Influencer marketing ROI

A recent report from Digiday which looked at influencer fraud, highlighted that a single day’s worth of Instagram posts tagged #sponsored or #ad was found to contain over 50 percent fake engagements. Of 118,007 comments, just 20,942 were not made by bot followers.

It’s not surprising that an increasingly competitive industry has fostered dirty tactics to help influencers lure in sponsorship deals. But, of course, bots don’t click, buy, comment or think; because they’re not real people.

As influencer marketing thrives and more marketers look to invest in the value of influencers in driving awareness and establishing genuine legitimacy, we see an increasing focus on using a plethora of data to establish the most effective collaboration, and, by proxy, the most engaging content. But as the landscape moves faster than many are able to keep up with, we must ask: are we focusing on the right data to get our money’s worth?

Influencer marketing demands a robust approach which uses real-time data to identify the best content creators to create sponsored content that truly resonates. Influencers themselves are under more scrutiny than ever- particularly given controversies around Logan Paul et al, and the imperative deep delve into historic content and performance.

But part of this process, and a box that is often left unticked, is close scrutiny of the influencer’s audience.

Without a clear indication that audiences could be potential customers, the content could (and is likely to) fall on deaf ears.

It’s widely understood that an influencer’s audience demographics are fundamental in identifying whether content will speak to the right people.  Depending on the content platform, there are many tools to help with this- Peg.co, for example, offers a breakdown of audience age, gender and location.

But we need to go deeper. We need to be looking at whether the audience is an audience at all.

Whilst it is certainly difficult to accurately determine fake followers, due to increasing sophistication of bots and changing privacy settings from the likes of Instagram and Twitter, there are tools available and manual processes to get a good grasp of credibility.

  1. Engagement rates
    This is a good indication of how many of their total followers are actually engaging with their content, and exploring whether their reach is valuable at all. Comments should represent about 2 percent of total engagement on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, according to Digiday.
  2. Comments
    If you find unrelated comments asking for likes, subscribers, or generally sound spammy, they are likely to come from automated bot accounts
  3. Follower growth
    If an influencer has an irregular or sudden spike in follower growth, it could mean that they have been purchased. Sites like Socialblade can help monitor this.
  4. General credibility tools
    There are a host of tools which do some of the above for you, by using AI to establish audience authenticity scores based on a combination of follower growth, engagement rates and followers who will actually see the content on an influencer’s feed. Hypeauditor, Influencerdb and Twitteraudit are examples of this.

 

These processes are imperative in moving away from impressive but ultimately meaningless metrics that so often entice brands, and naïve marketers.

It’s up to brands and agencies to invest in understanding these pitfalls and how to avoid them, if we are to work toward genuine ROI.


6 myths about influencer marketing

By Emily Barnes & Megan Linehan

“Reach is everything - it means you’re getting your message out to the most people”

Incorrect. It’s imperative to look more closely at who the audience are. There’s no value in getting your content into the feeds of people who aren’t actively engaging with it or aren’t invested in it. If the person seeing the content isn’t a potential customer, it’s fruitless. Worse still, they could even be a bot or fake follower.

This is why engagement rates are key; there’s been much discussion recently about how engagement rates are significantly higher for smaller influencers. There is absolutely a saturation point of engagement, which can mean that mega influencers are left with a dead audience.

When scoping out potential influencers, make sure you look at their most recent videos for accurate engagement rates- that way you know that they’re performing consistently and are frequently posting.

“It’s great to work with as many influencers as possible, to talk to lots of different audiences”

Whilst micro-influencers certainly can provide value through their highly engaged audiences and advocacy around niche topics and interests,  it’s also generally true that in order for a brand message, recollection or call to action to convert, the audience needs to see it multiple times. It’s marketing 101.  So, think about investing in multiple pieces of content over a longer period, with the same influencer.

Ambassadorship with influencers is a key focus in 2018, not only because of the value in repeat consideration, but because the content is organic and a natural-fit on the influencer’s channel- which works toward great sentiment.

“It’s impossible to really demonstrate ROI in influencer marketing”

Nuh uh. Whilst ROI and metrics for success are hotly contested and changing (pretty much) all the time, and it can be difficult to measure consideration and path to purchase outside of views and likes, there are plenty of marketing metrics which work to demonstrate effective consideration and brand sentiment, directly as a result of content.

Affiliate marketing and tracking links are a great way to measure this audience journey. If you’re promoting something like a service, resource, or high consideration purchase, you can get creative with incentives to click. A competition, discount code or limited edition purchase work well in these instances.

“Just put #ad at the end of the post”

No! No! When working with an influencer, be sure that the partnership/sponsorship is labelled loud and clear for the consumer to see, else it can be deemed misleading and lazy. Many platforms have clear guidelines for influencers to clearly label their content, and the ASA has outlined rulings on explicit labelling of sponsored content. No excuses!

“One post is all we need”

Cross-platform promotion means you’ll hit your chosen influencer’s audience across several channels and mediums, as well as developing a natural story around the partnership. A singular post can get lost in an abyss of newsfeeds, missing the mark with impact and looking awkward and unnatural. A carefully considered content package is important in understanding investment in a partnership and expectations of performance.

Be sure to ask about the cost of hero content with social promotion, for example, or a series of social posts with clear consideration of timings. The influencer should help guide this based on data about audience engagement with previous content and timings for this.

“They posted about the product before- they should do it again for free”

An influencer creates content for a living- it’s their livelihood and often their sole income. So, when considering asking an influencer for free content, stop and consider the size of the industry and it’s power- you’re buying into a powerful marketing tool. Where have you been for the last few years?! Whilst some influencers may be willing to post in return for a free product, holiday, or event attendance, be ready for them to ask for cash. Great, impactful content which speaks to the right audience is valuable- be ready to pay for it.