How to gain control of your influencer marketing, from Scott Guthrie

Influencer marketing is often referred to as the Wild West of communications. Perceptions persist of a discipline overrun by an unreliable selection process, imprecise measurement and influencer fraud.

Here are five ways PR practitioners can earn better results from their influencer marketing campaigns and help tame the Wild West of influencer marketing.

1. Identify influencer fraud

Influencer fraud is an issue that has gathered momentum throughout 2018. You can detect signs of influencer fraud by checking:

  • Sudden spikes in follower figures.
  • Quality of the follower. Are their bios fully filled out? Do they have followers in their own right?
  • Engagement rates either well below or well above average for the platform and vertical might point to bought or colluded engagement.
  • Followers in surprising countries. The influencer is UK-based, but a large proportion of their audience is based in another country.
  • Amount of content published versus number of followers. The influencer enjoys a high follower count, but does not produce much content output.

2. Ditch EMVs as a measurement metric

Higher demand for social influencers’ creativity has translated into higher tariffs for their services. With increased spend comes a greater pressure to demonstrate value to budget holders.

Earned Media Value (EMV) proposes a seductive solution, placing a financial value against earned social media content based on the number of views, likes and engagements the content achieves.But EMV is just a bastardisation of the long-condemned Advertising Equivalency Value (AVE). EMV provides a simple answer to a complex question. The trouble is, it fails to answer the right question.

3. Quit searching for a magic measurement number

There is no single magic bullet to influencer marketing measurement. What you measure depends on the communications and organisational goals you set.

Impact is the ultimate indicator that your influencer marketing programme has moved the needle at an organisational level. Measurement of impact might include increased sales revenue, or improved long-term reputation with your targeted audiences.

4. Use industry benchmarking

Without industry benchmarks, brands have no idea what their campaign's performance means in the context of the broader market and their competitors.

At the planning stage, benchmarks can help inform decisions like:

  • What is the best time of week/day to promote makeup products within the beauty vertical?
  • Which influencers work best on face & body care posts?
  • Do competitions/discount codes boost engagement significantly on food and drink posts?

5. Vet potential influencers better

Check they are who they say they are, and that their values are in tune with your client’s brand:

  • Audience – is it bought, bot or organic?
  • Demographics – The influencer’s audience maps on to your client’s target audience in terms of age, gender, and where they are located in the world.
  • Engagement – The engagement ratio between the selected influencer’s past branded and non-branded content has been analysed. Their sponsored content generates acceptable engagement levels for the purposes of your campaign.
  • Quantity and quality of brand collaborations – Has the influencer worked with other brands? If so how many brands and how often do they post sponsored content?  Look for a ratio of under 1:3 sponsored: organic. Have they worked with your competitors in the past?
  • Tone of voice – Is the influencer’s voice commensurate with your client’s?

All nascent industries enjoy growth spurts and suffer growing pains before maturing. Influencer marketing is no different. But it will be the commercial imperative not moral indignation over influencer fraud, lack of transparency and perceived poor measurement, which will force the industry to grow up.

Written by Scott Guthrie, advisor to influencer marketing agency CampaignDeus