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Select social media influencers with care

Influencers are that group of social media stars who always seem to be invited to the best parties or get the hottest new gadgets or clothes early and free.

Their Klout scores are double those of a regular person. They fill up your Twitter feed with pictures of their latest exploits, and they would have you believe their blogs get more views than your favourite magazine.

Some brands and agencies swear by influencer programs as a great way to reach potential customers, while a lot of pundits are speculating that the time for influencers is effectively up.

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Both camps make some good points, so if you are thinking of starting an influencer program, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Look for a fit

It's surprising how many brands seem to jump on the influencer bandwagon without carefully evaluating whether or not the fit will work for their company or industry.

Sometimes it just doesn't make sense. If you can't find any influencers who really suit what you're trying to do, pull the plug. When the only people at your fashion event are tech influencers, people can tell that you're reaching, and it will negatively affect your brand.

Be wary of the numbers

The recent changes to Klout's algorithm and the subsequent outpouring on Twitter proved just how many people pay close attention to their scores.

No doubt, for some, it is pure competitiveness, but a lot of people have a vested interest in keeping their Klout scores high. They're showing up on résumés for social media types, but agencies and companies also use those scores as a way of identifying influencers to team up with. For some, that's all they use.

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There is no doubt that Klout scores do show how active a person is on social media. The more platforms people use and the more frequently they use them, the higher their scores.

But just like the daily views of a website, the size of a Facebook fan page or the number of Twitter followers someone has, quantity doesn't always win out.

Do your research. You will likely get better results from working with someone who has 300 really dedicated followers than someone with 10,000 people who follow them because they are likely to say inappropriate things.

Go long-term

One of the reasons agencies like influencers is because they have relationships with them and can count on them to Tweet about an event or do a quick review of a product in a way they can't count on traditional media.

But, where's the brand loyalty? critics ask. One day an influencer is singing the praises of your new product, and the next, the influencer is at your competitor's launch.

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Try to establish long-term relationships with key influencers. That could involve bringing that person in-house for a special project or a series of blog posts around a certain theme, for instance.

A carefully selected partnership will be mutually beneficial. The influencer can become a brand ambassador in a true sense while gaining credibility for his or her own brand by connecting with yours.

The social media influencer isn't dead. This can be seen in so many examples. With women being one of the highest users of social media, credible Mommy bloggers have become real movers. The same goes with fashion, on-campus and technology personalities.

Select carefully. Aligning with well-respected influencers can still make a difference.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic . She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.

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