How to Hire Influencers for Your Business

How to Hire Influencers for Your Business

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Unless you’re seasoned in influencer marketing, you may not know how to hire influencers. Given that there are so many influencers out there, and with so little standardization, it is hard to know where to start. Previously, I have published an exhaustive guide on influencer marketing as a whole called The Age of Influence. However, I increasingly feel that beginners need a post on the actual hiring process. That’s because picking and actually going through the process of hiring the right person is one of the hardest actions you’ll encounter in marketing. It’s easy to make goals and write checks. But deciding who to hire for marketing campaigns and how to hire them can seem almost as daunting as getting a new employee. If not more. So, this guide on how to hire influencers is intended to help you get started or to make sure you’re on the right path.

What are Your Goals for the Influencer?

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Before you start, make sure you have a plan. Is the intended influencer marketing campaign or long-term program aimed at brand awareness? Trying to boost sales in the short term? Want to educate the consumer about the benefits of your product or service? Want to incite word-of-mouth through leveraging user-generated content from influencers? These issues should be thought of before you even start to hire influencers.

Turning goals into influencer specifications

Once you have decided on a goal for the campaign, you should consider what kind of person is likely to be successful. For instance, some influencers are specialists at explainer videos. If you want to educate customers, then this is the sort of person you should consider. On the other hand, brand awareness campaigns allow for more flexibility, because achieving this goal can be done with a wider range of techniques.

Whenever you hire influencers, it’s important that they either match or appeal to your buyer persona. For those with a smaller following, like nano influencers or micro influencers, the chances are that you want to match the persona. On the other hand, macro influencers might have significant influence on people that match your buyer persona without matching it themselves. These influencers are more expensive to engage, so you are probably better off starting with the smaller ones that match at first. Once you have worked through these considerations, it’s time to start looking for the right person.

Finding the Right Social Media Influencer

Finding the Right Social Media Influencer

Arguably, influencer discovery is the hardest part of influencer marketing. There are a lot of people out there who do this kind of work, and sifting through can seem overwhelming. Marketing firms often have people who specialize in this, but for the small business owner these can be expensive. Fortunately, you still don’t have to do this alone. Services exist that help with influencer discovery and engagement.

Influencer Platforms

For businesses that want a high level of service, influencer platforms are a great way to hire influencers. Here, you can get access to databases that will help you sort through listed influencers. Influencers are typically vetted, and many list their pricing where you can see it. With platforms, you generally contact the influencer through the internal messaging system. Most will also let you approve work and pay the influencer with their help as well.

Influencer platforms are convenient, especially if you worry about security issues. After all, most things go through that system. However, this level of service does come at a price. You’ll generally pay a subscription fee. Other costs can include payment fees and similar charges.

Some of the leading influencer platforms include ACTIVATE, AspireIQ, ExpertVoice, Izea, Klear, LINQIA, Mavrck, Socialbakers, and Upfluence.

Influencer Marketplaces

The next step down in service are influencer marketplaces. Hiring influencers is a little bit more DIY, because you have to do much of the vetting yourself. Most marketplaces won’t let you pay through the website, so you end up cutting a check or using a third-party service like PayPal.  Of course, this means there are fewer protections for both brands and influencers. With marketplaces serving as little more than an introduction service, they have a Wild West reputation. They’re a convenient way to start if you need to hire influencers, but buyer beware.

Check out my list of the top influencer marketplaces for specific recommendations here.

Leveraging Influencer Tools

Since we marketers love tools, there are a number of influencer marketing discovery tools out there. Here, you subscribe to software that helps you find influencers from all over the web. This approach has a distinct advantage: most platforms and marketplaces are opt-in for influencers, and as a result the selection can be more limited. On the other hand, discovery tools are independent of any influencer buy-in, so the variety is unlimited. However, once you find influencers you have to do everything yourself.

Here’s my complete list of recommended influencer marketing tools.

Do Native Searches in social media

This one’s the oldest method of influencer discovery. Here, you search with keywords and hashtags to see who is posting on a particular subject. From there, consider if the poster has a significant following and is demonstrating influence. Do they fit your buyer persona? Is their content relevant to yours? Does similar content resonate with their influence? Then you might have someone who can serve as a suitable influencer for your brand.

