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Followers Aren’t Everything – How We Choose Influencers

Followers Aren’t Everything – How We Choose Influencers

Pick me. Choose me. PAY ME.

Sure, that’s not exactly what Julia Roberts said in Notting Hill, but it is the rallying cry of our influencers when new campaigns hit. And believe me, we want to pick you – but we also have had to make some very serious changes to the way we vet the people we recommend to our clients for campaigns.

At Everywhere, we’ve built our business on the relationships we have with influencers and pairing their authentic content with brands. We’ve shared in the frustrations of our influencers when clients opt to use Instagrammers with astronomical reach but comparatively minuscule engagement. Then we, along with the world, watched the rise of fake followers, bots, comment pods, and giveaway loops dilute the value of our most precious commodity: authenticity.

Which means, it’s time for a change.

Thanks to some new tools, we think we have what we need to accomplish just that. And honestly, it’s not going to make all of our influencers very happy.

Our new system is going to help us choose influencers for campaigns based on a few criteria. Of course we’ll still narrow down the pool of applicants based on theme, audience, demographics, location, etc., but now we are also vetting for percentage of fake followers, authentic engagement, and authentic follower size by leveraging Instascreener. Since we also believe in the power of a human touch during the selection process, we consider factors like quality of content, dependability, and how easy the influencer is to work with. (Pro tip: all of our account managers talk to each other, so if you go full-Mariah Carey on one or ghost another, it could hurt your chances for getting picked for future campaigns.)

Once we’ve ranked an influencer according to the outlined criteria, we will give our brands influencer suggestions based on the overall score. This will also helps us determine what payment we can offer influencers based on there authentic following. We cannot rationalize paying for a following that is not real or engagement that is fake – therefore negotiations with our agency are about to get a bit tougher.

Stay true. Stay authentic.

At the end of the day, we want to work with influencers to produce the best sponsored content possible. We want it to resonate, we want it to be successful, and we want influencers to be paid fairly. We will continue to support influencers as we always have, but we have all got to be accountable for the indiscretions that have injured our industry.

If you are an influencer who has participated in some less-than-desirable practices in the past – now is the time to get clean. Our friends at Unilever are cracking down on fake followers and so are we. Maybe in a weak moment, you bought a fake follower or two. We understand. We’ve all fluffed a resume or lied about the weight on our driver’s license. There are tools that can help, and we encourage you to use them should you need a spring-cleaning on your account. You’re also welcome to reach out to us so we can advise you on how to get back on track.


  • That website doesn’t seem to work. I typed in the name of an Instagrammer who I know for a fact is buying followers, but the website says they have fewer than 10% fake followers. That’s just false. You can look through the followers and can tell they’re all bots.

    • Hi, Do you know what the confidence level was on the person you searched? I’d be happy to reach out to Instascreener and have them investigate.

  • Hopefully this doesn’t cost much on your end since it’s so inaccurate. Check a couple handfuls of people we know buy as well as people in pods, and people we know that don’t do any of it and none of it is representative in the analyticas reported. Be better off hiring a team that knows how to spot this kind of stuff then rely on this.

    • Hi Michelle, Luckily for us we have hired a team that knows how to spot this stuff! Our account managers do their due diligence to determine credibility, but we also use this technology and others to help make sure we have the data to support our recommendations to the client.

  • I’m honestly incredibly disappointed in Everywhere for using a software that seems to be so wildly innacurate to determine an influencers authenticity. When this blog post was linked to me this morning I quickly made an account and checked the stats of myself and 4 other bloggers. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Seasoned bloggers who are both authentic, engaging, and highly successful had abysmal scores. I had to make a second account immediately. This time I looked up a few people with sub 100K and 50k followers who I know grew their followings through follow trains and giveaway loops. Their engagement comes from pods that they run on Telegram and Facebook yet they were rated as highly authentic.

    Where is the disconnect here? The only difference I see is their followers are all white women who want to become microinfluencers and the other women’s followers were a wider demographic, including European, Australian, and South American demographics. Are brown people not considered real followers? How are we as bloggers, with 50k+ followers, supposed to vet every person that follows us to ensure they meet the guidelines of some arbitrary algorithm? I’m a busy mother running a business. I’m trying to spend my time answering my engaged followers DMs & comments, creating beautiful content, writing engaging blog posts and captions, etc. While I do try to block the bots that I catch, I’m simply not on my phone enough hours in the day to look at every single person that follows me.

