If you’re a PR professional in the 21st century, the term influencer has likely been part of your conversations with colleagues, clients and maybe even your CEO. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, 59 percent of marketers intend to increase their influencer marketing budget in the next year. Influencers may also be part of your strategy, but are you doing influencer campaigns right?

While influencer marketing isn’t new to social media professionals, many PR pros are still learning how to effectively integrate this tactic into their PR toolkit. The good news is that some of the principles for dealing with journalists which are familiar to most PR pros can apply to influencers, but there are some distinctions you need to understand.

We asked influencer marketing expert Danica Kombol, president of Everywhere Agency, what PR pros need to be successful. Whether you’ve been practicing influencer marketing or are just now joining the game, these are the must-know influencer marketing tips:

Think Engagement

One of the most important vetting tactics in today’s world of fake followers is looking at an influencer’s engagement. The higher the level of engagement the better because who doesn’t want an engaged audience for their content?

“An influencer partnership is more than getting your content out there – you really should be looking for a perfect match,” Kombol said. “You want to make sure they are reaching the right demographic, and while the size of their following is certainly a factor to consider, engagement rates are even more important.”

How do you evaluate engagement? Compare the influencer’s following number to the amount of engagement they receive per post. Engagement per post really depends on the industry, so make sure you vet your entire list of influencers to understand the appropriate average. If an influencer has over 20,000 Instagram followers and are only receiving 200 likes on a post, you may consider not working with this influencer for your campaign.

“At the end of the day, a real human has to look at the content an influencer is creating and ensure that the comments they receive are both robust and real,” Kombol said.

Have a Budget

One of the biggest differences in influencer marketing vs. traditional PR, which targets journalists, is the cost. News flash! Working with an influencer is not always free.

“Influencers aren’t waiting around for opportunities to share content or free,” Kombol said. “Good influencers, especially those with an engaged following, are very intentional about what they post and expect to be compensated for promoting brands and products.”

At MediaSource we often work with clients to determine an influencer budget at the beginning of a project. If you don’t have dollars, consider what your brand might have to offer that would be valuable to influencers. Do you have an interesting experience or exclusive gift package to offer? Or maybe you can entice then with exclusive access to an event or insider information.

When our team was charged with finding influencers for the launch of a new location of the luxury candy shop Kilwins, we offered food and lifestyle influencers like Eat Play Cbus the exclusive opportunity to roll up their sleeves, put on an apron and make fudge like a real life Willy Wonka. That experience was unique for their channels and included lots of candy freebies during and after the event.

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Get Personal

Think quality over quantity to save room for personalization and make influencers feel special. You may be thinking this is obvious advice, but I can’t stress enough that influencer interactions need to be more personalized than working with a journalist. (No blast emails to influencers!) Remember that while journalists may write for a media outlets, influencers aren’t writing for someone else. Influencers are posting content on behalf of themselves so make your outreach personalized and genuine.

Part of setting a strategy for an influencer campaign is to begin following all potential influencers once a target list is complete. At MediaSource we then typically engage with their content for a minimum of one month (more if possible) before approaching them about the opportunity. To keep on top of your game always look for new influencers to follow on a regular basis and know the influencers in your industry. This will not only show your target influencers that you care, but also help you understand their style and pick out relevant talking points for your pitch.

“At its heart, influencer marketing is “word of mouth” marketing, plain and simple. It’s people talking to people about products, brands and experiences they love. It’s not a new gadget or gimmick. It’s not going anywhere. It’s very simply getting recognized as the big player it is and can be,” Kombol said.

So before you launch an influencer initiative, take the time to do research and set a strategy because the right influencer matched with the right brand initiative can pay off in valuable exposure.