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Why You Should Perform an Influencer Risk Assessment

Elise Yu

Feb 19, 2024

Brand safety is a very important part of brand management and reputation management. That also counts for influencer marketing. Learn how to run an influencer risk assessment, to ensure you are partnering with like-minded folk who support your brand values:

Table of Contents

What Is An Influencer Risk Assessment?

An influencer risk assessment is a systematic evaluation of potential risks associated with collaborating with a particular influencer for marketing purposes. It involves identifying and analyzing factors that could potentially harm a brand's reputation, credibility, or financial well-being if they were to engage in a partnership with the influencer. The goal of an influencer risk assessment is to mitigate potential risks and ensure a successful collaboration that aligns with the brand's goals and values.

When vetting an influencer there are many obvious metrics that marketers will look at; follower count, influencer location, general aesthetic. While these metrics can be easy to identify, they do not always paint the full or accurate picture of a potential partner, and can actually be misleading. That’s why it is important to look at multiple metrics, especially those that can be easily manipulated, in order to make sure you are getting the complete picture of an influencer’s potential.

So, let’s talk about a less common form of vetting, influencer risk assessment. This is a way to ensure an influencer aligns with and supports your brand’s value. By doing this you are able to avoid future risks from the collaboration and ensure your partner is authentic.

Tip: Learn how to find the right influencers to partner with your brand.

Why Should You Perform an Influencer Risk Assessment?

Risk assessments help ensure brand reputation control. Collaborating with an influencer that contradicts your brand values, or has made a statement/done something that your brand does not support can have an enormous impact on your brand’s reputation.

One of the most notorious influencer scandals was with Jared Fogle, aka The Subway Sandwich Guy. Remember those ads? He walked every day to a Subway sandwich store and lost a bunch of weight. He was one of the first brand spokesmen that were not a celebrity, but rather a regular person. And, it worked. Kicking off the trend of influencer marketing. However, in 2015, Jared was sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexual misconduct and child pornography. Subway tried to distance themselves from the scandal, but there were reports that the brand had prior information on Jared’s crimes.

More recently incidents have emerged in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. As celebrities and public figures are facing public scrutiny for racist behavior, brands and partners are distancing themselves. For example, actress Lea Michelle was accused of racism and harassment by cast-mates and fellow actors and was subsequently dropped from her collaboration with HelloFresh.

And, managing your brand’s reputation will in-turn impact the way your clients perceive you. 

A scandal with a public figure who has endorsed your brand sends a message to your clients that you did not do your due diligence. This can cause customers to lose faith in your brand. Take television network TLC and the scandal surrounding the 19 Kids and Counting casemates. When it came out that one of the members of the family-friendly show had pled guilty to child molestation the show was immediately canceled. But the damage the scandal had on the family-friendly TLC network was hard to rectify.

What Are Key Components of an Influencer Risk Assessment?

Key components of an influencer risk assessment may include:

  1. Reputation and Credibility: Assessing the influencer's reputation and credibility within their industry and among their audience. This involves examining factors such as past behavior, controversies, scandals, and public perception.
  2. Content Quality and Brand Alignment: Evaluating the quality of the influencer's content and its alignment with the brand's image, values, and target audience. Content that is low-quality, offensive, or not in line with the brand's messaging can pose a risk to the brand's reputation.
  3. Audience Authenticity and Engagement: Examining the authenticity of the influencer's audience and the level of engagement they receive on their content. Fake followers, low engagement rates, or a lack of genuine connection with the audience can undermine the effectiveness of the collaboration.
  4. Compliance with Advertising Regulations: Ensuring that the influencer complies with advertising regulations and guidelines, such as disclosing sponsored content and adhering to truth-in-advertising principles. Non-compliance can lead to legal and regulatory issues for the brand.
  5. Ethical Considerations: Considering ethical factors such as the influencer's integrity, transparency, and alignment with the brand's values. Influencers who engage in unethical behavior or promote questionable products can damage the brand's reputation.
  6. Past Collaborations and Partnerships: Reviewing the influencer's track record of past collaborations and partnerships with other brands. This can provide insights into the influencer's professionalism, reliability, and success in promoting products or services.

By conducting a thorough influencer risk assessment, brands can identify and mitigate potential risks before entering into a partnership with an influencer. This helps to ensure that the collaboration is aligned with the brand's objectives and minimizes the likelihood of negative consequences.

How to Perform an Influencer Risk Assessment

It only takes 3 steps to perform an influencer risk assessment:

Step 1: Identify Your Brand Values

Obviously, when vetting an influencer, scandals won’t be presented on their Instagram page. But, there are ways to assess an influencer’s values which can help shed light on whether they complement your brand.

First, it is important to identify your core brand values across a variety of topics. That way, when the influencer assessment is performed you can easily match your brand value against your influencer’s values.

Examples of Brand Value Factors

  1. Drugs/Alcohol/ Smoking
  2. Nudity
  3. Diversity 
  4. LGBTQ+
  5. Religious Tolerance 
  6. Environmental Tolerance 
  7. Political Affiliation 
  8. Body Positivity 
  9. Vegan/Vegetarianism
  10. Health and Wellness

Tip: Take a look at our social media branding guide.