    I’ve done several blog and Instagram posts for Everywhere this year, all with great views and engagement, and I have never bought a single follower, yet this algorithm skews my works value while elevating those I know don’t deserve it. When checking other places like Fohr and Social Blade my “Fake” followers are less than 1% and my engagement rate and CPM are high. Ultimately, I would love to know how Instascreen is coming to it’s conclusions with out API data on our accounts. If it was just me I may be questioning my own achievements and successes in this field, but the rankings for some of the most stand up authentic women I know in this industry were just as atrocious. While I entirely understand the need for a screening process in our industries current climate it looks like Instascreener is throwing darts at the board in the dark and Everywhere is lending them credibility.

    • Hi Kristen,
      We have reached out to Instascreener with your concerns about their vetting and will let you know the response. We would never want to align ourselves with any software that punishes people of color. To identify fake followers, Instascreener uses proprietary machine learning software, which identifies patterns that differentiate real accounts from purchased bots. Specifically, they’ve trained their software to look for patterns in influencers’ followers, comments and engagements that reveal the presence of bots. For example, if an influencer has a suspiciously high jump in follower count, or if an inordinate number of comments on the posts are in a foreign language, or if the same follower leaves the same comment (e.g. “Great pic!“) on many of her posts, it’s likely they purchased fake followers.

      We take this as a “red flag” to then look at the content more closely and determine if we feel there are fraudulent practices taking place. I would like to emphasize that this is just one component of our vetting process for one platform. We have evaluated many of the other softwares that vet for fake followers, and we know that the results are varied. We use the percentage of fake followers as a tool to help give context in our wider vetting process, which is ultimately determined by one of the humans here at our agency. We are fighting the good fight here – and we will do everything in our power to uphold influencers who are authentic.

      • I receive a lot of comments that are like “cute baby” etc. Does that mean you all want me to start deleting these comments because in your eyes they seem fake even though it’s legitimate engagement?

        • No! These flags will happen when the same person responds with the same comment on multiple posts but that is one of many things the system looks at. It also looks for huge spikes in followings (tens of thousands without a correlated viral post) and lots of foreign language comments when there is no affiliation to that country. The biggest metric for you specifically is we have worked with you a countless number of times and are very familiar with the high quality of work that you create. So, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. This is where the relationship part of influencer marketing comes in handy. 😉

  • Why would you base decisions off of a ‘low confidence level report’?? Myself and about 15 other influencers looked up our own accounts and every single report was way off. Mine said low confidence level, so that made me feel a teeny bit better, but mostly just confused why a company would be advertising false information about me that they aren’t even confident in themselves. Some of my friends reports were totally wrong and the report said ‘confidence level high’. You might want to do some more research on Instascreeners legitimacy before putting your trust in it or spending too much money.

    As a side note, I’d be careful about writing an article that makes influencers sound like a selfish, desperate bunch of wannabes. “Pick me, choose me, pay me!” is an unflattering way to depict the people who your entire business viability depends upon. I have really enjoyed my direct interactions with Everywhere, but the tone of this article was disappointing. I know a few influencers who even went so far as to write your agency off completely after reading this.

    Influencers are, for the most part, hard working professionals who give hours and hours of their time, and tons of creativity, to the brands they work with. They are largely underpaid when you compare the services they offer (modeling, photography, creative writing AND advertising) to other professionals in the industry. If you had to hire a model, a photographer, a writer and an advertising firm for each ad an influencer created for you in the past, just imagine the cost! It’s sad to see that we are not only underpaid often, but also under appreciated by agencies like yours.

    Btw, not trying to go ‘full Mariah Carey’ here. I just wanted to express some honest concerned that I sincerely hope will be addressed.

    • Hi Rachael, First off, I meant no offense to the hard-working influencers who we have partnered with. The fact is there are 30M bloggers in the United States, and the number is growing. Instagram is expected to have over 32M sponsored posts next year. Our industry is quite frankly under attack – by those influencers who do not value authenticity and have resorted to fraudulent practices. I wrote this article in hopes it would bolster those who have spent the time and effort growing their followings organically to let them know we are trying everything in our power to protect their livelihood and be able to see past the frauds to pick them for campaigns.

      We don’t base our scoring on low confidence level reports. They help inform one area of our vetting process. We know that if the score is low, it’s for a variety of reasons and factor this information into the context of the influencer’s overall digital presence. We have explored many different softwares. The technology is new and not perfect, but we are doing the best we can to gain better control of an increasing problem in the industry. At the end of the day, our staff of human women consider the quality of posts and multiple other aspects in our vetting. The software helps us evaluate one component of our selection process.

      I did not mean to make it seem as if influencers are desperate by quoting Notting Hill. I love the people we work with and value them. This was meant to be a lighthearted reference inspired by the fact that the number one question we get from influencers is, “Why didn’t I get picked?”

      We believe we pay people fairly, and the rates we pay influencers have increased by double over last year alone. We are in a tough spot with the rise of fake engagement and are using all the tools we can to help aid us in keeping true to our mission of connecting brands to the people who love their product.


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