Learning to pitch an 80 miles-per-hour slider is challenging—so is learning how to approach influencers to work with your brand. But lucky for you, the latter won’t take you years of daily practice to master. With a little time, research, knowledge and the right tools, you can successfully pitch an influencer to work with your brand.

How to find influencers to promote your brand

Digital marketers are dubbing 2018 the year of influencer marketing, and brands are using influencers more than ever to raise brand awareness, drive new visitors to your site, and create user-generated content. According to AdWeek, the influencer market was estimated to be worth $2 billion last year, but will reach $10 billion by 2020.

In other words: You’ll want to jump on this train now. But before you can begin your epic influencer campaign, you need to find and select the influencers you want to work with. Here’s how to get started.

Monitor Social Media

Look at your social media mentions. See who’s commenting on your blog posts and who’s sharing your content — do any of them have an engaged following?

Your mentions will help you see which of your brand advocates are the loudest and proudest. You’ll find people who already know your brand and use your products; two things that make finding and approaching the right influencers easier.

How to approach influencers - Jensen Jeppsen

Source: @JensynJeppsen

You should also monitor relatable hashtags. Hashtags take you to social conversations regarding your niche and ultimately lead you to the active talkers and bloggers in your niche.

Set Up Google Alerts

How to approach influencers - Google Alerts

Google Alerts allows you to set alerts for brand-related keywords so you’ll be notified whenever someone uses these words online. Then, you can check out the blog post’s author or people actively talking about relatable topics online and see if they’d be a good fit for your brand.

Do a Detailed Google Search

Another free way to find influencers is simply doing a Google search. If you’re a local business, see if there are any local bloggers in your city you could reach out to. Do you sell water bottles and workout gear? Search “health, fitness bloggers in (enter your city)”.

How to approach influencers - Google Search

Use Tools to Help Automate the Search Process

One thing we’ve done at Stryde to help us find the right influencers for ourselves and our clients is using influencer marketing tools. Upfluence is a do-it-all influencer marketing software. It finds relevant social media influencers, as well as lets you set up and monitor your influencer marketing campaign. Deep Social dives deep into Instagram influencers and their audiences, providing you with detailed analytics about each. Buzzsumo is another tool that finds influencers via keywords and hashtags and also lets you discover popular content on desired topics and who’s sharing said content.

How to know if an influencer is the right fit for your brand

There are millions of social influencers out there — literally. Though it’s impossible to track the exact number of influencers on the internet (it all depends on what you consider “influence”), our Upfluence search engine contains more than a million social accounts and counting. There may not be millions of influencers in your niche, but I’d safely bet there are thousands. Trying to find an influencer that’s right for your brand, that’s going to be worth your time and money, can seem impossible— but it isn’t. You just have to know the determining factors: Relevance, engagement, common ground, cost, and if they meet your needs and goals.

Relevance

In an influencer marketing survey, 67.6% of marketers said their biggest challenge is finding relevant influencers. While it may be hard, it’s important that the influencers you choose talk and post about topics relevant to your brand. They need to be relevant to you and your buyer persona. Some relevance questions you can ask include:

  • Is this influencer articulate in the topic area we’re in/looking for?
  • Does the influencer match our demographics? Does their audience?
  • Are they considered an expert in our industry?

How to approach influencers - Naot

Take a look at the brand NAOT Footwear. As a retailer of hiking sandals, they sent their products to influencers relevant to their niche, who they were certain would have followers within their target demographic, who would also be interested in hiking sandal products.

They reached out to influencer @JessLikesToHike, who posted a photo of herself wearing the sandals and tagged them in the post.

How to approach influencers - Jesslikestohike

Jess also posted a review of the sandals to her blog, including more high-quality photos that spoke to the adventure-related interests of her followers.

How to approach influencers - Source by Naot
Source: Jess Likes to Hike

Brands should think creatively about ways to make their products relevant to different niches. While hiking sandals and hiking bloggers are a clear fit, less obvious brand/influencer pairings can still be worthwhile. For example, RXBar was able to connect relevantly to Jess’s readers by having her paint their whole-food protein bars as a good choice of snack while hiking.

How to approach influencers - RXBar1How to approach influencers - RXBar2

Audience Reach and Engagement

You may think the number of followers or subscribers they have is all that matters—it’s not. Audience size is important, but it’s only one line on a list of worthwhile aspects and metrics that help you determine an influencer’s worth to your brand and shape your influencer marketing strategy.

What’s even more important than an influencer’s audience size is their engagement rate and type of engagement.

To the untrained eye, an influencer with 3 million Instagram followers seems like a clear winner over an instagrammer with a few thousand. But look closer because oftentimes influencers with millions of followers don’t have good engagement numbers.