Recruit from within your sphere of brand affinity

No matter what else you do, look for influencers in your own backyard. For example, some employees might work for you out of sheer love for the company. Other employees might have a strong sense of loyalty due to shared values. Customers might be willing to talk about how awesome your products and services are. Business partners can talk about why they value the relationship with your business. Lastly, you never know what influencers might be following you because they like your product.  When it’s time to hire influencers, these groups of people should never be ignored.

Do a Deeper Analysis on Those You Have Shortlisted

Do a Deeper Analysis on Those You Have Shortlisted

Hopefully your influencer search has been successful, and you can now pick the best options. To do this, make sure you know how much influence they really have. For instance, you’ll want to make sure that an influencer doesn’t have fake followers. It’s also important to consider the quality of their content and the extent to which people interact with it. Doing so will allow you to predict the potential for a successful partnership.

There is no one tool which is 100% accurate here, so at some point you will have to build a track record with each influencer to measure their true influence. In the meantime, we can only do our best to mitigate risk and compare based on public information.

Reach Out and Have an Open-Ended Convo to Understand What They Want

It’s well known in the world of influencer marketing that influencers have specialties. Influencers will typically look for opportunities that let them do what they love. After all, most became influencers by sharing their passions. You should also keep in mind that influencers built their following by providing content that’s relevant to their audience. As a result, they’ll typically reject opportunities that don’t involve producing relevant content or representing brands that are relevant to their community.

When you hire influencers, you should also consider their past results. Ask them to give you access to their portfolio. Not only will that include pieces of content, but most influencers will be able to tell you how successful the campaign was. Social media platforms include analytics tools, so ask for their data. This will hopefully confirm you have the right person.



Once you’ve determined an influencer is the right one for your campaign, it’s important to negotiate a price and figure out how much to pay an influencer. Many influencers will be happy to work with influencer gifting for free product or service. However, others will expect some type of cash payment. This can involve a lump sum of cash or various payment for performance models. Make sure it’s something both of you are comfortable with. While paying too much is never a good idea, paying too little is also a poor business practice. If the influencer you chose is like most, they tend to prefer longer term relationships. If an influencer feels you are a cheapskate, then there’s a good chance the relationship won’t last.

Draft an Influencer Contract

Draft an Influencer Contract

As with anything else in business, there should be a contract when you hire influencers. These contracts should spell out everything that is important to the campaign. For instance, you will want to specify how much money the influencer will be paid. Make it clear that they are being paid either for posts or results, and what measurements will be taken to ensure performance. Your company should also say if this is a one-off campaign or something longer term.

Legal compliance should also be written in. Increasingly, the FTC is regulating influencer marketing as a whole. Contracts should require compliance with current regulations. And, since the regulatory climate changes regularly, be sure to have everything checked with the company lawyer.

Provide Creatives and Details to Help the Influencers be Successful

In this phase of the process, you will let the influencer know about anything you want included with the content. For instance, you might want to specify a specific call to action or visual. Be careful, however. You want to protect your brand, but if you have the influencer add too much of your content, you’re risking the loss of authenticity. Depending on the influencer and campaign, you can strike a balance several different ways. Much of this has to do with the level of trust, the extent to which you like the influencer’s work, and campaign goals. But, needless to say, if there is a hashtag you expect the influence to use, don’t assume! Provide as much details, including FTC disclosure requirements, as possible.

Confirm They Actually Posted!

Finally, remember that no matter your campaign goal, the reason you hire influencers is to get that content posted. To ensure they hold up their end of the bargain, check their social media account. Sponsored content should be easy to find, and you’ll also be able to monitor engagement. Also, your social listening tools will record shares and other types of reposting. You might need to proactively manage influencers to ensure they live up to their commitment. Hopefully you won’t have to!


While it might seem difficult to hire influencers, the process is surprisingly easy. By far the hardest thing is influencer discovery, and there are tools for this. Once you’ve found the right person, managing the relationship is similar to other suppliers. At the end of the day, they provide a service you’re paying for, whether in dollars, product, or through other collaborative means. No matter how personal things get, never lose sight of the business aspects of that relationship.

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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