Working in an industry where the products offered usually requires a professional installation or at least a very savvy DIYer, my ability to reach out to influencers is limited. While I have ideas to find an influential person that is into entertaining to redo a wet bar or upgrade from a bar cart, without the budget and resources to provide the contracting and installation, I have to wait for the right opportunity to present itself. Unfortunately, a lot of not-so-great opportunities do instead. So it can take a lot to find the best influencer campaign for the brand and understand how to value it when some requests are more than $10k in product due to the high value of the brand's items.
With budgets tightening and more requests coming in, we need to be selective. So how do you do that with some level of certainty beyond just intuition? When preparing for a meeting with the C-suite I knew the "it depends on the project each time" response wouldn't fly, so I used the process I've applied in prioritizing digital projects in previous roles to create a "vetting system" for our influencer requests. Using this project prioritization matrix guide from the Office of Quality Improvement at University of Wisconsin-Madison , our team that selects influencer campaigns established criteria to rank the project requests. All criteria is based on giving it a 0, 3, 6, or 9 score, which makes structuring your criteria difficult at times. For instance, when deciding if the request includes a priority product of ours, I set up that 0 is not a priority category or product and is something commonly requested (as in we've already done several campaigns around it), 3 is a priority product but is commonly requested, 6 is not a priority product but is not commonly requested, 9 is a priority product and is not commonly requested. Other criteria based around our goals, like image quality to ensure we will have content we will want to reuse and likelihood of getting additional coverage from third-parties (the influencer has a history of doing good PR for themselves, getting back links, etc), and how well we can pull off the project, such as the level of effort going into the project based on timing, scope, etc. We also put engagements and followers into one of the 0,3,6,9 rankings as well, but you will see how these numbers relate to establishing value more so.
While that all helps to determine which influencer project to prioritize when you can only do a few in a year, how do you know how much value to give them? We took to our own social media accounts to understand the value of a post. While many influencers might go by a $1,000 per 100k followers, we know from our own accounts that not everyone who follows you sees your organic posts, so we got an average percentage of accounts that follow us reached per post, ~30%. Then we analyzed our typical cost per impression (CPM) on boosted posts to assign a dollar value. So if an influencer has 250k followers, while they'd say the should get $2,500 in value, we'd adjust that their organic post would only reach 75k followers and apply our CPM (let's say $5 per 1k) to see what that value equates to - only $375. Then AVERAGE that with the standard influencers use. It doesn't stop there. Because we always ask for imagery to use, we also pad in a typical royalty-free image rights cost for each individual VIGNETTE (not image if they are all the same products/space with just different angles or propping) we'd receive. That'd be the retail value budget we'd give a project that we decided to prioritize.
I had us test this against Kylie Jenner as the last I had heard she was charging $1m per Instagram post when she had 111m followers (her following was over 132m at the time of writing this though). Applying the $1k per 100k followers, she's undervaluing herself slightly because she'd technically be getting $1,110,000 at that following count (whether influencers actually get $1k per 100k is questionable but that's a standard request). However, when accounting that only about 30% of her followers might see a post then we'd say 33,300,000 impressions X $5 per 1k impressions is only $166,500. By then averaging the two, we'd be okay (but not like we would) with valuing a post from her at ~$640,000. I doubt she allows royalty-free use of her images so the extra ~$300 wouldn't be added into that either.
Note that I titled this selecting the right influencer campaign. While someone might be a great influencer, the project just might not be a fit for the brand at the time. (For us, priority products change as part of our promotional plans, and resources to execute on the campaign for a larger scope or shorter timeline might not be available). As indicated throughout this series, I wish some influencers would understand that a little better when facing rejection. It really isn't personal, and I think this matrix and system for valuing the project helps to take some of that personal bias out of it and provide a tangible way to communicate the process to executives.
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