Recently, a client asked me to create and provide a plan for recruiting top influencers. He requested a formula where the number of followers and comments an influencer had equaled success. I will confess, I giggled slightly at his request. My job would certainly be a lot easier if there was such a formula but unfortunately, there is not. A human touch is required for true success. Below are five reasons why there is no black and white formula for recruiting and activating influencers.

Engagement Versus Followers

When reviewing potential influencers, it is important to review engagement over followers. Not only can followers be purchased, but smaller (or micro) influencers often have stronger engagement and authority with their followers than someone who has a large following. A successful influencer campaign is one where the audience trusts the influencer. True relationships cannot be faked. See my post on the power of niche influencers here.

Authenticity Versus Clicks

Beyond looking at ‘likes’ and comments, affiliate managers need to analyze the authenticity of the engagement. Bloggers have created private Facebook groups with the sole purpose of requiring its members to leave comments and likes each other’s posts. The rules of these groups are strict: like and comment on a specific number of posts per day or risk removal from the group. These posts are easily recognizable because the comments are often generic and superficial along the lines of, “great post,” or a single thumbs up emoji. When you see that type of engagement on a single post, it’s likely the work of one of these comment pods.

Pretty Pictures Versus Recommendations

 As a brand, you want to ensure that posts made on your behalf are encouraging your desired call to action. An attractive picture that yields only comments and ‘likes’ is not a solid CTA unless, of course, the goal of the campaign is focused on images and branding. I structure my campaigns so the call to action results in a completed sale. For my affiliates, an attractive picture used without persuasive content will not be considered a successful campaign.

Sales Versus Engagement

When I review an influencer, I look at their other brand campaigns to ensure they are getting equal engagement compared to personal quotes, pictures and images. Many times, there is great authentic engagement on personal images and stories but significantly less on brand sponsored posts. It’s important to choose an influencer who can sell as well as engage.

Niche Versus General

The more your influencer knows about your specific niche the greater the engagement. While there can be a formula to find a niche, it goes beyond the numbers or keyword search. Is the influencer a perceived expert in your niche? Has she/he written about your niche in the past? If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions, you increase your chances of a successful campaign.

And here is the harsh reality, even if you take all of the above into consideration, the campaign may still not succeed. There is no ‘easy button’ or formula to influencer marketing. It takes time, education and authenticity on your part as well. However, reviewing these questions while searching for your next influencer gives you a great start. What are your criteria for selecting your next influencer?