9 Factors to Consider to Pick the Right Instagram Influencer for Your Brand

Working with the right influencers is key to any successful influencer marketing campaign. Influencers who are relevant, authentic, engaging, and well-matched to your brand values and image will contribute greatly to your campaigns. 

Researching and finding the right influencers may seem like a scary process. There are many factors you’ll need to keep in mind during your search. You’ll also have to look out for signs that indicate whether an influencer is fake or not!

To give you a hand, here are 9 criteria you should keep in mind when searching for influencers. We’ve also included several tips you can use to spot influencers who may have fake followers!

First thing’s first: Set your campaign goals

You need to first clearly outline your goals before searching for influencers or setting up your campaign. There can be a variety of goals you want to achieve with your campaign, some of which may include:

  • Brand awareness
  • Content creation
  • Sales or app downloads
  • Newsletter subscribers or followers on social media

Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, you can choose how you want to collaborate with influencers. They’ll be able to contribute in different ways. For instance, if your goal is to create content, you’ll want to collaborate with influencers who have photography skills, rather than influencers who may have reach, but average content. 

By setting your campaign goals before selecting influencers, you’ll be able to choose influencers you know are likely to help you reach your goals, rather than working with influencers who may or may not contribute to them.

9 criteria to keep in mind to choose the right influencers:


To reach potential consumers, it’s crucial that you work with influencers who have a relevant audience for your brand. You can use audience demographic features, available on influencer marketing platforms, to identify influencers who have an audience in your target location, age, or gender. This gives you the opportunity to reach the right audience and communicate about your products and services.

Engagement rate

Engagement rates indicate how well an audience resonates with and responds to the influencers’ content. Good engagement shows that the audience actually cares about what the influencers publish. 

To work out the engagement rate of a post, add the total number of likes and comments the influencers get on a post. You should divide the total with the influencers’ number of followers, then multiply the result by 100. 

To find the average engagement rate of an Instagram profile, you should find the average engagement rate over a minimum of 10 posts. 

In addition to calculating engagement rates, you should also check whether the influencers are taking the time to respond to their followers. Influencers who react quickly to comments develop great relationships with their followers. In turn, their followers are likely more invested in the content that’s shared with them. 


It’s important that you collaborate with influencers who are a good fit for your brand. When you’re looking through the influencers’ Instagram profiles, you should be able to imagine your products or services being advertised there. Promotions for a real estate company, for instance, would look out of place on a food & drink influencer’s Instagram. 

Influencers who have profiles that are a good fit for your brand will have an audience that’s interested in your products or services. When you collaborate with them, their sponsored posts will resonate well with their audience.


Authentic influencers are more likely to have a dedicated following. They’re able to build up audience loyalty and trust by becoming experts in their niche, such as food & drink or fashion. They show their expertise by sharing genuine, personal stories, tips, and advice along with their posts. 

To gauge authenticity, you can scroll through the influencers’ Instagram captions on both normal and sponsored posts. Look for well-thought-out captions that convey a story. For sponsored posts, the influencers’ captions should be helpful to their audience. The influencers may highlight why they’re promoting the brand’s products or services, how they can be used, or why they love the brand.

You can also look through your unique brand hashtags or mentions to find influencers who are already fans of your brand. Because they love your products or services, your collaborations with them will be more authentic, and they’ll be great ambassadors for you.


Before partnering up with influencers, you should check to see if you and the influencers have matching values. After all, it would be out-of-place for influencers to endorse meat products as a vegan. To get a sense of their values, go through the influencers’ Instagram bio, photos & videos, and captions.

Their bios may reveal some of their likes and dislikes, what brands they may be ambassadors for, or what causes they support. You should also look for photos or videos that can be related to the industry you’re in. You can read the influencers’ captions to see what they normally talk about and what they believe in. Then, you’ll be able to evaluate the type of content they create, as it’s likely they’ll create something similar for you.  

Content quality

When you work with influencers, you’re giving them creative freedom to create sponsored content for your brand. Because their content will be representing you, it’s important to check whether their content quality is a fit for your brand image. When you look at the influencers’ profiles, you should look closely for content that’s clear, well-composed, creative, consistent, and optimized for Instagram.


