Last Updated: Dec 30, 2021

It’s not exactly a secret that social media influencers have taken the advertising world by storm. 

Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, or TikTok, head over to any of these platforms and you’ll instantly find a myriad of influencers promoting a product, lifestyle, or performing the latest viral trend.

Social media is the perfect platform for the rise of the fan base. In the last ten years, social media has grown immensely. So much so that over 45% of the world’s population is actively using it. In the United States, there are 240 million social media users, which is about 72% of the population. Those are some impressive stats.

With the rise of social media and the number of people using it come influencers. But what is an influencer, and should you consider using one to help boost your brand sales? 

Influencer marketing can be an excellent strategy, a great way to grow your brand, get publicity, and even close sales. But you’ll want to make sure you’re doing it right. If you’re thinking about using an influencer to help market your business, there are few things to consider.

In this article, I’ll break down what makes a good influencer, the benefits of working with one, and some pitfalls to watch out for as well.

Why You Should Consider Using an Influencer

As a business, your social media account has reach; however, it can be limited to those who already know your product. Even with paid ads, there might be a group of potential customers the ads don’t touch. With an influencer, you’re potentially opening up this pool of unreached prospective customers.

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(Source: Instagram)

The great thing about influencers, is that they give you immediate access to a wider (and often warm) audience. An influencer has built a reputation for themselves as an expert on a particular topic on any given social media platform.

They post quality content regularly and have accumulated an audience who look up to them and trust their opinions. According to data from MuseFind 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement.

Influencers can usually be broken down into different categories depending on the number of followers they have. According to Shopify, there are five categories based on follower count

These categories are:

  • Nano-influencers – between 1,000 and 5,000 followers
  • Micro-influencers – between 5,000 and 20,000 followers
  • Mid-tier influencers: – between 20,000 and 100,000 followers
  • Mega-influencers – between 100,000 and one million followers
  • Celebrities – over one million followers

By using the influencer, you’re reaching their audience – and because their audience already trusts them, the audience is more likely to trust the product. Especially when we consider that 74% of consumers trust product opinions given on social media, including those of an influencer. 

Where you look for an influencer largely depends on your business and what you need to promote. There’s a wide choice of social media platforms, from YouTube to Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, and more. It all depends on:

  • Who your target audience is,
  • What you want to achieve or your goal,
  • Your budget, and
  • If there’s an influencer on the platform that best fits your brand image.

Mediakix published an in-depth marketing survey that showcased the top five most important social media platforms for influencer marketing. Instagram came up on top, followed by YouTube and then Facebook. It’s not to say other social media platforms aren’t important; it all boils down to your audience.

For example, with Instagram, you’ll be targeting Millennials and through LinkedIn, it will be for a business audience with an age demographic of 25 to 34-year-olds. For blogs, you’re looking towards the older demographic of 25 to 49-year-olds.

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(Source: Mediakix)

This study doesn’t include TikTok, but it’s important to note that this platform can be an excellent place to find influencers as well.

What Makes a Good Influencer?

You come across an Instagram profile, and the content seems exciting and in line with the product you’re selling. They have over 30,000 followers, so the potential for brand exposure to this audience is great, right?! But hold up – you want to make sure the influencer you reach out to promote your brand is genuine, and a high follower count doesn’t always mean a good fit.

Why? Because sometimes, a large following can be deceiving despite the influencer having high-quality content on their feed. Sometimes these are scam accounts, posting much like how an authentic influencer would, but their followers are bought fake accounts or bots (an automated program designed to mimic humans). 

Therefore you won’t be seeing any results of your collaboration with these influencers, as their “influence” is only over a fake audience. You’ll be wasting time and your valuable marketing budget.

So while yes, the number of followers should be taken into consideration, it shouldn’t be all you pay attention to when it comes to choosing an influencer. Instead, a more reliable indicator should be the engagement rate an influencer has.

It’s also important to find an influencer who has a similar target audience to yours. So do some digging and try to make sure they’re reaching the same demographics as you.

Watching for Red Flags 

What is the engagement rate? It’s the ratio that represents the relationship the audience has with the creator and their content. If it’s good, then you know the influencer engages well with their followers and that they are genuinely interested (and, more importantly, trust) in what the influencer has to say.

To see if a creator has a reasonable engagement rate, look for the number of shares their posts have. The same goes for likes. However, if there are only five likes on a post despite the account having a high following, it could be a red flag that the followers are fake.

Again, though, watch out for the number of likes; they can easily be bought and inflate the actual engagement rate. There are also “pods,” where a group of influencers will form an alliance to help each other’s engagement levels with positive comments and likes.

Also, look at the comment section on the creator’s posts – how many comments are on it? If so, are they quality comments? Too many of the same “great pic!”, “love this,” or “❤️‍🔥🔥” could be coming from fake followers or bots. Comments are more genuine if the text alludes to something in the post and if questions are asked. 

