Measuring the Success of Influencer Marketing

Measuring the Success of Influencer Marketing

When it comes to Influencer Marketing, it seems like analytics are often a forgotten piece of the process. While much attention is given to identifying influencers, researching them and the paid conversion that happens in order to bring them on as an influencer, the analytics of the arrangement is often an afterthought.

Effort requirements are almost always part of the contract with an influencer. For instance, if Holiday Inn commissions an influencer to run an Instagram Loyalty Program campaign for them, that influencer might be asked to produce X number of Instagram photos per week on their personal account.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Those ‘effort’ metrics are all well and good and certainly help a program, but to truly measure the impact of an arrangement with an influencer, the brand must go deeper into the numbers to find the value. What is happening after posts are published?

How deeply a brand goes into that value calculation depends on a number of factors, including budget, available human resources and tool allocation, to name a few. There’s no absolute right way for measuring the success and effectiveness of an Influencer Marketing campaign (in fact, this often varies based on the campaign goals), but there are a few best practice recommendations we always give to our clients.

Three baseline metrics to pay attention to are Impressions, Reach and People Engaged. These are all KPIs supporting increased awareness and/or engagement for your brand, and they can all be directly tied to the work your influencers are doing on your behalf. Determine benchmark measurements for each of them, so that as your Influencer Marketing campaign increases, you can compare the data to your benchmarks. They should all show healthy growth. If you’re using a platform or tool to manage your Influencer Marketing campaigns, it should measure these for you. If you’re going the organic route, you can measure them manually, but it takes a good amount of time to do so.

After you’ve completed a few Influencer Marketing campaigns and have measured the progress you’ve seen from them, you have enough information so you can set goal KPIs for your influencers in the areas of Impressions, Reach and People Engaged.

Some brands may want to go deeper to measure the impact of their Influencer Marketing activities. For those, here are a few additional recommendations for metrics to measure:

Brand Sentiment – measure how online discussion of your brand is changing from negative to neutral to positive

Brand or Product Mentions – gauge how frequently your influencers are getting their followers to mention your brand or product

Clicks to Website or Online Purchases – if you’re trying to drive people to your site or to make a purchase, you can give each of your influencers trackable, tagged URLs to share with their followers. This allows you to measure the direct impact of each influencer’s activities.

Resource Allocation – because of successful influencer marketing campaigns, was your company able to allocate more budget or resources toward another goal, which boosted profits, awareness or engagement by X%? This is an advanced metric, but one that can help with showing real, business results and can even be used to obtain additional budget.

The exact metrics you use will vary by program, but the important thing is that you’re doing some kind of measurement to gauge the progress, success and effectiveness of your influencer marketing program. Since you’re paying these influencers, you want to see that they’re driving real results for you.

3 Social Media Lessons You Can Learn From a Box of Beauty Samples

3 Social Media Lessons You Can Learn From a Box of Beauty Samples

(Originally posted in Memeburn)

What do Birchbox and Adidas have in common? One is a rugged sports icon, and the other is a wildly successful “stuff in a box” beauty subscription service, but both companies have impressive histories.

Birchbox raised US$72-million in funding in just four years and grew its subscriber base to more than 400 000, while Adidas has pulled in an excess of €10-billion for the past four years straight.

But that isn’t all. These brands boast impressive social media followings, and it’s not because they’re incredibly active (though they are); it’s that they understand the power of becoming ingrained in their audience’s lives rather than being just another company.

Birchbox boasts impressive Social Media Marketing techniques.

Whether you’re an established brand or an up-and-comer, you can learn from these social icons. Here are three powerful lessons from Birchbox and Adidas that can help you build a genuine relationship with your customers:

1. Target the right people with audience segmentation

The first step in developing a solid brand identity is to identify unique traits and characteristics of your target personas. Adidas nails this tactic by focusing on its rugged young male market and spending US$25-50 million per year sponsoring FIFA and the FIFA World Cup.

Audience segmentation is critical for connecting with your followers, and fortunately, social media analytics streamline this process. You can discover what makes your customers different from one another and what interests them, and then use those insights to identify topics that will capture their attention.

2. Aim for conversations, not conversions

Once you’ve identified and segmented your target audience, you can focus on the meat of your social media presence: becoming a part of that audience’s conversations.

Just take a look at Birchbox’s Twitter feed. Its tweets ask customers for their opinions, express enthusiasm over a fashion or makeup trend, or simply work to build a positive, happy vibe. Customers can smell a direct sale on social media from a mile away, so your content must be interesting and engaging on its own.

