On this influencer path, I've been asked to give a fair number of talks. In 2018, I've spoken at a Google Summit, at a marketing conference in New Orleans, on a PR Week podcast, at a few Sony events, and as a guest lecturer at a college in NYC. I used to be incredibly nervous public speaking, but at this point, I just have to take a few deep breaths and I'm good. Practice really is the best way to overcome this fear. Until then, here are my top tips to get over any nerves.
1. Know your stuff; do not rely on notecards. Many talks are accompanied by a presentation. Your slides should prompt you; you should know the rest inside and out.
2. Practice the talk a few times, all the way through. Video yourself on your phone, and watch it back. You can see how fast you should talk, what works, and where you can make changes.
3. Imagine being on stage and forgetting what you are going to say next. Have a plan in place for what you will do if that happens. Maybe have a little joke at the ready, or put a topic in your mind you will jump to. Even plan to take a moment to pause and take a sip of water. Preparing for this reduces the anxiety of it happening, and saves you from panic if it does actually happen.
4. Wear something you feel like a million bucks in. It shouldn't be brand-new in that you should know how it feels while it is on. You don't want to be uncomfortable or be tugging at clothing when you should be completely focused on your talk.
5. Act confident, even if you don't feel confident. Eventually you won't have to act. Remember that these people are listening to you because they want to. What you have to say is valuable. Don't think of the audience as people you have to win over -- they are friends who appreciate your authenticity and information.
Do you have any stories about public speaking? Or any other tips?
In my last blog, I explained how to locate influencers on Instagram. Now, I will explain to you how to determine if the influencer is high-quality and how to spot a "fake," using just their public profile. Here we go:
☐ Do they have a blue checkmark next to their name? Many great influencers do not have a verified account with the blue checkmark, but that said, if an account *does* have a blue check, that means they’ve gone through Instagram’s authentication process. They most likely are not a “fake” account.
☐ Look at follower count. While brands usually pay WAY too much attention to this number, the influencer should really have a few thousand followers at a minimum. They don’t need to have 100K or even 10K, but a few thousand means they have likely built a strong foundation on the platform.
☐ Look at how many people they follow. If they follow almost as many people as follow them, toss ‘em right out of consideration. They are probably using a follow-for-follow strategy to gain followers and this is lame. They don’t have respect on the platform. Generally, I don’t know any influencers who follow over 1000 accounts. You can make exceptions, but keep that as a rule of thumb.
☐ Look at number of posts. There’s not an exact cut-off here either, but their account should have a well-established gallery of hundreds of posts at a minimum. A few thousand, even better. It used to be en vogue to keep the number of posts lower, so it would look like you gained more followers per post. However, nowadays influencers are much less likely to delete their old posts because more posts shows a longer history on the platform.
☐ Look at how often they post. It doesn’t have to be daily, but it should be weekly at a minimum. Check the dates on their last few posts. Good influencers log in often and participate in their community.
☐ Look at their engagement. Any more, it is not great to look at engagement simply as a ratio between the amount of followers an account has and the average amount of likes per post. @kyliejenner has 126 million followers and gets a few million likes per post. That’s like a .2% engagement rate. So, would you consider her a fake? Or a bad influencer? Probably not. Big accounts in particular, even if they got big very legitimately, inevitably have a large base of inactive followers. This is doubly true for accounts with a long history. Many followers gained years ago just don’t log into Instagram like they used to and the inactive base, even made up of real people with real accounts, grows. Instead, look at how many likes they are getting. Even more telling -- check out how many comments they get. And then check out the quality of their comments. Are real people with real accounts commenting? Are other influencers commenting? Click through and check them out. The better the comments section, the better the influencer.
☐ Look at their responses. Is the influencer responding to comments? A great influencer may not answer every comment, but they make a clear effort to answer. Their followers will feel more connected to them if the comments are a two-way street, and you know what that means? A higher quality of influencing.
