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Can Brands Work With Any Influencer?

This is one of the more common questions I come accross when working with new clients and training brands. The short answer is “no”, but let’s dive into the things to consider when decided which advocates are right for your brand.


One of the familiar pitfalls of influencer marketing in recent years is the rise of tools promising to identify the perfect ambassador for any brand. Whilst data is extremely important in the decision-making process, this is an industry built on human connection, something these tools will never be able to achieve. This results in campaigns built solely on audience and engagement figures, lacking the experience and industry knowledge which add relevency and soul to these partnerships.

So what should you be looking out for when developing these relationships? If it’s not enough to have lots of followers and pretty pictures which perform well then what should we be looking for in an ambassador?

Brand fit - content:

The fist question you should be asking is whether this specific creator is right for YOUR brand. They may shoot the most incredible food content you’ve ever seen, but if you specialise in gym gear and they’ve never spoken about so much as a press up in the history of their channel then they might not be a good fit for you. Don’t be fooled though, by having honest conversations with creators you really love, you may find that they have a secret hobby relating to your business, or they’ve been looking for the perfect opportunity to diversify their feed. You won’t know unless you ask!

Brand fit - holistic:

Their content may relate to your product category, but it’s just as important that your advocates share your brand values and buy into your ethos before you strike up a partnership. If your brand cares deeply about the environment, it should be core to your strategy to ensure that your advocates really are making eco lifestyle choices in every facet of their life to achieve authenticity and trust with your audience. If you prefer to be a non-polarising brand then ensuring you work with talent who won’t feel stifled by strict guidelines, and who will comfortably convey your messaging in a tone which works for you is key to maintaining a consistent brand image.


Is this creator well-respected within the community you are trying to reach? Are they perhaps represented by a reputed agency, or have they recently worked with some great brands? Have they been involved in any scandals or controversies which could potentially damage your brand image by association? No matter the size of your business it’s important that the creators you’re working with are protecting your name as much as you are theirs.

Your KPIs:

We’ve gone into the detail of KPI-led campaigns *here* but it’s important to note within this post that KPIs absolutely should inform your creator selections. We only work with creators whose engagement rate matches or exceeds the industry average for their tier, but beyond this you should understand that different creators will drive different results. Some creators may have relatively low content views for their audience size, but drive high clickthrough and sales figures. Others may have a mass reach and awareness value but drive little in terms of customer funnel flow. Neither is ”better” than the other - moreso than any medium social media audience behaviours vary massively by demographic and channel, and even with the changing seasons. Understanding these nuances and tailoring your outreach list according to what you want to achieve from a specific campaign is the best wait to achieve tailored results.

Personal knowledge:

I can’t count the number of times a client has come to me with a list of creators recommended to them by a marketing tool, or a friend who knows a lot about Instagram, and I’ve had to go through with a red pen crossing names out because “this person is taking a 6 week break to focus on being a dad”, “this person is about to sign a big contract with the market leader in your niche”, “this person is allergic to one of your key ingredients”. As with most industries there are some things which can’t be taught, and a decade of deep knowledge of the industry and the people in it is the quickest way to gauge the effectiveness of a campaign and its ambassadors before you’ve even started.

Although your KPIs will vary, it should be every brand’s objective to find ambassadors who share in your core values, with an audience who respects and trust them, and who feel passionately about sharing your brand with everyone around them. These perfect matches can’t be found by an algorithm, and the most successful brand partnerships are testament to the power of experience and knowledge in the industry.

- Geo, Founder and Director at HappyCat.


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