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(Source: Instagram)

Finding the Right Engagement Rate

With the ability to buy followers, likes, and comments so readily available, you should calculate the engagement rate to get a true reflection if the influencer is genuine. A rate between 1% to 5% is considered good, and SproutSocial, a social media management company, outlines how to arrive at this percentage. According to them, you should:

  • “Divide the total number of engagements within the last 30 days by the total number of posts during the same time frame.
  • Divide the amount by the total number of followers.
  • Multiply the result by 100 to get a percentage amount and you’ll have the average engagement rate during those 30 days.”

Hootsuite has six different methods for calculating engagement rate (however, this is geared mainly for calculating one’s own account) and has a free engagement rate calculator

Once you have an influencer’s engagement rate, it’s good to understand the industry’s benchmark. has a handy app that allows you to filter engagement information based on the industry, number of followers, and location. 


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Now that we’ve covered the basics of what an influencer is, is it worth it to use one to help promote your brand? Let’s take a look at a few advantages of working with them.

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Advantages of Partnering With an Influencer

Wider Reach Than Traditional Advertising

Using traditional print marketing of paying for social media advertising will provide a particular reach. However, by using an influencer, your brand may reach audiences you don’t initially target. For example, it’s easier to share posts or videos on social media – with some followers sending it to family and friends or resharing the content to their own set of followers.

Trust and Credibility

This is a big one because your customers’ trust in your products and services is part of what makes your brand successful. The same goes with an influencer and the products they recommend. They have built up a following over a period of time, and this following knows, understands, and trusts them. 

Therefore, when an influencer recommends a product or service, their audience is more likely to follow the recommendations. 

Easier on the Marketing Budget

As a business, how you spend your marketing budget is essential. If you’re a small business, you might have a limited budget, so you want to be able to reach the right audience for your brand with the most efficacy.

There is a wide range of influencers to suit any budget, so while some may charge thousands for promoting, you’ll still be able to find a nano or micro-influencer within your range and get the results you’re looking for. 

And, as data from HypeAuditor shows, a nano or micro-influencer can have better engagement rates and your product has the potential to land with the influencer’s followers better.

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(Source: HypeAuditor)

Social media tools, like Social BlueBook, give an idea of how much you should pay an influencer based on their size.

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(Source: Social BlueBook)


Once you have found an influencer that you feel fits your style and brand, you can rest easy that they will take care of your product’s creative styling and showcasing. In addition, they will “tell a story” with your product and share their personal experience with it. This engages users and allows them to see how your products work. This can also help create brand awareness for your business.

Pitfalls to Working With an Influencer

Yet, as much as there are benefits to working with an influencer, there are some pitfalls to watch out for too. I’ve highlighted three below:

Dishonest Influencers

I briefly touched upon it earlier in the article, and you might come across influencers who don’t have a real following and instead buy their followers. And that’s not all that’s up for sale – likes and comments can be bought too. 

It might look impressive, yet their “influence” is non-existent. So if an influencer approaches you to work with your brand, take a look at their profile and make sure they don’t have a generic profile picture, there’s content in their feed, their profile is public, and their username is relatively unique and not made up of too many numbers

Setup Time and Contracts

Once you find the perfect influencer for you and your brand (and your brand for them), it’s time to negotiate the expectations. The influencer might already have a set list of prices for their services, and once you negotiate and agree upon the terms, it’s also taking the time to brainstorm the strategy and how long the campaign will run.

To protect yourself, always make sure to have a contract to detail remuneration (whether it’s financial, or free products and services) and campaign specifics. 

You will also need to understand the advertising rules when using an influencer (for example, including #ad on Instagram). Some of these rules are related to the social media platform, whereas Federal Law mandates others, so it’s crucial to ensure the influencer follows them so there isn’t any backlash or legal ramifications for your brand.

The Federal Trade Commission has a handy guide on what needs to be disclosed on social media, and it’s a good idea to check back regularly to see if there are any changes.


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(Source: FTC)

Less Visibility On Campaign Results

When working with an influencer, you may not have complete visibility of the statistics, as the performance insights are only available to the influencer. Also, influencer marketing is becoming a saturated market, and you don’t want your brand to be dismissed among the many other brands the influencer might be promoting.

Oversaturation can burn out followers, so to see the benefits of influencer marketing for your business, choose an influencer who spaces out sponsored posts and puts as much dedication, creativity, and quality into sponsored posts as they do for their own organic ones.

The Best Ways to Use Influencers   

Now, let’s take a look at some of the best ways to use influencers.

