6 Things Brands Look for in Influencers in 2020
First, One Thing Brands DON'T Look for in Influencers
Once upon a time, I was working with an influencer on a campaign, and one morning, my email dinged. I opened up an email from this influencer, and all of a sudden was totally shocked by what it said...
“Katherine, you are the absolute worst! I have been emailing over multiple days and have received no response!! You haven’t paid me, it’s a week overdue, and now you’re not answering my emails, *insert cursing, and name-calling here*
Also, insert me panicking here.
With the cursing, name-calling, and personal insult to me, I’m truly panicked because I was so confused.
I start thinking as I quickly message accounting, “I never saw any emails from her, and we’ve already paid every influencer for this campaign… Did she somehow get missed?!?”
Accounting responds saying, “Katherine, here are screenshots of her two payments. They went out weeks ago, and we also haven’t received any emails from her saying she never got paid…”
Once I realize our bases are pretty covered, I email the influencer back…
“Hey Jessica, I’m attaching screenshots of the two separate payments that went out two weeks ago from our accounting team. Also, neither of them nor I have any emails from you asking about payments. Please let me know if maybe you can dig through your bank account, or we can hop on a quick call to figure this out.”
Long story short, about an hour later, I get an email from her saying…
“Hey Katherine…turns out, I meant to email a different brand...sorry!”
(basically, she got tripped up on two different campaigns with similarly named brands - example: I worked for Home Depot, she was trying to contact Depot Home...you get the point.)
While it turns out she meant to say those things to another brand, I was pretty shocked. She must have been very frustrated, but the language, personal attacks, and overall awfulness of her email made me think twice about her.
Even though it was a mistake, we never worked with her again, and I don’t recommend her to influencer marketing colleagues to this day.
So, super-aggressive rude emails are NOT something brands are looking for in 2020. Even if you were never supposed to see that email...
What Do Brands Look for in Influencers in 2020?
Bringing us to the topic of what brands look for in influencers, it’s a catch-22 – influencers think brands only want to work with the same creators over and over again, and in reality, brands have trouble finding great influencers.
There’s continually a mismatch in this industry of finding, vetting, and then collaborating with A+ creators.
Here are six things brands look for in influencers.
1. Strong Engagement
Probably the king of things brands look for in influencers, engagement is even more critical in influencer marketing campaigns in 2020.
Linqia released a report that found a whopping 89 % of marketers use engagement to measure the success of their influencer marketing.
No longer does the-end-all-be-all include following - for smart brands, engagement is much more of the main focus when it comes to finding influencers. Engagement rates give a brand a much better idea of what they can expect by partnering with you.
- What’s your engagement right?
- What’s your average engagement rate or brand partnerships?
- How many replies and DMs do you get to a story?
- Are you answering comments/engaging with questions from readers?
These are all key questions a brand or PR pro will ask themselves when looking over your Instagram or blog.
Even better if you can proactively send brands your engagement metrics when they first email you or you first pitch out them.
2. Strong past work with brands
Again, another great indicator of how you work with brands as a creator and what they can expect from an influencer marketing partnership with you.
Business Insider estimated that “brands are set to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022,” and more money means higher expectations.
Your past brand collaborations are your resumé - having case studies and a simple, powerful reporting dashboard that confidentiality allows you to share your past results is an incredible tool in your back pocket.
Having these smart, powerful reports of past brand collaborations is super important for a few reasons.
- Supports your pricing - if you want to command great rates, you have to have data to back it up. Having the results in case studies to back up your rates is huge.
- Establishes trust and transparency - two things sometimes missing between brands and influencers. Metrics are one of the most “fluffed” up things on both sides.
- Better long-term relationships - when expectations are clear and trust exists, brands want to work with you desperately on future influencer marketing campaigns.
- Actual content examples - sometimes, sponsored content might differ from organic content on your Instagram. Brands want to get an idea of what an organic Instagram Stories series will look like if organic vs. sponsored.
3. Easy-to-access contact info
Another overlooked thing brands look for in influencers? Contact info.
If you love working with brands and want to get more influencer marketing campaigns, you’d be shocked at how many influencers make it IMPOSSIBLE to find contact info.
Don’t ever bury the ability to contact you onto a form on your website. A survey by UX Collective showed that out of 307 participants, 67 % of people tend to skip contact forms and opt for email instead.
