What To Look For When Vetting Influencers

Sam Wormser
By Sam Wormser

Knowing how to properly vet someone on social media is one of the best and first things you should do when it comes to finding an authentic social media influencer. People love using social media because they can share their lives through a digital outlet and share all kinds of tips and tricks.

Influencers do just that – influence. They can reach a large audience and persuade them to do things based on their posts and personality. Anybody can be an influencer. Unfortunately, this can lead to a lot of businesses contacting fake influencers.

Fake influencers are people who buy followers, likes, and use Instagram ‘pods’ that create comments – which could easily fool anyone to think they’re really influencers. You may see high numbers, but you have to consider the quality of those numbers and the engagement by the followers. A little knowledge of knowing what to look for can go a long way and help you massively when you’re looking for an influencer for your brand.

Below are 5 key metrics to look at to determine which influencers are legitimate and which are not.

#1 Average Number of Engagements

At first glance, you may be attracted to a person who has a large number of followers. It makes sense, right? You want to influence the most people, so you contact someone who is seen by a lot of people. But that number shouldn’t be your main metric. People can easily buy followers, but those profiles are either fake or aren’t engaging – which makes it pretty pointless.

Instead, look at their average number of engagements. Your influencer you decide to work with should have a substantial amount of engagements per post. This means that when they post, people actually interact with that person with likes and comments and are actually able to be influenced.

If people aren’t commenting or liking their pictures then how will they be able to contribute real value to your business? People should enjoy their content first and foremost. Just because someone has a lot of followers, that doesn’t mean that the people actually like their profile and are interested in what they have to say.

Sure, a person with 50,000 followers is great, but if their number of engagements are less than someone with 10,000 then who is the better influencer? Quality of quantity is vital.

#2 Engagement Rate

Next, take a look at their overall engagement rate. Preferably, you want someone who knows how to engage their followers and do it consistently. Like I mentioned above, they may have a lot of followers, but if they’re not influencing a good number of people, then they aren’t really influencers.

Influencers should have at least a 2% – 5% engagement rate as the baseline. Engagements rates above 5% are considered above average. Anything lower than you may be facing a fake profile, a bought list, and have trouble reaching out to a broad audience.

Not only should they have a good engagement rate, but need to be keeping those numbers up consistently. Up and down engagement rate shows a lack of planning and not knowing how to promote well.

Take a look at their engagements on their profile and even ask straight-up what their engagement rate is. Such engagement metrics are stark indicators of how likable, marketable, and helpful they can be for your business.

#3 Quality Captions

The strength and type of captions that are being posted are absolutely crucial. You want someone who expresses personality, can represent your brand well and knows how to construct posts that don’t really sound like they’re selling.

There is a lot to think about when it comes to writing good captions.

What kind of words is that person using? Are they too salesy? Too little words? Too many words? Does it sound too generic? Are they likable? Funny? Cheeky? Inspirational?

Does their content sound too up front with the sale? Can they post interesting content that has value? Do they know how to express their personality? Does their personality match your company?

The last thing you want is to have an influencer be too apparent that they’re selling something or write captions that either say too little or just a big block of text that no one will read. Far too often some influencers write novels in their posts that make people just keep scrolling.

When you’re vetting influencer profiles, you want to look for solid captions that equally give great value, show personality, and can show the benefit of the product being displayed. Also, captions that invite responses and actually ask for responses and opinion of followers are great things to look for that elicit high caption quality.

#4 Image Quality

Social media is all about images. If you’re vetting an influencer profile and you don’t resonate with their image quality, then you’ll have a problem. Of course, you need to like a person’s photos for you to work with them, but there are also other factors you must consider when it comes to image quality.

People who heavily use social media and contribute to a high engagement rate are also people who love authenticity. If one of your KPIs is image quality, then you have to look at someone’s pictures and see what’s implemented. The influencer you’re vetting has to be in a similar industry that you are, but they also can’t be using overly edited pictures that appear fake.

Authenticity is king when it comes to influencing people on social media and using overly edited images will turn a lot of people off. Also, what images are they using? Can they properly use images to promote a product or an idea? Are their pictures relevant and engaging?

Take a good look at their posting skills and picture quality. When people are scrolling down the feed, the image will be the reason they stop and take a look at a profile or read the caption. Image quality is a crucial part in vetting influencer profiles.

#5 Comment Quality

Some of the best influencers know how to make people comment on their photos. And no, I don’t mean short comments like “cute” or “hot” or “nice” or an emoji. Good influencers know how to start a conversation and really engage with their followers.

Pictures with short, generic comments is a good sign that those comments were bought or that the commenter is actually more interested in getting exposure than actually speaking with the influencer. Inauthentic comments are coming from inauthentic people who will do nothing for your business and are not being influenced. Read the comments that are being posted to each picture.

Do they sound like real people? Are they asking questions? Are people interested in what is being seen or read?

A massive indicator of a real influencer is how they react to the comments. You should see if the influencer is commenting back, engaging with followers, and trying to have a real conversation with their followers. This is something many people miss!

Not only does this show authenticity that people like, but it also increases the number of engagements, engagement rate, and followers know that the influencer actually cares about their opinion. Not commenting or engaging with the followers seems fake and impersonal, which is not how you want to be represented.

Who Should Your Influencer Be?

When you’re vetting an influencer profile, there are a lot of things you must look at it and consider before continuing with them. Social media is a numbers game but it’s a funny numbers game. Just because there is a high number, it doesn’t mean it’s a good thing.

Quality of followers, likes, comments, and conversation is paramount when looking at an influencer profile.

Today, it is way too easy to spend money and buy those followers, likes, and comments and create an illusion of being a high-quality influencer. You can’t just look at the numbers – you must look deeper. What is the quality of the influencer’s profile?

First, people need to be engaging with posts with likes and comments. Those engagements require to be happening consistently. But, what is actually said and posted by the influencer? Do the captions convey authenticity and not like they’re continually selling something? Do they use images properly and are not overly edited or too much? Are the posts filled with high-quality comments that show interest and engagement? Can the influencer create compelling posts and start conversations?

Vetting influencer is not easy, but it’s worth the effort. When you find an influencer who is authentic and knows how to use his or her profile for promotions, then you’ve struck a gold mine. Do yourself a favor and keep these 5 metrics in mind next time you decide to vet an influencer profile.

Samantha is a PR manager and account manager at Power Digital where she executes on everything from top tier media relations, to SEO outreach and social media influencer outreach. After spearheading the influencer marketing arm of the PR department, Samantha has created strategies and partnerships with social media influencers to elevate both brand awareness, engagement, and ROI for our clients. Outside of the office, she's obsessed with all things food and exploring the outdoors.