communication.

Maintaining a positive relationship with influencers is integral. If they’re talking about you to their audience, the last thin you want to do is annoy them.

This is why a clear plan, including objectives, aims and costs, is established from start to finish. This means everyone knows exactly what is expected of them.

This should get as granular as the number of tweets an influencer might make, or how long a video review should be. There might be certain aspects of a product that you want them focus on, or there could even be specific hashtags you want used.

Not every influencer is going to be comfortable with a lot of control though, so being upfront early can save everyone some time.

You should also set out regular updates. This should include links to any social posts and their performance, plus any comments and levels of relevant web traffic.

Here’s a quick checklist to help get things in order:

  • What exactly, down to the number and type of social posts, will the influencer be expected to do
  • How long will the project last
  • How often both parties will communicate updates
  • What metrics need to be tracked and reported
  • Messaging and brand guidelines
  • Compensation and when it will we be paid

Get all of this down in writing and ensure everyone agrees and signs. You don’t want to be squabbling with an influencer half way through a campaign.

9. How to track influencer marketing

More established influencers will be used to tracking their activities and os should be able to provide results for you, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be tracking things yourself.

For a start, an influencer might provide false data or make mistakes. For micro-influencers, this might not be an activity they’re used to doing (or even want to do). So it’s best to take as much of this into your own hands.

You can use a tool like Brandwatch Analytics for this. This will enable you to see the reach and performance of social posts and create a dashboard to bring all this data into one place.

You could also simply track performance manually by looking at the social posts and seeing how they’re doing in terms of engagement.

If you’re going to be driving traffic to your site, be sure to use links with UTM codes (if you use Google Analytics). This means you can assess the traffic specifically coming from the influencer campaign (here’s an explainer on UTM codes).

Ultimately, you won’t be able to get all the data you want yourself. Discuss this area with your influencer before work starts. There’s little point in shelling out money if you have no idea what the ROI is.

10. How much does influencer marketing cost?

Costs for influencer marketing vary wildly and will depend on the specific influencers you want to use.

Some major influencers charge $150k for a single sponsored post, while smaller ones might charge £200 for ten.

By working out what your aims for the project are and ensuring you track results to work out ROI, you can decide what budget you want to allocate.

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