In my last blog, I explained how to locate influencers on Instagram. Now, I will explain to you how to determine if the influencer is high-quality and how to spot a "fake," using just their public profile. Here we go:
☐ Do they have a blue checkmark next to their name? Many great influencers do not have a verified account with the blue checkmark, but that said, if an account *does* have a blue check, that means they’ve gone through Instagram’s authentication process. They most likely are not a “fake” account.
☐ Look at follower count. While brands usually pay WAY too much attention to this number, the influencer should really have a few thousand followers at a minimum. They don’t need to have 100K or even 10K, but a few thousand means they have likely built a strong foundation on the platform.
☐ Look at how many people they follow. If they follow almost as many people as follow them, toss ‘em right out of consideration. They are probably using a follow-for-follow strategy to gain followers and this is lame. They don’t have respect on the platform. Generally, I don’t know any influencers who follow over 1000 accounts. You can make exceptions, but keep that as a rule of thumb.
☐ Look at number of posts. There’s not an exact cut-off here either, but their account should have a well-established gallery of hundreds of posts at a minimum. A few thousand, even better. It used to be en vogue to keep the number of posts lower, so it would look like you gained more followers per post. However, nowadays influencers are much less likely to delete their old posts because more posts shows a longer history on the platform.
☐ Look at how often they post. It doesn’t have to be daily, but it should be weekly at a minimum. Check the dates on their last few posts. Good influencers log in often and participate in their community.
☐ Look at their engagement. Any more, it is not great to look at engagement simply as a ratio between the amount of followers an account has and the average amount of likes per post. @kyliejenner has 126 million followers and gets a few million likes per post. That’s like a .2% engagement rate. So, would you consider her a fake? Or a bad influencer? Probably not. Big accounts in particular, even if they got big very legitimately, inevitably have a large base of inactive followers. This is doubly true for accounts with a long history. Many followers gained years ago just don’t log into Instagram like they used to and the inactive base, even made up of real people with real accounts, grows. Instead, look at how many likes they are getting. Even more telling -- check out how many comments they get. And then check out the quality of their comments. Are real people with real accounts commenting? Are other influencers commenting? Click through and check them out. The better the comments section, the better the influencer.
☐ Look at their responses. Is the influencer responding to comments? A great influencer may not answer every comment, but they make a clear effort to answer. Their followers will feel more connected to them if the comments are a two-way street, and you know what that means? A higher quality of influencing.
☐ Look at pictures of them. (This is the last tab right above the gallery.) Are there hub features there? That’s a good sign, showing they have some clout and respect in their area. Have other influencers taken and posted pictures of them? That shows they are active in the community. Are smaller accounts tagging them (to piggyback on their views or because they respect their opinion)? This is another good sign. Ideally, there should be a good amount of photos in this section.
☐ Look at their stories. Since stories expire in 24 hours, it’s a good way of telling if they were on recently. Stories don’t have to be super high quality, but it can give you a peek into their personality.
☐ Look at their highlights. They should definitely have some, first of all. Since these are comprised of IG Stories, they don’t have to be high quality, but again, they will show personality and passions. Extra points if the highlights are organized well.
☐ Look at their gallery. Good influencers have what we in the biz call “feed fit.” The gallery will look cohesive and will look attractive as a whole. Influencers have varying levels of OCD about how good their last 9-block looks, but they all care, and it should show. You should also be able to tell from their gallery if their overall aesthetic meshes well with your brand's.
☐ Look at their captions. This will give you a feel of their personality and how they interact with their community. Does it fit with your brand?
☐ Look at their partnerships. Ambassadors will have a few brands right in their bios. You can also look through their gallery to see if they have done any sponsored posts in the past. If they have some experience already, that’s a great sign that they already know the ropes. Plenty of great influencers may not have any visible previous experience, but it’s definitely something to add to the “pros” column. It means they are open to being contacted by brands.
☐ Look at their bio. Can you tell what they do from their bio? Influencers may or may not have the word “influencer” in their bio. If they do, clearly they are open to influencing opportunities. Regardless, if the influencer is worth their salt, you should be able to tell what their theme or niche is from the bio.
☐ Look at their web site. Serious influencers have their own web site, with pretty limited exceptions, and the link is in their bio. If they have a blog, give them extra points. It shows they are extra-invested.
☐ Look at their email. Is it easy to find their email, either in the bio or via an “Email” button above the gallery? This is another sure-fire way of letting you know they are open to being contacted.
No one will check every box on this list, but let's say they should get 75%. These are all valid considerations, but at the end of the process, you have to take a step back and use your common sense to look at the big picture and your knowledge of your brand to decide if the influencer will be a good fit.
Brands: Any other things you look at?
Influencers: Anything you strongly agree or disagree with, or things you think brands should consider?