The metrics that brands use to measure the success of an influencer-marketing campaign are changing, as ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ fall out of favor

The metrics that brands use to measure the success of an influencer-marketing campaign are changing, as 'likes' and 'followers' fall out of favor
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  • Some brands are tracking what followers are saying in the comments (such as how often the brand or product is mentioned) or asking for other metrics from influencers like how many followers are saving a sponsored post.
  • Business Insider spoke to two influence- marketing experts on some of the metrics they expect brands will be paying attention to in 2020.

With just a few dollars, anyone can go online and purchase fake followers, comments, or likes on an Instagram post as a way to boost their social-media engagement. 

To combat this reality, brands are increasingly turning away from influencer-marketing metrics like follower counts and likes — which have become easy to manipulate — when looking at the impact of a campaign.

In a recent report, the influencer-marketing agency Collectively found that the core metrics that matter to brands during and after a campaign are changing. (The report drew “insights from our annual marketer and influencer surveys, as well as data from more than 235 influencer campaigns conducted in 2019,” Collectively said).

With new Instagram features rolling out, like the ability to shop directly on the platform, brands will be placing emphasis on metrics like comment sentiment (such as if followers are name-dropping the brand), post saves, brand mentions in DMs, tags in shopping posts, and Story replies, Collectively found.

And to track if the investment in a YouTube campaign was worth it, industry experts told Business Insider that brands often look at how many viewers are engaging with a product link, the geographic information of viewers, and video analytics (like how long a viewer is watching for, and at what point they are dropping off).

Instagram is by far the top platform for influencer marketing, but YouTube, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter are also prominent, according to Collectively.

Some brands are beginning to invest in Twitch and LinkedIn as well, which offer unique formats and audiences, and TikTok was the platform brands were most interested in testing in 2020, Collectively found. But the study found Snapchat remained largely absent from marketers’ influencer strategies, Collectively said.

Joey Gagliese, the CEO of the influencer-marketing agency Viral Nation, said that whatever platform is being used, brands increasingly want to know what people saying about them: Is it positive or negative? He said brands are using software to track cross-platform sentiment and sales related to a campaign.

But as with social likes and shares, it can be hard to draw direct correlation between mentions to sales, said Evan Asano, the CEO of influencer-marketing company Mediakix.

The two types of advertisers and what metrics they look at

Generally, there are two main types of advertisers involved in influencer marketing: direct-response advertisers and brand advertisers.

Direct-response advertisers are looking for an immediate or trackable sale, through tracking links and offer codes, Asano said. These advertisers will have a target cost per acquisition (CPA), which is the number of sales (or total sales) divided by investment in the campaign.

“It’s also much easier for direct response advertisers to use a custom tracking link and promote a discount so you’ll often see them in Instagram Stories and YouTube because Instagram doesn’t have clickable links in in-feed posts,” Asano said. “Direct-response advertisers can work with much smaller budgets and in some cases single influencers.” 

As Asano noted, Instagram Stories are popular with direct-response advertisers. In an Instagram Story, an influencer can use the swipe-up feature — which is available only to accounts with more than 10,000 followers — to link to the product or service they are promoting.

Before a campaign, direct-response advertisers often want to know how many views an influencer gets on an average Story. They may also come back after a completed campaign and ask for the total number of views on the sponsored Story. 

The other main category of advertisers is brand advertisers, which sell products that aren’t usually purchased at the time followers view the sponsorship, like anything you might buy in a grocery store or more expensive items like cars and furniture.

Since purchases generally happen offline for these items, advertisers are looking to create “brand lift,” said Asano, which is generally considered (aside from an increase in sales) the most important metric for brand advertisers.  Brand lift is difficult to measure and is usually conducted through a brand study or surveys with audiences. They also seek to reach a minimum audience.

Brand advertisers often ask for a sponsored in-feed post on Instagram, timed mention on YouTube, or a dedicated YouTube video.

To measure the success of a campaign, brand advertisers look at certain metrics that show intent to purchase, like the total number of comments left under on a sponsored post that mentions the promoted product, or the number of people who saved the sponsored Instagram post to view later. 

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