How to Evaluate Your Influencer’s Audience

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Finding that perfect influencer means understanding your target audience and finding creators who represent them. That means you’ll need an effective vetting process to ensure your demographics, mission, and values align. 

Each social media platform is developing more robust ways to track account and content performance. For now, 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 the right audience members. With that insight, it’ll be easier to tell whether those brand-creator collaborations will have a real, long-lasting impact.=

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

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

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

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

Three people looking at their phones in an example of an influencer's audience

Demographics 

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

Authenticity

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 “better” than paying for fake followers and engagements, it’s still misleading.

Protect Yourself from Fraudulent Influencers Infographic Part 1 Protect Yourself from Fraudulent Influencers Infographic Part 2 Protect Yourself from Fraudulent Influencers Infographic Part 3 Protect Yourself from Fraudulent Influencers Infographic Part 4 Protect Yourself from Fraudulent Influencers Infographic Part 5 Protect Yourself from Fraudulent Influencers Infographic Part 6
How to Evaluate Your Influencer’s Audience 1
Protect Yourself from Fraudulent Influencers Infographic Part 7



Protect Yourself From Fraudulent Influencers

Evaluate the Quality of an Influencers Audience

There is no denying that influencer fraud exists, especially as it relates to the purchase of followers or engaging in suspicious activities that artificially inflate follower count. Unfortunately, there are a lot of methods where influencers appear to have followers that don’t actually exist. Screening prospective influencers will save you time and prevent you from signing a bad deal, and it only takes a few seconds.

Pay Attention To

  • Audience Reachability
  • Non-Organic Growth Patterns
  • Follower Growth/Decline

Audience Reachability

What is the spread/mix of how many people the influencer’s audience is following?

Reach is more competitive with 1,500+ followers, and it makes sense to be suspicious of influencers that have a large number of people they follow. An exception to the rule is: Celebs and Mega Influencers. It’s important to take note of the attention they receive. The higher the percentage of followers in the <500 or 500 – 1,000 range is what you should be striving for.

Non-Organic Growth Patterns

Overnight success or a true viral sensation?

A jump of upwards of 10k followers overnight is usually an indication of purchased followers. And on some occasions some influencers have been known to follow accounts which will in turn follow them. The sneaky part, once they have received their “new follower” benefits, they go back and unfollow all of the accounts creating an inauthentic audience.

An exception: A legitimate increase caused by viral content or some other notable event that took place.

Follower Growth/Decline

Trendy content with true engagement, or just trendy?

You can only learn so much from data that represents a “snapshot” in time. Take a look at their follower or engagement rate trends for the past 6 months. You might be surprised to find they are slowly on the decline. A drop in follower count and engagement rate might represent a larger issue. It could mean a loss in connection with their audience or are no longer relevant.

Use your best judgement taking these issues into account to make your decisions

Reachability

Reachability is the likelihood of an audience viewing a creator’s post. While some of these metrics do depend on proprietary algorithms, many social media users simply follow too many creators to see all of their content consistently. 

For example, if a user follows as many as 1,000 friends, family, and creators, they’re less likely to see everyone’s content regularly. Conversely, users following fewer than 500 accounts are far more likely to see and engage with creator posts.

Values and 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 their interests and values.

When using creators to help you build brand communities, follower interests and values help you generate authentic content for like-minded consumers. This approach attracts audiences more easily and increases customer loyalty and lifetime value (CLV).

Popularity among other creators

It’s good to know if a creator has notable followers (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 acquire more insight into that creator’s audience.

Engagement

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

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

Influencer audience analysis: What you need to get started 

Identify your audience. 

It’s tough 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 begin your recruiting process.

Identify your top social media platforms.

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 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 at 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 options.

Start with a spreadsheet with the following columns to help keep track of your audience information:

  • Creator name and handle(s)
  • Social channels
  • # of followers
  • 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 influencer audience demographics on Instagram

Instagram User Penetration, by Age bar graph

Image via eMarketer

Instagram User Penetration, by Age

US, 2023

0-11: 4.9%

12-17: 57.3%

18-24: 71.1%

25-34: 80%

35-44: 59.1%

45-54: 39%

55-64: 22.3%

65+: 10.2%

Source: eMarketer, December 2022 (see below for notes and methodologies).

When evaluating audiences on Instagram, you’ll see engagements in the form of reactions, comments, views, and shares. Currently, IG is most popular among ages 18-34. But depending on your industry, these demographics could look different.

Analyzing influencer audience demographics on TikTok

TikTok User Penetration, by Age

Image via eMarketer

TikTok User Penetration, by Age

US, 2023

0-11: 5.1%

12-17: 69.0%

18-24: 76.5%

25-34: 54.0%

35-44: 38.2%

45-54: 16.1%

55-64: 13.9%

65+: 7.6%

Total: 30.2

Source: eMarketer, December 2022 (see below for notes and methodologies).

TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media channels in history. And even though it’s most popular among users under 30, 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.

Analyzing influencer audience demographics on YouTube

YouTube Viewer Penetration, by Age

Image via eMarketer

YouTube User Penetration, by Age

US, 2023

0-11: 56.9%

12-17: 91.5%

18-24: 87.1%

25-34: 84.5%

35-44: 78.6%

45-54: 75.2%

55-64: 61.3%

65+: 45.2%

Source: eMarketer, February 2023 (see below for notes and methodologies).

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 its parent company, Google. Many users binge their favorite videos, and as such, video completion rates are essential engagement metrics to follow.

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 they are real accounts.

It’s unrealistic to check every single follower when doing audience analysis manually. 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 consider that 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 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 influencer demographics 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. 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 hashtag usage, post comments, or within the content on their own pages. 

6. Calculate the influencer’s engagement rate. 

An engagement rate is a good metric to understand how active a creator’s followers are. To find engagement rate, divide the creator’s total number of likes, comments, and shares 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

Don’t feel like doing the math? Download GRIN’s free Web Extension to analyze creator profiles in seconds.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. Record key insights.

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. 

Key takeaway: An 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, your influencers must maintain quality connections with their audience members.

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

Learn more about influencer marketing: Influencer Marketing 101

Updated: June 2023

Frequently Asked Questions

On average, the age group most influenced by influencers across Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok is 18-24, followed closely by 25-35. 

You can find an influencer’s audience by scrolling through their social media followers. Be sure to note their audience’s demographics and habits to ensure their followers align closely with your target audience. 

The best way to check the demographics of an influencer’s audience is by pulling a sample of their followers and viewing their profiles more closely. Some platforms also offer native analytics tools to help you get a better feel for who follows particular creators. 

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Written by Quinn Schwartz

Quinn studied journalism at the University of Kentucky and now lives in Portland, Oregon. He’s particularly interested in storytelling in digital marketing and cost-effective creator strategies for smaller brands. When he’s not writing, you can find him at a concert, dog park, or debating whether or not to go on a run.

All-in-one creator management platform helping ecommerce companies build more valuable brands through the power of creator partnerships.

© Grin Technologies Inc. 2022. All rights reserved.

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