Do your (audience) homework
Perhaps more important than finding the right creator, is finding out who their audience is.
Part of that process can include looking at data around a creator’s engagement, according to Ricky Ray Butler, CEO of BEN. Although an influencer may have millions of followers, many of those accounts could be bots or “fake engagement” rather than people genuinely interested in the creator and their content, he said. Butler gave the example of fashion influencer Arii, who in 2019 launched a clothing line that she assumed her 2.6 million Instagram followers would enthusiastically receive. However, she ultimately sold fewer than 36 shirts, largely because fewer than half of her followers were “real people” and nearly a third were bots.
When choosing a creator to partner with, brands should research that creator’s audience demographics—and even potentially investigate that audience’s “psychographics,” or their attitudes and beliefs, Butler added. Selecting an influencer who has a high follower count but whose audience is wildly different from the consumers a brand is trying to reach will ultimately be ineffective; for example, a popular creator with “an army of fourteen-year-olds” following them wouldn’t make sense for a luxury fashion brand like Gucci to partner with, Canadian model and influencer Coco Rocha said in a panel.
Related: How brands should navigate the creator economy
Brands should familiarize themselves with the content a creator produces before reaching out about a partnership. Rocha has avoided working with brands who simply know her as a model without looking into the other interests and causes she incorporates into her content.
Knowing a creator’s audience and how your brand could resonate with them can make the creative process easier and the collaboration more rewarding for both the brand and influencer.
“When you do build collaborative content, build it knowing the person who’s actually going to take your brand and run with it in a unique way that you never thought about doing before,” said futurist David “Shingy” Shing. ”That’s the key to this.”