A PR pro looking to utilise the services of a social media influencer will soon see that they have a multitude of options to choose from. But, PR pros, you need to select your candidate with caution.

Because the social media space is generally a bit more casual platform than a brand’s professional website or any other business profile, an influencer can share nearly everything and anything on their social media timeline.

And, of course, using social media listening tools can go a long way in obtaining in-depth data about the influencer you’re looking for. We’ll go into greater detail as we move along social media monitoring tools (see point four).

There are many things that go into selecting an influencer; it’s more than the number of followers they have, and the lifestyle they display on their social media profile. It’s about results: they need to deliver on your campaign expectations.

With that in mind, here are four important questions to consider when hiring influencers for your PR campaigns:

1. Is the influencer a smart hashtagger?

Hashtags have become important for personal social media use, as well as for brands who want to reach a larger audience. As a smart PR pro, you should target an influencer who also knows how to cleverly makes use of #tags.

The important question is: Can your potential influencer use them, and can they use them correctly? The social media streets are full of organic, branded and trending hashtags and it’s vital your influencer understands the difference before they start advertising your client’s content.

If you want to improve your client’s publicity, it would be beneficial for you to use someone who is well acquainted with branded hashtags for your campaign. For example, if the influencer is sharing images of their favourite car, are they using the brand’s #tags or just their personal hashtags?

Additionally, if you’re looking for an influencer for a social justice campaign, you’d most probably have to consider someone who makes use of relevant newsworthy and politically-driven #tags.

To do this, scan through their pages to ensure that they’re utilising hashtags that resonate with your campaign. The #tags the influencer uses on their social media platforms will also give you some insight as to what their personality is like and what it is they relate to effortlessly.
media update tip: Stay far away from influencers who carelessly make use of offensive hashtags. Although these hashtags trend easily, in the long run, they might put your brand in hot water.

2. Will this influencer be able to creatively expand your PR efforts?

PR pros don’t just go looking for any influencer — they search for someone who knows how to tango with social media and who is incredibly creative. Remember, on social, there's only so much one can say and do. But, if you see an influencer who can go above and beyond the boundaries of trends to foster a brand, then that’s the one to hire!

Why is that, you might ask? Well, a creative social media influencer shows a strong sense of thinking ahead and out of the box to promote their brand and content. Creative social influencers are also innovative; they could easily then help you to improve your PR campaign by contributing their insight on where and how to make something even better.

This not only assures a sense of reliability and stability coming from their side of the partnership but also a strong support structure to help you complete your PR tasks efficiently too. Not a bad deal!

When you’ve spent enough time on social media, you'll notice that there are many creatives that use the space to brand themselves to attract PR pros and brands.

A good example of this kind of influencer is Tyson Ngumbeni, whose unique content is enjoyed by most South Africans on Twitter. Ngumbeni has scored campaigns from Chicken Licken and network provider Rain due to this.

Here are some examples of his work:

Video clip II:

So, what’s the moral of the story? Don’t just find a social media influencer; you need to find a creative one!

3. Is the influencer the real deal or just popular?

Find an authentic influencer that is in the know of the social media space. Why? Because, sometimes, simply being popular just won't cut it.

You need to be on the lookout for one who knows how to package a message and drive a campaign in 140 characters on Twitter, for example.

While some influencers have been on a certain social media platform for years, it’s likely that they have acquired a huge following by just being the ‘cool kids’ of the social streets. Although this might be an attractive option for your brand, it is vital to remember that you’re looking for something way more than that. You need someone who can help you convert your PR efforts into actual ROI.

For example, let’s assume that you’re a PR pro for a gadget company and it just so happens that there is an influencer who naturally admires your client’s brand. They share quite a lot about it and their content structuring is not only complimentary but actually gaining reach and traction for your brand.

This would be the perfect candidate to approach. They've shown an understanding and genuine interest by associating with your business. Added to this, their involvement is proving to be beneficial.

In some cases, influencers are known for, well, not so good reasons; for some, it’s even how they were able to gain popularity. The mission in this regard is to find an influencer who’s able to engage with brands and users without using offensive language, honours social media policies and is ethical.

4. Does the influencer have anything to hide?

Background checks are important when looking to hire an employee for your company, nevermind a social media influencer for a brand’s campaign. This is because you’re basically asking someone to take a part of your campaign and handing some of it over for them to handle. And this influencer in question can either lead the initiative to success or have your brand be criticised by association.

Just as there is a need for a thorough assessment and monitoring of the campaign from start to finish, you also need someone to keep tabs on your influencer. That’s why you should make use of social media monitoring tools, which will allow you to gauge the success of the campaign, to stay in the loop on how the influencer is pushing it on their pages (as well as yours) and to keep tabs on whether they are doing things right, as per your agreement.

A social media monitoring service provider such as amaSocial can definitely come in handy here. This service provides you with content verification, which is designed to track all the content shared by your influencer on social media, as well as engagement metrics on the content that they post.

It also allows you to measure the performance of all your relevant posts and even lets you utilise statistics reports, which provide detailed data about which posts are doing well and which ones are not.

Choosing the right social media influencer for your PR campaign can be a lot of work, but making use of social media monitoring services can help you reduce some of the strain and even cut the job in half.

Social media Influencers are essential for expanding your audience reach and sharing your client’s brand messages with their followers. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below.

U lava mahungu aku hisa? Tsalela hina...

Social media influencers have been riding the digital highway for quite some time. But who exactly are these social media-savvy individuals? Find out in our article, Social influencers: What’s the deal?