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Vet Your Influencers with AI

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Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have been sinking their teeth into a myriad of marketing activities, from forecasting new trends and competitive benchmarking to monitoring and measuring campaign performance. It’s time to add influencer marketing to AI consumer intelligence’s ever-growing list of capabilities.

AI-enabled consumer intelligence allows companies to leverage consumer data to improve their marketing. With functions like machine learning and predictive analytics, brands can learn more about their customers faster and with greater accuracy. The results are multifold:

  • Better marketing ROI with data-driven decisions
  • Relevant messages that resonate with the right audiences
  • Cost savings by cutting down on manual tasks, research, analytics, etc.

These same benefits apply to influencer marketing, too, particularly when it comes to finding and vetting influencers before you hire them. 

Let’s take a closer look at the inner workings of influencer marketing and how AI empowers your influencer strategy.

Influencer Marketing is Powerful, But…

An influencer fillming herself with a camera.

Just over a decade ago, influencer marketing was largely relegated to hiring highly-paid celebrities for endorsements. Today, we’ve seen dramatic shifts in who brands consider to be influential. Anyone with a large enough following on social media can toss their hat into the influencer arena.  

In total, influencer marketing has grown from $1.7 billion annual spend in 2016 to more than $9.7 billion in 2020. Research shows that brands earn an average 578% ROI for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. 

And the practice of using influencers continues to expand.

 In just a few years, we’ve seen dedicated influencer marketing platforms crop up to find influencers and manage marketing activities. The majority of brands are allocating budgets specifically for influencers. And 90% of marketers agree that influencers are effective in helping to achieve brand goals — a figure that has stayed relatively consistent over the years.

Despite all the pomp and praise surrounding influencer marketing, there are still several challenges separating brands from its full potential. Brands must be prepared to work through these challenges to fully engage their influencer strategy. Let’s look at some examples:

Challenge #1: Finding Relevant, Best-Fit Influencers with a Shared Audience

Finding relevant influencers in your industry’s niche is often the first hurdle for marketers to clear, and it can be easier said than done. In fact, 34% of brands say that finding influencers to partner with is their greatest challenge.

For starters, there are different types (or tiers) of influencers. A-list celebrities typically have millions of followers, while micro-influencers usually have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers. There are also nano influencers with even smaller audiences, as well as niche influencers and bloggers, vloggers, and subject matter experts. Each type of influencer has something unique to bring to your strategy. 

Influencers may also specialize in specific social media platforms. For instance, some influencers work exclusively on TikTok or Instagram, while others might have a presence across several networks. 

You can also select influencers based on their follower count and/or their content or niche. It’s important to pay attention not only to the type of content they post, but also the type of audience they speak to. Finding a harmonious audience match helps you get in front of people who are most likely to care about your brand. 

You’ll also want to pay attention to how well your influencer is received by their fans. Do they demonstrate expertise in a certain subject? Are they passionate about what they do? Are they knowledgeable enough to present your brand in a respectable manner? 

There are lots of little pieces to complete the larger influencer puzzle, and they all need to fit naturally, not be forced. 

Challenge #2: Avoiding Influencer Fraud

An illustration of  man pulling a giant thumbs-up with a rope, as though he were stealing a like on social media.

Influencer fraud is a growing problem in today’s climate. It’s defined by influencers manipulating the size of their audience and/or purposely inflating the amount of influence they have on their followers. For example, an influencer might have 3,000 followers but extremely low engagement on their posts or calls-to-action. Nearly 4 in 10 brands say they have experienced influencer fraud first-hand.

Being a victim of influencer fraud damages your strategy and your brand in several ways:

  • Brands often compensate influencers based on numbers, so your total ROI will be skewed because you’re paying for results you didn’t actually achieve.
  • Fake influencers might not carry out their end of a campaign agreement.
  • Brands associated with fake influencers that have been “outed” may diminish in the eyes of the public. 

It’s not easy to detect influencer fraud on the surface. By all accounts, a healthy following and lots of comments, likes, and shares can indicate your influencer is as powerful as they seem. But since followers can be bought and bots can automatically leave comments or engage with posts, seeing is no longer believing. 

Challenge #3: Measure Influencer Marketing Performance

An illustration of a smartphone with social media likes and comments around it.

Tracking influencer marketing performance has two parts: defining influencer activities and then comparing those activities to key KPIs. Unlike traditional marketing, you can’t always see the immediate or long-term impact on sales with influencers.

So how do you know if your influencers are actually influential?

That depends on how you define a successful campaign. Some metrics that can reveal the impact of your influencer campaigns include:

  • Post reach
  • Audience engagement
  • Consumer sentiments
  • Conversions (e.g., purchases, email newsletter signups, etc.)
  • The growth of your brand’s following

There’s a lot you can track to check in on your influencer campaigns. But marketers need to decide the most important items to track in a given campaign and how to connect those metrics to goals. 

