5 Essential Questions to Vet Influencers
Much has changed in the influencer-marketing world over the past few years, but here are five crucial points you should still consider when choosing the right influencers for your campaigns.
Influencer marketing is a tried-and-true way to expand your audience and reach the right kinds of people. At least, it is if you're working with the right influencers. But, how do you find the people who know their audience and know how to connect with yours? Ones who will strategically plan their communications to make the most of your shared partnerships?
You spend time vetting them to understand what they offer and how they fit with your brand. Consider asking these questions when evaluating an influencer partnership.
1. Are they relevant to your audience?
When influencers are talking online, who are they talking to? The influencers you choose should be a fit for your audience and align with the interests of your ideal buyers.
For example, if you're offering a productivity app, you need to identify the buyers most likely to use it. Are they single digital nomads working to stay on top of a remote job while traveling? Or are they working parents managing the schedule of a household?
Once you know who you're selling to, you can pick your influencer based on the audiences to whom they appeal. Any influencers you consider should know the demographics of their own audiences, what appeals to them, and what works.
2. Are they credible?
If you’re working with an influencer, you need to have an understanding of whether they are held up as an expert in the space or industry that you’re in.
Microinfluencers stand out because they tend to focus on niches and have, for the most part, created true communities within very specific verticals and passion areas. This means they create very strong bonds within their chosen communities, curating content that encourages engagement and commenting on other relevant posts in the space.
Having a million followers is less critical to credibility than having a small group of loyal followers who see the influencer as a trusted source of information and a credible voice worth their time and interactions on social media.
Plenty of social media users can create a large following — some may even resort to fraudulent practices such as buying followers to boost their credentials. That’s where an influencer-marketing platform can help you find the people who fit your profile and who have an authentically engaged follower base you need to make headway with promoting your brand.
3. What type of content are they producing?
Just as you need to understand what your audience looks like, you also need to know where they go. Which social platforms do they prefer and what types of content do they most like to consume?
If you're selling a kitchen appliance, for example, and your ideal customer is a home cook who loves to watch tutorial videos, consider where they might get their inspiration. YouTube is a natural fit, and depending on the demographic you're trying to reach, TikTok might be a great way to create awareness among a younger audience of chefs and food enthusiasts.
It also goes without saying that the content should be well-thought-out and well-crafted. Pay attention to the influencer's personal posts as compared to their #ad or #sponsored posts. Is the level of quality what you'd expect?Are they capable of promoting products in a way that's easy to watch and that doesn't scream sales? Are they engaging to watch, hear, and likely to keep your audiences' attention?
4. What are their metrics?
An influencer can create beautiful content, but who's seeing it?
To create a mutually valuable relationship, you need to understand the influencer's metrics and how successful they are at creating audience-engaging content.
The key metrics to look out for are engagement rate, reach, post frequency, comments and likes ratio, and followers and following ratio.
Measuring engagement rate is crucial because it tells you how engaged the influencer’s audience is with the content that’s being published. It’s an accurate indicator of how much the posts resonate with the influencer’s community and how involved and attentive they are. Engagement rates vary depending on the social media network and the content niche, but nowadays, given all of the algorithm updates, a rate of 2 percent is considered good for most platforms.
Most influencers should be able to easily share their reach and their engagement rates, and influencer platforms provide this data as part of their service, so you don’t have to calculate it manually.
5. How do they align with your brand?
An influencer may check all the right boxes above. They may be on the right platform, talking to the right people and getting them to engage.
Does that mean they're right for you? To decide on the right influencer, you also need to take personality and fit into consideration.
For example, if your brand has a casual beach vibe, you may not need an influencer whose account showcases perfect table settings, even if you are reaching out to the same demographic of affluent, urban women. Consider the brand values you're promoting, as well as the differentiators that set you apart from other companies.
The influencers you choose should fit perfectly in that Venn diagram. Again, microinfluencers may be a perfect fit in that space because you can find someone who closely aligns with and strongly resonates with the people you most want to purchase your products and support your brand.
When you're planning conversations with influencers, speak up and be transparent about your needs and goals for each campaign or collaboration. A savvy influencer should be of the same mindset.
Their connection to their audience is priceless to them, and they need their partnerships to fit their brand too. By preparing and thinking strategically during the influencer vetting process, you'll lay the groundwork for long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor