How to Recruit Influencers for Market Research

social media influencer taking a picture with beauty products

Content creators and bloggers have taken the marketing world by storm. As a result, many brands are turning to social media influencers to promote their brand, products, and services.

Recruiting influencers for market research is a great first step to mastering influencer marketing.

It provides brands with the insights needed to target, plan, and launch a successful influencer referral program.

Because this is a newer marketing strategy for most businesses, it is critical to rely on data-driven insights and not best guesses or assumptions.

For more insight on how to accomplish this, below our qualitative recruiting company outlines the exact process we use to find, recruit, and schedule content creators and influencers for market research.

Report: A Brand's Guide to Working with Influencers

CTA A brand's guide to working with influencers

What is a Social Media Influencer?

When discussing recruitment methods with my clients, I like to start by asking them this question: What is a social media influencer or content creator? 

Overall, it’s hard to define, and even more challenging to determine through an online screener.

In general, a social media influencer or content creator has at least the following characteristics: 

  • Follower base: Influencers have an audience or follower base that consists of more than just their family and close friends. This dedicated following can range from hundreds to millions of followers. 

  • Niche: Social media influencers tend to have a specific category or categories of content they focus on. Many influencers create content across various categories of content, but they tend to have one core category most of their content consists of. Categories can be very broad (i.e., lifestyle), or extremely specific (i.e., investing in or covering a specific cryptocurrency). 

  • Original, digital content: Technically, I suppose you can be an influencer without creating your own original content, but in general, content creators will have their “personal touch” on what they post (i.e., doing more than just reposting memes or other videos). 

Other things to look at to gauge whether or not someone is a social media influencer or content creator: 

  • Brand sponsorships, participation in affiliate marketing, or brand sponsorships. There are a few exceptions to this characteristic such as small creators or those who are just getting started. Alternatively, creators may choose to forgo work with brands. However, this is a good way to understand the experience level of a creator. 

  • Engagement. Generally, content creators have some sense of community amongst their followers. No or very low engagement should be something to look out for. 

However, even when someone meets this criteria, it does not necessarily mean they are a social media influencer or content creator. There are also cases where qualified content creators may not meet the above criteria.

This leads us to the challenges of recruiting influencers for market research.

Challenges of Recruiting Influencers for Market Research

Recommendations and/or endorsements from content creators can carry significant weight with their following, making influencer marketing a powerful tool in today's digital landscape.

With that being said, it’s obvious why businesses and brands want to conduct research with this audience, but a lot of of our clients have struggled to locate social media influencers or content creators through traditional panels of screening processes. 

But, why is that?

Let’s assume we were going to take the traditional panel approach and create a recruitment screener and launch it to panelists in hopes we could locate a handful of social media influencers. 

If we were focusing on the above criteria, our questionnaire might look something like the below: 

  1. Do you create original digital content with the goal of sharing it with others? 
  2. How would you describe who your audience is? 
  3. Which of the following describes the categories of the content you create?
  4. About how many followers do you have on your main platform? Select one.
  5. How often do you create original digital content on your main platform? Select one.

Now let’s use me as an example: 

👍 I create original, digital content (any content that I write or photos I take are original) 

👍 I share this content with an audience outside of friends and family (acquaintances, work colleagues, etc.) 

👍 I create content about my home/personal life, work, market research, and recruiting (this blog counts!) 

👍 I have at least 1,000 friends/followers on social media 

👍 I create content at least daily 

I might answer the screening questions in good faith and qualify on paper, but I am definitely not who our client has in mind when wanting to speak with a social media influencer or content creator. 

Why Conduct Market Research with Influencers

If you're new to influencer marketing, you likely have a lot of questions...

  • Where do I recruit social media influencers to partner with?
  • How much does influencer marketing cost?
  • How can I build a successful influencer marketing program?

We'll ask you one question in return: Who better to answer these questions than the content creators themselves?

Influencers possess a direct line to their engaged and often niche-specific followers, providing invaluable insights into consumer preferences, trends, and sentiment.

By conducting market research with influencers, businesses gain access to a highly targeted audience, allowing for the collection of authentic feedback and data on product performance.

This research helps refine offerings, tailor messaging, and develop campaigns that resonate with the intended market. 

Steps to Recruiting Influencers for Market Research

89% of marketers agree that ROI from influencer marketing is the same or better than other channels (Mediakix).

With that being said, it is one of the more difficult strategies to navigate as a business.

This was undoubtedly the case for a recent client of ours who is an image-sharing and social media platform.

While they knew the importance of working with influencers, they struggled with retaining a network of content creators and brand advocates.

The social media platform needed feedback from this target audience to strategize and perfect its influencer referral program.

Here's how we delivered insights from content creators and bloggers to help maximize the success of their program.


Step 1. Understanding Your Objectives

The social media platform contacted our team for help finding and recruiting social media influencers for a market research study.

Because the objective of the study was to gather detailed feedback from content creators, Drive Research suggested conducting 10 in-depth interviews.

This type of market research is great for one-on-one interactions and gaining deeper insights into the opinions and motivations of participants.

Step 2. Outlining the Type of Content Creators Recruited

In the initial conversations with the social media platform, our team learned more about the specific type of influencers the client was looking for feedback from.

