Brand Safety: Why You Should Perform an Influencer Risk Assessment

How to run an influencer risk assessment, to ensure you are partnering with like-minded folk who support your brand values.

Lena Young
July 14, 2020

What Is An Influencer Risk Assessment?

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, 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. 

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. 

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 and 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.

Example 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 

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. 

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. 

Low-Risk:  

An influencer who advocates Recreational Marijuana usage in a dosage that aligns with your brand’s values, or for medical purposes.  

Medium-Risk:

An influencer posting content while smoking Marijuana and driving. 

High-Risk:
An influencer who also promotes the usage of other drugs.

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. 

Low-Risk:

An influencer who is a vegan chef. 

Medium-Risk:

An influencer who eats honey. Yes, honey is high-debated in the vegan community. 

High-Risk:

An influencer who has collaborated with non-vegan brands. 

Step 3: Confirm Your Values Align

Creating Risk Assessment Score Cards are 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. There are tools that can help make this process run efficiently and effectively. Klear’s Brand Safety tool is a great addition to this process, helping you streamline your influencer risk assessment. Identify miscellaneous or explicit terms and Klear will run an automatic brand safety check and flag any keywords used by a specific influencer. Helping you enter collaborations with confidence. 

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

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 our Klear’s Risk Assessment capabilities, schedule a call with one of our influencer marketing experts.