If you are looking to partner with a “Lifestyle Blogger” or social media “Influencer” you should always do some research.

The primary objective of utilizing someone with “Klout” (clout) is almost always going to be to drive business to your brick n’ mortar location or online store. This objective can obviously expand to less-direct return on investments or paths to purchases, like impressions (targeting specific audiences) or bringing people to an event. And, heck, sometimes it may just provide you with some great social content to re purpose at a later date. However, for most of us, we need an ROI and we need the initiatitive to hit our objectives in some form.

Let’s have a moment of transparency here. Typically, the biggest concern that social media community managers or digital strategists face is that these “influencers” or “lifestyle bloggers” convince someone at the right level that they have created some sort of mass following on social media or their website and they have achieved some sort of celebrity status. The issue then becomes either just spending the money when you know the return won’t be there, or fighting the uphill battle of proving that it’s not a good investment for your brand.

Let’s take a look at some ways how you can ensure you are partnering with the right person.

  1. Ensure that they are not only active on one social platform. You should see a presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Knowing your brand’s most likely-engaged audience, you can decide which of their platforms matter most, but generally you want to see them active on the big three.
  2. Do they have a website? This isn’t completely necessary, but if they do, spend some time looking at it. A quick method to see if they have spent some time setting up their SEO is to specifically search for their site in google. Go to google and type the following in the search bar: site:www.theirwebsite.com. You should see all of their pages that have indexed. This is a good indicator if what they are doing for a social and web strategy is working.
  3. Ask them for their Facebook Data. Every single person who manages a Facebook Business page has access to data.  They should be able to provide things like which cities\countries are visiting their page or engaging with their content, the age of their followers and of course whether or not they are male or female.
  4. Browse through the people commenting on their posts, retweeting them or liking their pictures on instagram. What cities are they from? After surveying about 20 of them does that match what you were originally told about their followers?
  5. Ask them to use a UTM anytime they post a link to your site. What is a UTM? A UTM google’s way of dynamically populating your URL so that analytics properly tracks all of the source content. At least this way, you will have data to either prove their statistics were right, or give you an idea whether or not you should partner on content with them again.

Now all of this being said… There are some amazing brand advocates out there, and lifestyle bloggers. And the reality is you might not be paying to reach their 250,000 followers on Twitter, or 25,000 likes on Facebook as a whole, but there could be a few people in each of those segmented audiences that have never heard of you before. And if that’s the case converting them to loyal brand followers of YOUR BRAND is a huge win.

Knowing that, there is one thing you for sure need to do. And that’s make sure that the content you are putting out in partnership appeals to both your target market and their current audience. This means that both brands may need to bend a little, and the voice will definitely need to be written in their tone to appease their followers first. The idea is to have some of their followers move over to your channels and start engaging with your brand.

Always ask to own the content at the end. If they are shooting video footage for you, ensure that you get copies and permission to repost anytime you want.

Lastly, offer a phase integration of your two brands. Offer them an opportunity to show you “the bang for your buck” on a smaller scale before you go gusto on a big investment. They are bloggers, they will want to partner with you, and if your brand represents something they know will look great to their followers, they will be eager to support this approach.

An authentic lifestyle blogger or influencer will be upfront about the reality of their data and engagement. They will not try to persuade you that you are going to sell a million products because of them or make huge headlines, but rather they are going to be knowledgeable and understand that they are a part of your brand’s journey. They are only one of many puzzle pieces to create an overall understanding of who you are.