Influencers are among the most impressive traffic-generation engines marketers have available to them today. However, not all influencers are created equal. For a business, just seeing the numbers that an influencer can impact is only the tip of the iceberg. Companies need to know the people they're partnering with.
In all aspects of business, trust plays an important part, and a company should know it can trust the face of its marketing. Thus, for companies to be secure in partnering with an influencer, they should start by learning more about their potential partners. Below, 13 experts from Forbes Agency Council share a few critical steps companies should take when checking an influencer's trustworthiness.
1. Know The Influencer’s Audience
Successful influencer marketing is essentially tapping into an influencer's audience; hence it's not only important to look at the feed, storytelling, followers, engagement rate etc., but also at what audience you are tapping into. Are their followers your target demographic, are they interested in fashion or cars? You are accessing an influencer's audience so make sure it is the right one. - Emilie Tabor, IMA - Influencer Marketing Agency
2. Don't Take Influencer Status At Face Value
There are many things you can do to investigate the true value of an influencer for your brand. As you do so, keep in mind that what's important isn't just their follower count. In fact, many smaller influencers can make for a great choice if they have high engagement and a true relationship with their audience. An influencer's personal audience connection is what really matters. - Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO
3. Make Sure Your Values Are The Same
Your business is successful because you have a win/win solution for you and your customers, and your ideal customers’ values match your business values. Your association with influencers will only work if they believe in the values of your company. Their endorsement will come out authentic only if they believe in your business, plus their followers will be closer to your ideal customers. - Ajay Prasad, GMR Web Team
Before partnering with an influencer, do a deep dive into their life to make sure their persona is something you want your brand to be associated with. If you make the wrong decision on an influencer, only to realize this after you have gone public, quickly remove them. Don’t be afraid to let your consumers know you made a mistake and will correct it to be more in line with your brand values. - Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC
5. Look Beyond The Individual
Take time to look into a potential influencer’s online connections and other partnerships. You should already be familiar with their followers, but what do you know about the people the influencer follows — do their messages and posts align with your values? This shouldn’t be used as a pass-fail test, but it can give you some insight into your influencer’s motivations. - Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions
6. Look At The Numbers
It's hard to judge how trustworthy an influencer will be, but the numbers won't lie. Check the audience composition of their channels — does the age, gender and location align with your target? Do a quantitative analysis of other partnerships they've had — what did reach, engagement and clicks look like? It's a red flag if they're unwilling to provide the above, or if the numbers don't look great. - John Keehler, RUNNER Agency
7. Request And Review Analytics
One important step each business must take when checking the validity of an influencer before partnering is requesting and reviewing their analytics to ensure their social accounts are genuine. In doing so, you can more accurately and confidently predict that partnering with the influencer will drive you qualified traffic and result in new sales. - Jonathan Durante, Expandify Marketing Inc
8. Ask For References
Ask your influencer to demonstrate the success and impact they've had with other businesses. Ask for references, too — or seek them out on your own. It's important to get third-party insight into how your influencer moved the needle for others. - Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.
9. Look For Low Fraud Levels
When choosing an influencer, authenticity is of the utmost importance so be sure your influencer has low fraud and no recent competitive posts. If an influencer has fake followers, you're paying a premium to connect with fewer real followers. If the influencer posted about a competing brand within the last 30 days, they may not seem genuine and could negatively impact your brand. - Maria Sipka, Linqia
10. Check For Fake Followers
Tons of influencers buy fake followers. If their engagement rate is below 1%, their following is most likely purchased. There are many apps you can check that provide metrics on bots or inactive users. If you don't know how to do this yourself, reach out to a social media agency that manages influencers. We usually keep a blacklist. - Kelly Samuel, Kelly Samuel
11. Read The Audience Comments
Sometimes, reading the comments under photos and videos of an influencer can give a clear picture of what sentiment their audience has for a certain type of content. Understanding that can help in selecting those creators that can actually influence the others and avoid those who bought fake followers or who are receiving only bland emoji comments. - Alessandro Bogliari, The Influencer Marketing Factory
12. Make A Real Connection
Whether it's a phone call or a Zoom meeting, you'll learn a lot more about someone through live connection than you will in their DMs. Set up time to chat one on one with potential partners. The little things, like whether or not they're on time, will give you a peek into their reliability, and a real-life conversation can help you vet how they fit with your brand quickly. - Kate Weidner, SRW
13. Implement A 'Q Score'
The most important step is recognizing that an influencer’s following is not the only criterion to determining a good fit with a brand. As an industry, we need to develop and start implementing a "Q Score" for influencers just as we do when evaluating celebrities. This type of measurement would dig deeper into an influencer's persona and appeal and help ensure an authentic fit with a brand partner. - Carl Fremont, Quigley-Simpson