There’s so many different criteria you can use to choose influencers. Which matters the most?
Is engagement rate more important than growth rate? What about content quality? Audience demographics?
Good news: selection really doesn’t have to be complicated in 90% of cases. I’ll show you a simple framework you can use to feel more confident in selection, and get ready for scaling up recruitment.
1. Nothing matters more than the audience
“The perfect influencer reaches your target audience 100%. That person doesn’t exist, but that's what you’re striving towards.”
– Avery Schrader, CEO @ Modash
If you’re selling to young men in New York who are interested in yoga, then your “perfect” creator partner is someone who reaches those people, 100%. Every single follower fits that location and description.
Clearly, that’s impossible – but it gives you something to aim for.
When you’re assessing a creator, you have two ways to check audience demographics:
- Using influencer analysis tools (faster, more data, but costs)
- Asking influencers to send screenshots from their own analytics (slower, less data, but free)
If you’re on a shoestring budget, you can get started with the free method. Reach out and ask the creator to use Instagram Account Insights (or the equivalent for other platforms) to send over data screenshots. It’s limited & slow, but it might be required for you to validate the idea and get buy-in.
Otherwise, you can make your life easier (and your decisions better) using Modash. It has data on every creator in the world who has a public profile, and 1k+ followers, on Instagram/YouTube/TikTok.
That means you can confirm audiences quickly, before you invest a ton of time into finding their email, reaching out, following up, and all the back-and-forth. Here’s what it looks like:
If you don’t yet have a shortlist of creators, you can run a search inside Modash to find only influencers who match your criteria too. It’s the fastest way to increase your recruitment pool.
(You can try Modash for free, no credit card needed 👇)
Don’t proceed to the next step and start worrying about things like engagement rate until you’ve confirmed the audience.
2. Consider performance metrics (but don’t over-analyze)
Next up – quantitative performance metrics.
There isn’t any single critical metric that makes or breaks everything. You do not need to avoid all creators under 2% engagement rate, for example.
In fact, top influencer marketers have reported getting their highest revenue collabs with creators having <0.5% engagement rate. Even though that isn’t the norm, it’s a reminder that you shouldn’t enforce rigid criteria, as it’ll cause you to miss great partnerships.
Keep it simple.
Check the engagement rate, and check the fake follower count. Compare it to your past collabs, and more importantly – the other options you have available right now. If you have a huge pool, you can be more selective.
Ultimately though, if the audience is perfect, you’re probably going to want to proceed regardless.
Doesn’t matter if they have 35% fake followers if the other 65% are perfect, right? Still proceed, just reflect it in how much you’re willing to pay.
Over time as you work with more creators, you’ll start to get a feel for what you’re looking for.
If you’re using Modash to find & analyze creators, you’ll see useful benchmarks inside the platform. Those charts show you the median average for creators in that follower range (e.g. 50k-100k), and how the creator compares. You can use it to make a decision, and to compare one creator to another.
If you’re not using Modash, you can use these engagement rate benchmarks for Instagram manually:
So far, we still haven’t had to reach out. We’re ~60 seconds into the review process.
3. Does their content resonate with your target audience?
The third thing: content check.
- Can the person make great content?
- Do I think this content will resonate with my target audience?
- Am I happy for my brand to be associated with this person?
Spend a minute or two checking the creator’s most recent content, and their most popular posts – then answer those questions.
And remember, it doesn’t matter if you like the content, or if you find it interesting. It only matters whether or not the content will resonate with your target market.
If you’ve got a yes 3x, we’re all good.
Optionally, you can also check at this stage for past sponsored collabs. Who the creator has previously partnered with might influence your decision.
Depending on your collab value, that might be enough
Everything up until now, you can do without reaching out (if you have software).
After 1 minute reviewing quantitative data, and 2-4 mins reviewing content, you should have enough insights to at least decide whether or not you’ll reach out to open a conversation.
If you’re dealing with larger creators, and/or higher value collabs, there are some extra steps you can take post-outreach, before your final decision.
4. Dig deeper into performance metrics
In #2 we already checked basic performance metrics. Here, optionally, you can go deeper.
Break down the engagement rate
Okay, a creator has a 5% engagement rate. Great. But where does that come from?
- Is it from Stories, or Reels? Or on YouTube, is it Shorts, or long-form content?
- Is it consistent, or was there just one spike / outlier?
- How many comments does each post get?
- What is the nature & sentiment of those comments?
Ask for performance data from past collabs
Sure, the creator can reach 100k people. But can they sell? You can ask for data which is impossible to get just with software:
- How many link clicks do their Stories get?
- How many discount code redemptions were there in their last collab?
- What’s their retention rate on video content?
You can also check how the creator’s audience reacted to the sponsored content.
Check follower growth rate
Follower growth rate might not be critical for your first collab, but it can influence your decision making process a little.
If a creator is gaining followers quickly, they’re doing something right. And building a relationship with them early might lead to favorable rates (and results) down the line.
A fast growth rate might just be the thing that makes you willing to try a little harder, or pay a little more to get that creator on board.
Step 5. Develop customized criteria based on your past results
This one is for more mature influencer marketing programs.
Over time, you’ll be able to start reviewing your best collabs to find common traits. Those traits might not fit neatly into the steps above.
For example, do all your best creators have children?
Maybe you’ll learn that your most profitable collabs happen to be with people who have dogs, instead of cats. Or creators in a certain geographic area. And so on.
Spend time reviewing all your best collabs, and look for the common themes. Then add those factors into your decision-making process for future partnerships.
Some collabs will work, some won’t
At the end of the day – you’re not going to get a 100% hit rate. No matter how long you spend on selection. You need to get started, gather data, and learn.
Your success rate will grow over time. You’ll build the selection “muscle” and intuition, and have more data to work with.
Maybe the first month you recruit 20 creators, and 5 of them work great. Carry those 5 over to the next month, and recruit 20 more. Maybe this time 10 of them work out. Carry them over again.
After a year, you’ll have 50-100+ proven creators driving results every month. Plus a ton of data to develop your creator recruitment even further.
And if you want the best creator data to make your decisions before reaching out, give Modash a try 😉.