Independent. Savvy. Selective. Today’s consumers know what they want – and they do their own research to find it. Whether they’re searching for the best dry shampoo or the most efficient hybrid vehicle on the market, they prefer input from voices they trust. After all, people want to talk to people, not companies.

Word-of-mouth advertising is nothing new, but this concept has taken on a whole new form with the rise of social media. Through platforms like blogs, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Pinterest, influencers have done more than change the landscape, they’ve reinvented word-of-mouth advertising. Aligning with influencers gives brands a chance to connect their offerings with a trusted, powerful voice and frankly, it’s not a numbers game. Brands don’t necessarily need to align with massive influencers boasting 90.4 million Instagram followers (we’re looking at you, Kim Kardashian!) to convey a product or message effectively. What they need is authenticity and a loyal audience.

The most successful influencers (translate: those who deliver the best results for brands) aren’t always the ones with the highest number of followers. Standouts are those who stay true to their own identity and commit to their followers by offering carefully curated, high quality, relevant content. A New York fashion blogger, for example, would be hard-pressed to explain to her audience why she’s partnering with a kitty litter brand. Collaborations need to be genuine and authentic and when they are, both parties win.

Engagement rates matter more than followers – and they’re often the telltale sign of a powerful influencer. Someone boasting one million followers may have fewer likes, comments and shares than one with an audience only a fraction of the size. Case in point, a mommy blogger in Atlanta with a modest following has shown to actually generate more response (including more sales) than a well-known reality star in LA. We’ve seen it. How? She’s “real” which makes her relatable, she focuses only on brands that are relevant to her lifestyle, and is selective with her collaborations to make certain that they’ll resonate with her audience. These types of social media influencers have followers who monitor so closely that they read their blogs multiple times a week and are hungry to buy whatever the influencer is wearing, eating or reading at that moment. No kidding.

Influencer marketing isn’t about recruiting random Instagrammers and bloggers, handing them a product brief and crossing your fingers. It’s about finding a strong group of influencers who are passionate and eager to share your message, because it’s something that they believe in already. Finding that sweet spot will deliver the outcome you’re looking for: authentic voices speaking honestly about your brand in a way that inspires action.  But don’t go it alone. The world of influencers is still the wild west, and managing the process – everything from initial relationship building, recruitment, campaign development, compensation and reporting –requires a committed team. Beyond Fifteen has worked on multiple influencer marketing campaigns across an array of social media platforms, and can help navigate the process with you – guiding you every step of the way.

Send us an email at info@beyondfifteen.com or give us a ring at 949-733-8679 to learn more.