Because each social platform has something different to offer, you should customize your content for each platform. For example, Instagram is good for visual stimulation and teens, Facebook is getting much more popular with parents, and Twitter highlights current news and trends. Realise that your brand might fit into different social sites at different times, and find your perfect niche.

If you’re at a loss for how to start a conversation, look to your calendar and top trending lists. Identify topics that are relevant to your various audience segments and jump on them. Then, consider what’s going to happen in the future so you can start planning content around those events, such as graduation, back-to-school shopping, seasonal sports, and popular concerts.

3. Use the right tools to maintain authenticity

Successful social media marketing requires a steady commitment over a long period of time. Just look at Birchbox’s 50,000 tweets since 2010 and Adidas’ twice-daily Facebook updates.

But producing a high quantity of high-quality engagements requires backup. Here are three tools that can help you encourage authentic conversations:

  • Monitoring tools, such as Hootsuite, can help you follow the conversations going on throughout all of your social networks to identify the most relevant content themes to your audience.
  • Hashtag reporting tools, such as Keyhole, show the most popular trending hashtags, which can give you an idea of what people are currently discussing online.
  • Content creation tools, such as Easel.ly, allow you to create visually appealing infographics with limited design experience. Graphics are a great way to convey information on topics that excite your audience, and they work well across several social sites.

Far too often, marketers try to replicate the social success of companies like Adidas and Birchbox by launching their platforms and plugging their old promotions into their Hootsuite scheduler. But that’s not how effective brands build a dedicated following.

Direct marketing simply doesn’t work in the world of social media. You’ve got to focus on the conversations, not the conversions, and become a genuine, useful, and personable force in your customers’ lives.

What’s your brand doing to make real connections with your audience?

Infographic: Who’s the Audience? FIFA World Cup Edition, May 25

Infographic: Who’s the Audience? FIFA World Cup Edition, May 25

In our last ‘Who’s the Audience?’ post, we highlighted two brands, Adidas and Nike, that were hitting the @FIFAWorldCup ‘Rugged Male’ audience head on with their campaigns.

For the week of May 25, we looked at two beer brands- official beer sponsor Budweiser, and competitor Miller Lite, a brand that’s so far kept quiet during the World Cup buzz. Interestingly, both brands pulled much more engagement from ‘Reliable Females’ than from the ‘Rugged Male’ Persona that has dominated @FIFAWorldCup’s Twitter feed.

Infographic: Who's the Audience? FIFA World Cup Edition, May 25

Week Highlights: ‘Rise As One’ Times Two

For Budweiser, which launched their “Rise As One” World Cup campaign in late February (and probably thought about the details years in advance), there’s a very good reason for the big shift in engagement. After monitoring engagement with their campaign hashtag ‘Rise As One’ on Twitter, one of those ‘surprises’ that Marketers should keep an eye on during any social campaign began to surface. You can see from the highly shared tweet below where we’re headed:

San Antonio Stars share same 'Rise As One' hashtag as Budweiser's World Cup campaign.

It seems that the WNBA San Antonio Stars team has a similar ‘Rise As One’ tagline for their 2014 Season campaign. Since they played a game Wednesday May 28, engagement with that specific hashtag shot up on Twitter. Apparently, a lot of ‘Reliable Females’ enjoy the WNBA.

Why is this relevant? It’s something to pay attention to when pulling analytics about your audience during a campaign. Obviously, pulling information from the wrong audience can skew segmentation results. Had Budweiser optimized their running campaign to speak to ‘Reliable Females’, they probably wouldn’t have seen any improvement in engagement.

The point is: paying attention to ANY new trends or events on social and adjusting your campaign accordingly will help ensure your campaign is a success. Is Budweiser even aware that their main World Cup campaign hashtag is shared with another sporting event? That’s unclear. What is clear is that this mistake could fall in line with their notorious 2013 hashtag fail:

Budweiser's hashtag fail of 2013.

Of Interest: Which Light Beer Will Bite?

Rumor has it that Coors Light might be the ambush beer brand to watch for World Cup 2014, rather than Miller Lite. Although Miller Lite is pulling some soccer themed engagement, there’s not enough to dig in for segmentation purposes just yet. We’ll keep an eye on both beer brands starting next week. And if either are in fact planning an ambush campaign, here’s some great advice on how Marketers can stay within the rules of that game.

