Diving Into Influencer Marketing
Social media influencers know how to cultivate and captivate an audience. For those who are doing it right, an influencer can draw brand awareness to your business and become a true partner in growing your business. Great influencers work with brands that align with their vision, passions, and goals, and share about these brands in an authentic and organic way. In order to see success with influencer marketing as a business owner, you need to know how to identify influencers that are right for your brand and how to measure their performance.
Working With Micro-Influencers
We believe in working with micro-influencers who have highly-engaged audiences. These influencers may have anywhere from 5,000 to 100,000 followers on one social media channel and may have some reach in other platforms. For example, an influencer on Instagram may have a following of 20,000, while they also have a Facebook presence but it’s significantly smaller at 2,000 likes.
The reason why this is our sweet spot, is because not only are the followers of these influencers engaged and almost hanging onto every word that influencer is sharing, but the influencer is actually engaging back – commenting, liking back, answering questions etc. On a more macro-influencer scale, where an influencer may have hundreds of thousands of followers on one channel, it’s much more unlikely that the influencer with be directly interacting with his or her followers based off of the sheer volume of followers they have to engage with and the time-consuming nature of interacting with every engagement.
Micro-influencers are beneficial for a few reasons: they have a captive audience that trusts them and (importantly so) they don’t charge the huge premiums to share about your brand that celebrities and macro-influencers do. Pricing on YouTube, Instagram and other social platforms is the furthest thing from cut and dry. You may work with someone of the same caliber and following for product exchange, while you’re paying the other hundreds of dollars.
It truly depends on the individual influencer. There are websites that try to help influencers calculate their value in terms of dollars in order to be able to justify their pricing, but these platforms primarily assess reach and don’t take into account things like image quality, which results in inflated pricing models.
Identifying The Influencer Who Will Drive Results
Once you’ve started digging into influencers in the micro-tier, how do you know if they will actually make an impact on your bottom line? You should look at the ratio of followers or subscribers to the engagement they are getting on their posts. The truth is that purchasing followers and likes is real, and may make someone look like an influencer when they’re not. You can identify this easily through their follower to like/comment ratio.
For example, someone with 100,000 followers on Instagram should be getting thousands of likes, not hundreds. On the other end of the spectrum, micro-influencers who have 5,000 followers sometimes have such high engagement that their average likes and comments exceed influencers with over 20,000 followers. Don’t be duped by inflated follower count; really dive into engagement when vetting influencers.
Setting Yourself Up For Success With Long-Term Partnerships
One thing to note, is that you won’t see the best success in terms of driving conversions with an influencer campaign if you are going after one-off posts. The issue we run into here, is that if you’re not willing or able to spend money to make money, this type of influencer campaign won’t work. This is because one-off posts are much less expensive; many micro-influencers will post once in exchange for product or a minimal fee, while additional posts will require more financial compensation.
In this case, it depends what your goal is for influencer marketing. Are you looking for user-generated content that you can repurpose on your social media platforms or use as creative for an ad campaign, or are you looking for serious ROI? If you’re looking for user-generated content, you’re looking for quantity. In this instance, one-off posts and casting a wide net might make sense. If you’re looking to see a return on investment, then you’re not going to get it from a single post. If you’re looking for both, then you should be forming long-term partnerships with multiple posts from one influencer.
Think of influencer marketing as telling a story through a marketing funnel. Much like a paid advertising or social advertising campaign goes, if someone is unfamiliar with your brand, there is an educational process to drive them deeper into the marketing funnel, which takes time and repetition. In paid media, potential customers typically do not convert after the first ad they see, which is why someone on social media will rarely convert from one influencer post they saw.
The intent to purchase a good or service on social media is inherently low, which is because social media is used for just that – being social and sharing content. People want to engage with others online and in doing so share snippets of their lives. If someone is unfamiliar with your brand, they need to be introduced not once, but multiple times.
Once you’ve identified the right influencer for your brand that has great engagement and you’re working on a long-term, campaign-style partnership, you need to know how to tell if it’s actually working.
How To Measure Your Influencer Campaign
Measurement and brand awareness are definitely not two peas in a pod. PR professionals have always struggled to identify hard metrics and tend to tack on more “fluff” metrics like “potential impressions” or quantify placements based on dollars for the equivalent ad space. With the digital age of PR, some savvy publicists have learned how to use links and Google Analytics to prove ROI through referral traffic, conversions, and assisted conversions. This is what CMOs want to see in 2017.
