Influencer marketing is not new, and many marketers seem to be climbing on the bandwagon. When you get a good influencer, and can work out equitable terms, you know you will benefit from the relationship. But not all “influencers” are real or beneficial.

There are many charlatans out there today, especially against the backdrop of a graying and declining economy. The worst of times brings out the worst in certain people. And you have to hope that as a business, such individuals never knock on your doors.

In this fictional scenario, a small company had the misfortune of getting acquainted with an individual touted as a “personality”. This individual and his bunch managed to “persuade” the emerging company to cede control over various business platforms, with the company thinking that this bunch of people are helping to grow the business.

Now, in a rational and studied situation, no one would even believe in this bunch of people, let alone indulge them in their fantasies.

After all, a real influencer would never want to take over your properties, and will be sufficiently contented with a good endorsement deal. Just look around you for most of the brand personalities, and you know exactly what I mean – these personalities will promote your brand with an endorsement contract and associated fees, that’s all. They will never want to nor expect you to cede control in your company or your associated digital or offline properties.

So IMHO, what are my 5 tips to choose a good influencer?

1. Grow the relationship. First, you do not necessarily need an influencer who is celestial in status. You can always consider growing a relationship with an emerging personality whom you have identified as having great potential. Relationships are nurtured and developed, and such emerging influencers will be more excited about your brand as they grow, then someone who is already very famous and well paid.

2. Brand relevance. If you are selling a family sedan, you can consider looking for family-friendly personalities, rather than simply look for mere fame. If you are selling sports equipment, look for relevant sports personalities that complement your products, rather than personalities who are not into sports at all. If you are selling computers and digital platforms, you may want to look for personalities who are as geeky as you and are likely to actually love your toys.

3. Flexible arrangements. Look for personalities who may not necessarily be managed by third parties if you can, as they are likely to retain flexibility and can work out with you on equitable and mutually beneficial contracts, which may range from simple product sponsorships, to partial monies and product sponsorships, and so on. There are third party agencies who are sincere in developing long-term client relationships, and you may need to dig deep to find such agencies in the ocean of potential sharks.

4. Content depth. Some personalities have limited depth when it comes to their public image, and their social and digital content. Some may have only one or two platforms, and many may not have content depth that can be engaging over the long haul. It is far better to look for personalities that can produce deep and wide content that will engage many people over the long haul, rather than “flash in the pan” types. Content development and marketing is tough business, and so you will help your business grow with an influencer if this influencer is a real and serious content producer.

5. Straight and narrow. Influencers are people, and people have flaws (just as you and I do). However, since you are tapping on an influencer to grow your brand, you have every right and reason to find influencers who will have as little backlash as possible over the long haul. This may necessarily mean finding an influencer who will be empathetic to your needs, and to the public at large. Nobody can guarantee that an influencer will never face public scorn or become entangled with embarrassing or even illegal incidents. But the more straight and narrow an influencer, the less likely this individual will consciously jeopardize his/her social status and public image. Such influencers may seem “less fun”, but you can at least be more assured and can sleep better at night.

An influencer should never be someone who will fleece you with little returns. An influencer should be someone you can work with for the long haul, to develop and grow your brand together, and hopefully, be someone you can trust. Because, if you cannot trust a personality you intend to engage as your brand ambassador, why should the public?

PS – One last thing. Remember that an influencer is not living in a vacuum. Influencers have friends, families, associates, and partners. Treat an influencer well, as well as the people close to him/her. Remember “word of mouth” marketing works not only with an influencer, but very much with the people around the influencer too.