by Tim Williams
There have been many interesting articles recently about the ways in which influencer marketing is being transformed by social media, such as this piece from Sean Clarke, and this article from Intelegia, which give a great background into why and how brands are adapting their communications strategies to new media channels. An issue which receives less attention however is how companies subsequently measure the results of influencer engagement. This is a major challenge for many brands, but absolutely critical to success.
MEASURE AGAINST CORPORATE OBJECTIVES
When it comes to influencer engagement, many organisations continue to rely upon a gut feel that their efforts have worked, but have no way in which to measure the real impact of these efforts. Measurement is important for helping businesses understand not only how this form of influencer engagement compares with other marketing methods, but exactly what it is they are doing to drive the effect.
BIG DATA, BIG OPPORTUNITY
Change begets change, and as new forms of interconnectivity reshape the marketing communications landscape, new measurement techniques such as large scale data analytics are playing an increasingly essential role in influencer engagement programs. Big Data can be used to uncover influencers in relevant fields and measure engagement results in real-time, allowing brands to proactively re-align their influencer marketing campaigns, and feed this information back into their engagement strategies.
BEYOND SOCIAL MEDIA
Accurate identification and profiling of influencers is a key element of an effective influencer program. Someone who is influential in the area of music might be less so when it comes to consumer electronics or Hungarian politics, regardless of the size of their Twitter following or overall influence score! It is important therefore for businesses to differentiate between influence and popularity and engage primarily with those who are influential both within the framework of a brand’s defined business areas and within a wider context than a particular social media channel. While social networks represent an excellent opportunity for brands to communicate with end users they are not often a reliable tool for measuring influence.
PLAYING THE WEIGHTING GAME
The credibility of influence-measurement services such as PeerIndex, Kred and Klout remains a contentious topic (nicely summed up here). When it comes to measuring influence, it is important to remember that the primary objective of an influencer program is not just to influence the influencer. The real objective is to influence the influencer’s network, as this is the point at which the impact of influencer engagement is both felt and measured. Knowing how much ‘weight’ various influencers have within different topics and networks not only allows organisations to identify the best influencers to engage with, but also those who punch above their weight in terms of influence – these represent the ‘low-hanging fruit’ when it comes to engagement.
BUILDING YOUR INFLUENCER ENGAGEMENT PROGRAM
For a more in-depth look at influencer marketing, including a step-by-step guide to creating your own influencer engagement program, please check out our latest white paper.