How to Evaluate Your Influencer’s Audience

GRIN also recommends: Quick Guide to Earned Media Value 

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Finding that perfect influencer means understanding who your target audience is and finding a creator to represent that audience. A key part of your creator vetting process involves looking for audience alignment between your brand and a potential partner.

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Each social media platform is developing more robust ways to track account and content performance. Unfortunately, many of those metrics are only available to the creator. But there are other ways to perform your own influencer audience analysis.

It’s not just important that you and your creator have a strong relationship. You also need to know that your influencer team maintains genuine relationships with members of the right audience. Without that insight, it’ll be very difficult to know whether those brand-creator collaborations will have real long-lasting impact.

“If trust is the goal of influencer marketing, then brands must take a relationship-based approach. Because relationships create authenticity and authenticity creates trust.” – GRIN, Authentic Influencer Marketing

What does an influencer’s audience tell you about that influencer?

Your influencer audience matters because your ultimate goal is to draw a positive response from their community. 

But more importantly, an audience analysis will reveal how deep the relationship runs between a creator and their followers. Many creators have excited audiences that engage as many posts as possible, while others have followers who are somewhat apathetic about that creator’s content.

By gaining a deeper understanding of an influencer’s follower base, you can make better decisions about who you invite into your program. Furthermore, you will be able to anticipate campaign ROI based on the quality of relationship between a creator and their followers.

Demographics

Most creators attract audiences within a specific age range, ethnicity, location, and lifestyle, as well as income or education level. These data points help you see how well your influencer’s audience aligns with your audience.

Credibility

When it comes to influencer authenticity, there are two things to consider:

  1. Is the creator’s audience real people or bots?
  2. Is the creator’s engagement with their audience genuine?

While spotting and avoiding fake influencers is much easier than it used to be, agencies that sell bot followers and engagements to aspiring influencers are still out there.

Usually, you can spot bot activity through followers that appear to have an inactive profile. Additionally, a high volume of shallow comments (emoji comments) demonstrates that a creator’s audience may not be legitimate.

But even among real influencers, some maintain a following among disinterested users or through means like influencer pods. These pods, for example, are quid-pro-quo arrangements where creators in a group agree to like and comment on one another’s’ posts to drive impressions and engagements. While this practice is not as bad as paying for fake followers and engagements, it’s still misleading.

To help you find out if a creator is credible, you can also utilize free influencer analysis tools, such as:

Reachability

Reachability is the likelihood that a creator’s posts gets seen by their followers. While some of these metrics do depend on proprietary algorithms, many social media users simply follow too many creators to consistently see all of their content. 

For example, if a follower follows as many as 1,000 friends, family, and creators, then they are less likely to see everyone’s content on a regular basis. Conversely, followers following fewer than 500 accounts are far more likely to see and engage with creator posts.

Values & interests

The posts that followers choose to engage, as well as the kind of content they post and their favorite tags/hashtags, will tell you a great deal about those followers’ interests and values.

When using creators to help you build brand communities, follower interests and values help you generate authentic content for likeminded consumers. This approach not only attracts audiences more easily, but it also increases customer loyalty and lifetime value (CLV).

Popularity among other creators

It’s good to know if a creator has any followers who are notable (celebrities, influencers, etc.). Noticing thriving relationships between authentic creators can help you find new prospective ambassadors for your brand.

If both influencer audiences overlap significantly, you can also acquire more insight on that creator’s audience.

Engagement

One of the best things you can do to evaluate an influencer’s audience is to read the comments. Robust creator-follower relationships typically manifest themselves in great conversations within post comments.

“60% of respondents indicate that while followers don’t usually interact with an influencer when making a purchase inspired by a paid promotion, influencers can nurture trust with that audience by responding to follower comments with likes, comments, and DMs prior to using their content to promote brands and products.”

 from The Power of Influencer Marketing in Numbers report

Conversations between followers signal that that creator knows how to produce valuable user-generated content. Furthermore, influencers that take the time to reply to their follower comments greatly enhance follower trust.

Influencer audience analysis – What you need to get started

Identify your audience.

It’s very difficult to find the right influencer if you’re not 100% confident about who your audience is and its various segments. 

Once you’ve established your ideal customer profile (ICP) or buyer personas, be sure to have them handy during your influencer search. These tools are crucial to beginning your recruiting process.

Identify your top social media channels.

You’re far more likely to get better campaign results if you identify 1-3 social channels where your audience is most active. Not only will this help you simplify your workflow, but it will also make it easier to find that perfect influencer.

Set your influencer campaign goals.

What you hope to accomplish in a campaign will also dictate which influencers you add to your shortlist. Some creators are better at driving brand awareness, while others are best for boosting sales or website traffic.

Establish a way to record audience insights.

Once you’ve identified influencer prospects that match your target audience and campaign goals, you’ll want to set up a way to compare and contrast your prospects.

If you don’t have an influencer marketing platform that automatically gathers and organizes influencer audience data, you can set up a spreadsheet. When creating your spreadsheet, consider adding the following columns to help you keep track of your audience information.

  • Creator name & handle
  • Social channel
  • # of followers
  • Credibility score
  • Links to latest posts
  • Size of audience sample(s)
  • Gender ratio
  • Demographics
  • Language/country/ethnicity
  • Follower vs. non-follower engagement
  • Common interests/values/causes
  • Favorite brands/tags/hashtags
  • Notable followers (followers who are also influencers)
  • Quality of comments/post discussions
  • Engagement rate

The list above is by no means exhaustive, so as you perform your own audience analytics, feel free to add or even remove tabs and columns to your database, as necessary.

