5 Tests to Identify Influencers That Will Deliver Real Results

Nicholas Godwin
Nicholas Godwin
July 27, 2018
2 min read
5 Tests to Identify Influencers That Will Deliver Real Results

In this article

A report co-released by Twitter and Annalect found that just under 50% of all buying decisions result from brand influencer recommendations.

Brands are hopping in on the trend. In another study, 75% of them are leveraging influencers and earning $6.50 for every $1 spent!

identify influencers best for your brand with these 5 tips

Influencers were trusted nearly as much as friends. Photo from Unsplash

Whether you run a bakery or an eCommerce business, you can enjoy the benefits of brand influencers. In fact, influencer marketing is the fastest growing and one of the most cost-friendly ways to acquire customers.

OK, influencers carry a lot of economic weight. Now, you’re wondering “how do I choose the right ones for my brand?”

Good question. Use these 5 tips and tests to understand how to find influencers to help your business:

How to Find Influencers: 5 Tests to Identify the Best Influencers for Your Business

Test for Authenticity: Do They Have Real Followers or Bots?

Originality is the heart of your business. You don’t want to spend money promoting your products to bots − especially if you need human visitors to your store, bar, or kiosks.

It’s sad. Some ‘influencers’ use bots to grow their numbers.

Don't judge blindly. An influencer’s Follower, Subscriber, Share, and Like numbers aren’t sufficient metrics to drive a decision. Verify their authenticity and organic growth.

how to find influencers - search for ones with authentic followers

@Craftist is a craft beer influencer from Germany. Note the sizable number of likes and comments, especially from craft beer-related accounts; real influencers have niches and engaged audiences.

You can identify a fake influencer account using tools like SocialAudit Pro, Status People, and Influencer DB. You will test for red flags like

  • Quality of audience
  • Follower organic growth
  • Daily follower graphs
  • Influencer’s followers to Likes ratio
  • Earned media value
  • Video views
  • Comment quality

You can also use Twitter Counter to spot a fake account. If you notice a sudden spike in followers that doesn’t continue growing you can safely assume the account user has bought followers.

In a test case published on Influencer DB, they compared a fake account to a real influencer account. Here are a few of their findings,

Influencer’s followers to Likes ratio

See if you can spot the difference between a real and a fake account:

Account #1:

identify influencers - real stats

Account #2:

identify influencers - fake stats

Stats from: Influencer DB


The fake account bought followers because it couldn’t engage users beyond the bot-driven clicks of the Like button. Comments are pitifully low in spite of the high regularity of posts per week.

Follower organic growth

In the graphs below, the black line represents the number of followers, and the green bars indicate the number of comments.

An authentic account:


identify influencers - followers vs comments

A fake account:

identify influencers - followers vs comments fake

The fake account genuinely had zero comments. Graphs from Influencer DB.


The fake account grew from late April to mid-July and then plateaued. The authentic account fluctuated often but kept growing.

Your goal here is to establish authenticity. Once you’ve done that you want to validate the influencer’s relevance to your business.

You can also leverage manual methods like observing absurd patterns on these ‘influencers’ social media accounts.

Back to 5 Tests to Identify Influencers

Test for Relevance: Is this Influencer Targeting My Audience?

An audience may be authentic and engaged, but NOT relevant to your product or brand. You want to validate an influencer's audience before you go into a partnership or do anything significant with them.

Let’s say you run a restaurant or cafe. A known influencer in the F&B space in your country would be more relevant than a popular TV star from North America.

how to find influencers - make sure the influencers are relevant

Bee Yinn Low is a popular food Influencer in Malaysia. This is NOT a relevant influencer if you’re a dog trainer in Reykjavik.

The relevance metric here would work in two ways. First, you’d have to build a list of relevant influencers before you even start testing for originality.

Next, you’d have to establish that your final list of authentic influencers would actually engage your target audience. To validate an influencer’s relevance you should look at their

  • Quality of posts: Influencers with the types of posts that resonate with your crowd or tribe would be a fit here. An influencer’s post may be considered ‘high quality’ if it sparks lengthy, content-rich conversations among the influencer’s audiences.
  • Target demographics: An influencer targeting women isn’t a fit if your product targets men. An influencer targeting high-net-worth baby boomers won’t be a match if you’re trying to sell skateboards to teenagers.
  • Target geography: An influencer may be popular with people in New York but not in Boulder. If you don’t establish the influencer’s most impactful geography, you’ll be wasting resources.
  • Target psychographics: Psychographics are the emotional touchpoints of an influencer’s audience. What these audiences love. In short, psychographics address psychological elements like an audience’s beliefs, motivations, aspirations, priorities and the like. Demographics emphasize externalities like age, net-worth, gender, employment, etc.

Gather these facts by asking your prospective brand influencers. You can also get the hang of what works by just observing.

Browse (and probably participate) in the conversations happening on the influencer’s page. This process gives you a sense of what an influencer's audience enjoy, where they are from and what issues or topics attract the most attention.

Back to 5 Tests to Identify Influencers

Test for Engagement: Are People Discussing, Sharing, and Liking their Posts?

The more comments, likes, shares, subscribers, views, and followers an influencer has the better. An influencer’s posts MUST demonstrate high follower engagement.

