How to measure the success of influencer campaigns, and where on earth to begin

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The process of measuring EAV’s (equivalent advertising values, for those not in the know) has been the talk of the PR town for some time now. Some PR governing bodies won’t even allow agencies to submit EAV figures for various trade awards, and there’s been a shift towards providing clients with more meaningful data in reporting infrastructures moving forward.

 

However, all PR agencies need to provide their clients with some kind of insight. This is now more prominent than ever in talent-led social media campaigns. But whereas the process of calculating an ROI in traditional print coverage is straightforward, in the world of social media, it is not. Which is where a recent report conducted by Celebrity Intelligence comes in.

 

“What was once a conversation about reach and numbers, has retracted greatly to focus more on the authenticity and legitimacy of the collaboration”, the report begins. Brands have since discovered that rather than chasing after the current ‘face of the moment’, partnering with influencers who are deemed a natural fit and aligned with the brand’s core values and beliefs are far more important. Ultimately, this will provide companies with “deeper and more meaningful collaborations which will deliver longer term success”.

 

One of the main problem areas, the report finds, is the hazy correlation between the surging costs of social media partnerships and a lack of understanding how to present an ROI to said client. The costs of managing these programmes are increasing – greatly aided by the fact more and more brands claim they need to “get social”. But when agencies are reporting back to their clients, it’s falling a little flat. In fact, 63% of marketers claimed that measuring an ROI in terms of social campaigns is an “ongoing challenge”.

 

Our Izzy recently delved into the report to bring you its key findings, and how agencies – and brands – can apply these learnings to their own social media activity moving forward.

 

Recent imagery courtesy of @iamchouquette, featuring Smeg

Above: Recent imagery courtesy of I Am Chouquette, featuring Smeg

 

Talking ‘bout our generation

 

The report includes a study from US advertising agency Barkley, which discovers that 77% of Gen Z – the digital natives who grew up with social media at their fingertips, and  are currently drive ¢44billion work of social media spending each year – “prefer ads to show real people in real situations”. This means, that as opposed to brands constructing an aspirational image through their various talent-led collaborations, their target market would in fact prefer to be presented with images which they can relate to. This is something for companies to bear in mind when selecting their chosen ‘talent’. For example – what’s more important? An influencer with high follower numbers and low engagement rates? Or an up-and-coming name with potential to grow, who reaches your target demographic? Think about your customer from the beginning, and the campaign is more likely to be a success from the get go.

 

Goals – always believe in your soul

 

Before even starting to think about measuring social media campaigns, agencies and brands need to clarify exactly what they want to get out of it, and a clear idea of what the campaign should accomplish. Brand awareness? Web traffic? Sales? Setting actionable, realistic goals in the beginning will make it easier for agencies to track how successful their campaign has been, rather than trying to measure all of the above.

 

Think about setting a clear brief to your chosen talent, too. Being up-front about what you hope – and need – to achieve will demonstrate that this isn’t just any old Instagram pic, but a real campaign for your client with a definitive purpose. Encouraging said talent to be involved in your goals from the beginning will also help. For example, on average ask them how many likes they may receive per post on Instagram, or how many hits are generated to their website from sponsored blog content. You can then present this to your client.

 

As we always like to say, however, ‘under promise, over deliver’. Working with an influencer who gets on average 10,000 likes per pic? Tell your client 7-8,000 on average. This way, they’ll be ecstatic when you absolutely smash this.

 

Move your frame (work)

 

The report claims that on average, for every £1 spent on celebrity or talent-led campaigns in 2017, brands were getting £17.21 back in return. This, it states, suggests that social media campaigns have the potential to deliver much higher ROI than traditional forms of marketing. But here lies the problem – how do we calculate this?

 

There are a number of tools and metrics available to help PR’s calculate ROI – web analytics, trackable attribution links, trackable shopping links, floodlight tags etc. Bear in mind the ROI may not actually be a cost value, but a % in social media followers, or a surge in web traffic, for example. Create a framework within which you want to track the success of your campaign and clarify this during your initial brief. It then needs to be measured at the beginning, middle, and climax of said campaign.

 

Lisa Dawson styled Ruark Audio's R2 for a series of dedicated Instagram posts

Above: Lisa Dawson styled Ruark Audio’s R2 for a series of dedicated Instagram posts

 

Does size really matter?

 

“In the real world, it can be hard to measure a person’s authority, but in the realm of social media there is much data available to help a brand evaluate how an influencer is currently perceived, and the potential impact they could have”, the report continues.

 

‘Authority’ doesn’t always correlate to size of following, but more so through demonstrating a proven knowledge of the influencer’s sector and specific audience. This once again correlates with a brand’s ability to pick an influencer reflective of its brand, but also that size isn’t everything.

 

As well as looking at engagement rates, look at the actual engagement. How does your chosen talent interact with its audience? Does he/she engage with any comments left by fans? If so, how? Positively? Negatively? Is it genuine? These are all questions to ask when determining who to partner with, and who will carry the most weight when promoting your product.

 

Let’s talk about sales, baby

 

Fundamentally, the overarching PR brief for the vast majority of brands is to generate sales.  Some internal bigwigs can find it hard to understand the true value of PR and social media if it doesn’t directly trace back to sales. In fact, 50% of marketers surveyed for the report stated that they would invest more financially into influencer campaigns if sales were transparent and reportable.

 

This is where sales promotions come into play. We’ve all seen them on Instagram: ‘20% off today if you use my code IZZY20’. There are alternative methods, however – take a look at Instagram’s new shoppable Instagram service (we blogged about this previously here). This is a far subtler white ‘dot’ which appears when hovering over an Instagram image, directing users to a brand’s e-commerce website. This is a 100% genuine, authentic method of tracking sales, and is likely to be a preferred option for any board members concerned about influencer spending.

 

Alternatively, influencers who invite their followers to ‘shop the look’ via certain apps such as Like To Know can also help brands track any sales made from a certain post.

 

The magic formula

 

A newly-formed cost-per-engagement model is being increasingly used by many agencies looking to benchmark an ROI for talent-led marketing. This framework only works while undertaking paid collaborations, but it does guarantee your client an absolute ROI, to the benefit of both parties involved.

 

It’s a simple formula; divide the total spend by the total engagements generated throughout the campaign.

 

Fashion Mumblr wearing Silhouette glasses

Above: Fashion Mumblr donning Silhouette glasses for a recent campaign

 

So…what does this all mean?

 

Generating accurate measurements in the world of social media can be a tough one. Costs and fees can fluctuate greatly, while the end result can also vary. However, using the above frameworks can provide PR agencies with a structured model within which to track the success of their campaign.

 

The most important findings? Think carefully about the talent you are working with.  Consider what you want to get out of said campaign – and state this clearly to your chosen influencer at the beginning. Utilise the tools and metrics available to you before, during and after the campaign. Bear in mind if you’d like to track sales – and take advantage of the various tools and apps to do so. And, if in doubt, work with the newly-formed standardised cost-per-engagement model to provide your client with a black-and-white response into the success of the campaign.

 

As the media industry shifts rapidly towards a digital-first approach, the above techniques should help agencies explain to their clients the benefits of influencer collaborations and how exactly they can demonstrate this success internally. Bear in mind it’s not a one-size-fits all, and things can change quickly and often – but hey, that’s PR, right?

 

 

 

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