What are the influencer marketing best practices to follow?

Estimated read time: 5 minutes

Influencer marketing can be highly beneficial for all involved especially when influencer marketing best practices are followed. That includes:

  • The brand
  • The influencer
  • The influencer’s audience

But it can also backfire and make us look less positive and relevant than was intended.

Not an influencer marketing best practice:

Here’s how influencer marketing somtimes looks unfortunately:

A brand out of the blue messages an “influencer” and says:

Hi, what’s your address. We’d like to send you something. Or a brand reaches out to offer you a “free” product in return for you doing a review. (On Amazon, this is against the rules by the way, so don’t do it!)

Read next: Your guide to making online reviews work for your business

And then they often send some irrelevant thing that shows they don’t even know you.

If a brand cares about a connection and thinks it can help them, be sure to know what those people care about and what they stand for. Sending them the opposite isn’t showing that. Also, receiving free stuff in exchange for anything will likely cause you to have to pay taxes on that item. Ask your accountant to be sure! I prefer to get paid in cash and not products I may or may not want.

Brand-influencer-audience alignment

One influencer marketing best practice is to be in alignment:

Brand – we have something your audience might care about. How can we work with you? Yes, we want to sell more, but only when it’s relevant to our customers.

Influencer – I always look for better ways to tell better stories and be more efficient. I also am always looking to learn new things. For me to endorse it, it has to work! And I don’t like to work for free.

The influencer’s audience – Don’t ever mislead them. If whatever the brand is offering is of value, share it. If not, don’t share it. Or share why it’s bit of interest to your community. Some marketing VPs might say that campaign backfired when that happens.

Also, be transparent. For example, brands can’t buy my opinion, but they can reimburse me for  my attention and my time.

How can brands run better influencer marketing campaigns?

  1. Determine value proposition to that specific audience
  2. Know how it will benefit influencers and their audiences
  3. Identify relevant influencers
  4. Do NOT just throw a solicitation their way.
  5. Start building a relationship with them. Share their stuff, ask them questions, etc. Other things people have done for hundreds of years to build relationships, you know!
  6. Give before asking.
  7. Be a partner.

And don’t promise influencers to be paid in great exposure or something else like that. You are working with them because they can give you exposure.

How to find influencers?

There certainly are tools out there like Traackr and Onalytica can help you identify potential influencers based on their methods. (Onalytica even named me a top 25 content marketer in the world in 2018. Thank you!)

So there are tools out there that help you find your influencers if you’re looking for them for your brand campaign. You can also simply go to your preferred networks and search for the keywords that you’re trying to target and see who is talking about them and evaluate whether not they have any kind of influence on your target audience.

Neal Schaffer also said that companies shouldn’t forget about their own employees. Their influencers too. Basically anyone who engages on social media and has a following and that could align with your brand is a potential partner for influencer marketing.

How to become a social media influencer

First off, I would highly recommend that you find topics that you know something about and that you can build an audience around.

While everyone is an influencer to someone, brands are typically looking for influencers who have a larger and of course relevant following.

So the strategy should be two-fold at the beginning:

  • Share valuable content for your target audience
  • Continue growing that audience by growing your email list, social media following and general website traffic.

Often, brands will find you once you run this successfully. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt to reach out from time to time in on the right channels if you really want to work with a specific brand.

Best practice: Pick projects carefully

In late 2018 a company wanted to partner with me. They had apparently seen my fitness blog posts – some of which draw a surprising amount of traffic.

They wanted me to do some video testimonials commercials.

So far so good.

What’s the product?

A new male enhancement something. Don’t remember if it’s a pill, liquid or both.

Okay. I reviewed some of the materials and asked: “is this for men working out?”

“Sure, but it’s really for all men.”


I read further.

It was all about sex – not that I’m opposed to sex at all.

I asked further: “can I see the video script?”

Sure. They sent it. I cut a couple “penile” mentions but overall I could say that, but it’s really not a fit for my audience or even my brand.

Intimacy spokesman Christoph at your service!

Is this the right fit?

In the meantime, I kept asking myself: Why do they want to partner with me?

Certainly, my audience is partially male and maybe it’s enough men for them to reach just enough.

I wrote back saying I would do it and listed an outlandish price tag.

They wrote back saying they’d consider it.

Then a few days later (paraphrased): After further review, we don’t think your audience is as close of a match. Thanks for your time.

No problem. I thought it was a stretch, too.  But why even get to this point? Do the research first and pick wisely.

My recommendation: When people want to reach your audience, always reply – even if it’s a templated reply:

Thanks for emailing. We are happy to partner but keep in mind there’s a fee. Let me know if you like to proceed.

Then go from there. Try to automate the process as much as possible. I use out of office, then send them to Calendly for automatic scheduling. Or PayPal.me for easy payment.

Influencer marketing best practices wrap

At the end of the day, brands working with influencers can be beneficial for all involved. Just understand the audiences, the dynamics of cost and pricing and how it would all work.

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