When it comes to influencer marketing, another brand awareness play isn’t going to cut it moving forward. While influencers provide a great avenue for brand awareness, you need to know how to measure everything beyond just the number of people who may have seen a post highlighting your brand. Everyone could know about your brand but if you’re not telling a compelling story, people won’t convert.
Benchmark your followers pre-campaign
This seems like a no-brainer, but agencies and in-house marketing teams so often forget to report on or measure growth in social media following. Before launching an influencer campaign, benchmark your number of followers across all social platforms to know where you started. As influencer posts go live, see if there was an above-average jump in number of followers and correlate that to the specific influencer who posted during that timeframe.
Create a coupon code
Coupon codes are underrated in influencer marketing. The hesitancy to use a coupon code online is that websites specifically scrape for sales and discounts and aggregate them into one place so anyone can search to see if there are existing coupons available online. On social media, this is not the case, which is why you should be using it. If you’re not providing an influencer’s audience an incentive to convert, you’re less likely to see movement.
However, if you’re offering an incredible discount, you could see great performance from an influencer. If your product or service has a larger lifetime value or high conversion rate for continued customers, then offering a first-time purchase discount will give you the opportunity to secure them as lifelong customers. Coupon codes can be created specifically for the individual influencer so you can directly track coupon redemption and sales through the code.
Utilize linking whenever possible
Putting an emphasis on online PR placements [Office1] is similar to putting an emphasis on social channels that support linking. Links on social media aren’t going to elevate your SEO like online PR placements do, but they are the best way to directly track performance. At this point, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest allow linking opportunities – so take advantage of it! You can create custom UTM codes for each link that you share with an influencer and track everything from new website visitors to conversions.
- YouTube – a link can be included beneath the video in the description.
- Instagram – a link can be included in an Instagram story with the “swipe up” feature for accounts linked to a Facebook business page. A link can also be included in the bio of an influencer, though larger influencers who also have blogs may not be receptive to including this if they already have a link to their blog in that place.
- Twitter – a link can be placed in the tweet itself; shorten the link to limit characters using bit.ly
- Facebook – a link can be included in the body of a Facebook post
Metrics To Report On From UTM Linking Using Google Analytics
When looking in Google Analytics, links coming from third party sources (not internal links) will show up as referral sources. This traffic, called referral traffic, can show the specific impact that a UTM link on social media had. You can see the number of users that came to your website from that specific link, as well as a number of other behavioral metrics of this traffic like time on site, bounce rate, and pages per visit. You can also see if these were new users or returning users, which illustrates if you were able to capture any new brand awareness that actually took action.
The cherry on top of Google Analytics insight from links on influencer posts is that you can ultimately see the number of conversions and the conversion value that one person drove. This means that you can calculate a direct return on investment from one influencer.
Other metrics you can use to evaluate the success of your campaign include the number of likes and comments, or engagements, that the post received. Another way to slice and dice this is by comparing the engagement on your influencer collaboration with the other recent posts the influencer shared. You can then see how interested the audience was in your brand in comparison to other promoted brands and other organic content.
In addition, you can include more abstract ratings like sentiment – was the audience receptive and positive towards the product or service – or the quality of the influencer photo – was it taken on a DSLR camera and has high-resolution pixels?
Another way that we identify top-performing influencers and posts is if they included key messaging, a link, a brand mention in the caption and tag in the photo, as well as specific hashtags we request to be used and proper disclosure in compliance with FTC regulations.
Don’t Rely On The First Post In A Campaign To Convert
As mentioned, campaign-style influencer strategies perform better because it serves as repetition and a transition from cold, to warm, to hot traffic. When you’re evaluating the metrics like referral traffic and conversion from the first post in a series, don’t be surprised if this number is low. The goal is for the second, third, or even fourth social media share to generate more traffic and ultimately sales.
Think Of Your Influencer Campaign Holistically
To get the most success out of your influencer campaign, tie it into the rest of your digital marketing strategy. Work the user-generated content into your organic social strategy to build brand credibility. Create ad campaigns around successful influencer testimonials as ad copy with ad creative from the influencer image or video. Share quotes from influencers in your content marketing and pitch them as part of your digital PR strategy.
Ready to talk influencer? This is our bread and butter and what we do on a daily basis in our PR team. We incorporate influencer campaigns into our comprehensive marketing strategies to work with our clients in identifying the right influencers, main KPIs, and get the best results possible. Let’s chat!