Understanding Engagement

Your goal for hiring a brand influencer is to leverage their audience size and follower engagement profitably. If the engagement is weak or not happening already there’s no chance under the sun that your post will get a hearing.

The term “engagement” is relative though. Why?

An influencer with a small audience may have higher engagement scores compared to those with large audiences. The answer to this oxymoron lies in measuring an influencer’s engagement level.

how to find influencers - identify influencers with many comments and engagement

Omar Daniel is an Indonesian fashion influencer. Notice the comments are in the Indonesian language, and the high number of likes.

Measuring Engagement Level

You can measure engagement based on two factors,

  1. The follower activities (FA) to follower size (FS) ratio
  2. The depth of follower involvement,

The follower activities (FA) to follower size (FS) ratio

This is a ratio I came up with to explain the relationship between follower activities and the follower size of an influencer.

An influencer may enjoy a large following but not a lot of activity, and vice versa. The dream is to find an influencer with a large number of followers who are all very active. But that’s rare.

To help you understand this relationship, let’s take an example.

Influencer A has 5,000 followers and gets 2,500 Likes/Shares/Comments. And influencer B has 50,000 followers and gets 5,000 Likes/Shares/Comments.

Who do you think has higher engagement?

Well, influencer A has it!


Influencer A has FA (i.e., 2,500 Likes/Shares/Comments) to FS (i.e., 5,000 followers) of 1:2. If expressed in percentages this ratio would be 50%.

Meanwhile, influencer B has FA to FS of 10%.

Now, engagement isn’t about having some lackluster comments padded with lots of vanity metrics. You can measure engagement by the quality and quantity of meaningful discussions happening on an influencer’s website or social media accounts.

In the words of the VP of Marketing & CoFounder of oMelhorTrato.com, Cristian Rennella,

“The most important thing is to verify there were conversations that generated real value on the subject they claim to be a leader or influencer.”

How can you predict success here?

Depth of Follower Engagement

You can predict the likelihood of your message’s success by looking at an influencer’s engagement metrics and the validity of their audience’s relevance.

Influencer relevance factors (i.e., audience demography, psychography, geography, and content quality) directly correlate with engagement.

In short, the more engaged an influencer’s audience is, and the more the influencer is relevant to your brand, the more engagement you’re likely going to enjoy.

Back to 5 Tests to Identify Influencers

Test for Scale: Is their Audience Sizeable for My Conversion Goals?

The Holy Grail of influencer marketing is a relevant influencer with a large and highly engaged audience base. Possibly in the millions!

But would you have the budget for an influencer this size?

Maybe not.

identify influencers - big numbers

A big party with plenty of people is expensive to throw. Via Unsplash.

Secondly, such influencers are few and far between. At least, not every town or city has such mega influencers. And you probably don’t even need a brand influencer that size to begin benefiting from influencer marketing.

There are two types of influencers. The macro and micro-influencers.

If you own a restaurant, run a local store, deli, bakery, bar, cafe, or such small to mid-scale businesses then you want to use a micro-influencer.

identify influencers - likes comments and followershop

Graph via Digiday. Micro-influencers have better rates for Likes and Comments that may contribute to better conversions.

The follower or subscriber base of micro-influencers is between 1,000 to 10,000 or 10,000 to 100,000, depending on your target market. Micro-influencers have higher engagement numbers than influencers with 1 million and above followers.

Instagram micro-influencers maintain a Like rate ranging from 2.4% to 4% of their followers. Meanwhile, more prominent influencers have a 1.7% follower Like rate.

Back to 5 Tests to Identify Influencers

Test for ROI: Will they Improve My Potential for High ROI?

The single most powerful attribute of an influencer is their engagement level. That’s assuming the influencer is authentic and relevant to your business.

But engagement isn’t, in itself, a return on investment. The sale or the lead generated is the goal.

So how would you know the influencer with the highest ROI potential?

,An influencer that’ll yield the most return will give high

  • The regularity of exposure, i.e., they will show your message more than once. They’ll aim to provide you with maximum exposure.
  • A track record of infusing creativity and personality into the messages they share for brands they represent
how to find influencers - identify influencers who write creative copy

@Nknaturalz is a hair care influencer from Canada. Her copy sounds like part of a natural conversation, and less like a sponsored advertisement.

  • The potential for a ripple effect. They’d influence other influencers to share your promotion for free.

Match these three ROI attributes with active engagement, relevance, a suitable influencer audience size, and of course, authenticity, and you can laugh… all the way to the bank.

Wrapping It Up

When seeking influencers to partner with, it's important to take a bit of time to protect your investment by finding someone with all the factors for success—authentic, relevant, engaged, with a sizable following, and a good return for your investment.

Your audience will sit up and pay attention and your message will deliver real results!

Nicholas Godwin
Nicholas Godwin

Nicholas Godwin helps businesses tell profitable stories that their audiences love. He's worked on projects for Fortune 500 companies, global tech corporations and top consulting firms, from Bloomberg Beta, Accenture, PwC, and Deloitte to HP, Shell, and AT&T. You can catch Nicholas on TechContentLabs or say hello on Twitter.See image attached

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