Not only does an email address make it easier for brands to reach out to you for work, but many influencer marketing agencies have extensive databases or reporting that they put together for themselves. The ability to copy and paste your email is honestly huge.
Having a simple, visible email address saves so much time, and in the past, I’ve actually given up on finding contact info for an influencer, scratching her from our campaign if it’s taken me too long.
- Ditch the contact forms on your website and instead provide a direct email address
- Include the email button in your Instagram profile - again, bonus points if it goes directly to you instead of a generic email like email@example.com
- Put your email address on your website multiple times - popular places: the header, footer, or sidebar
4. Powerful testimonials
Brands are businesses, and the majority of businesses look for recommendations when working with any outside partner - whether it’s a marketing agency, a PR firm, an SEO company, or even an influencer.
Digital Doughnut highlighted the way testimonials play into the herd mentality, making testimonials a valuable source of social proof.
Like reporting dashboards of your past brand deals, testimonials are a huge thing brands look for in influencers in 2020.
Having testimonials showcases a few things:
- You’re business-savvy enough to understand how important they are
- You’re probably really professional in a campaign
- You have great past working relationships with brands
- If it’s a well-known brand, you get an authority and legitimacy boost, too
Not only are testimonials from brands you worked with an amazing tool to have on hand, they’re also incredibly rare. It makes you massively stand out, and many times, brands feel like they can trust another brand.
PS - You can store all of your testimonials directly into Kalypso, and insert them into influencer case studies when you want to pitch to a brand in the future or support your pricing structure.
5. Quick response time
Omg, this is MAJORLY MAJORLY overlooked. If I had a dollar for the number of times I needed an influencer to come in clutch, reply fast, and get content turned around quickly, I’d be a millionaire.
(okay, maybe like a thousandaire, but you’re following, right?)
A quick response time is such a slept on quality in influencer marketing. For PR professionals, so many opportunities are quick turnaround times. A brand client might need an extra hundred thousand impressions, or they might want to do a last-minute promotion before a sale. Either way, so many projects come up with a very tight turnaround time or deadline. You’ll become a PR pro or influencer agency's best friend if you’re able to respond to your email quickly and turn around content fast.
- Shoot for a 24-hour response rate for brands - If there’s one thing you can get to in your email inbox for the day, make it the brand partnership email.
- Become the go-to girl for fast turnaround work - So many influencers I’ve worked with in the past became my go-to girls because I knew I could depend on them to turn around something amazing within a few days - without long drawn-out negotiations, having to quality check their work, or having them ghost me and completely miss deadlines.
- Mark influencer agency or brand contacts as “Important” - In Gmail, you can mark certain contacts as VIPs, so they’ll show up at the top of your inbox, regardless of chronological order.
- Keep your inbox organized - How sad would you feel if there was a tally of all the brand deals you missed just because you never saw them in your inbox? Keeping your inbox free of clutter, sorting through it regularly, deleting promo emails all keeps your inbox streamlined and ready for the important stuff.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that a study conducted by MailTime.com showed that 52 % of professionals expect a response to an email within 12 to 24 hours of hitting send. Good etiquette is ABSOLUTELY something brands look for in influencers.
6. Ability to speak marketing business language
This is another major factor that gets overlooked and is rare to come across an influencer who speaks the business side of marketing.
From KPIs to CTRs to LTV to earned media value, it’s still incredibly rare to find a creator who understands the back-end marketing metrics of influencer campaigns.
Having a solid, clear understanding of your metrics not only makes you an amazing partner for brands, but it also gives you major confidence.
Say goodbye to feeling nervous on calls or a twinge of anxiety before sending over screenshots to a brand. When you’re confident about your metrics and understand what you’re saying, it goes a long way in helping you have the confidence to negotiate for higher rates, insist on getting paid and not just accepting free products, and building those long-term partnerships with brands.
Understanding the market language behind an influencer campaign is something that brands look for in influencers in 2020 - even if they don’t exactly know it yet.
That’s actually why Kalypso was invented - to give you the tools to confidentially report on your brand deals and the metrics that matter.
Now That You Know What Brands Look for in Influencers...
To wrap it up, there’s a lot that goes into building an ideal relationship between a brand and an influencer. Rest assured, if you’re reading this post, you’re already ahead of 85% of influencers out there because you actually CARE.
Now that you know what brands are looking for in the perfect influencer in 2020, we want you to put this info into action to build better relationships with brands, get higher-paying campaigns, and ultimately, make more money as an influencer.