When to Team Up With an Influencer

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There's almost an alchemy to how some people become famous on social media — famous enough that sponsors want to pay them to keep being famous. Maybe they're hawking a hybrid yoga regimen or they've got really cute dogs; maybe they're just good at being famous. Either way, whatever your platform, it seems like a dream come true to be or know an influencer.

A team of researchers is about to publish a study on what exactly makes influencers successful, and when their partnerships with other brands pay off most. Even though 86 percent of companies lean on influencers within their marketing strategies, audience engagement with those accounts comes to just fractions of a percent. There are some good signs that one social media star could be good for your business, though.

"On Facebook, attention-grabbing, creative content is more effective when the campaign goal is to win the purchase versus simply raise awareness," said lead author Christian Hughes of the University of Notre Dame. That said, she added, "our research shows for a campaign trying to raise awareness on the blog platform, a high-expertise blogger can generate greater engagement."

In short: There are subtleties at work about crafting the magic marketing formula. As Hughes puts it, you can't just go by follower count and reach alone. "It involves designing a cohesive strategy, selecting influencers, and encouraging content that is going to have the biggest impact for the company's specific campaign goals," she said. With the right team-up, however, your campaign could make a real splash.