If you’ve ever tried to get a group of marketers to agree on anything, you know what a mercurial bunch they can be. You’d be stunned, then, to know a supermajority of them see influencer marketing as a top tactic.

According to influencer marketing agency Mediakix’s latest influencer marketing survey, 89 percent of surveyed marketers say the return on investment is as good as — or better than — other channels. A similar eight in 10 said they see influencer marketing as “effective” or “very effective.”

With that said, influencer marketing isn’t a sure bet. It requires the right relationships, tight brand-influencer alignment, and a sense of the social media landscape. Even in marketing, that mix is hard to come by.

Your Influencer Marketing Agency Matters

To choose your perfect influencer marketing agency partner, look for one with:

1. A thumb on platform trends

The second most interesting tidbit in Mediakix’s survey is where marketers expect to spend their influencer marketing money this year. Sixty-nine percent plan to spend the most on Instagram, with YouTube coming in second at just 11 percent. Unsurprisingly, Mediakix found marketers consider those two influencer marketing channels the most effective.

Although there’s certainly room in the influencer marketing agency space for niche services, too many firms are stuck on yesterday’s channels. Instead of considering which social media platforms are today’s top performers, they look at measures of historic performance, like user totals. Some influencer marketing agencies avoid venturing beyond their preferred platform because doing so would force them to forge new relationships. Find a firm focused on the here and now, not what worked in the past.

2. Cross-channel competency

No influencer marketing agency is good at everything, but a solid partner should be able to execute a strategy across multiple social media channels. Rarely are a company’s users on only one platform. In 2018, Pew Research Center found that 73 percent of U.S. adults use YouTube, 68 percent use Facebook, and 35 percent are on Instagram. Other social media sites claim between 22 and 29 percent of Americans as users.

Look for this signal in potential partners’ portfolios. Do they only display top influencers’ tweets, or do they have work to show on other platforms, too? To check their channel selection and trend-consciousness at the same time, ask potential influencer marketing agency partners about smaller sites. Can they share a TikTok campaign? What about Anchor or Vero?

3. Enterprise-level client experience

Another insight you’ll get by checking an influencer marketing agency’s portfolio? Its other client relationships. Although influencer marketing is still a young space, 90 percent of brands represented by the Association of National Advertisers report their influencer marketing workload has grown over the past year. That’s led 73 percent to hire an in-house team to handle at least some of it.

What should that tell you? If an influencer marketing agency can show a roster of enterprise customers, that implies big brands see skills in the partner that they don’t have internally. If the influencer marketing agency in question says its brand clients aren’t comfortable with the agency sharing their names, ask to see anonymized campaign assets. Are the content, influencer communication, and campaign analysis segments up to enterprise standards?

4. Robust content

Influencer marketing agencies may rely primarily on influencers themselves for branded content, but they should still have a strong sense of content strategy. Take a look at potential partners’ blogs: Are they updated regularly? Do they demonstrate industry expertise? Are they entertaining and actionable in the advice they give?

Then, go check their social media channels. Don’t expect every influencer marketing agency to be present on every channel, but do look for engagement and consistency. Do they have an established following? Do they post at least once per week? Are their posts professional and helpful, or are they stodgy and self-serving?

5. A broad bench of influencers

Although some influencer marketing agencies serve specific verticals, they should still have a wide selection of influencers. Take fashion and beauty, which is dominated by influencer marketing. Influencers in the sector range from 19-year-old beauty vlogger James Charles to pop superstar Rihanna.

Most importantly, ask about influencers aligned with your brand. Consider not just their areas of interest, but also their personality and values. Even if she likes to travel, a highly opinionated influencer isn’t the right choice for a carefree travel company. Just beware of fake influencers, which you can spot by looking for a spike in followers and a lopsided following-follower ratio.

The marketing industry may be changing, but checking out an influencer marketing agency isn’t so different from doing due diligence on any other potential partner. Is the agency clued into current trends and capable of what it says it can do? Is it committed to its own tactics and rich in industry connections? If so, you might have just found the marketers behind your next campaign.  

Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.