It may be an old management adage, but it still rings true today. You really can’t manage what you don’t measure, particularly with something as unpredictable as influencer relations where the success or failure of your campaign depends on knowing what works and what doesn’t. In parts 1 and 2 of this series, we discussed strategies for identifying and then managing targeted online influencers. Here, in the third and final piece, I want to share some ideas for how brands are looking at measurement.
If you’ve identified a list of influencers and put a program in place for managing the interactions, how do you measure the success of those engagements over time? Is it the number of times you have a touch point? Is it measured by an ongoing benchmark of your share of voice among the influencers relative to competitors? It’s true, effective influencer campaigns are about building one-on-one relationships with key opinion shapers — the most influential people in your market. But it’s also about aligning influencer efforts with specific business outcomes and goals to see real results.
Monitor and Measure Phase
At the most basic level, a solid influencer-relations campaign involves collecting data points that can be expressed as metrics and regularly benchmarking those metrics to evaluate progress. So what is the ultimate measure of a successful relationship with an influencer? Well, that may depend on your business and what you’re trying to accomplish with those influencers. Staying focused on business outcomes and goals is key. By mapping influencers back to how they impact your objectives and prioritizing your efforts, you can measure influence over time to determine if your campaign is achieving intended results.
Ongoing monitoring and measuring of your program helps you evaluate the effectiveness of the engagements and the impact they’re having on your brand. As you evaluate what metrics are right for your influencer programs, keep in mind what stage of relationship you’re in with the influencers. Are you still working to make them aware or are you leveraging them in advocacy programs? Your objectives will likely differ based on what phase of a relationship you’re in with them. A few key performance indicators might include:
- Aggregate-level changes in your share of voice among the target influence group
- Aggregate-level changes in influencer sentiment toward your brand
- The ability of the influencer group to drive traffic to your website or assist in product sales/leads
- Qualitative assessment of change in the influencer’s relationship with your brand (asking whether they are moving progressively through the phases of awareness, credibility, emotional connection, loyalty, and advocacy)
- Impressions (particularly among your target market) during a launch or campaign driven by the influencers
- Frequency of online and offline conversations with your brand … and whether increased contact results in increased mentions and share of voice
Using a Measurement Tool
The good news is that measurement tools exist that can help you evaluate effectiveness and determine the business value of online influencer programs. Ultimately, what you want to know is if influence or “sway” has impacted your bottom line. If it has, how fast and by how much? Vendor tools can be beneficial, as long as you can identify criteria and weight the features involved appropriately.
Benchmarking your targeted influencers’ progress toward the goal can show you how the effort is working. Are you seeing influencers move from awareness to credibility? Is there movement from quarter to quarter, from left to right, as they go further down the path towards advocacy? Benchmarking helps you track progress to optimize your efforts. Having the ability to measure your level of interaction compared to your competitors’ and your share of voice/influence is key.
The Big Picture
Monitoring and measuring the progress of your influencer-relations campaign can help you identify:
- Movement of influencers through the advocate life cycle of awareness, credibility, emotional connection, loyalty, and advocacy
- The transformation of an online relationship to a quality offline relationship
- The overall online influence of each influencer, and the validity of their inclusion in the program
As we move away from conversations about how to use social media tools and towards how to maximize social as a strategy, smart brands are turning influencers into advocates on their behalf. Across industries, influencer outreach has become a core part of operations and it makes sense to standardize an approach for identifying, managing, and measuring the success of your program.
Over the course of the past few weeks, we’ve explored one approach for driving successful influencer relations, where identification, management, and measurement can help move influencers progressively through awareness, credibility, emotional connection, loyalty, and advocacy.
It’s not the only approach, but it’s one that I’ve seen work well. However you decide to pursue influencer relations, the goal should be to establish a more formalized program to move engagement from an ad hoc, impromptu process to a formal, targeted practice. By standardizing an approach, you can influence the influencers, creating loyalists and advocates for your brand.