While many brands are hopping on the influencer marketing bandwagon, one often overlooked but key part of the process is vetting.
Not vetting influencers properly can lead to problems down the road. Why? It's important to remember that influencers are people — and people come with baggage. When you bring an influencer on board, you're also inheriting their backstory. Whatever they may have done in the past, it's part of the package. So it's important to make sure their image is the type you want to be associated with your brand.
Take, for instance, PewDiePie, a top YouTuber who signed an influencer marketing deal with Disney. When he joked about antisemitism in one of his videos, Disney dropped him, anxious to distance itself from such content. But were there warning signs Disney could have picked up on before signing on for the collaboration?
Vetting influencers is a step not to miss because even though there are major benefits to this kind of marketing, there are also real risks.
Getting to know influencers
How can you ensure that your influencers are a good fit for your organization? Start by looking thoroughly at what they write, share and post. One great way to get to know more about an influencer is to follow them on social media. Investigate their website and blog, too. Your chosen influencers should have a lot in common with your brand, including interests, target audiences, expertise and even aesthetics, says Meghan M. Biro, founder of TalentCulture.
Are they tasteful? Do they use profanity? While it may be a fit for certain audiences, many are repelled by influencers who are too controversial. Being controversial can help you stand out — but being over-the-top can be a turnoff.
Next, look at their followers. What are their followers sharing and posting? Does their behavior mirror that of your target audience? "Do they seem like people who might use your product or service or tell others about them?" Biro asks.
Finally, if you can, meet the influencer in person. Since this may not always be possible, vetting your influencers can be done virtually if needed. Conduct Skype calls or even consider arranging a virtual briefing for multiple influencers to attend.
Not only will you get to know them better, but you can share information about your brand and products — and even get their feedback, which may in fact be one of the most valuable aspects of working with influencers.
Beyond personality and sensibility, it's important to consider how an influencer fits into your brand's message. While Kendall Jenner may have a massive following, when Pepsi put her in its ad, the brand didn't consider that the message and story they wanted to share wasn't a fit for Jenner's fans. If Pepsi wanted to share a politically charged message, perhaps Jenner wasn't the best choice for conveying it.
Of course, if you don't want to do it yourself, there are firms that specialize in helping you find — and vet — influencers that are a good fit for your brand or product.
Still not sure if a particular influencer will play well with your audiences? Try a test. Choose a smaller piece of content to share with a segment of both your audience and your influencer's. Gauge the reaction to get a good idea of whether it's something that works or if it may need to be tweaked before rolling out to a wider audience.
And remember that bringing an influencer on board isn't the end game. Be sure to monitor what they're posting. If anything seems off, be prepared to quickly step in.
Continually collaborate and check in with your influencers to be sure the relationship is working for both sides. After all, a happy influencer means better results for your campaign.