How can you ensure that the engagement is real or if the followers are fake? An up-to-date issue within influencer marketing is what brands can do to quality assure influencers. In this blog post, we share three concrete tips on what to think about!

The process to quality assure influencers can be a jungle and it might be difficult to manage by yourself. It’s important to remember that the recommendations mentioned in this blog post are all parts that we take into consideration and that most often give us an understanding about which influencers that are authentic and well-performing. However, there can always be exceptions – an influencer can perform well even if their statistics don’t rhyme with our guidelines. It’s all about previous experience and historic data – from there, the best you can do is to start from our recommendations and then find your way.”

Emma Lundsten, Head of Operations & Customer Success at Cure Media

How do you audit an influencer?

It’s vitally important to audit influencers to see if they are legitimate and have real followers & engagement. Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself when auditing an influencer:

1. Where are the followers from and who are they?

This is a question you should know the answer to before you even consider to collaborate with an influencer. The fact that a profile’s followers should align with your target audience is the foundation for an influencer marketing investment to be successful. This, because you need to ensure that you reach your determined target audience through that influencer, but it’s also a critical question to ask in the process to assure quality. Therefore, take a look at where the followers are located geographically; Are they from countries or areas where the influencer has no relevant connection? If the answer is yes, be cautious.

You can also go into the details and look at the credibility of the profile’s followers. Do they have odd usernames, an empty account with no posts, or do they follow way more accounts than they have followers themselves? Watch out!

2. What does the engagement look like?

To look at the engagement is a great addition in the process to quality assure influencers. How is the quality of the engagement; What do the comments say and what kind of accounts posted them? Be observant if a lot of comments consist of similar words on foreign languages, without relevance to the content posted, or if they contain only emojis.

However, fake-engagement is not only comments on foreign languages by fake-followers nowadays. Unfortunately, it has become more and more common with fake-engagement from real accounts. Compared to the fake-comments description mentioned above. these comments often look quite credible – thus they might be hard to differentiate from real comments. For example, you should be alert if a profile with 20k followers receives more than 100 comments on his or her posts. Of course, this can happen occasionally if he or she e.g. shares a life happening or something that doesn’t occur often, but not every post.

3. What is the follower growth rate?

Today, there are tools that can help you see a profile’s follower-growth over time. Is there a peak of new followers during a short period of time, we recommend that you take a look at the profile’s feed at that time – is there a logical explanation to the follower-growth? For example, if a profile has announced a pregnancy, participated in a TV-show or similar Is there no distinct reason to the growth? Be cautious.

Another recommendation is to look at the profile’s actual reach; are the numbers relevant in relation to the number of followers? Approximately 60-70% actual reach for posts in the Instagram Feed is a relevant actual reach for a profile in the middle-segment with around 10-50k followers. Remember that it’s not unusual for a profile with 100k followers to have approximately 30% actual reach due to old and inactive followers. It’s good to have in mind that these numbers are an average value and can differ between profiles. Also, remember that content on Instagram Story in general often has a lower actual reach compared to the content in Instagram Feed.

So, how do you get access to this data?

As you can see, there are many elements to keep an eye on to quality assure influencers. Some of the statistics mentioned above, e.g. actual reach and follower geographics, aren’t accessible for everyone except the owner of the account. To access this information you need to ask the profile yourself to send their statistics to you e.g. via a screenshot. Or, of course, you can collaborate with an influencer marketing agency with the right data tools.

As you might have figured out, there’s a lot of work behind the process to quality assure influencers. If you feel like you don’t have the required knowledge and resources to handle it efficiently in-house, we would recommend to team up with an