When done by hand, this can be a time-consuming endeavor. Plus, it might mean putting other influencer campaigns on hold while you’re calculating the success of your last campaign and seeing how you can improve moving forward.

Challenge #4: Proving the Value of Influencers to the C-Suite

Investing in influencer marketing can be a hard sell to C-level decision makers, especially if they’re more in tune with traditional marketing initiatives. They may lack an understanding of what influencer marketing is and how it can help brands. 

They may not realize that high-dollar celebrity endorsements aren’t the only option. But by the same token, they might also struggle with agreeing that paying “regular people” to influence the brand can produce an ROI.

Compounding these challenges is a lack of reliable data to support your request. When trying to start an influencer program, your data is also starting at zero. This makes it hard to prove the expected value of influencer marketing enough to get the green light from higher-ups and put everything you know about it to the ultimate test.

How AI Consumer Intelligence Improves Influencer Marketing

A chart showing some of the elements of influencer marketing, such as content, trust and followers.

Brands can mitigate each of the aforementioned challenges by instilling good vetting measures into their influencer marketing strategy. 

Proper vetting of influencers, as well as audiences, channels, and influencer marketing as a whole, builds confidence in the process. Brands can avoid partnering with fake influencers and focus only on contextually relevant connections. Plus, when you prioritize thorough vetting, you can strengthen your appeal to decision makers and make more accurate predictions about your marketing outcomes.

AI-enabled consumer intelligence tools like Linkfluence are empowering better influencer marketing programs with data-driven insights. By addressing key challenges that would traditionally limit influencer marketing potential, more brands can take advantage of its benefits and avoid the pitfalls that diminish results. Here’s how:

Discover Best-Fit Influencers at Scale

When you need to find influencers in your niche that meet a certain follower count, engagement level, and platform requirements, where do you start? The easy answer: start with AI. 

Linkfluence’s AI-driven platform identifies potential influencers that meet your criteria. It looks at a range of data, including the weight they carry in conversations and whether your competitors are also working with them. By constantly monitoring topics, content, and audience responses, AI-enabled consumer intelligence helps you identify real influencers suitable for your brand. 

We also take it a step further by helping you see the context of influencer relationships. Rather than blindly trusting the platform’s recommendations, you can see why certain influencers landed on your radar. We track influencers across six million topics in a variety of niches, geographies, and demographics to help you create valuable partnerships without extensive searches.

Constantly Monitor for Deep-Level Influencer Fraud

Brands can’t always vet an influencer’s pull by follower count or post engagement. Many metrics can easily be manipulated, leading brands to invest with influencers who can’t get them the results they expect. 

But AI consumer intelligence tools can help to sniff out fraud and avoid being an influencer’s next victim. 

AI tools monitor social activity, rate of audience growth, and other signals that can discern between fake activity and genuine responses. For example, if a bot continually posts the same comment on every post, this could be a red flag that an influencer’s audience isn’t authentic. Brands can partner with influencers knowing the real potential of a campaign before they begin. 

Review the Performance of Every Activity

A smartphone with social media metrics on the screen.

Measuring the performance of your influencer campaigns is less of a challenge when AI tools do most of the work for you. Rather than tracking metrics manually, AI can automatically track each activity and give you a clearer picture of specific actions and entire campaigns. For example, you can dial down into individual pieces of content or get a broad-level view of an influencer’s holistic performance.

More than just quantitative measurements, AI can also track qualitative data like consumer sentiments and brand awareness. Compare how these areas influence sales and conversions as a whole to better understand how well your influencer marketing is working.

Centralize Influencer Data for Proven ROI

The use of dedicated influencer marketing platforms is rising, allowing marketers to track all aspects of every campaign from a single location. Removing data from silos allows marketers to connect the dots for decision makers and show exactly how their efforts are contributing to larger company objectives. 

Linkfluence directly connects to top influencer marketing platforms like Lefty and Traackr. Make deeper insights by keeping all your data in one place. Automatically generate reports using data that matters to you.

And if you’re just getting started with influencer marketing and don’t yet have brand-specific data to pull from, you can start the ball rolling by highlighting a strong approach. All-inclusive, time-saving AI tools like Linkfluence help you strengthen your appeal by demonstrating a faster, proven process for finding and vetting qualified influencers, the ability to track campaign performance and ROI, and how you plan to get the most from the investment.

AI is transforming influencer marketing by creating a simpler, more trustworthy process to find, vet, and track influencer performance. Learn how Linkfluence is leading the change when you schedule a demo.

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