The Art and Science of Influencer Marketing

June 15, 2016 Social Influence no comments

The art and science of influencer marketing

Do you recognise these social influencers? (via Singapore Blog Awards 2014)

What can brands do to improve the outcomes of their digital marketing efforts by working with influencers? How can they harness the power of influencer marketing?

As a content and social media marketing person, I often pondered these questions.

Looking at the breadth of brands on social media, I noticed that the most successful ones either work closely with influencers to magnify their marketing might, or end up becoming influencers themselves.

To develop a strong digital and social media presence, brands should consider embracing both the art and science of influencer marketing.

Let me go through each of these in turn.

Art of Influencer Marketing

As you would imagine, working with social influencers can be a messy business.

After all, we are talking about dealing with fellow humans. All of us – influencers and non-influencers alike – have our unique idiosyncrasies and preferences.

Here are some pointers for your brands to consider.

1) Give influencers room to play

When you work with social influencers, regardless of whether they are bloggers, Facebookers, YouTubers, or Instagrammers, you need to give them room to work their creative magic.

Influencers are successful at what they do because they are not constrained by your corporate guidelines. Tap on their artistry and personality. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

By allowing your influencers sufficient room to experiment, your brand can make full use of their talent in reaching their social communities.

2) Build friendships with influencers

Social media isn’t called social media for nothing.

Friendships certainly matter in the world of influencer marketing. Often they go beyond the financial or in-kind incentives which a brand can offer an influencer for a campaign.

As a blogger and an influencer myself (albeit a small time one), I notice that I do a much better job when I feel happy doing something for a brand. Content creation is hard work after all.

When I feel appreciated and grateful for something, I am far more apt to produce something good. Sometimes, the value of the effort is worth far more than the benefits which the brand offers.

3) Ensure positive brand fit

Have you ever cringed at a sponsored advertorial from a brand that is totally at odds with an influencer’s personality?

Well, that is what happens when brands merely look at an influencer’s reach without considering how well he or she could fit into the brand’s objectives.

To prevent this, it is useful to conduct an influencer brand audit. Ensure that your brand image and your influencer’s brand image can complement each other.

You can do this by conducting the following simple test:

  • Study the comments section of the influencer’s posts. Are these the desired target audiences for your brand?
  • Look at the influencer’s content. Does his or her posts fit your brand’s image? Are they of the right “quality”?
  • Examine the behaviours, attitudes, beliefs and personality of the influencer herself. Can she represent your brand in the public arena?

4) Spread the goodwill

I always believe that brand-influencer relationships work better when they stretch beyond a one-hit campaign.

After a successful influencer marketing campaign, brand managers could add value to their influencers by recommending them to their friends. Influencers with good reputations in the market would then see their value soar.

Similarly, influencers who are happy with the outcomes of an engagement could help to magnify the value they bring to the brands by suggesting other influencers they can work with.

This is definitely feasible, knowing how close-knitted the various social influencer communities are, be they in food, fashion, fitness, travel, photography or other lifestyle areas.

Science of Influencer Marketing

OK, so you are convinced that influencer marketing requires one to deftly manage an influencer’s creative energy. You also appreciate the unique relationship between brand and influencer.

The question then is this: How do you measure success in influencer marketing?

Here are some strategies which brands should consider, to account for the time, money and energy invested in influencer marketing.

1) Be clear about deliverables

To succeed in influencer marketing, brands should be precise about what they hope to achieve. Do they hope to achieve greater brand awareness? Do they desire to drive sales to an online website or offline outlet? Are they keen to improve their brand reputation?

The best way to establish these deliverables is to state them upfront in the campaign brief.

Be clear about what you want to achieve so that your influencers can craft the right messages (albeit in a creative and authentic fashion) to meet those goals. Doing so also helps to prevent any unnecessary miscommunication or unhappiness.

2) Measure influencer reach

A good way to calculate the impact of your influencer marketing efforts is to look at the total reach of your various influencers in each campaign. There are several ways to do so, depending on the social channels of choice:

  • Page views/ unique visitors – These are usually measured on blogs, and can be calculated based on the specific posts which influencers create.
  • Social media views – For influencers with Facebook pages, their total reach can be easily measured by the number of views per post.
  • Follower counts – The number of followers can be used as a proxy indicator for views on social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

3) Measure influencer engagement

While reach may be useful, it is engagement which drives greater brand love and affection. Here, we are measuring the specific actions taken by an influencer’s community or fanbase in response to a branded piece of content.

The following are good ways to measure engagement:

  • Likes/favourites or hearts – These are the most commonly used indicators on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
  • Comments (positive) – A comment is often more valuable than a virtual thumbs up as the person in this instance has taken the time to write down his or her thoughts. Having said that, comments can be negative too, so do watch out for those.
  • Reshares/retweets/reposts – Shares on Facebook, retweets on Twitter, and reposts on Instagram show that the communities of influencers themselves are reaching their own communities. Such actions also help to raise the “virality” of your content.
  • Click throughs/opt-ins/sales – Considered the holy grail of influencer marketing, actions such as click throughs, sign-ups and actual sales transactions show how influencer marketing can translate into real value. However, such outcomes are often harder to achieve.

4) Calculate influencer marketing ROI

Last, but certainly not least, you need to account for everything you have spent on an influencer marketing campaign, and its eventual yield. This can simply be done by determining what your total budget is, and dividing your total reach or engagement over your total spend, ie

Total Influencer Marketing Cost ($) / Total Reach (or Engagement) = Cost ($) per Reach (or Engagement)

You can then ascertain your cost per reach or cost per engagement in influencer marketing and compute that against other forms of digital advertising or marketing.

For campaigns with unique clickable URLs, you can even determine what your sales per dollar spent are. This could be done by embedding unique clickable codes appended to each influencer. The formula could look like this:

Total revenue or sales ($) / Total influencer marketing cost ($) = Sales ($) per dollar of influencer marketing ($)

Keen to learn more?

To learn more about influencer marketing, do check out the other posts in my ongoing series on influencer marketing below:

Wish to go in-depth into social media marketing? Sign up for my upcoming social media marketing training course here.

I also conduct smaller customised training or coaching sessions in topics like influencer marketing, LinkedIn marketing and content marketing for small businesses and individuals. Drop me an email enquiry or leave me a comment, and I’ll be happy to chat!

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.

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