Influencer marketing has caused a lot of debate over the years, partly because of the transparency issues that have arisen and partly because we have had to come to terms with the fact that everyday people can make a living from documenting their life and spruiking products. But if you unpack it, it makes sense.
The largest generation of consumers are millennials and they are generally pretty clued up to knowing when they are being sold to. That’s why influencer marketing can work so well – because it’s human to human. Extremely targeted consumers are introduced to brands through a relatively trusted source. It works just like traditional forms of advertising such as billboards and print. Influencers has a unique audience brands want to advertise to – so they pay good money to do it.
Issues arise for marketers when they don’t have the correct information to make informed spending decisions. For example, when you look to run a newspaper, television or billboard ad, advertisers happily provide you with transparent data such as reach, viewability, readership and demographic insights that help you make the decision on whether that $100,000 gamble will likely pay off for your brand or not. When we look at influencer marketing, finding the right data can be difficult.
Why You Need to Look Beyond Follower Size When Choosing Your Influencers
Because an influencers follower size and (once upon a time) number of likes they receive are the only pieces of publically available data they have become the currency of influencer marketing whereby the more followers you have the more you get paid. With ‘fake followers’ and influencer fraud dominating headlines it’s clear that these metrics have proven to be a flawed method for assessing the value of an influencer.
Just like a billboard, it’s important to know how many different people will actually see your content and of those that have the chance to see it, how many choose to act. The number of followers someone has is not your audience, those that see it, are. It’s common to see influencers with 138K followers only reach 38K users and influencers with only 9K followers reach over 89K users – our bet is that one of them is getting paid a lot more than the other while reaching far fewer users.
Getting accurate data can be tricky so you need to know where to look. In August last year Instagram made changes to its API and many third-party platforms lost access to influencer data. In order to keep their business afloat, these platforms have largely resorted to other far less ethical (or legal) ways of getting it. A common example is through ‘AI’ or ‘machine learning’ which uses a series of algorithms and facial recognition on public information such as a profile photo to make an assumption about and influencer’s audience and authenticity. These assumptions have been found to be largely inaccurate.
The only way to get that data is directly from the influencer through independent platforms where influencers opt in to share in-depth, real-time insights on their audience demographics and reach.
Just like traditional forms of advertising where these metrics are expected to be transparently shared with brands to help them make decisions, influencers should be no different. When evaluating an influencer, think, if they aren’t willing to share that information with you, are they really worth the investment?
You should know what you’re getting before you write an influencer a cheque. It’s important you look at your campaign objectives and target audience and match those metrics with those of the influencer. Requesting an influencer’s analytics data will enable you to evaluate an influencer’s authenticity and the value they can bring to your brand.
In order for influencer marketing to thrive marketers need to be able to trust in the credibility and transparency of the metrics they’re using to determine huge spending decisions. Every influencer has an audience that can be valuable to a brand. Proving how valuable can only be done by sharing accurate, transparent and credible data that can be measured.
If you enjoyed this Marketing.com.au article on social media influencers, check out these other articles:
- Importance of Adding Influencers to Your Content Marketing Strategy
- How to Obtain High Quality Links with Influencer Marketing
- Why The Buck Stops With Customer Reviews
- Instagram Hiding ‘Likes’ And What It Means For Your Business
- Hotels and Influencer Marketing in 2020