When you explore influencers’ Instagram profiles, be sure to look at how often the influencers publish content. In order for influencers to build a loyal audience, they need to engage their followers by posting high-quality content on their Instagram regularly. Active Instagram profiles should ideally publish content once every 1-3 days. 

You should also check how often the influencers publish sponsored content. You should be looking for a good balance of sponsored and normal content. If you notice that influencers have published 3 or more sponsored posts in a row, their credibility may be at risk. 

You should then read through some of the comments their followers have left on their sponsored posts. Negative comments indicate that the influencer may be promoting too many brands. 


To ensure your collaborations run smoothly and effectively, the influencers you choose to work with must be reliable. If an influencer is, for instance, a slow communicator, it can prevent you from completing collaborations in a timely manner. 

Reliable influencers are proactive, and they should typically reply to all of your messages promptly and professionally. If influencers take over a week to answer your messages, it may be a sign that they’ll be slow at communication when you start collaborating!

Some influencer marketing platforms als go have a review system in place. You can read through the feedback brands left them in previous collaborations to see what their experiences were like.

Audience quality

When you search for influencers, you may come across some who have fake followers or engagement. To determine whether they do, it’s important to keep your eyes peeled for these 10 abnormalities: 

  1. The influencers’ content quality is poor, but the influencers have a high following.
  2. The influencers publish very little content, but they have a high number of engagements or a large following. 
  3. They have very high or low engagement for their number of followers.
  4. The influencers have more people they’re following than followers. They may have, for example, 5,000 followers, but they’re following 7,000 people. This follower to following ratio may be a result of ‘follow-for-follow’ or ‘follow-unfollow’ tactics. 
  5. A large sample of influencers’ following have a combination of the following traits: (a) little to no content, (b) no profile photos, (c) strange usernames, (d) anonymous profiles, (e) suspicious follower to following ratios, (f) copied bios, and (g) stock photos for their profile photos.

  1. The influencers recently created their Instagram profiles, but they already have a large following.
  2. There are sudden and irregular follower patterns on the influencers’ Instagram profiles. They may suddenly display massive bursts of follower growth, then experience large drops in their following. 
  3. The majority of the comments left on their posts are spammy, generic, and repetitive. 
  4. After publishing content, the influencers’ post quickly gains a large amount of likes in a very short period of time.
  5. The influencers’ videos have a low number of views compared to their follower size. 

Bear in mind that even if influencers’ Instagram profiles may display one or more of the abnormalities listed above, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the creator is fake. Their Instagram profiles must be examined as a whole and in the correct context. For example, profiles that show follower bursts over a short period of time may be a result of them being featured on the Instagram Discover Page, rather than them buying fake followers. 

Where can you find influencers?

To get started, here are 4 common ways to look for influencers to work with, and you can find more methods in this post.

Searching through hashtags on Instagram

Influencers may use your branded hashtags or category-specific hashtags when sharing content, such as hashtags related to lifestyle or travel. You can select the hashtags that are relevant to your industry and search for influencers you’re interested in working with.

Looking through databases

You can use databases to search for influencers. Databases typically contain information about the influencers’ Instagram profiles, such as follower sizes and posting frequency. Typically, you won’t be able to launch campaigns on databases, though some may offer this service for a cost.

Using Free Influencer Marketing Tools

You can utilize free influencer marketing tools to discover influencers. These tools often provide insights about the influencers' social media presence, like engagement rates and content themes. Typically, you won't be able to directly collaborate with influencers through these tools, though some might offer this feature with a premium upgrade.

Joining influencer marketing platforms

By registering on influencer marketing platforms, you can search through the influencers registered on their website. You can use the filters available to find influencers that are relevant to your brand. If the platform provides campaign support, you’ll also be able to launch campaigns and manage them, though features can vary from one platform to another.

Finding influencers by typing in a Google search

You can search for top Instagram influencers in your industry in a Google search. Your search results will render blog articles containing lists of influencers, and you’ll be able to find them on Instagram. 


Leslie Ho

Leslie Ho is the Content Manager at inzpire.me, a data-driven influencer marketing platform that helps brands & agencies run smarter campaigns. Since 2016, inzpire.me has helped brands like Nestlé, Coca-Cola, and Universal Music Group deliver creative campaigns by equipping them with tools they need to succeed.

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