It’s ok to say it out loud: influencers make brands nervous. In our previous post in this series, my colleague Megan McTighe discussed the importance of identifying and leveraging the right social media channel to reach potential customers, generate sales and field customer comments.
However, equally important is ensuring you also engage appropriate influencers. The wrong influencer can create a media firestorm that will cost time and money, and bring on a bad headache.
It is vital to conduct a thorough vetting prior to beginning any influencer marketing campaign. This must extend beyond a quick check of primary social media accounts to a deep dive to identify red flags.
Here are five easy ways to vet social media influencers:
1. Examine their social media accounts.
Yes, this means going through months of previous social posts. Take note of the type of engagement of each post. What kind of comments do they receive? How do they respond? What kind of content do they post, and does that align with your brand message? Remember that someone who may be primarily focused on Instagram or YouTube will most likely also have a presence on Facebook and Twitter. Find and review posts on all social media accounts, not just their primary platform.
2. Run a Google News search of their name and any social media handles they may use.
By running the influencer’s name through both a regular Google search and a Google News search, you can catch any previous and potentially negative mentions or affiliations that could hurt your brand.
3. Ask each influencer to provide a media kit. Most influencers run their social media accounts as a business.
Their followers and follower engagement are the value they bring to brand relationships. Because of this, many influencers provide media kit one-sheets that share important statistics about their follower demographics, engagement rates, minutes watched, subscribers and previous successful brand partnerships. Influencers know their communities the best and asking for this important information directly from them will help determine a fit with your brand.
4. Review any existing relationships they may have with conflicting brands.
Influencers are not always required to sign exclusive deals with specific brands. It’s possible that an influencer may seek to post about your brand while also supporting a competitor’s brand. Prior to starting your relationship, be aware of any other brands the influencer posts about. Make sure you are clear about expectations.
5. Monitor social sentiment and conversation around the influencer and their social media handles.
What red flags may not be visible in a Google search might be found in a Twitter conversation. By running a sentiment report against the influencer’s name and social handles, you can discover early warning signs that could lead to bigger problems.
It is also important to remember that this is not a one-time review. Long, ongoing relationships require periodic auditing to ensure that influencer campaigns are still moving your brand toward its goals while supporting the brand message and values. Maintaining transparent and open lines of communication will help build a trusting relationship between brand marketing teams and influencers.