According to influencer marketing hub, for every $1 that a brand spends on influencers, they get a return of nearly $6. But how do you find the right influencer for you who aligns with your brand, your customers, and your values? 

Stephanie O’Quigley is a Director of a PR & Marketing Agency in New York, who specializes in working with the beauty industry, and liaising with influencers. She is also an influencer herself, with successful Tik Tok and Instagram channels. 

Stephanie appeared on my podcast, Start, Scale Succeed for Episode 31 to share her do’s and don’ts of working with influencers. She is perfectly positioned to do this, as she sees both sides of the coin.

Here are Stephanie’s top tips for the do’s & don’ts of working with influencers.

How do you find an influencer to work with?

Do consider brand alignment. This should be your primary concern when looking for influencers rather than numbers. Does this person use a similar tone of voice to your brand? Will they bring value to your brand in terms of the right audience and the right demographic? Are they known for talking about products that are similar to yours?

Make sure you thoroughly understand your own brand, where your customers hang out, who they follow. This will help you find influencers to approach. Look at the relevant hashtags on Instagram or TikTok and follow similar accounts.

Don’t work with influencers who are putting a spend behind their posts in order to increase engagement. This means that they are not getting the engagement of their content on the posts that they are putting out organically. 

Don’t forget that if you are not feeling that savvy about social media, consider hiring someone like me who lives and breathes this stuff, and can instantly suggest influencers that might suit your requirements. 

How do you approach an influencer?

Do make it personal. Don’t send out a blanket outreach with the same sentence to everybody. Instead take time to look at the influencer’s feed, and see what they talk about. For instance I don’t drink, and post about it in my highlights, so I would not be interested in working with an alcoholic beverage brand. 

Do take time to nurture the relationship. Once you have had the first touch point, take time to check back in and ask what they thought about the product, what they liked or disliked about it, and be open to feedback. 

Don’t give it all away in the initial outreach. If you are planning a paid campaign you don’t need to go straight to the details of budget and what you are looking for. Take time to build the relationship. Start by explaining what your product does, that you would love to partner in some way, and what are their thoughts. Make it a conversation. It does take more time, but you will build more valuable influencer relationships as a result. 

Do remember that an influencer has spent a lot of time building their audience, and their audience engagement is their brand and butter. If they don’t have that engagement or lose trust in their audience, they lose the value of what they have built. It looks downright silly if an influencer posts about a competitor brand one day, as the best thing ever, and then says the same about you the next day. So the influencer will need to consider how your product aligns with their platform and audience. 

Do be upfront if you are planning to gift a product. You don’t need to hold back here. You can message an influencer to say we love your work, we’d love to send you a gift if that is something you are open to. This saves everyone time.

Do remember that if you are gifting a product, there is no guarantee that the influencer will post about this. 

Do factor in lead time when approaching influencers. You need to allow 2-3 months from your initial approach to the influencer posting about the product. So if you are planning a launch you need to think ahead. It can work really well working with an influencer in the pre-launch phase, as they can help get people excited about your product. 

How do you build a relationship with an influencer?

Don’t stalk influencers! Give people time and space to try your product, particularly if it is a gift. You can’t expect anyone to post or talk positively about your product unless it is paid. Welcome all feedback on your product, positive or negative. Remember that anything that comes back from them is useful, it is authentic feedback from someone who has tried a lot of products and goes to a lot of brands. 

Do be prepared to negotiate for paid campaigns, particularly with influencers with over 100 000 followers. You can ask for what you want, but be aware the influencers may not want you using their images in your marketing, may have exclusivity deals with certain brands and so on. For me that is the exciting part as you work out a deal that benefits both parties. 

Do ask for engagement figures. The most common way to work this out is to add the likes and comments on a post and divide that by the number of followers a person has. If it is a paid partnership you can ask the influencer where their audience lives, how many views their stories get and so on. 

And finally do enjoy the process! It can reap amazing results. I’ve worked with clients where the influencer genuinely loves the product, to the point where they will repeatedly mention it and it becomes part of their everyday life.

Thank you so much to Stephanie for sharing so much of her knowledge. You can listen to the full podcast here.

I hope that this post helps you to continue on your journey to success and if you need any extra support then check out my free resources on my website, follow me on Instagram, subscribe to my monthly newsletter or get in touch at