Influencers Are The Future of Marketing. Here's How To Prepare Your Brand In 2020, the average number of social media accounts for a millennial or Gen Z-er was 8.4 personal accounts. It's time to take influencer marketing seriously.

By Ksana Liapkova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

At least 93 percent of marketers have included influencer marketing in their brand strategy. Additionally, In 2020, the average number of social media accounts for a millennial or Gen Z-er was 8.4 personal accounts, which means that it's more important than ever for brands to embrace a cross-channel marketing approach to stay competitive. The influencer marketing industry is projected to reach $16.4 billion by the end of 2022.

Successfully connecting influencers and brands requires a specific list of criteria. When we hit upon the "perfect" influencer relationship, both the creator and the brands benefit tremendously.

It's not always easy to find the right influencers for your brand. Still, these are a few of the key things we look for when establishing brand-influencer relationships at ConvertSocial, after analyzing our own experience with more than 20,000 influencers.

1. They're from an industry-relevant niche

It doesn't matter how high their follower count is or how viral their content goes; if an influencer isn't relevant to a brand's sphere, the relationship won't be a great fit.

Creators within a specific niche of your industry tend to have a much more significant impact on the brands they work with because their audience, content and reputation are all built on a targeted passion. This means that content is more targeted, and every campaign is more impactful.

Related: What to Know About Influencer Marketing in 2022

2. Their voice and personal brand resonate with the company's image and values

Remember that the influencers you choose are extensions of your brand. They are ambassadors of your core values and mission, so your company should only choose creators with similar values. Smaller-scale influencers who feel accessible to your audience and champion the same causes as your brand are the perfect ambassadors to maximize your company's ROI.

In addition, it's important to remember that new influencer categories are cropping up as the industry expands. No matter the brand niche, there are now influencers who are gaining a following in that sphere. From "finfluencers" (financial influencers) to "skinfluencers" (skincare influencers), there's a creator for every niche, so hold out for the ones that resonate best with your brand.

3. They're charismatic, trustworthy and know how to build emotional connections

Creators should have that "something extra" that makes them unique and able to establish a genuine emotional connection with their followers. When an influencer has charisma and empathy, it converts to the kind of loyalty and trust that will keep the audience coming back again and again.

Many brands are turning to micro-influencers (those with 10,000-100,000 followers) because they tend to have an aura of authenticity and credibility that differs from celebrities and macro influencers. They tend to feel more relatable and attainable, so followers feel they have a certain level of authority in their niche.

Related: Overcoming Language Barriers, Regional Influencer Marketing Boosts Brand Growth Exponentially

4. They can proactively produce balanced content that sells

It's essential that creators aren't advertising in every post. We usually aim for a goal of no more than 15 percent of sales-type content per influencer. This goal is based on thousands of in-depth interviews conducted with creators, which works well for us.

Influencers should be excited about creating quality content around your brand. The best ones will have natural selling skills that allow them to introduce the benefits of your product in a way that feels like a friend sharing their knowledge about something they love.

It's often best to have a collaborative conversation about ad campaigns so that you and your influencer partner can craft highly relevant content to their audience and effectively introduce your product in the best possible light.

Related: 7 Steps to Becoming a Seven-Figure Influencer in Your Niche

Three more considerations when choosing influencers

First, remember that a high follower count is not the most critical metric. Creators demonstrating high levels of community engagement will be far more likely to have a higher ROI. Ask creators for their engagement statistics (e.g., likes, comments, shares, clicks, story polls, etc.), and double-check their numbers. It's usually a red flag if an influencer hesitates to share their statistics with you.

Second, expertise and relevant experience can be huge boosters. The more authority an influencer has in their niche, the easier it is to convert that into audience trust and loyalty to your brand. For example, a fitness influencer who is a registered dietitian or physical therapist has a higher level of authority than someone who has been going to the gym for a few years.

Third, cross-platform content creation has a significant impact on revenues. An influencer having accounts on multiple platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, TikTok or YouTube drastically increases revenues. For instance, our ConvertSocial statistics confirmed that a creator with 2-3 social media accounts could bring in up to three times more revenue than a creator with only one account. Four or more accounts increase revenues tenfold!

Leverage the influencer community to your advantage

Statistics show that influencer marketing ROIs are up to 11 times greater than banner ads, and 92 percent of consumers trust online word-of-mouth recommendations over other ad formats.

The influencer marketing channel is growing extremely fast and shows no signs of slowing down. This means that now is the best time to jump on the trend and capitalize on the success that partnering with the perfect influencer can bring.

Ksana Liapkova

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Head of ConvertSocial

Ksana has been a speaker at world-class conferences on affiliate marketing and is in contact with more than 35,000 clients of ConvertSocial - a Mitgo company, involved in the blogging industry, which allows her to always be aware of the latest trends in the world of influencers.

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