Assessing the true influence of social influencers

In an increasingly busy digital marketplace, reaching out to social influencers has become a great way for emerging brands to build their audiences. In essence, it’s about finding influential people who have established audiences and brokering a deal with them to either share or contribute to your content.

But in a world of fake followers and inflated figures, how can you tell if an influencer really is as influential as they claim to be? Here are some key factors to keep in mind when you’re researching influencers to work with.

Tools to find social influencers

There are a number of tools available to help you search for social influencers. Two of the best are BuzzSumo and Traackr. Both will allow you to keyword search for the movers and shakers in particular categories.

Traackr will rank potential influencers using three key metrics: Reach, Resonance and Relevance. Reach is the size of an influencer’s audience. Resonance is the level of engagement that they get on their posts. Relevance is how “on topic” they are to the search keywords you’ve chosen. Ideally, you’ll want your influencer to rank well against all three.

Meanwhile, BuzzSumo will highlight the page and domain authority of potential influencers – the higher they rank here, the higher they are positioned in search engine results for the keywords you have chosen. BuzzSumo is quite Twitter focused and it will show you the size of their following. Another interesting advantage of BuzzSumo is that they will tell you how often each influencer retweets and replies to other users. Some influencers are just broadcasters, not interested or too busy to interact with others. If they rank poorly in this department, you can assume that they’re not likely to reply to your messages or be interested in sharing your content.

Other checks and balances

So you’ve created a shortlist of influencers you’d be keen to work with. What are the next steps? Take a look through their website. Have they worked with brands before? How often do they post articles on their site? They should be posting consistently, at least once a month. How many comments are they getting on their articles? Comments are a good indication that they have a loyal, engaged audience. Go and take a search on for their website and take a look at their backlinks – that’s how many other sites link to them. The more backlinks, the more authority they have.

Take a look at their social platforms. They might have a large number of followers, but in a world where you can buy followers for a song, this doesn’t necessarily mean they have a loyal audience. Take a look at how often do they post. Are they getting any likes, comments or shares? These are better indicators of success.

Should you pay your influencers?

The answer to this question relies on a few factors. What are you asking your influencers to do? Is the offer a mutually beneficial one? Ask yourself, if I wasn’t paying an influencer, what are they going to be getting out of the arrangement?

An influencer might be willing to share your content here and there without payment, they might contribute some quotes or stats to an article you’re creating. But if you’re expecting them to create new content for you, it’s reasonable for them to expect some sort of compensation. This can come in many forms, however. For instance, if a blogger agrees to publish content for you, you could create an advertising campaign driving traffic to this blog post, which is a win/win. Traffic for them, brand awareness for you!

Alternatively, you could give an influencer some exclusive content, whether it’s survey data or some video content that can’t be found anywhere else.

If you do decide to pay influencers, we recommend gathering as much data from them as possible, so you can estimate what you’re likely to gain in the way of exposure, so you can determine a reasonable amount to pay.

The pros of not paying influencers means that you will most likely end up working with people who like your brand and are happy to promote it. Subsequently, their content will feel more authentic. However, it’s important to build a two-way relationship with influencers, so they don’t feel taken advantage of. Hell hath no fury like an influencer scorned!

Paying influencers does have its advantages. It can formalise the agreement, so you have more control over the end result. Influencers can sometimes feel more valued by the brand they’re working with. The risks are that influencers that expect to be paid may not necessarily be the best brand fit, and this can lead to inauthentic content.

How much should you pay influencers?

According to, Instagram influencers on average were earning $271 per post. Micro-influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers were earning $83 per post, and for those with more than 100,000 followers, they’re earning $763 per post.

Bloggers with 10,000 impressions per month are earning $175 per collaboration. Bloggers with 100,000 to 500,000 monthly impressions are earning $500 per collaboration and for blogs with more than 500,000 monthly are earning between $1,000 and $5,000 per collaboration.


Christian Taylor is a writer and digital marketer and a member of the VKN Digital team. VKN Digital is a digital marketing agency in Hertfordshire, UK. We aim to help SMEs overcome marketing hurdles and create compelling digital content that drives results. Need help creating and launching a native advertising campaign? How about assistance with SEO or social media? Please contact us for a free Skype consultation.

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