☐ Look at pictures of them. (This is the last tab right above the gallery.) Are there hub features there? That’s a good sign, showing they have some clout and respect in their area. Have other influencers taken and posted pictures of them? That shows they are active in the community. Are smaller accounts tagging them (to piggyback on their views or because they respect their opinion)? This is another good sign. Ideally, there should be a good amount of photos in this section.
☐ Look at their stories. Since stories expire in 24 hours, it’s a good way of telling if they were on recently. Stories don’t have to be super high quality, but it can give you a peek into their personality.
☐ Look at their highlights. They should definitely have some, first of all. Since these are comprised of IG Stories, they don’t have to be high quality, but again, they will show personality and passions. Extra points if the highlights are organized well.
☐ Look at their gallery. Good influencers have what we in the biz call “feed fit.” The gallery will look cohesive and will look attractive as a whole. Influencers have varying levels of OCD about how good their last 9-block looks, but they all care, and it should show. You should also be able to tell from their gallery if their overall aesthetic meshes well with your brand's.
☐ Look at their captions. This will give you a feel of their personality and how they interact with their community. Does it fit with your brand?
☐ Look at their partnerships. Ambassadors will have a few brands right in their bios. You can also look through their gallery to see if they have done any sponsored posts in the past. If they have some experience already, that’s a great sign that they already know the ropes. Plenty of great influencers may not have any visible previous experience, but it’s definitely something to add to the “pros” column. It means they are open to being contacted by brands.
☐ Look at their bio. Can you tell what they do from their bio? Influencers may or may not have the word “influencer” in their bio. If they do, clearly they are open to influencing opportunities. Regardless, if the influencer is worth their salt, you should be able to tell what their theme or niche is from the bio.
☐ Look at their web site. Serious influencers have their own web site, with pretty limited exceptions, and the link is in their bio. If they have a blog, give them extra points. It shows they are extra-invested.
☐ Look at their email. Is it easy to find their email, either in the bio or via an “Email” button above the gallery? This is another sure-fire way of letting you know they are open to being contacted.
No one will check every box on this list, but let's say they should get 75%. These are all valid considerations, but at the end of the process, you have to take a step back and use your common sense to look at the big picture and your knowledge of your brand to decide if the influencer will be a good fit.
Brands: Any other things you look at?
Influencers: Anything you strongly agree or disagree with, or things you think brands should consider?
Sure, there is software out there that claims to find influencers in certain categories. But, they cost a bunch of money and are they really that accurate? (I’ve used them and the answer is: meh, not really.) They may work for nano-influencer campaigns where you need a large number of influencers with smaller followings and it doesn’t make sense to invest the resources in manually choosing. However, if you’re looking for fewer influencers to forge a longer-lasting relationship with, my methods are the way to go.
The initial process is not linear. It’s messy. You’re going to jump around a lot. But, it's hella effective. Keep a notepad handy for jotting notes. Then:
1. Perform keyword searches within Instagram. Choose keywords relevant to your industry and see what comes up in the “Top” section. Instagram will help you find “Popular Accounts” for similar keywords. Check them out.
2. Perform hashtag searches. Use the popular hashtags within your industry and look at the top posts on the hashtags. Instagram helpfully tells you how many tags each hashtag has within the search results. Don’t waste your time browsing through a super-popular tag with 150 million pictures. More specific tags that have tens of thousands or even a hundred thousand tags are more curated and are used intentionally by accounts within the industry. Example: don’t browse #sunset (204 million posts). Browse #sunset_lover (25.8k posts).
3. Find a hub and look through the featured accounts. A hub is a large community account that features the best content in their niche. It can be a nice way of perusing a Who’s Who of relevant accounts.
4. Once you’ve found a few accounts you like:
5. Once you’ve engaged an influencer, ask them if they have recommendations. If you’re a good brand to work with, they will be happy to introduce you to their talented friends in the influencer game.
Do these things, and you will find some great influencers, guaranteed. Do you have any other tips? I'd love to hear them!
In my next post, I will explain how to tell if an influencer is top-quality based on their profile alone. Stay tuned.
Blogging my path as a professional photojournalist / social media addict / influencer