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Measuring influencer campaigns: A primer

January 13, 2017

As far as marcomm buzzwords go, “influencer” and “influencer marketing” must be near the top for 2016 and for good reason. What began as loose partnerships between brands and often quirky YouTubers and bloggers has quickly become a sophisticated, effective and central part of many marketing campaigns.
As quickly as the practice has gone mainstream, the protocols around how we measure and evaluate influencer programs haven’t quite caught up. Here are a few key terms and definitions to be aware of as you think about your next campaign.

Engagement is emerging as the key metric in influencer and social programs. Influencers who have big audiences can be useful, but those who have a knack for sparking meaningful, online conversations have even greater value, even if their audiences are relatively small by comparison. This evolution from one-way communication to millions, to deep engagement with a targeted few aligns with the ongoing trend toward one-to-one authentic storytelling as the foundation for communications. As an added bonus, engagement is easily measured and reported on.

Share of voice
Related to engagement, share of voice refers to the percentage of mentions about your brand within the overall industry. Share of voice shows how well an influencer program and in turn, a company’s social media efforts, are received as compared to other market players. Tracking share of voice over time can help identify which influencer partnerships are having the most impact.

Click-throughs is a commonly used web term that can be useful in determining whether consumer action was inspired by influencer content. Let’s say you’ve partnered with a well-known online food influencer to launch a new gourmet home food delivery service. Determining how many people click directly from the influencer’s video or other content to your website to order is a very useful thing to know.

A word of caution about click-throughs though. This metric is best used to measure campaigns that are meant to drive directly to action. Click throughs are not a useful metric for most brand campaigns, or even for sales-focused PR for big-ticket items like homes or vehicles. For those campaigns, influencers matter, but few people watch a video and decide to buy a house right away.

Time spent
Time spent is how much time people spend consuming an influencer’s content. It can be a useful measure, but be aware that it doesn’t necessarily correlate to effectiveness. It all depends on when your desired message is delivered. For example, if analysis shows that time spent on a one-minute video is 20 seconds and your brand isn’t mentioned until the 45 second mark, there’s a very real possibility that your message was missed. Looking at time spent and click-throughs together can help determine effectiveness.

Organic reach
Organic reach refers to the total number of people who saw an influencer’s post or video through non-paid amplification or distribution. This contrasts with paid reach where an influencer’s content is supported with the purchase of Facebook ads or paid promotion on Twitter. Total reach is a combination of the two.