With their high costs and difficult-to-measure ROI, brands have reached the tipping point with social media influencers, according to an essay from an anonymous social media executive featured on Digiday Confessions. The exec says that a bigtime influencer now costs more than your yearly salary, and results aren’t easy to see. With platforms like Instagram, your only analytics are likes and comments and it’s hard to attribute those to sales, the article says. That leaves brands unsure of what to pay and influencers unsure about what to charge.

“Influencers are going to start disappearing. Brands are going to start realizing the amount of followers you have doesn’t mean shit,” the exec wrote. The reason? We gave them too much money too fast, and now influencers are in it for the wrong reasons.

Whether this social media exec is dead on or off his rocker, brands need to keep their eye out for quality not quantity. Plenty of brands excel with influencers, growing their following, creating brand awareness and moving product. So how can you get the influencer/brand relationship right? Here are four tips:

Hire influencers with less followers

Fifty influencers with thousands of followers each are better than one influencer with millions. Why? Lower cost and higher engagement.

A recent Markerly study claims that influencers with less followers receive almost four to 8 times more likes than influencers with 10+ million followers. And influencers with less followers receive comments 0.5% of the time compared to just 0.04%. Markerly believes it’s best to stay somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 followers.

And even better, staying below 250,000 reduces follower overlap, according to a Digiday article on micro-influencers. You’ll start to see more authentic and engaged comments, as if they are talking to a friend. This post from Rachel Martino has the light, breezy feeling influencers should be going for:

“We LOVE biking over there!” “Yup! It was a great ride.”

Search for people you’ve never heard of

Find people who are talking about your products, competitors or sharing your content. You can start with your own followers and search by keywords and hashtags to narrow it down.

Think niche. Who is your audience going to for inspiration on outdoor photography? She’s probably someone you’ve never heard of. She might not even know your brand, but she uses similar products and lives the lifestyle you sell.

For example, photographers and outdoor enthusiasts could benefit from a partnership with this wilderness guide student on Instagram:

It's easy to fall in love with this.

A post shared by Eeva Mäkinen (@eevamakinen) on

Ask yourself—what the heck do they even do?

Influencers come in many different forms. Photographers, bloggers, DJs, foodies, industry experts. It’s important not to hire influencers just because they are “influencers.” The more you know about their work, the more likely you can get on the same page and build a great relationship.

Pay attention to their interests and expertise and match them with your product. Avoid snap judgments and give them a chance to create something awesome and unique. Remember, they got their followers because of the work they do, not the work you do.

He might be like this guy, a DJ who travels the world and drinks Guinness:

But he’s also a fitness advocate who can do this:

Holding up that 🍑 #Friday #acro #teamwork @hannahbronfman 😜🙌🏼 📸by @paulstawong

A post shared by Brendan Fallis (@brendanfallis) on

Mix it up

Don’t throw influencers out just because they aren’t in your niche. In fact, you might learn more about your “niche” when you partner with influencers that specialize in totally different verticals. As long as your product can naturally fit into their life — even if it’s just a splurge — there is no reason to not get creative.

Take traveling foodie versus Miami DJ and vlogger. Both effective. Both engaging. And probably reached a broader and more diverse audience for #shakeshack.

Burger binging at @shakeshack in West Hollywood! 🍔🍔🍔 #shakeshack Snapchat: foodwithmichel

A post shared by foodwithmichel (@foodwithmichel) on

Dreams do come true🍟🍔 #SHAKESHACK

A post shared by Monica Geuze (@monicageuze) on

Looking for ways to discover influencers who have an authentic voice? Check out Curalate Explore, which can help you find influencers to work with, form relationships with micro-influencers and find high-quality content piece-by-piece.