The Unsung Value in the Human Vetting of Influencers

With the meteoric rise of influencer marketing over the past several years, came a multitude of AI-enabled influencer tools that has led marketers to question the value of human eyeballs when determining a short-list of brand-appropriate influencers.

Eyeballs cannot match the speed and efficiency of a few quick keystrokes to cull a giant pool of influencers into a “best of list.” Admittedly, the allure of automation is irresistible!

But the truth is, AI still needs human intervention to make its output relevant and applicable, especially within this context. AI can’t identify nuance or sarcasm, so overreliance actually creates the potential for significant risk… and a big miss for brand marketers.

Yet, time and time again, we’ve seen brands expose themselves to unnecessary risk by associating themselves with people with questionable follower data, poor quality content, or worse, an unsavory reputation or rap sheet.

AI-based tools can do a lot but, simply put, a brand’s reputation is too precious to risk with quick turn vetting processes, which is primarily why I consider influencer identification an art and a science. Data analysis, along with the human eye, are critical tools when assessing influencers for partnership with a brand. Here are the five key steps to our human-led vetting process:

Even when AI simulates human behavior and trending content, we can see inconsistencies in the data trends that raise flags. For example, if an influencer has a large following but very little to no engagement from followers (known as “lurkers”), this is a warning sign.

Look for authentic content and lifestyles that align with your brand. This requires a critical eye and human judgement. This also happens through the development of a genuine relationship with an influencer and their team – authentic human connections lead to authentic influencer content.

An influencer may have impeccable credentials on his or her own social channels, but a deeper dive may show qualities that aren’t appropriate for the brand. Taking an extra step to ferret out possible issues is vital.

We look closely to see how influencers interact with brands in their feeds and whether the output would be considered high quality work. Unfortunately, far too many any are sloppy and inconsistent.

Influencer pricing continues to evolve as the discipline grows. We are tough but fair and believe that the terms must be mutually advantageous in any successful partnership. An influencer who feels undervalued or a brand that feels they overpaid will never be happy.