Is Your Influencer Marketing Campaign a Success? Judge It by These Metrics
Influencer marketing can be challenging. Sometimes, it seems like putting together a strategic campaign — identifying your influencers, bringing them aboard, and building an individualized campaign for them — is the easy part.
Once everything is rolled out, opinions suddenly start flying about what’s working and what isn’t. Everyone has a favorite metric — or simply a gut feeling — that he judges the campaign by.
Be careful. You’ll waste a lot of hard work if you build a big campaign but fail to properly measure its results.
How Not to Measure Your Campaign
There are many ways to measure your campaign, but not all of them are useful. Two of the common ones you’ll hear are reach and aesthetics. These measures have a natural appeal. If your influencers have a big reach (lots of people see their posts), that’s the definition of good, right? And if their content is beautiful, that’s undeniably great, isn’t it?
Well, not necessarily.
Just because your reach is wide (lots of people are seeing your influencers’ posts), that doesn’t mean they’re having an impact. A guy standing on the corner wearing a sandwich board has a big reach, but if no one is paying attention, that doesn’t make it a good value. The foodie at work raving about the new deli downtown might only be talking to 10 people, but she’ll probably get most of them to try it. She had a big impact.
Similarly, it’s easy to fall under the spell of aesthetics when judging a campaign. But again, just because your influencers are skilled at creating visually compelling digital content, that doesn’t mean that people are seeing and engaging with it. A well-designed billboard on a desolate highway is a beautiful waste of money.
Sometimes, it can seem like there are dozens of metrics to choose from, but none of them can ever really measure something as nebulous as “influence.”
The True Indicators of Influence
Don’t despair. There are three solid, data-driven indicators you can use to measure the success of your influencer marketing campaign:
I know — it’s a buzzword. But engagement is an actual definable concept. Engagement is creating online or offline conversations between you and your customers or between your customers and their friends.
Engagement can take various forms depending on the context. The important thing to remember is that engagement is active.
Engagement is an essential indicator because it means that the audience took the time to view your content and that it resonated with them. Before an influencer campaign persuades you to buy something, it will win your attention, make you think or feel, and prompt you to share.
Consider Dr Pepper’s 2015 #OneOfAKindLipSync campaign. It ran across social platforms and encouraged influencers’ followers to vote on songs that the influencers would perform in a live competition in New York. Followers were encouraged to attend, and the whole thing was broadcast on the influencers’ Periscopes and documented on their Instagram feeds for those who couldn’t make it in person.
Strong influencer marketing campaigns ask for direct, specific engagement from users across social platforms and then measure that engagement.
Traffic is simply how many people are visiting your website or coming into your store in a given day, month, or year.
High engagement should lead to increased traffic. Your marketing starts with getting someone to read a piece of content and then getting him to share, but eventually it must get him to your storefront.
Skype’s Passion Project campaign did an excellent job of driving traffic to Skype’s site. This campaign pinpointed influencers from various niches to explore their shared interests via Skype. They then shared the stories of their new connections with their own followers, which boosted interest in Skype and drove 140,000 visits to the Passion Project campaign hub.
This campaign worked because it encouraged influencers to connect with one another in an authentic way and to build their own brands while building Skype’s. And when influencers led traffic to Skype’s site, their followers did what they do best — they followed.
3. Brand Mentions
Brand mentions are exactly what they sound like: a reference to your brand online. This is another outgrowth of strong engagement. If your influencers are spurring followers to engage with your brand, you should see a spike in brand mentions.
Brand mentions are important because Google is taking a shine to them. Once upon a time, backlinks to your website were the be-all of search engine optimization. But now, Google recognizes that people mentioning a brand without linking to it — what’s called an “implied link” — is also a measure of a brand’s authority and a reason to rank it higher in search engine results.
Fashion retailer Lord & Taylor executed a successful brand mention campaign last year via Instagram. Instagram doesn’t allow link sharing, but the company sent 50 dresses to influencers and asked them to post photos of their own styling of the dress on the same day.
The company got tremendous social buzz, especially on Instagram, and brought a lot of awareness to its new Design Lab clothing collection. As an added bonus, Lord & Taylor sold out of the dress in the span of a weekend.
Launching a coordinated influencer campaign is a good way to stir up social awareness, spark chatter, and even land some media coverage.
How About Content Quality?
Thankfully, most aspects of influencer marketing are quantifiable at least to some degree. In addition to the above, clicks, share of voice, sentiment, and conversions can also be routinely tracked.
The quality of content, however, is more difficult to measure objectively.
This is a more qualitative, “I know it when I see it” measure of a campaign. High-quality content means the influencer has worked to make the content feel authentic, relevant to followers’ lives, and not overly scripted or promotional.
Consumers tune out posts that they deem inauthentic. When an influencer’s post is blatantly trying to sell followers on a product or service, the backlash can damage both the influencer’s and the brand’s reputations. In this way, influencer marketing inherently guards against poor-quality content.
So keep an eye on influencers’ content, remember to measure your campaign using effective metrics, and don’t be swayed by misleading indicators of campaign quality such as aesthetics or reach.
Daniel Sayer is a co-founder and vice president of Socialix, which provides an end-to-end influencer marketing platform for content creators and brands. Daniel has previously managed SEO and social media strategy for Fortune...