The target audience of social media influencers included:

  • Content creators in the U.S.
  • Influencers who publish monetized content regularly on at least 2 of the following platforms:
    • Pinterest
    • Instagram
    • YouTube
    • TikTok
    • A personal blog
  • Recruit 1 to 2 interviews with edge cases for Patreon, OnlyFans, Clubhouse, Medium, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Influencers who produce content in the following niches:
    • Home décor/DIY
    • Food/cooking
    • Beauty/grooming
    • Fashion
    • Lifestyle
    • Travel
    • Fitness
  • Content producers in nano ($1K-$10K), micro ($10K-$50K), mid-tier ($50K-$500K), and macro ($500K+) annually.

The incidence rate of the study is expected to be 10% or higher.

Step 3. Design a Recruitment Screen to Qualify Content Creators

A recruitment screener is a crucial part of any qualitative market research project. It helps distinguish what respondents are qualified for the study and those that are not.

The recruitment screener survey for the social media influencer study included questions such as:

  • Do you have access to a laptop/computer with a camera/microphone and reliable internet connection?
  • Do you create original digital content with the goal of sharing it with others?
  • Do you publish or post content that you make as a full-time job, a part-time job, or a hobby?
  • How often do you create original digital content?
  • Which of the following best describes the category of the content you create?
  • On which platforms do you regularly publish your content?
  • About how many followers do you have on your main platform?
  • Are you currently making money off of the content you create?
  • Roughly what percentage of your personal (individual) income is from content creation?
  • Which method(s) do you generate revenue from your content creation?

After the survey is designed, our team begins programming and testing to prepare for the start of recruitment.

Step 4. Begin Recruiting Social Media Influencers

There are various approaches to finding participants for market research. Most commonly qualitative recruiting firms rely on online research panels.

However, for this specific project, Drive Research knew an online panel would not provide the client with the type of influencer they were looking for.

Instead, our team used a mix of social media ads on Facebook and grassroots efforts to recruit influencers for the interviews.

The grassroots efforts included researching different influencer social accounts and messaging them via direct message or email.

All recruitment outreach methods included details of the study and a link to take the online recruitment screener.

Those deemed qualified for the IDIs based on their answers to the survey received follow-up phone calls to continue to the next steps of the project.

Step 5. Schedule In-Depth Interviews with Content Curators

Our team conducted follow-up phone calls with participants who were labeled “qualified complete” through the screener as well as the client.

During the phone calls, our market research firm confirmed the participants' answers from the survey and provided available time slots for the interviews.

As a rule of thumb, Drive Research overrecruits for all of our qualitative recruiting studies. For instance, our social media platform client wanted to conduct 10 interviews.

Therefore, our team scheduled 10 interviews with content creators as well as 3 backup influencers in case people canceled the interview last minute.  

Our qualitative recruitment efforts resulted in 40 qualified participants that the client could review and select what influencers they wanted to move forward with.

Step 6. Conducting the Interviews with Influencers

To ensure a perfect show rate, the Drive Research team carried out several communication tactics with the participants.

Our qualitative recruiting process includes:

  • Sending a confirmation email and calendar invitation where participants must RSVP “Yes.”
  • Scheduling reminder phone calls a few days before the Zoom interviews.
  • Sending a reminder text the day of the interview.

While our qualitative recruiting company offers moderating and reporting services, the client chose to conduct the interviews in-house.

The social media influencers were required to attend the interviews through an online/video platform organized by the social media platform client.

Project Highlights

  • A social media platform hired our market research company for a qualitative study
  • The in-depth interviews (IDIs) took place in April 2021
  • Drive Research achieved a perfect show rate of 10 content creators for the IDIs
  • Each interview lasted 60 minutes with 30 minutes of pre-work for each participant before the session began
  • Participants received a $150 stipend as a thank-you for the pre-assignment, feedback, and time to attend the IDI
  • Drive Research processed the incentives as Amazon gift cards within 24 hours of the end of the interviews

Why Work With Drive Research to Recruit Influencers

Our market research recruitment company takes a unique approach to recruiting this audience starting with scanning social media profiles/pages to locate social media influencers. 

Once we find someone who appears to be a good fit, we are able to track down their contact information and build a relationship with creators from there. 

Over the years of conducting countless recruits with social media influencers, we have built an in-house panel and have access to thousands of highly engaged, hand-picked, and vetted content creators for research. 

This panel allows us to recruit qualified participants with a relatively quick turnaround, and the relationships we build with creators throughout the process help with completion, engagement, and the level of detail provided in the research.

It’s why we continuously see 100% show rates within our influencer studies. 

Here’s what a few of our influencers had to say about working with us: 

My experience was extremely positive. When we spoke on the phone, they were very professional and nice! Then when given instructions, they were very clear and easy to work with- and the team was available to answer my questions right away. Great experience!

My moderator was very well organized, kept things on track and the session seemed very productive. My recruiters are also very organized and get me the details needed in a quick manner.

I enjoyed working with Drive Research. They are professional and make everything seamless. Hope to work together again in the future!

Contact Our Team to Recruit Influencers for Market Research

Whether it be an online survey with 400 responses or hour-long interviews with a handful of content curators, organizations are looking for feedback from social media influencers.

Drive Research is a full-service market research company located in Upstate New York. Our team partners with brands across the country to execute both quantitative and qualitative studies.

Interested in commissioning a market research study with bloggers, content creators, and influencers? Contact us below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily carroll about the author

Emily Rodgers

A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Manager. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Learn more about Emily, here.

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