Micro-influencers receive 60% more engagement than other campaigns, according to a study by HelloSociety. You’d be better to choose someone with 5,000 followers whose audience is constantly commenting on posts, sharing their content and buying the products they use.

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Take a look at @Christiancaro. While he has fewer than 10,000 followers, his engagement rate is 7.5%. Fashion influencer @Susiebubble has 421,000 followers, but her engagement rate is much lower at .6 percent.

How to approach influencers - christiancaro

Source: @Christiancaro

How to approach influencers - susiebubble

Source: @SusieBubble

Common Ground

Who are you more likely to trust and agree with: someone who shares your same values, interests and lifestyle or someone you have nothing in common with? Obviously, it’s the first. And it’s the same with consumers. Your customers, and those you want to become customers, will be more inclined to trust someone’s promotion of your product if they share similar values, interests and lifestyles.

Along with those three things, an influencer’s voice, tone and personality should be similar to your brand’s. It should make sense to consumers why this influencer is working with your brand, being the influencer and your brand share common ground, not because you found someone with a huge following and paid them tons to praise your product.

A great example of this is micro-influencer @tenacious_tom13 and his recent partnership with Garmin.

How to approach influencers - tenacious_tom13

Source: @TenaciousTom_13

As an outdoor sports influencer, his posts frequently exhibit the fun, adventurous spirit Garmin has made its brand. Garmin even used a photo Tom took for their own instagram feed, since his aesthetic and photos are a good visual match for Garmin’s.

How to approach influencers - photo

How to approach influencers - Garmin

Cost

No business decision is made without considering cost. If an influencer is going to review and recommend your product, they should be amply compensated for their time and effort (because it does take a lot of time and creativity on their part). Whether it’s money, free products or social shoutouts, you need to feel comfortable with how you compensate them and not be burying yourself too deep financially.

Meeting Needs and Goals

Lastly, to determine the worth and right fit of an influencer, ask yourself the following two questions:

  • Does this influencer meet our needs?
  • Will this influencer help us meet our goals?

How to approach influencers

Once you sift through the millions of influencers out there and narrow it down to a handful that fit your brand, it’s time to send them that slider—only this pitch you don’t want to blow right by them.

Here are some tips on how to approach influencers successfully:

Position your pitch as helping them. You want an influencer to help your brand; to get your name and product out there and get a better social following and/or sales. You’re asking them to spend their time talking about your brand. But don’t pitch it that way. While both parties know how this kind of relationship works, position your pitch as benefiting them, i.e. they’ll get more traffic, be well compensated, etc.

Consider the following example, which Stryde used to successfully pitch an influencer:

Hi [Influencer Name!]

 

I’m reaching out on behalf of our team at [Brand Name].

 

I was wondering if you have time to give one of our products a review?

 

If you do and you think your readers would be interested, we’d like to have you pick out any item from our site (with the exception of the backup camera) that we can have shipped to you to share on either your Instagram page or [Their Blog.]

 

We’ve been featured on [Publication] if you’d like to know more about us and our products. You can check out the article here: [Link]

 

Excited to hear from you,

 

[Name]

 

Be specific but simple and to the point. Influencers receive numerous pitches each day. An influencer isn’t going to take 10 minutes reading your long-winded email, nor are they going to jump at the chance to work with you if your outline of what’s expected is too broad. Be specific in what’s in it for them and what you’re wanting out of this relationship, and then leave it up to them to agree with your terms or send a counter-offer.

Give a deadline. You can’t wait days or weeks for an influencer to make a decision. Give them a deadline, and don’t feel bad if it’s less than a week. Like I said, influencers are given lots of pitches. If you give them too long to think about it, they might forget to respond or a competitor could come in and steal them from you. Plus, most influencers will know their answer after reading your email pitch.

Think long-term. If you want a long-term ROI from using an influencer, don’t just ask them to do a one-time project. Create and invest in a long-term strategy with them. You and the influencer will receive more value from a long-term relationship than a one-time thing.

Be patient, not pushy. Relationships aren’t built overnight or after one Tweet or email. Keep monitoring their social activity, interacting with them online (without being annoying or a stalker) and patiently wait for the opportune moment to send that first pitch and follow-up with them. If you handle things correctly with the right influencers, in time you’ll gain their trust.

 

There’s a lot to think about and consider when you’re searching for a great influencer, but using the tools out there and just getting started are the only ways you’re going to perfect your pitch and find possible influencers that will be willing to work with you. Using the tips and resources above are a great starting point.

The beauty of influencer marketing is the fluidity of it – if someone ends up not working out for your brand, you can easily move on and try again. Unlike baseball, you get more than three chances before you strike out.