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How Influential are your Influencers?

Cydoney Curran

A smartphone surrounded by floating social media icons, including like hearts and speech bubbles.

While there is some debate about the earliest example of influencer marketing, what we know is that it has evolved to become a massive industry expected to reach $200 billion annually by 2032i. Choosing the right influencer strategy can elevate your brand to reach untapped audiences and market dominance. For example, think of the way Red Bull uses extreme sports athletes to become synonymous with the energy lift that empowers people to accomplish extraordinary acts. On the other hand, a poor choice of influencer can send all the wrong messages, damaging the brand and alienating customers. 

At Proof Strategies, we start each assignment by gaining a deep understanding of our client’s target audience. This includes exploring their media habits, lifestyle, interests and the personalities most likely to influence them to a desired action or belief.   

We focus on three important factors when assessing what makes an influencer truly influential: relevant reach, authority and engagement.  

Relevant reach

While reach is sometimes considered the holy grail of influencer metrics, at Proof Strategies we strive for relevant reach. Relevant reach is about ensuring an influencer’s followers align with your brand’s target audience — if not, they aren’t relevant (no matter how many of them there might be). For example, if the goal is to engage Canadian women ages 18-35 to generate awareness of a new contraception option, but only five per cent of an influencer’s following is based in Canada, that influencer’s reach, even if it’s very large, isn’t getting the message to the right people. In fact, it’s missing the mark 95 per cent of the time. 

We consider relevant reach when narrowing the search for the perfect influencer partnerships. Does the influencer’s content resonate with the target audience? Is the campaign and content the right fit for the influencer’s platform? Is it being posted on the right social media channel?  


For target audiences to trust an influencer’s message, they should recognize the influencer as an “authority” on the subject. We ask: does it make sense for this influencer to be speaking about this brand or cause? Does the proposed content naturally align with the content and community they have built on the social channel?  

For example, if looking to engage people who are living with diabetes, an influencer partner may look like a great fit because they are diabetic. But if the influencer is not a medical expert, their audience still may not see them as an authority on diabetes treatment and management. However, pairing this influencer partner with an endocrinologist to develop content together, could provide the perfect mix of reach and authority.  

Influencers also need to be authentic. Lately, this extends to how influencers react (or don’t react) to social issues. The recent #Blockout2024 movement on TikTok, where users mass-blocked celebrities and influencers who remained silent on pressing global issues, illustrated an expectation among some audiences that influencers use their platforms to speak out. On the other hand, some customers have punished brands for appearing to use influencers to advance a social agenda. This presents a complicated “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario for influencers and their brand partners — speak out and face a backlash or stay silent and appear indifferent and out of touch. Our advice: know your audience and what they expect from your brand. 


If the goal is to build engagement (vs. simply awareness) with the target audience, seek influencers who already foster an engaged community. We look beyond comments, likes and shares and consider factors like how frequently an influencer is posting, the quality of their content, and how their audience is engaging. While quality is a subjective term, relative to engagement, it refers to how effectively an influencer’s content stimulates meaningful interaction among their audience. This includes strong calls-to-action, relatable narratives, fostering engaging conversations, and using emotive and value-driven content that provides tips or education on relevant topics or issues. 
The key to a successful influencer strategy lies in understanding and prioritizing the target audience to select the right influencers. By carefully evaluating influencer partners based on relevant reach, authority, and engagement, brands can create authentic connections and achieve meaningful results. As the competition for earning attention continues to intensify, an audience-first approach will ensure influencer content resonates with the audience, aligns with the brand and creates true business impact.