Step 2: Score of Influencer’s Value Affiliation

Identifying your brand’s values is just the first step, next determine how or if a potential partner aligns with your values. It can be time-consuming to review multiple influencers for an upcoming campaign. To make the process easier, we suggest creating a Risk Assessment Scorecard. This card will let you determine the risk of certain factors, easily letting you determine where an influencer falls on the risk threshold.

When creating the scorecard, we suggest taking the brand values you’ve identified and then creating Low-Risk, Medium-Risk, and High-Risk factors that can be easily identified by anyone doing an audit. Pro Tip: The Klear Brand Score within the Meltwater Influencer Marketing suite helps you determine how well influencers align with your brand goals.

Risk Assessment Scorecard Example 1: Brand Value – Recreational Marijuana

If your brand supports recreational marijuana usage, and are looking to collaborate with like-minded influencers, there still may be some important factors to consider.

An influencer who advocates Recreational Marijuana usage in a dosage that aligns with your brand’s values, or for medical purposes.An influencer posting content while smoking Marijuana and driving.An influencer who also promotes the usage of other drugs.

Risk Assessment Scorecard Example 2: Brand Value, Vegan

If your brand is vegan, you have a pretty clear ethos. Here are some things to consider when vetting new influencers.

An influencer who is a vegan chef.An influencer who eats honey. Yes, honey is high-debated in the vegan community.An influencer who has collaborated with non-vegan brands.

Step 3: Confirm Your Values Align

Creating Risk Assessment Score Cards is vital for ensuring you and your influencers have synced values. And, it can help contextualize the way certain topics were used, as some words may not be explicit, but may have an explicit connotation or vice versa. For example, “fat” may at first be considered explicitly tones, but when used in the context of body positivity, it can have truly different meanings.

Once you’ve defined and scored your influencer’s value affiliation, it is time to determine brand value correlation. Some tools can help make this process run efficiently and effectively. Meltwater's influencer marketing suite includes a brand safety tool that is a great addition to this process, helping you streamline your influencer risk assessment. Identify miscellaneous or explicit terms and Meltwater will run an automatic brand safety check and flag any keywords used by a specific influencer. Helping you enter collaborations with confidence.

Influencer risk assessment: How safe is it to work with Anna Whitehouse?

Influencer Risk Assessments is a great addition to the performance-based influencer vetting process, as it helps you avoid the “good on paper” influencer. Influencers who on the surface appear like a good git, but have made extremely poor/offensive decisions in the past. Perhaps if Bon Appétit had run a Brand Safety assessment on Adam Rapaport, they could have avoided the scandal entirely.

Benefits of Performing an Influencer Risk Assessment

Performing an influencer risk assessment offers several benefits for brands considering collaborations with influencers:

  1. Protecting Brand Reputation: By evaluating an influencer's background, behavior, and audience, brands can mitigate the risk of associating with influencers who may harm their reputation through controversial content, unethical practices, or inappropriate behavior.
  2. Ensuring Brand Alignment: An influencer risk assessment helps ensure that the influencer's values, content, and audience align with the brand's image, values, and target audience. This alignment increases the likelihood of a successful collaboration and strengthens the brand's messaging.
  3. Compliance with Regulations: By assessing an influencer's compliance with advertising regulations and guidelines, brands can avoid legal and regulatory issues associated with non-disclosure of sponsored content, misleading advertising practices, or other violations.
  4. Maximizing ROI: By partnering with influencers who have authentic, engaged audiences and a track record of successful collaborations, brands can maximize the return on investment (ROI) of their influencer marketing campaigns.
  5. Identifying Potential Risks: An influencer risk assessment helps brands identify potential risks associated with collaborating with specific influencers, such as fake followers, low engagement rates, past controversies, or ethical concerns. By recognizing these risks early on, brands can take proactive measures to mitigate them or avoid them altogether.
  6. Enhancing Trust and Credibility: By thoroughly vetting influencers before partnering with them, brands demonstrate their commitment to transparency, authenticity, and ethical business practices. This enhances trust and credibility among consumers, who are increasingly wary of influencer marketing tactics.
  7. Improving Decision-Making: An influencer risk assessment provides brands with valuable insights and data to inform their decision-making process when selecting influencers for collaborations. By making informed decisions, brands can minimize the likelihood of negative outcomes and increase the chances of a successful partnership.

Overall, performing an influencer risk assessment helps brands make informed decisions, protect their reputation, comply with regulations, and maximize the effectiveness of their influencer marketing efforts. It's an essential step in the planning and execution of influencer campaigns.

Start Your Influencer Risk Assessment with Meltwater

By carefully vetting the influencers you partner with, you maintain control of the conversation. You ensure you are working with like-minded folk, who strive for similar outcomes. Be it socially, politically, environmentally, aesthetically, you should all share the same goal.

By reviewing the values and authenticity of your influencer you ensure that your influencers generate positive impact. A risk assessment tells you that not only is the influencer authentic, but their audience is authentic and supports and craves content catered to your brand’s values. It is the ultimate way to build successful and lasting influencer partnerships.

To learn more about Meltwater's Risk Assessment capabilities, schedule a call with one of our influencer marketing experts: