Gone are the days of slapping a household name on your product to sell it. In today’s marketing world, it’s all about the handle. That’s right—I’m talking about social media influencers.

Business Dictionary defines influencers as “individuals who have the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of their (real or perceived) authority, knowledge, position, or relationship.” It is today’s version of following and copying the cool kids. For brands looking to reach and influence their audience—it works.

With the average person spending two hours on social media each day (4.5x that for teenagers), integrating a social media influencer strategy into your overall marketing strategy is essential for reaching your audience where they live and speaking their language.

While 56 percent of users said they rely on recommendations from friends, a solid 49 percent said they rely on the word-of-mouth of influencers. But just like picking the right cool crowd, choosing the right influencer to tell your brand’s story to people who care can make it or break it. Here’s how to find the influencer who will sell your brand like Emily sold you on jelly sandals in the fifth grade.

Know your audience & your brand

The first step in launching a successful influencer campaign is knowing your brand and your audience inside and out. What do you stand for? Who do you sell to? Why do you matter? Once you can clearly answer those questions, look for influencers that align with your answers. For example, if you’re marketing skis to women, look to an influencer like Lindsey Vonn. Even if Kim Kardashian has a bigger audience, Vonn’s audience has a higher concentration of women likely to buy into your brand. If Vonn already uses your skis, your investment in her influence can have an even greater return. Choosing an influencer who fits into your target audience makes their word all the more believable.

Other things to consider? Look past vanity metrics like number of followers and look towards measures of true influence, like relevance, engagement, reach, and frequency. In our example, Vonn is relevant to your brand, she engages in conversation with her followers, she reaches your target audience, and she posts frequently enough to keep her followers invested in what she has to say.

Chose authenticity

No matter what your brand goals are, choosing an influencer that’s authentic is key (AKA no bot followers, please). Your ideal influencer should stay true to their own brand even when promoting another brand. If Lindsey Vonn suddenly presented herself as the world’s biggest snowboarding fan in order to sell snowboards, her authenticity would be tarnished, and her audience would turn on her. Instead, you want influencers who promote brands like they’re telling their friends about this cool thing they tried and loved. Native advertising is an authentic way for an influencer to tell the story of your brand. With so much information easily available, modern consumers are savvy and skeptical, and they’ll tune out as soon as something smells like an ad. Choosing authenticity helps you avoid a promotion that may backfire.

Look for engagement

Let’s bring it back to engagement, because it deserves its own section. If your friend posted about her new favorite top, but never answered you when you asked how it fit, would you still buy it? Choosing an influencer who is dedicated to engaging with their audience is crucial when it comes to converting an impression into a sale. A recent Experticity study showed that influencers have 22.2 times more conversations on social media than typical users. Make sure yours is part of that statistic.

40% of respondents to a study by Twitter and analytics firm Annalect said they’ve purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on social media. 20% of respondents said they shared something they saw from an influencer on social media. Not only does influencer marketing help convert to sales, but it inspires the influencer’s audience to share it with their audience, letting you reap double the rewards.

With these #TMG approved tips, you’ll be sure to choose the best influencer to help you reach your goals.

Ellen Huber