Influencers are a necessary evil. They work wonders on behalf of your brand, connecting with audiences in ways your team couldn’t even scratch the surface of with stock photos alone. Every flat lay, every pose with your product, every good caption tagging your pages and using your hashtags — they contribute to brand awareness in a way that’s both authentic and effective.
Let’s focus in though, on one key word here: effective. The evil in this scenario of necessity stems from moments when influencer marketing is anything but that. From the times when influencers you choose to work with are actually ripping you off, big time.
3 Things to Consider When Choosing Influencers for Your Brand
Fake news in the age of digital marketing is more than just ‘alternative facts’ and propaganda; it’s spam, sensationalism and fake social media accounts.
As the influencer market has grown, those looking to make big money off brands willing to blindly throw it their way have increased in number, as well. One report conducted by the New York Times found that 16% of the followers behind Instagram’s top 20 accounts were suspected to be fake.
As a brand marketer, knowing this to be the case, how can you even begin to think about divvying out any of your precious budget to this tactic without a plan? Spoiler alert: you can’t.
Pay Attention to Engagement
When sifting through the influencer haystack, one of the simplest, high level ways to decipher the real from the phonies is to get over that follower number at the top of their page. Seriously, look right past it and dig into their actual content. If an individual has 100k followers but only gets 20 Likes per photo or engagement that appears disingenuous in nature (i.e. spam-like comments only), put up the red flag.
Make Sure Their Messaging Aligns
It should go without saying that any influencer you work with should present themself in a way that aligns well with your brand messaging. After all, you’re interested in them in the first place for the audience they’ve amassed. Those followers behind the screen choose to follow them because they speak to some element of their current or desired lifestyle. If your identity doesn’t correlate naturally with the content they create organically, posts they create for you will likely feel forced and contrived.
Influencers on Instagram typically bring in upwards of $1,000 per post per 100k followers. This can otherwise be translated to ‘not cheap’. If you’re going to be spending a pretty penny on these individuals to market your brand, do your due diligence. There’s also nothing wrong with proposing cost upfront based on the influencer’s projected return. Use data gathered in your research as leverage before signing that dotted line.
How to Measure Success from an Influencer Marketing Program
Finding success in an influencer marketing program is just as much about your due diligence in the vetting process and post campaign analysis, as it is the influencer. Rather than running a long term campaign with any one individual right off the bat, consider short term tests of 1 to 2 posts. Using those as your foundation, you can begin to dig into the backend metrics for better insight into measurable ROI.
Be Explicit with Your Goal
From campaign ideation to influencer negotiations, make sure to paint a very clear picture of what your end goal is in working with these individuals. Is this purely an awareness play? Are you trying to drive revenue to a struggling product? Whatever it may be, let this one goal guide how you prioritize the weight given to performance metrics.
Generate UTM Parameters
When trying to calculate revenue gained on behalf of your influencer marketing efforts, understand that links are your friend. These could be realized as affiliate links, promo codes or UTM parameters placed on the end of website URLs.
UTMs are great for high level readings on traffic driven from an influencer to your website. Affiliate links and promo codes, however, are simple ways to track actual purchases (and even future purchases) gained from those purchased Instagram posts.
Compare Reach to Traffic
As you work with an influencer, keep track of their potential reach and impressions as a factor of the unique pageviews they’re driving to your site. This can be done with a simple spreadsheet that lists follower numbers (i.e. potential reach), impressions per post, and traffic per post as pulled from Google Analytics. Based on the results, you should be able to get a feel for the influencers worth investing in for the long term.
Vanity metrics still hold value for your brand’s visibility when working with an influencer of quality. They’re indicators of loyalty and give an initial glimpse into long term returns that could be gained by working with certain individuals over others. As you track these metrics, give weight to things like clicks and shares first and foremost, with comments and likes rounding out your analysis.
Pro or con? What are your thoughts on the influencer marketing movement? Let us know in the comments below.