Influencer marketing has seen a major growth spurt. With football superstar Leo Messi kicking off the Expo 2020 Dubai video campaign to Bollywood king Shahrukh Khan signed up by Visit Dubai, the region has been bursting at the seams with celebrity and brand unions.

But how do brands decide which talent is best suited for their end goal? How do brands decide whether an actor, a singer, or a social media superstar is the ideal choice? How can a campaign yield amazing results? Cue talent procurement professionals — the middlemen brands need.

Here are three key steps to identify the correct talent for your brand:

Goal setting

Define clear objectives and don’t let the number of followers on an account be the sole indicator of success. Influencer marketing is much more than set KPIs (key performance indicators) or CPCs (cost-per-click). A campaign does not necessarily need to get so technical, especially since a majority of the influencers do not fully understand these digital benchmarks.

A more feasible way to identify your campaign goals is to focus on an influencer’s strengths, engage the target audience, create appealing content and most importantly invest time in the “Brand X talent” relationship.

Influencer mapping

Research, research, research ...

Map it out and identify a relevant person for your target audience. This is generally the most time consuming part of the influencer marketing process. Setting up clear goals and criteria’s from the start, will aid in creating a clear road map and allow you to use time and resources in the most efficient manner.

Delve and do a deep dive into the influencers you are considering. Check all their platforms, assess tone of voice, past content, engagement rates, like, comments, demographics and most importantly if followers have been brought — this is becoming very common lately.

Story telling

Build a story board and work with the selected talent to create compelling content.

Most brands usually have a set storyline and key messages that are given to the celebrity/influencer without getting their input. Individual creativity of the influencer is vital to a brand collaboration when creating the story, as they are able to mould key messages in a manner their followers would understand and relate to.

Striking a balance between brand objectives and a talent’s personality is crucial as it ensures a more organic approach. Additionally, it is important for a brand to meet the influencer before campaign activation; this sets the tone for the campaign.

The use of influencers acting as brand advocates is getting more and more popular, and needs to be properly thought out. Essentially, an incorrect message sent out to one million followers can do a lot more harm than good. Therefore, choosing a blogger or celebrity to tell your brand story requires careful selection and research.

Bassam Mustafa is Managing Director of Nine71.