Consider the source. No matter how much foresight you put into your campaigns and customer retainment platforms, there is always going to be a certain segment of expertise and influence that may be beyond your grasp. And in today’s digital landscape, the need to target those influencers and experts is critical to establishing brand authority.

Take the ubiquitous Instagram presence of Rhianna, for example. With over 21.5 million followers, the Barbadian pop princess-turned-fashion icon’s seemingly homegrown ascent to media saturation was cemented when none other than design guru Tom Ford confirmed what was inevitable in the minds of the fashion industry: that one well-placed and high profile endorsement from a singular celebrity could do more to influence the industry as a whole than any feature, review or profile.

Yet ensuring exposure through online influence need not hinge on endorsement from A-list celebrities. According to a recent study from advocate marketing experts Tapfluence and Influitive, 92 percent of consumers turn to people they know (be it personally or online) for product referrals over any other source. The following are some critical to consider when working with online influencers.

1.) Identify key influencers.

No matter how much data mining you perform on a daily basis, without qualitatively justifying the popularity of your target influencers, all the hypothetical draw of your core demographic will remain just that—hypothetical. Critically analyzing search results requires both time and direct insight, but will ultimately prove successful. For companies with a more limited initial exposure to social marketing, you may wish to choose a more trepid approach by narrowing down influencers with a more medium amount of followers. Social influence finders (Klout and PeerIndex spring to mind) are an excellent resource, but provide results based on algorithms. A certain instinct and patient monitoring of data results helps to achieve predictability of target influencers.

2.) Develop goals clearly.

While the bottom line may be your ROI, it’s important to remember that in the digital marketplace connectivity and influence are critical. This means keeping the long run firmly in mind. Increasing brand awareness means developing a greater social following; developing a greater social following means creating more optimal keyword trends. The results may be slow but the effect is exponential. A single post indexed by Google can result in keyword ranking for months down the road—regardless of the initial sales result within the first two weeks.

3.) No one likes a hard pitch.

Despite the ubiquity of affiliate marketing and pay-per-click advertising, very few of the more successful influencers see themselves as “for sale.” It’s important to remember that the digital landscape is driven in many ways by the democratization of credibility; influencers often rely on the appearance of a “grass roots” connection with their audience, and not simply appearing as paid spokespeople. Develop time to establish a more personalized approach with your target influencers (and subsequently your clientele.) You’d be surprised how kindly even the most visible rock stars of social media platforms respond to even the slightest application of a “human touch.”

4.) Authenticity is the hallmark of successful appeal.

A simple like or dislike on Facebook may result in a mild effect on visibility, but may ultimately do very little to affect the success of your outreach. Taking time to establish a rapport with an influencer helps allow them to engage with a personal rapport with your brand; and subsequently, your clientele. Letting them speak in their own voice helps ensure that the outreach to your target demographic is organic, healthy and driven by a shared human experience. Asking for their creative input and encouraging them to tell their story helps humanize what is often a cold and statistically-driven process, and will ensure that your clientele will relate on a much more personal level.