(Source: Shutterstock)

  • Product endorsement: Product endorsement is the most well-known way that businesses partner with an influencer. This can include either sending the product for free and requesting a review on the influencer’s social media space, or sending the product and paying to ensure the review of the product in their space. For any established influencer, you’ll need to be prepared to pay for the privilege.
  • Using their ad accounts: Instagram and Facebook have a nifty tool where you can organize between a business and an influencer a paid partnership connection. Through this tool, you can pay for their post about your product to be ad-funded.
  • Pixel drops if they have a blog or website: You can encourage your influencer to add a tracking pixel to their blog or website on your behalf, so you can use the data collected for personal marketing. 
  • Having them text into an SMS system rather than giving them a generic code: This allows you to collect more data from the influencer’s audience.
  • Finding videos in your niche to drop a link into the description on Youtube: Encouraging others within the comments to slide on over to your page for similar content is an easy way to get more views.
  • Finding people that support your mission statement: This builds a network of connections that allows you access to their audience. Pela Case, a company that makes and sells biodegradable iPhone covers, is an example of a company that’s doing this right. 

A Look at Snow Teeth Whitening’s Influencer Program

Now let’s take a look at Snow Teeth; a company that’s in many ways the poster child for influencer marketing. This tooth-whitening company has been working with influencers in the sports industry through paid promotions. This included world-renowned boxer Floyd Mayweather and football athlete Rob Gronkowski. 

Their campaigns involved a blend of influencer marketing and Facebook ads to generate amazing results. Here’s how it worked

First, they focused 75% of their budget on finding new customers up until the day before Black Friday. They had already been using influencers, but for this campaign they leaned into this resource by creating pre-holiday-related video ads that showed people using the product.

At this point, they were also using Facebook’s automatic placement and campaign budget optimization, which allowed Facebook to select the placement of the ads that were performing best and then allocate higher budgets to those high performers. 

Next, they switched gears and focused 75% of their budget on remarketing to people who had viewed the video ads or engaged with the company’s Facebook Page.

The results of their campaigns were phenomenal. A 2.4x increase in sales, a 1.7x increase in return on ad spend and a total inventory sell-out.

Still, this campaign carries with it a warning as well. Make sure you, and your influencers, don’t include any claims that are unsubstantiated.

Truth in Advertising states that, “Snow Teeth Whitening falsely claims its products provide various teeth whitening benefits, provide protection from the COVID-19 virus, have been approved by the FDA, are patented, and have received awards and accolades from various publications when, in reality, none of these claims are true.” The result of this false advertising was a class action lawsuit for not only the company, but the famous influencers who promoted their products.

The entire debacle is astounding and not only made influencers more fearful of working with large companies but has made marketers far more cautious on the language they are using for these paid promotion products. 

Snow Teeth Whitening had a great marketing move in targeting high-value influencers like Mayweather and Gronkowski – but the products they were paying to promote were basically ineffective and put not only the company at risk but also the influential people they worked with.

Where to Find Influencers?

Influencer marketing is becoming more and more popular with marketers, and it’s a marketing tool you should start considering for your business and brand.

Social media is here to stay, and Colin McFarland (known on TikTok for uploading comedy skits together with his brother and father) summed it up best to the BBC News, “Influencers are a new wave of people you can trust on the internet,” he says. “If you’re selling a product, or giving advice, people are going to trust the people they see on their phone every day.”

As such, many companies have been set up to act as a third-party connection service between businesses and influencers. This allows you to take the guesswork out of making an influencer connection, and saves you time from reaching out yourself and organizing a contract.

You provide these businesses with a budget, a product description, and a niche, and they set you up with someone in their Rolodex of influencers. It’s almost like approaching a modeling agency and finding the perfect model to represent your product.

Here are a few reputable companies you may be interested in working with:

If you intend to put together your own contract and search out your own influencers, it’s helpful to remember that many do not want to work for free. In order to help you better negotiate a pricing for the partnership, you may want to consider using the tool

You merely enter the username of the individual you want to work with, the number of posts or stories you expect from them, and the tool does all the rest of the guesswork for you. Using the metrics of followers, posts, impressions, and interactions with these posts, they’re able to formulate a reasonable price that you can propose to this influencer.

While influencer marketing isn’t for everyone, for many ecommerce stores, it can be a great opportunity. First and foremost, you’ll want to establish your goals and create a plan, outlining exactly what you’d like to get from the campaign.

Next, come up with a campaign that’ll get you the results that you want. Make sure you’re clear on your target audience. Then take the time to find an influencer (or a handful of influencers) who are a great fit for your brand, with an audience that’s similar to yours, then find an arrangement that works for you both. Soon you’ll be on your way to reaching more prospective customers, and when done right, even closing more sales as well.

Want to take your business to a new level? Reach out for a FREE 20-minute call, and we’ll find a roadmap to help you scale today.

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