How Are Marketers Vetting Influence?

There are a TON of posts and guides out there telling marketers how to choose influencers to advocate for their brand. From long winded guides to download, to intricate case studies to series of blog posts and videos—the digital content at a marketers finger tips can be overwhelming.

A bunch of words boil down to three influencer qualifiers that marketers are using.

  • Content fit
  • Reach
  • Engagement

Of course within these qualifiers there are sub-criteria and niche fitting clues that marketers define for their brand. Every marketer gets to write their own playbook and explore their buyer personas to thoroughly create criteria and decide what determines influence.

And let’s not forget, influence is different for every brand. It’s an abstract concept that some people try to pin down and define and are frustrated when consistencies don’t exist.

Determining Influencer Criteria for Your Brand

How do you design and determine influence? How should you be deciding which influencers to reach out to?

When deciding what makes a good influencer for your brand or your next campaign—I always suggest that clients narrow it down to 3 influencer criteria I listed above. Be specific with each and mold and flex to your brand. You are basically making a system of filters that influencers have to pass through to make it to the “I want this one” pile.

An ideal influencer identification process embraces the time saving awesomeness of technology but includes the value of human eyeballs to look over an influencer’s content before reaching out. I’ve seen a lot of marketers make the mistake of reaching out to influencers without actually reading their content and then getting upset when an “earned post” is a poor brand fit.

Content Fit

Reading through their content, looking at common tags they use for their posts and reading their “about me” page can let you know whether or not their messaging lines up with your brand.

Think through to the types of posts and influencers your target consumers would seek out. What topics would they be interested in? Think niche not genre. Don’t just reach out to all fashion bloggers for a mention of your brand’s new boots. Reach out to fashion bloggers who write about affordable and casual fashion because the high end girly fashion bloggers aren’t going to be a good fit with your hiking boots.


An influencer’s reach is easily identified with the right influencer identification tool. Obviously you want their cool brand mentions to be heard so set a minimum reach and determine which platforms you want them to have a voice on.

Often times a marketer’s “give” correlates with an influencer’s reach. If you have a small budget or can only offer branded product for posts, you probably wouldn’t go after influencer’s who have 100k followers on Instagram.

Don’t forget the value of the mid-level influencer. Data has actually shown that a smaller audience means more authority and ability to create engagement. The theory behind this is when an influencer doesn’t have a ginormous audience, they have more time to engage with their followers and tailor their content to individual tastes. Something to think about?

Metrics to consider:

  • Twitter followers
  • Facebook likes
  • MozRank
  • Blog monthly visitors
  • Alexa rank
  • Instagram shares


Engagement simply embraces how much an influencer interacts with their audience and vice versa. This is crucial to influencer vetting because an engaged influencer is a person who can actually cause brand lift.

For some reason I have been asked so many times “how do you quantify engagement?”

Engagement is an authentic trait that can be identified when you read through an influencer’s content. Here are a few areas that marketers peruse to qualify engagement:

  • Comment section at the bottom of a blog post. Are readers commenting? Is the blogger writing back and engaging with comments on their posts?
  • Frequency of social updates? Is the influencer keeping their audience informed and updated?
  • Shares of blog and social posts. Does the influencer’s audience care enough to recommend their words?
  • Qualify of content and photos. Does it look like the influencer puts time and effort in to their posts? If they don’t care about what they are posting then their audience won’t either…
  • The “about me” page in a blog. Are they friendly? Do they invite conversations from their audience and partnerships from brands?
  • The profile pages of their socials. Is their tone approachable?

When it comes to quantifying and qualifying influence, what tips do you have to share with fellow marketers?


This entry has 7 replies

Hi Kristen – great article, quite an exhaustive list of parameters!
I think that we all passed the phase of “quantity” in influencer marketing / blogger outreach. Influence metrics and statistics (such as followers on social media, website traffic, and so on) are too easy to fake / distort and became unreliable. Smart marketers are no longer impressed by a self-proclaimed influencer who has tens of thousands of followers on Twitter, all of which he bought on Fiverr.

Vetting the perfect blogger / influencer is first and foremost a matter of relevance. Checking if the content of the blogger fits, if the audience is right, and if the audience is truly interested and engaged. A blogger that has a small audience, but one that is highly relevant and interactive, will have much more impact than a blogger that supposedly has more followers, but they are not true prospects for our business.

Unfortunately, there seem to be too many marketers that did not get it yet. It’s therefore great that you took on the important task of showing true metrics for choosing a blogger. I myself took a stance, trying to convince brands to work with low-traffic bloggers, in this article:

The bottom line is that you should go with what is right for your business, not with what seems shiny and fancy.

Hey Daniel, thank you so much for weighing in. And I love the post you shared. It seems like we are definitely in agreement that working with smaller bloggers can be a great idea even if your budget and brand are not “small.”

So many times, marketers miss the value of how important it is that a blogger’s audience trusts them and is engaged in conversations about topics and brands. These valuable assets cannot not be discovered numerically.


[…] from their comments, reviews, and posts on social channels. Kristen Matthews of GroupHigh advises evaluating influencers against content fit, reach, and engagement. This helps you filter out the least relevant fits for your brand, and forces you to read their […]

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