Kristy Sammis Sep 25, 2020 9:28:04 PM 17 min read

Questions To Ask Your Influencer Marketing Partner (BEFORE You Sign!)

Influencer Marketing: effective yet time-consuming, important yet ill-defined, with fees and pricing structures all over the map. You want more efficiency and scale for your brand than what you’re able to do in-house. It’s time to outsource, but it’s a jungle out there. With hundreds of companies, platforms, and agencies claiming to specialize in influencer marketing, it’s nearly impossible to compare apples-to-apples offerings. Finding the right service provider is daunting.

To help guide you through this process (or just to provide a refresher!), we’ve compiled the ultimate list of questions and guidelines below. 

  1. What aspects of influencer management do you do? What am I paying for?
  2. Do you have a network of influencers?
  3. What information do you collect about influencers and how do you get it?
  4. What measures do you have in place to guarantee influencers are authentic and brand-safe?
  5. How do you identify and measure a program’s success?
  6. How many influencers do you include in a program?
  7. How do you incentivize and pay your influencers?
  8. Do you include any paid media in your influencer campaigns?

There’s a lot that goes into managing an influencer program. What aspects of influencer management do you do? What am I paying for?
  • Indexing and identifying the right influencers for my brand
  • Connecting me with the right influencers
  • Guaranteeing influencer participation
  • Guaranteeing program results
  • Crafting the influencer creative & instructions with brand guidelines
  • Negotiating payment terms for the influencers (how much, when, is it performance-based, etc.)
  • Contracting & paying influencers
  • Tracking the performance of my program’s influencers
  • Checking influencer posts for quality assurance
What To Consider
      Most influencer marketing partners have a network and tools for finding the “perfect” influencers. However, many stop there, leaving you responsible for managing your brand’s entire program. Be sure to identify how much of the program management (and influencer wrangling) you’re willing to take on. 
Do you have a network of influencers?

If so...

      • Are they vetted? What are your vetting criteria?
      • Have they agreed to be part of your network?
      • Have they given you permission to access their social media accounts? Which ones?
      • Have they provided you with any non-public information?

If not..

      • Do you have permission to access their data or contact information?
      • Have they ever worked with brands before? Are they likely to?
What To Consider
          Some providers have their own networks of influencers who have applied and are verified professionals. Others use technology to scrape social media channels, providing you with just a list of anyone who has a social media account. Make sure you know which you’re working with. 
What information do you collect about influencers and how do you get it?

Instagram

  • Self-reported
  • Instagram API
  • Third-party vendor


Facebook

  • Self-reported
  • Facebook API
  • Third-party vendor

Blogs
  • Self-reported
  • Google Analytics
  • In-house tracking pixel
  • Third-party vendor (other than Google Analytics)

Twitter
  • Self-reported
  • Twitter API
  • Third-party vendor

Snapchat

  • Self-reported
  • Third-party vendor


Pinterest

  • Self-reported
  • Third-party vendor


Geographical data (where the influencer lives)

  • Self-reported
  • Scraped from profile(s)

Interests/Behavioral data (what the influencer posts about)
  • Self-reported
  • Machine-verified

Audience demographics (who follows the influencer)

  • Self-reported
  • Machine-verified
What To Consider
                Beware self-reporting! In some cases, information direct from an influencer is fine: especially where they live, who they are, and what they prefer to post about. For everything else, you’ll want verification wherever you can get it. Be very careful and very specific when asking a provider where this information comes from, because self-reported data is often wrong, if not flat-out fabricated. Not only that, but sometimes third-party data providers rely on self-reported data as well!
WHAT measures do you have in place to guarantee influencers are authentic and brand-safe?

  • How do you define brand-safe? 
  • How do you define authentic?
  • How do you identify influencers who may post controversial (e.g., hate speech) or values-based content that doesn’t represent my brand? 
  • How do you protect me from using influencers with fake followers or bots? 
  • Do you have humans involved in the vetting process? To what extent?
What To Consider
                    Do not trust machines or algorithms alone to select proper influencers. Humans are much better judges of character; that is, who will be a great fit for a brand’s campaign and who may be too risky.
How do you identify and measure a program’s success?
  • How do you determine a program’s KPIs? What will you measure against it? 
  • How do you define and measure:
    • Impressions: Actuals* V. Potentials
    • Reach
    • Engagement
    • Views*
    • Sentiment
    • Share of Voice
    • Purchase Intent
    • ROI*
    • Earned Media Value (EMV)*
  • What metrics do you guarantee? How do you arrive at those guarantees? 
  • What quality do you guarantee? How do you perform QA? What happens when someone doesn’t meet quality standards?
  • What is reported and how often?


What To Consider

Do not trust machines or algorithms alone to select proper influencers. Humans are much better judges of character; that is, who will be a great fit for a brand’s campaign and who may be too risky.

 

How many influencers do you include in a program?


What To Consider

Some influencer marketing specialists operate like talent agencies, only representing a select few influencers. These partners are perfect when your brand is looking for a “celebrity spokesperson” type program. Some agencies are on the other end of the spectrum, offering thousands of “nano-influencers” — which will provide results at scale but with little-to-no quality assurances. Brands are now primarily interested in working in the middle, with “microinfluencers,” to find a balance between scale and quality.

How do you incentivize and pay your influencers?
  • How do you decide what to pay influencers? What factors impact fees?
  • Do you you pay for performance (CPC)?


What To Consider

Influencer fees range wildly, with video influencers (YouTube) and beauty influencers (all channels) commanding the greatest sums. Keep in mind two critical things:

1. Past performance is a poor indicator of future performance: sponsored posts featuring puppies will perform differently from sponsored posts about, say, plumbing services.

2. Paying for performance encourages influencers to engage in spammy and unethical behaviors.

Do you include any paid media in your influencer campaigns?


What To Consider

Some providers are less than forthcoming about ways in which they boost influencer performance behind-the-scenes. Paid media is a highly effective way to increase engagement with influencer content, but you should ask — and know — exactly what you’re paying for.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

While influencer marketing has exploded in recent years, our agency has focused on managing social media influencers for nearly a decade. While our full-service approach is not what every brand needs or wants, we know what works. As you go to select an influencer marketing partner, please remember:

  • Be realistic about how much work you want to do and how much work you want your partner to do.
  • Most people are very new to influencer analytics. This leaves a lot of gray areas and a lot of opportunity for shady (unverifiable) analysis.
  • While there are millions of social media users, the number of brand-safe, responsible, genuinely engaging influencers is finite. If one provider is promising wildly cheap results, be skeptical.

 

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