The complete guide to finding the right creators for brands and marketers

Kunal Sawant 

The influencer marketing industry has undergone a significant transformation in a short period of time, and is expected to grow to approximately $16.4 billion in 2022 according to Influencer Marketing Hub. India, as one of the countries with the highest internet penetration rate in the world, is also experiencing a similar growth trajectory, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25% till 2025 to reach a size of $228.9 million.

Nearly two-thirds of the Indian population follows an influencer, which has accelerated the adoption of influencer marketing by brands. This means that, especially during the pandemic, this adoption is an integral part of their marketing strategy and an important part of media in the country.

Brands are shifting away from traditional digital marketing strategies and toward utilising creators for promotion and awareness. Collaborating brands’ strong desire to work with relevant and authentic creators, on the other hand, is undeniably important and can significantly improve their campaigns. The real challenge is narrowing down those options and determining how to find the right influencers for brands. Here are a few pointers to help brands find the right creators.

1. Define what is ‘right’ for brand’s campaign and target audience

We can define the ‘right’ influencer in many ways but having a clear definition of what this means for brands is paramount. The data we interpret, the conversations we have, and the selection policies we use need to be underpinned by clear understanding of the criteria that we’re looking for.

Should the influencer visually represent the target audience? Should the target audience be well represented among the influencer’s followers? Should they be skilled in creating a specific type of content which we know the target audience enjoys? These are all valid criteria that could each lead us down different paths, so it’s crucial to have a sense of clarity before we begin.

2. Acquire as much data as possible

It may sound obvious, but the greater and more accurate the data obtained about an influencer, the better equipped brands are to understand their suitability. Best practice is to get influencers to voluntarily give access to their first party data from their profiles, as well as accessing APIs to get the benefit of richer and more comprehensive insight.

This point comes with an important caveat; brands need to access and use influencer data in a GDPR-compliant and ethical way. This could mean receiving permissions from influencers and understanding the sources of the data brands are accessing and the obligations regarding how to use it.

3. Understand the influencer’s brand as you would your own

Influencers want to work in partnership with brands who share their values. They will also rightfully resist pressure to create content that’s not right for their personal brand or their audience. Data alone won’t give brands the insight they need to understand the influencer’s brand and values – that must come from real people reviewing their content and speaking directly to influencers to build a relationship and understanding of who they are.

Although time consuming, it can make the difference between a purely commercial relationship and a meaningful partnership.

4. Think about representation and inclusion

We know that representation and inclusion are important to consumers as well as to influencers. We also know of the reputational and ethical risks presented by ignoring these hugely important topics when planning a campaign. Being representative in influencer selection requires a sensitive, unbiased approach and is perhaps one of the areas in which our use of influencer data is most important.

We believe that all campaigns can and should be representative of a broad spectrum of society and we will always encourage clients to be mindful of this in their influencer selection.

5. Understand the kind of content you want and what you want to do with it

Influencer marketing is content marketing. Ultimately the content that the influencers create is the most important part of the campaign, so understanding what you want to generate and how you’re going to use that content to maximise value is vital.

This is another reason why understanding who the influencer is and having a human conversation with them is a big part of your selection process, because you can start to get a better understanding of who they are and what kind of content they like to create that their audience engages with. Intelligent influencer campaigns should generate content that has power and value beyond its organic publication by its creator. Therefore, it is also important to think about how we will use that content after it has been published. Make sure the necessary ‘rights’ conversations are had with creators from the get-go so that there is no difficulty in maximising the value of the content later down the line.

6. Don’t be distracted by ‘celebrity’

‘Celebrity’ or ‘A-list influencers’ can be a valuable part of your campaign. If that personality and brand is a good match for yours, then they can deliver great value through the content that they create.

However, the bigger the audience, the more fragmented it becomes and therefore the engagement that creators can extract ultimately diminishes. This is because celebrity audiences are more likely made up of a broad range of people who may not necessarily match the brand’s target audience. Therefore, you may struggle to cut through with the people you want to reach. The drop in engagement is also coupled with the fact that celebrities tend to be disproportionately more expensive than other influencers because of the added value of the talent that made them famous.

It is usually more effective and efficient to work with creators whose message and content is perfect for your audience and then use advanced distribution to make sure you reach more of that audience in the right places.

About the author:
Kunal Sawant, Business Head, INCA India

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