Traditionally, word-of-mouth works, which is why a lot of small brands without a huge marketing budget rely on it to get their brands known. Today, this concept has evolved into what we call 'influencers marketing'. With a striving group of content creators, social media, and its massive network effect, influencer marketing is making its way into the integrated marketing communication plans of many brands, both big and small. Other than big-time celebrity endorsement, brands are also engaging with influencers who are seemingly closer to the brand’s target audiences. The difference is that influencers can be anywhere and anyone and are perceived to be more authentic and relevant in their sharing.
Ironically, a growing industry that is projected to reach US$5 to $10billion in the next 5 years, the supposedly more authentic sharing nature of influencer marketing has also attracted a pool of influencers with fraudulent accounts and activities. It is estimated that US$100million of the spending on influencer marketing might have been spent on fake influencers. In May, Facebook revealed the removal of 583 million fake accounts.
Influencer marketing is a tool not to be ignored, but brands need to dwell deeper into the selection and evaluation of its effectiveness, just like Sephora. With such a big pool of influencers and fraudulent activities, how do you identify the right influencers who will bring quality engagement and business impact to the brand? In this article, we will share 3 aspects to note in your influencer marketing and its evaluation to maximize the returns on your investment.
Influencer Marketing Evaluation
1. Selection of influencers
Influencer marketing is not like celebrity endorsement where you find someone with huge fans following and offer money for them to talk about your brand. Influencer marketing is as much marketing to your influencers as it is to their followers. You will want the influencers to be genuine brand ambassadors who will share on a personal level and spread the word beyond official transactional relationship for a specific campaign. In this aspect, identifying potential influencers who already followed your brand’s social media would be a good start. Cultivate them to be your long-term brand advocates rather than looking at them as a one-time transactional relationship to reach your short-term marketing objective.
When selecting influencers for your brand, it is important to know the influencers’ main interests and the types of content that they have recently posted to identify alignment with the brand and your target audiences.
Remember these questions as you go about identifying your brand’s influencers:
- Differentiation: How is this influencer different from those of competitors’? What are the topics of their recent posts?
- Relevance: Does the interests and beliefs of the influencer fit your brand’s positioning? Is he/ she an influencer or source of information of your target audience?
2. Quality of Engagement
With influencers, brands should be looking for quality engagement over superficial quantity such as reach and number of Likes. Even though getting an influencer with huge following will increase the brand reach and awareness in split seconds, the effect is usually short-lived. Furthermore, brands should take note to spot influencers with fake followers. A low share of interaction versus their follower size is usually tell-take signs of influencer with an army of “corpse fans”. Yet another reason to review past posts of the influencers.
Readers follow influencers as a source for the latest happenings and also for the content they created; that is more personal and authentic. Readers do not follow these influencers to see blatant “advertisement” and photos of influencers posing with brands. Hence, brands should strategize to allow influencers to share more deeply about their experience with the brand.
Besides the types of content that the influencers produce, the kind of discussion generated with their followers is also crucial. It is futile if the post gets high discussion volume, but it is centered around the influencers with no relevance to the brand or the experience with the brand.
Remember these questions as you strategize the type of engagement your influencers should have with the target audiences:
- Relevance: Will it trigger more in-depth discussion about the brand and their experience (past or expected) with the brand?
- Esteem: Will it trigger more in-depth discussion about the brand rather than superficial praises or clicks for Likes for the post? Is it able to help reduce any negative discussion that would kill brand equity?
3. Evaluation of Results
When evaluating the effectiveness of your influencer marketing activities, it is important to look beyond reach. Reach could come from metrics like the number of clicks, likes and shares, therefore influencers with huge followers will naturally give a huge boost to your reach and impression count. However, this huge number is just a false impression of fantastic ROI, which ultimately creates little or no impact on your brand.
To avoid cases of high reach with little impact, brands should strategize activities and content that will lead to call-to-action. Tracking mechanism like unique hashtag, links with UTM codes or promotion codes should be given to each influencer to allow for evaluation of the effectiveness of action-conversion – sales, traffic visit or simply awareness.
Beyond reach, we should also be evaluating the quality of engagement as mentioned in the point above. Reading into the content of generated discussion would give us insights into their area of interests, and thereby empower the brand to make the adjustment to future content that is of higher relevance to these target audiences.
Remember these questions as you evaluate the effectiveness of your influencer marketing activities:
- Relevance: What kind of content/activity can engage discussion among the target audience? What are the topics generated in the discussion?
- Influence: Are the discussion able to trigger any change in their purchase intent? What kind of content is more effective in action-conversion?
Before we get too excited over engaging influencers, it is critical to bear in mind the importance of having an influencer-marketing plan that is integrated with your overall brand communication strategy to build your social brand equity in the long run.
To maximize the impact of influencer marketing, move from transactional to long-term relationship with your influencers. Influencers, like consumer advocates, need to be cultivated over time. Brands need to not only track their own influencers, but also influencers of competitors as well as identifying new influencers who are vocal about conversation in your industry.
Get in touch with us to find out more on how to start identifying, tracking and evaluating the effectiveness of your influencers and other online activities today to build a strong social brand equity for tomorrow.
#SBET: Social Brand Equity Tracking
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