Influencer Authenticity.jpgby Mari Smith


The right social media influencer can bring much-needed attention to your small business. By introducing your business, product, or service to an influencer’s audience of raving fans, it can boost your visibility while helping generate engagement, leads and sales.


The key, however, is finding the right social media influencer. You want someone who is authentic, who has an engaged audience that aligns with your demographic, and whose values align with your product or service.


Let me break the considerations down for you.


Getting Started


The first step is finding social media influencers. There are several influencer research tools, where you can search for people by niche, area, or industry. More on tools below. You may also look to competing and complementary brands to see who they use, and how they use them, to give you an idea of what’s possible.


For instance, if you work in the wellness industry and see that your top competitor has a known fitness instructor representing their brand, search for someone comparable or even better to give you a leg up.


Once you have a list of a half-dozen ideal influencers, the research starts.


More than the Numbers


Start by reviewing their fans and followers on the major social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and possibly YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn. While public-facing metrics are an excellent starting point, beware. Someone could very well have bought their fans or followers. They might even be a bot or use bots for engagement.


To check authenticity of the influencers, look at several things:




Don’t just look at the numbers, see who is actually following the influencer. Is it other influencers? Brands? People with large followings? If you answered ‘yes’ to all of the above, the influencer is likely legit.


However, there are plenty of red flags where influencers are concerned. Beware of any supposed influencer whose followers:

- Have little to no followers themselves

- Have no profile pictures

- Have spammy sounding usernames


One more thing: If an influencer’s social platform has a sudden spike in engagement, it may be a legitimate campaign, or it could mean something happening that is ‘gaming’ the algorithms/systems. Do a deeper dive into this influencer… or just move on!


Engagers and Engagement Rate:


Review who engages with the influencer regularly. Look into who shares their content, retweets, likes and comments. These could be micro-influencers with their own niche community or just regular people who enjoy the influencers’ content. You will also want to read the comments and tweets. Intelligent, thoughtful replies say a lot about the influencers’ community. Users who say things like, “Hey, nice post!’ could be a bot or bought follower.


Often more important than the number of followers an influencer has is the engagement rate. To calculate an influencer’s engagement rate, look back over the past 20 to 30 posts, divide the total engagement per post by the number of followers, and multiply that to by 100 to get their engagement rate. You can compare that against these average engagement rate benchmarks by industry to see if they’re doing well.


Tone, Style and Communication


When considering using an influencer, you want to make sure they will be representative of your small business. That means looking into what they share on their social profiles and how they engage with their community.




Read the influencer’s posts and/or watch their videos. Are they transparent in what they share? Do they share some personal elements in their messaging? Is the tone and style of their content messaging consistently on brand for them? Is their brand aligned with your company’s style, tone, and mission?


Sponsored Content:


Are they crystal clear about paid relationships? Your business plays by the rules, and you want your influencers to do the same. Typically, this means including the tags #ad, #spon, and/or #ambassador, as well as using Facebook and Instagram’s Branded Content tagging tool.




The best influencers are the ones who not only share your message, but also engage with their community. Review their posts to see how involved they are with their people. Does the influencer reply to at least some of their audience’s comments? Do they appear to have genuine conversations? Do they seem natural, honest, and friendly? Is the tone and style of their communication consistent?


While these are public personas, you want influencers with strong interpersonal skills and genuine interest in their community, since those elements count for so much.




Once you’ve vetted your potential influencers’ social channels, their content, and their engagement, you can do a deeper dive into their reach and relationships using a variety of online resources.


Google Search:


Sometimes the most basic ways of research are the best. Look for the influencer’s name/brand, along with potential key phrases associated with their expertise/authority, to see what more you can find out online. This information will help you assess their level of authenticity.




Followerwonk enables you to identify influencers by keyword; you can also search by name. In addition, the free version of FollowerWonk allows you to compare the followers of up to three Twitter accounts, analyze an influencer’s followers, or analyze who the influencer follows.




Use Buzzsumo to search for influencers by type and see their number of followers, domain authority, and more. There’s also a BuzzSumo browser extension, which enables you to quickly check social engagement data for the page you're viewing, or for any other website.


Facebook’s CrowdTangle Link Checker:


This browser extension provides a one-click way to see how often a link has been shared, who shared it, and what they said. This works for articles and blog posts, as well as links to social media content.




If you want to invest in using a complete Influencer platform, check out HypeAuditor. Purpose-built for fraud detection, HypeAuditor measures overall audience quality.


When choosing an influencer to represent your business, it’s essential to gauge their authenticity. Start with the legwork on basic metrics, filter out the frauds, and then do extensive research on your top tier possibilities.


The goal: Discover the best mutually beneficial arrangement for both you and the influencer. When it’s win-win, you’ll find a long-term match and endless possibilities!



Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.


Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

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