Analyzing audiences on Instagram

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When evaluating audiences on Instagram, you’ll be able to see engagements in the form of reactions, comments, views, and shares. Currently, IG is most popular among ages 18-44. But depending on your industry, these demographics could look different.

Analyzing audiences on Facebook

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Facebook tends to skew older than most other leading social media channels. Audiences over 25 years old are most active, and it is the best channel for targeting consumers over the age of 40.

Audiences on Facebook are more likely to join groups, as well as engage both visual and written content. You can track post engagement by reactions, comments, shares, and views.

Analyzing audiences on YouTube

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Because YouTube is more than a social network (it also aims to compete with media streaming services like Netflix and Hulu), not only will audience demographics be unique, but audience behavior will also look a bit different. 

For example, YouTube is a video search engine much like parent company, Google. Many users binge their favorite videos, and as such, video completion rates are important engagement metrics to follow.

Analyzing audiences on TikTok

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TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media channels in history. And even though it is most popular among users under 30 years old, the age gap is closing as older users become more comfortable with the app.

TikTok also has more engagement features than most other channels, including reactions, comments, shares, Q&As, duets, and stitches.

How to evaluate your influencer’s audience: A checklist

Keeping in mind the differences between audiences on various social platforms, you can use this checklist to guide your influencers’ audience analysis on all leading channels.

1. Pull a sample of followers and verify that they are real accounts.

When doing an audience analysis manually, it’s not feasible to check every single follower. Instead, consider pulling a sample from a few recent creator posts. 

In this step, you’re mainly concerned about the followers’ legitimacy. If you notice that a few of the creator’s follows and engagements come from fake or inactive accounts, there’s a high probability that the influencer’s “influence” is manufactured.

2. Find out if the influencer has any followers who are also influencers.

Followers who are also influencers are known as “notable followers.” Influencers with high-profile followers will tell you more about their interests and values, since other influencers/celebrities are typically more open about their lives for the sake of their fans.

If you notice certain notable followers consistently reacting and commenting on one another’s’ posts, you may have uncovered activity originating from an influencer pod. If you suspect this to be the case, you should take a closer look to confirm the activity and take that into consideration before recruiting any of those influencers.

3. Pull a sample of followers and note those who follow more than 1,000 other accounts.

Next, pull a sample of the creator’s followers and see how many accounts those individuals follow. If many of those fans follow 1,000 or more other accounts, then that means that the creator’s reachability is low. In other words, there’s a low probability that those followers even see the creator’s posts in their feeds.

Fans that follow fewer than 500 accounts are most reachable, particularly on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.

4. Pull a sample and analyze follower gender, age, and interests.

From that same sample, try to identify the followers’ attributes, such as age, gender, interests, and values. Note how well these characteristics match your buyer personas.

5. Pull a sample and note follower location, ethnicity, and language.

Similarly, try to identify the most common nationalities and languages within your audience sample. If you’re interested in marketing your brand to more specific regions, see if you can pinpoint those audience locations, including states, provinces, or cities.

6. Find out which brands are most popular among that creator’s followers.

Many followers are open about their favorite brands. They may indicate which brands they like by their hashtag usage, their post comments, or within content on their own pages. 

7. Calculate the creator’s engagement rate.

An engagement rate is a good metric to use to understand how active a creator’s followers are overall. To find engagement rate, divide the creator’s total number of likes, comments, shares, etc by their follower count.

Engagement Rate = Total # of Post Engagements / # of Followers

You can also use one of the following formulas below, depending on your campaign goals and KPIs:

Engagement Rate = Views / Reach

Engagement Rate = Interactions / Views

Engagement Rate = # of Comments, Shares, etc. / Total Post Likes

8. Examine post comments for authentic creator-follower connections. 

Most high-performing influencers take extra effort to reply to follower comments and encourage ongoing user-generated content. If you consistently see vibrant, positive discussions within a creator’s post comments, you can feel good about the relationship between the creator and their audience.

9. Search for #sponsored posts and compare audience responses to non-sponsored posts.

Try to see how organically a creator can introduce brands and products into their content. By searching for sponsored posts, you can compare/contrast how readily that influencer’s fans accept the creator’s product endorsements.

Creators that struggle to get follower engagement on sponsored posts may not genuinely love the products that they promote, or they may struggle to introduce their favorite brands organically.

10. Record key insights into a spreadsheet.

It’s critical that you gather as much information as you can and record it into a spreadsheet. Evaluating an influencer’s audience is hard work, and by saving your insights, you’ll be able to make your efforts count as you examine more prospects on your list.

Using automated creator audience reports

Doing manual influencer audience analytics is time-consuming. But by putting in the time and effort, you’ll increase your chances of pinpointing the perfect influencers for your upcoming campaigns and increasing program ROI.

However, you will eventually want to invest in a platform that gathers and organizes audience insights data for you. Not only will the right automation tool save you thousands of labor hours, but it will also give more exhaustive and reliable data to work from.

Conclusion: The influencer’s relationship with their followers is the greatest indicator of campaign ROI.

Marketers can’t fake authenticity and trust. These benefits are earned by individuals that place a premium on quality content and relationships. Just as you want to nurture genuine relationships within your creator team, you need your influencers to maintain quality connections with members of their audience.

Performing an influencer audience analysis can help you confirm that your influencer prospects are doing just that – curating an online community of engaged fans that will easily become loyal customers for your brand.

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