How To Vet An Influencer Before Working With Them

The influencer business is worth approximately $1 billion annually. That represents thousands of individual agreements and partnerships, but it’s built on shaky ground. Social media influencers are a relatively new phenomenon and the market is completely unregulated. Influencers are often compensated based on the number of followers they have on their accounts, so it’s in their interest to have as many as possible. Unfortunately, likes and follows can be bought and sold to increase these figures, and often they are provided by automated or ‘bot’ accounts.


It’s impossible to quantify the number of false or bot accounts on social networks. Because of this, some marketers hesitate to call influencer campaigns effective – after all, if you are paying to show your product to thousands of unmonitored, automated accounts, where is the potential for ROI? On the other hand, it’s undeniable that influencer campaigns done right can be extremely profitable.


So, if you decide to invest some of the budget on influencers, what should you do to increase the chances that the investment is worth it? It’s critical to vet your potential partners closely to better estimate the value of a new partnership, and it goes far beyond the numbers alone.


How to tell if an influencer’s followers are real

Your initial research for potential influencers may be based purely on follower numbers. When you’ve got a list of accounts on hand, it’s time to look a little closer. Get an idea of engagement rates and see how it compares against influencers with similar numbers. For example, if an account has thousands of followers but less than 100 engagements per post it could be a sign of follower inflation.


Engagement matters – often more than follower figures alone. This is particularly relevant if you’re advertising to niche markets. The absolute follower numbers may be smaller but often they have deeply engaged followers that are more willing to act on recommendations and endorsements. No matter the figures, it’s smart to look at their other social media accounts to see what engagement is like across the platforms. An authentic influencer should have deep engagement and connection on every platform they can be found on including YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Influencers that misrepresent their follower numbers can be more likely to isolate their social media presence to one channel.


Look back through the posts of potential account partners. Have they collaborated with brands before? What was the engagement like on those sponsored posts? Did their community react and engage? Understanding previous performance will help guide you toward effective partnerships on social media.

It’s possible to make influencer partnerships work. Be prepared to look beyond the raw numbers and see how they actually influence their followers. Genuine engagement is worth far more in the long run.

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