Influencer marketing is now one of the biggest go-to’s when it comes to modern-day marketing. In Zimbabwe, it is a very common feature of most businesses or startups. Interestingly, most of the engaging content online in Zimbabwe is in the domain of influencer marketing. Most of you are familiar with how socialites like Comic Pastor, Nigel and the like regularly churn out comedy content. Notice how they incorporate marketing different kinds of brands in their comedy skits? That is what influencer marketing is all about. Influencer marketing is the marketing of brands, especially through social media, through influential public figures endorsing or promoting brands to their followers.

Clear Vision

You can never find the right thing or person if you do not know what you are looking for. You cannot know what you are looking for lest you are certain about what you want to achieve. What is it that you want to achieve by bringing an influencer on board? Do you want to increase your social media audience? Do you want to launch a new product or service? Do you want to increase brand awareness? Do you want to run some sort of promotion? What exactly do you want to achieve? What are the specific goals and objectives? All these questions, and more, will paint a clear picture of what or the kind of person you are looking for.

Brand Alignment

When considering an influencer to settle for you must prioritize your brand image. You would not want a scenario where an influencer’s brand image overshadows yours. You would not want a scenario where your influencer’s brand image is out of sync with yours. There must be an alignment that actually boosts your brand further. What does the influencer stand for? What are their values and principles? What is it they champion and represent? All that must complement your brand rather than compromise it. So before even going anywhere rigorously assess this brand alignment aspect when considering influencers.

Reputation + Credibility

What is the public’s perception of the influencer in question? What are they known for or what are they popular for? Some influencers in Zimbabwe have notable audiences. I will not mention names but some of them are known for being controversial e.g. being foul-mouthed and combative on social media. That reputation makes it dangerous to settle for someone like that as an influencer. Thus reputation is a very central consideration in choosing an influencer.

Then there is the credibility element which complements reputation. Interestingly, credibility can actually be defined as reputation impacting one’s ability to be believed. You see how that is a big deal given how an influencer’s core job is to make people believe in a brand. Being credible speaks of attributes such as being plausible, authentic, or convincing. You can ascertain all this by looking at the record of the influencer. Do they have a proven track record of being plausible, authentic, and convincing?

Reach + Engagement

Obviously, an influencer must be someone with a huge or considerably big following. Bear in mind that it is not just merely about numbers. Most experts even encourage that you must consider micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are influencers with accounts or followership of between 10000 (and less) and 50000 followers. Studies have shown that micro-influencers tend to have consistent and solid relationships with their followers. The other reasons are because micro-influencers are relatively easier to approach. After all, there is less competition for them. Macro-influencers (those with 500000 to 1 million or more followers) are hard to approach. They are also obviously very expensive to settle for. So these are some of the reach-related issues to look at. You must also ensure that their reach is your target market. It would be pointless to go for an influencer with a good audience but which is not really your target market.

Engagement could actually be the most important factor to look at. This is because conversions (i.e. actual sales) are borne out of engagement. This should tell you that reach is not even as important if engagement is lacking. By engagement, I am referring to things like likes, comments, shares, and the like. An effective influencer stimulates, sustains and grows engagement. All this is central to increasing brand awareness through social mentions, word of mouth, and referrals. Essentially you want an influencer whose engagement rate per post is between 2 and 6 per cent. If the engagement rate is at least 10 per cent then such an influencer has the capacity to always go viral.

In case you are wondering how to calculate engagement rate. Here is the simple formula:

Engagement Rate = (Total Engagement ÷ Number of Followers) × 100

Total Engagement = The Sum of Interactions (i.e. likes, comments, shares, reactions)

At some point in your business or startup journey, you will need to work with influencers. In this digital age, it is almost inevitable if you want to make waves. Studies have shown that over 60 per cent of people aged between 18 and 34 make their purchase decisions based on what influencers say. Studies have also shown that it is usually micro-influencers they pay the most attention to. Bear in mind also that this age group has a huge influence on the purchase decisions of all age groups around or connected to them. Clearly, your business or startup can benefit immensely from partnering with influencers.