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Bloggers discussing influencer marketing at the Seafood Expo included, from left, Jessie Johnson, Julie Qiu, Chelsea Cole, Danielle Wiley.

4 steps for recruiting the right influencers

Influencers who believe in what you’re doing make the best ambassadors, speakers say

Influencer marketing is 16 times more engaging than other types of media. But how do you find the right influencer for your brand? Seafood bloggers at the Seafood Expo in Boston weighed in on the best ways to recruit and partner with bloggers and other social media influencers. Here are 4 takeaways:

1. The best places to research — “Instagram is a great place to start,” said Jessie Johnson, founder of the Sustainable Seafood Blog Project. “If your brand has a certain hashtag then find the influencers attached to that hashtag. If you already work with bloggers ask if they have someone to recommend. Foodgawker and TasteSpotting are also great places to go.”

Brands should also consider their goals for a campaign. “If your goal is to grow your Instagram following then don’t work with a mainly Twitter person. Let what you want guide the decision making and realize that not every blogger is the right fit for your company,” Johnson advised, adding that brands should consider if an influencer is producing high-quality photos, if they’re a hobby blogger or a pro, and most importantly, if they like them.

2. Approaching an influencer — Once a brand is ready to pitch a blogger they can simply send an email, but since successful influencers get dozens of pitches a day they should make sure it’s personalized, Johnson urged. “Please use their name [and not Dear blog name]. Tell them why you’d be a good fit and show them you’ve done some homework. Give them a brief outline of your campaign.” Marketers should also ask for rate information, a media kit, and consider the influencer’s social following, email reach and website traffic.

3. What you can expect to pay — A good rule of thumb is $10 per 10,000 page views said Johnson. “Those with a bigger reach or influencers who are really talented will cost you more money. A common baseline price is $250,” she said.  

Even if your budget is tight, there are ways to get a lot of bang for your buck, said Julie Qiu, founder of the In a Half Shell blog who works with a “rather slim” budget as marketing director of Australis Aquaculture.

“Exclusive perks, benefits and experiences that are not just a straight-up campaign” are desirable to bloggers, noted Qiu, who jumps at the chance to get access to real farmers, for instance. “Building relationships is really important if you want to extend the longevity and impact of your initial investment," she said. "People want to be natural ambassadors if they believe in what you’re doing and will be more inclined to keep promoting you without getting straight payment.”

Chelsea Cole, food blogger and digital marketing specialist for Fishpeople Seafood, has had success by sending free product to “superfans” who have a 500 or so person following on Instagram. “We’ve been seeing really good results and they’re posting things on social media that we can reuse ourselves,” she said.

4. Let the blogger do their thing — “The least successful campaigns are the ones that come [to the blogger] fully baked,” said Danielle Wiley, CEO of Sway Group, an influencer marketing agency.

Qiu agrees that brands should give their influencer autonomy and allow them to show their talents, saying “If you want to engage in more creative types of content, trust the influencer. I visited Taylor Shellfish in Washington and they took me to this shucking station so I took a really cool video and it turned viral. It was a moment that was completely unexpected, so you never know when nice things will happen but give your influencer the freedom.”

TAGS: Marketing
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