Influencer marketing is on the agenda in a very big way – but are you measuring and managing your strategy effectively?
As consumers, employees, and inquisitive beings we are constantly influenced by our surroundings, and much has been written about the soft power of influence in contrast to hard efforts to persuade.
Relying on the persuasive appeal of trusted figures to market products and services isn’t new – the Spice Girls and Pepsi collab of 1997 felt like it was a tipping point when I was growing up.
However, modern influencer marketing differs from the mass media efforts of the past in crucial ways. We’ve been reaching peak fatigue levels with the examples set by untouchable (and airbrushed) celebrities.
The rise of reality TV was perhaps the first big signal that there is an appetite to follow a more relatable type of celebrity to identify – someone not so different to the rest of us.
Andy Warhol famously said ‘in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes’. In 2017, it may be more accurate to say that everyone is famous to 15 people.
The rise of self-created influencers who hold sway over small audiences (compared to those of traditional mainstream media) is a compelling social phenomenon, with enthusiastic and ‘authentic’ content creators and vloggers attracting followings across all social platforms and subject areas, from fashion and tech to business, sport and beyond.
More than this, influencer marketing is an opportunity.
Measuring The Influencer Marketing Opportunity
In marketing circles we refer to an influencer as someone who has a substantial following (more often than not with regular engagement with their following) and/or someone who inspires the conversations, reactions and (whether they realise it or not) opinons of others.
So… What can an influencer marketing campaign do for you?
Influencers are in many ways like the old school brand ambassadors of yester-year. They’re not quite your Avon sales lady (though many are happy to be affiliates to maintain their own businesses) but their association and promotion of you can support leads and sales. It’s as simple as that really.
What’s not so simple is understanding the metrics you might want to consider to recognise the type of influencer that your company and marketing investment will benefit from partnering with.
I’ve identified five key metrics you’re likely to come across when researching and liaising with influencers and why they might be relevant for you.
1. Unique Visitors
A large proportion of digital influencers have a website – it might be a portfolio, a blog or an online magazine. The unique visitors give you an idea of how many individuals are accessing their website within a given time frame.
This information is extracted from Google Analytics and unique visitor data realises that users of a website can view more than one page during their visit. Google Analytics have other data sets available which allow the influencer to understand who is reading their website and present an audience profile.
Influencer A may have on average 102,000 unique visitors a month with 20 posts published across the same time frame and a predominantly female audience (73%) aged 25 – 34 while influencer B may post 54 articles a month, receive 51,000 unique visitors and an audience predominantly from the London aged 35 – 44 with a gender split of 54% male and 46% female.
So, with the example influencers above, you might consider that even though Influencer B has a smaller amount of unique visitors they may have a dedicated audience if you see a regular amount of comments on articles and you would be prompted to ask for further information such as dwell time (amount of time someone spends on the website on average) and average percentage of new sessions over the last 12 months.
In contrast, Influencer A may be utilising a mailing list to direct users to specific articles on a weekly – bi-weekly basis which is maintaining their large volume of unique visitors. Some many assume from the demographic profiling that Influencer A would be best suited to a beauty or fashion brand yet there may be other factors which would highlight that such brands would not be a natural fit with the influencers wider content.
If you’ve scrolled through the Twitter hashtag #JournoRequest you’ll have seen requests for bloggers ‘with a DA of 25+’ for involvement in campaigns. DA is the acronym for Domain Authority, a metric coined by Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) app, Moz, is a score (on a 100 point scale) that predicts how well a website will rank on a search engine. The higher the DA, the stronger the website is perceived to be when it’s fighting for those top search positions on Google and Bing.
DA has been traditionally used by SEO agencies but it has increasingly been adopted by PR agencies due to the changing tactics required following Google algorithm updates.
Whether or not you hold DA on a pedestal for your influencer marketing campaign will depend on whether your ultimate aim is to increase ranking positions and obtain links to your website/product pages. You will also need to consider how you will maintain a link profile that grows organically and naturally to avoid Google penalties further down the line.
3. Social Followers
Social media is often perceived as being like standing in the street with a loudspeaker and while there are always going to be people that ignore (in this case, scroll past…) what you share, influencers have generally acquired a large following on at least one social media platform.
What is perceived as a large following will depend on how niche their interests are but it is often regarded to be 10,000+. Some influencers have followings spread across multiple social media channels whereas others may have focused solely on Twitter or Instagram, there is no right or wrong but it goes without saying that someone with a large following on an image-led platform like Instagram will be very conscious of what they share on behalf of a brand.
It is very easy to get distracted by follower numbers but it is worth bearing in mind that just because someone has X amount of followers it doesn’t mean that that many people will see the post(s) from your collaboration with – platforms use algorithms to decide if the content is relevant to the follower.
4. Social Reach
While follower numbers don’t necessarily equate to eyeballs, social media platforms have a metric which is meant to represent how many people have seen a post – social reach.
Social reach is not an exact science and Facebook have had to sheepishly admit that their reach metrics for ads have been wrong on at least four occasions which questions how accurate the metrics are for organic reach too.
However, now that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter show what we see on their platforms by what they assume we will want to see and interact with, rather than what has been posted in the time period we are within their apps, in order to try and understand how many people are viewing the posts, this is the best we have for now.
It is worth bearing in mind that relevancy and timing are two key factors within reach (along with how likely the content is to keep you within the relevant social app) so it would be wrong to assume that because 1 post 2 weeks previously had a reach of 286,496 that the collaborative post will be just as successful.
In any case, considering the social reach of your influencer marketing partners is key.
As well as relevancy and timing, the sentiment created/associated with a collaborative piece of content can define its success. Choosing a influencer marketing partner based on the hard and fast figures may appeal but they may not wish to work with your brand or if they do, there is still a chance that their followers may not react to your brand in the way that you want.
At the turn of the year Johnsons Baby worked with a wide range of female Instagram influencers who share images of their families and family life. Some of these influencers present a wholesome image of life in the countryside with snapshots of their children in surroundings akin to The Secret Garden, and following this particular collaboration they’ve been shocked by their followers responses to the sponsored images.
The influencers and brand hadn’t considered that the wholesome, slow living, homegrown curated image of their lives would jar with others strong perceptions of the Johnsons Baby brand owing to coverage of reports that their products have been linked to cancer.
The influencers used their own images, styled as a non-sponsored image would be and followers commented that while the images themselves were still appealing, it was the fact that the brand had been featured/chosen as a sponsored partner that had left them disappointed.
While it may have been assumed a children’s brand would be a perfect fit for their followers owing to their family imagery, the ethical and health considerations of their followers are what ultimately meant the partnerships and related images weren’t as well liked as they had hoped.
This is just a snapshot of some of the metrics you would want to consider before starting an influencer campaign. There are many others which can be monitored through relevant software and audience segmentation techniques but these are the ones that are commonly referred to.
Overall it’s safe to say that standalone metrics won’t guarantee you a successful campaign, it’s how you use those metrics to understand your audiences wants and needs to present something relevant, engaging and relatable/desirable.