Finding the right type of influencer for the right project

March 12, 2019
Last updated on
December 13, 2021

It may be an obvious choice but my favorite actor is Daniel Day Lewis, and my favorite role of his is in There Will Be Blood. It’s nuanced and intense, quiet and explosive, and generally a joy to watch. He is an actor's actor, someone who lives for the craft.

Thing is, I also love The Rock and think he is a great actor. He has none of the craft and skill of Daniel Day Lewis but that doesn't really matter because he is so charismatic and earnest that you forgive his shortcomings. They are both great in their own way and they have been wise in picking roles that amplify their strengths and aren't impeded by their weaknesses. The Rock was great in Fast and the Furious, he would have been terrible in There Will Be Blood.

Something that has been bothering me recently is that people are lumping so many different types of people under the "influencer" umbrella without understanding there are huge differences in how someone built their following and thus how you can use that following to help spread a brand’s message. Let me give some examples:

1. Following from fame: This one is obvious, but worth talking about as more reality stars are building a social following and monetizing this following with brand deals.

Pros: Can have incredibly devoted audiences that will do anything for them, celebrity still sells, but brands are going to pay for it.

Cons: My issue with this is largely that a) many celebrities are terrible at talking about brands in an authentic and organic way b) the followings are built on an interest in that person and not necessarily their taste, style or brand affinities.

Best practices: Look at how often they are talking about brands organically and ask yourself if you think they have an interactive relationship with their audience, with a back and forth dialogue, or if they are just speaking at them.

2. Following from good genes: This is people who won the genetic lottery and are some of the best looking humans on the planet, and since society isn't slowing down our obsession with a certain type of physical "beauty" these individuals can build a following pretty easily.

Pros: They are incredibly good looking and as models have always done, look great showcasing most products. Their audiences are usually very engaged.

Cons: Followings are usually based on wanting to see photos of the influencer, not a desire to know what they think about a product. In other words, they are followed because they look great but not for their opinions. Followings are often an opposite demographic than the influencer, which makes selling product hard. For example, a bikini model usually has a mostly male following.

Best practices: Brands should avoid overpaying for these influencers since their audiences are often big but less valuable. 

3. Following from creative work: These are artists, photographers, creative stars who produce beautiful work and are followed by people who are fans of their output.

Pros: Can create beautiful assets for your brand.

Cons: Can be difficult for these influencers to integrate brands into their feeds, since their following is mostly built on showcasing their creative work and their audience isn't as accepting of sponsored posts.

Best practices: Brands can use them as photographers, creative directors, filmmakers for their project and get them involved in a project before most influencers. If these creators feel ownership over the creative direction, they will be more authentically excited about it. 

4. Following from lifestyle: There are people with enviable lives, wardrobes and friendship circles. These are the It girls and guys of the influencer space, the ones everyone wants at their parties.

Pros: They offer some escapism for their followers, showing a different, chicer lifestyle and it's pretty powerful to associate your brand with those individuals.

Cons: While great for brand awareness, they don't generally drive sales and ROI and can be expensive to work with because they are so in demand.

Best practices: Brands are smart to implement these influencers for brand lift. They shouldn’t be forced to use coupon codes or links in profiles since it dilutes their value and muddies the message.

5. Following from advice: These are the prototypical bloggers, people who have built a following from giving advice about beauty, fashion, interiors, parenting or whatever their niche is for years. They are very product focused and know their audience intimately.

Pros: Generally your best bet for conversion to sale in the influencer space, they have built so much trust with their audience because that audience expects and wants them to talk about new brands and products they love.

Cons: They do a lot of sponsored posts, so its harder for your brand to stand out and often the content, by design, isn't as elevated as your lifestyle influencers.

Best practices: Brands do well to let these creators speak in their tone of voice. They know their audience so well that brands need to allow them to pitch their product to them in a way that makes sense for them. We also would suggest brands to contract them for at least three posts to ensure some authenticity. 

If brands think about influencers as tools in their proverbial marketing shed, they have to understand that not all tools are right for every job and it is paramount that they pick the right person, with the right audience, for the campaign they are looking to run. 

— Fohr CEO James Nord

To learn more insider insights on the influencer space, keep a close eye on our blog.

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