What's your goal for influencer marketing?Generate awareness, drive sales, build loyalty, create an advantage over your competitors? Here's one that you might not immediately consider, but should be a major key for partaking in influencer marketing - generating content that you otherwise might not be able to due to budget, talent, or limited resources.
And what about product improvement or development? These are people tuned into what is trending, so their feedback can help your product research. A case study presented in Adweek's Sound Influencer Marketing Webinar indicated a company that had a lot of success sharing product information under an NDA (which I'll get to in a future post) before it hit the market to get useful feedback. While I haven't run any specific research, the insights from what influencers are asking for and feedback to products I share that might work for their project but haven't yet hit the market has been very useful to our product development. You don't have to pick just one of these goals, and different influencer campaigns might focus on one goal while others do another.
As for that competitive advantage, you might consider (but not really measure) how by choosing to go with an influencer you have boxed out the opportunity for your competition to be present in that space. Not a great strategy, but a nice added value to consider as you plan campaigns and what products you might push.
How will you measure your goal?
Reach/ImpressionsReach, impressions, and views make for an easy metric to request. Unfortunately, most everyone who has completed my influencer request form confuses hits and impressions with their follower count. Anyone with a social account knows that your individual posts do not reach your entire audience, not even with some advertising dollars behind it. Requesting screenshots (and some of the more professional influencers do this without even asking) could help keep people more honest, but gaming the system is still a problem with these metrics, as mentioned in Tara Hunt's post Impressions, Reach, Views and Clicks are BS Metrics and I touched on back in 2012 specifically tied to some Facebook advertising I was doing. While Tara Hunt speaks to generating leads based on quality instead of quantity, these are universal metrics, as she puts it "everyone is in on the view/click/fraud scandal," that make them easier to measure and benchmark, especially if your goal is awareness. But consider some of the less easy ways you can indicate awareness and even loyalty.
Since starting influencer marketing, predominantly with campaigns on Instagram, our followership grew 340% in a year - that is continued brand awareness potentially leading to loyalty of highly engaged followers we've acquired. But not all of that growth is completely attributed to influencers as social ads and a strategic theme played a role, which makes it a bit tougher to attribute following increases and engagement. It's great though seeing a whole bunch of new followers in your notifications to see shortly before an influencer posted something.
Website Traffic and ConversionsAlthough traffic can go back to some of that scandal mentioned in the previous metrics, pairing it with other metrics, like bounce rate and pages per session can help determine quality traffic. However, this isn't as easy to measure as asking for a screenshot of social post insights. While you could rely on digging through your referral traffic, it'd be better to add query parameters to specifically track the clicks as part of an influencer campaign, because (hopefully) your influencer has already talked about you in the past so you want to differentiate that from the sponsored content. As I've found, even some bloggers that have been in the business for some time don't understand query parameters for tracking the links from their site, so it requires coaching here. Try not to dictate how they mention your brand for authenticity, so give them a few links, like your homepage, specific products, or categories with proper link tracking for your analytics tool.
Text link tracking is already established in an affiliate program. If you are able to work with well established industry content publishers through affiliate, like Buzzfeed or industry publications, you'll get much more traffic than a personal blog or social profile. The problem with going more towards an affiliate method to accomplish this is you won't likely get rights to their content for your use beyond sharing. Additionally, the downfall of clicks is that changes in the way cookies are collected, device switching, and omnichannel strategies mean you can easily lose track of a user after their initial visit, especially when the visit is initiated from a mobile app, like Instagram, and if your conversions typically happen on desktop.
Remember to understand what goal you want to accomplish with each campaign and balance building those quality relationships Tara Hunt talked about with the massive reach of a popular content creator, because building a relationship with an influencer really does both for your brand.