The Follower Delusion: Your Biggest Influencer Marketing Mistake

Influencers should be a key part of your social media strategy; the right influencer can expose your brand to hundreds of thousands of their followers. Yet, in a rush to snap up influencers, many businesses fall under the sway of the follower delusion: the belief that an individual with a large number of followers will make a better influencer than another with fewer followers.

While it's true that you want to get your message out as widely as possible, a large following alone will not provide influence. Truly influential individuals get others to take action; many businesses fail in influencer marketing because their chosen influencers have a large reach but little impact and/or little knowledge on how to truly drive ROI via social marketing.

The Audience Is Key

The follower delusion encourages businesses to look only at the influencers: who they are and how many people they can reach. This delusion leads to marketers ignoring the most important part of the equation: the audience.

For an influencer to boost your marketing, they must have an audience that is primarily made up of your target market. For the purpose of assessing an influencer's potential, anyone following them outside your target market may as well not be there.

Consider the following example: you design and sell your own range of men's clothing, and you've just come into contact with a social media influencer with one million followers. You know they're interested in marketing your product and considering your budget and resources, appear to offer great value.

Should you make a deal?

Answer: It depends on the audience.

On further inspection, the vast majority of their audience is female and under 18 - completely wrong for your product.

Contrast this with a smaller influencer with just 20,000 followers - but all of them are your target market. This micro-influencer might look small-scale in comparison, but they will be many times more effective than the influencer with the larger following.

Finding the Right Influencers

Don’t get seduced by a larger follower rate! Influencers with larger follower numbers might not be the most effective, but they are easy to find - and that's one of the reasons why businesses fall into the trap of approaching them. Look for smaller, higher-quality that have a keen understanding of how to use various social media platforms to promote a product. Influencers that can innovatively use Facebook Live, Instagram Stories etc. to promote a business, are worth far more than someone that has a ton of followers, but can’t leverage them. When looking for ideal influencers, consider the following tactics:

  • Get the right tools - There are a number of useful tools now available to find and rate influencers that might be a good fit for your organization. Platforms like Buzz Sumo and Upfluence can help you determine who is relevant in your industry and how much success they are having with being an influencer.
  • Use Google Alerts - Google Alerts allows you to monitor the Internet for content related to certain keywords. This is a great way to find websites, blogs and social media users who are passionate about your niche. Google Alerts is also a great way to find out who is already talking about your brand and what they are saying.
  • Monitor Hash Tags - Follow hashtags related to your product, company and niche. Remember, a potential influencer may not yet know about your product but may be very passionate about your niche and have a bunch of followers who feel the same, so don't limit your search to hashtags relating to your product. Often, the influencers who haven't heard about your product offer the biggest opportunity.

It’s All About the Relationship

Much like reporters, successfully working with industry influencers to promote your products, even when paid, is heavily reliant on building good relationships. Work to develop high levels of reciprocity so that the relationship is mutually beneficial. In other words, work to determine how you can exchange value for value. Some simple ways to do this include:

  • Say thank you – A simple “thanks” goes a long way with influencers. Think of it as online team building… thank the influencer in a public post for helping you with your project and they will be more inclined to work with you in the future.
  • Give accolades – send an email to the influencer, completely unrelated to any content you’re promoting, congratulating them on a job well done. For example, if you saw that their blog was nominated for an award, send a brief congratulations email.
  • Offer to collaborate – Allow the influencer to have some say on how to promote your project. Collaboration will allow the influencer to feel as if they have more ownership, leading to exponential goodwill.

Not sure how to take your Influencer Marketing program to the next level? Need some help with determining which influencer might be right for your business? We can help! Contact us at or 480-305-2017 for more information.

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