Social Media isn’t the Point. Storytelling is.

Social Media isn’t the Point. Storytelling is.

(Originally posted in Medium, written by Christina Rosalie)

Social Media isn't the point.  Storytelling is.

How do I build an audience, or engage with customers online?

As a strategic storyteller and digital consultant, I get asked this question in some form on nearly a weekly basis.

Usually, the brand or product already exists in some form (anywhere on the spectrum between an established brand that needs to be reenergized, to a product on the verge of launch) and the business owner or entrepreneur wants answers. Urgently. Just as often, and just as urgently, they tack “using social media” onto their query.

For example, I just received this email from a new business owner:

“I’m interested in how social media marketing can be leveraged with other types of online and more traditional marketing. No need to tell me just to use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. For those and others like them, I’d like specifics about how to use them, which groups to join, etc.”

I’ve worked with many types of clients from solopreneurs to marketing leaders for multi-national corporations who are just as adamantly convinced they need to “do social media” without ever stopping to question why.

I get it.

Social media is ubiquitous. We’ve all seen its impact on politicslove, and yes, branding. And I understand the allure of tactics: They’re tangible. They give you something to do—and doing something tends to feel like progress, at least at first.

It would be easy (and it’s sometimes quite tempting) to respond to such inquiries with a list of possible tactics and social media best practices that might generally be applied.

But the truth is, without strategic brand direction, diving into social media with a bunch of tactical executions will result in a few lucky hits at best, and a lot of expended effort and signal noise at worst.

Because social media isn’t the point.

If you’re not accustomed to thinking of your brand as an experience that is communicated through storytelling, you might think social media as an end, instead of a means. But social media is only that: A means for telling your story.

It’s storytelling that’s important.

As a culture we’re hardwired to participate in storytelling. Since the beginning of recorded time, we’ve told stories to convey the importance of events and ideas. Every culture has used stories as a means to connect, to entertain and inform, and in turn there’s plenty of research demonstrating how stories powerfully activate our brains .

For a brand, storytelling is the most authentic and relevant way to communicate who you are and what you offer.

When I use the term “storytelling” I mean the real-time narrative of your brand as it unfolds over many moments and platforms. Told well, this story will connect and emotionally engage people with your brand, and will continue to be responsive to their changing awareness, interests, and needs over time.

Take Buffer. When the company’s co-founder Leo Widrich started marketing his product through stories instead of bullet points, he found sign-ups skyrocketed:

A key realization that changed a lot of things for us [was when] we realized writing content, at the core, is telling a story.

As Buffer has taken hold and seen incredible success, they’ve continued to tell a unique brand story that appeals to their core users: One of radical transparency, life-hacking, productivity, and incredibly useful content (making their blog one of my daily reads.)

Or look at Hello Flothe not yet year-old mail-order company with a huge niche audience (um, every woman who gets her period), that was founded around the story its key audience lives every month.

Hello Flo continues to tell that story in a way that is equal parts hilarious and personal, (their viral Camp Gyno video), and serious and global (most of the content they share on their blog, “Period Hacks” ties them into the larger cultural story of what it means to be a woman).

What these, and many other great brands have in common is a commitment to strategic storytelling that’s embedded within their business culture.

Storytelling doesn’t exist within a specific business function. It happens cross-functionally; driven by clear strategic objectives that are aligned with the company’s core values.

Storytelling is a collaborative act.

The other thing that makes these companies great is that they entirely understand who they’re telling the story with.

Brand storytelling isn’t about a singular point of view, or a one-way broadcast. It’s about a dialog, a call-and-response, a narrative with the audience as co-author.

It’s true that storytelling has become a bit of a marketing buzz word of late. But there is no better way to describe the real-time responsiveness and participation that’s vitally important to the process of building and engaging an audience in the contemporary mediascape.

Old-school brand stories are familiar: gorgeous full-page ads and :30 spots. But technology presents a perpetually evolving palette that demands creativity, strategic intention, and agility to tell stories that matter — to the right people at the right moment in time.

Many times this is where social media comes in, but not always. Depending on your audience and objectives, social media might not be as relevant as in-depth informational content, or animated gifs (a stretch, to be sure), or podcasts, or videos, or brick-and-mortar events.

So how do you begin?

As with any good story, you can start anywhere. George Saunders has shown us that. But to do so (as Saunders so masterfully demonstrates), you must know beyond a shred of doubt exactly what the story is about, and who it is for.

Instead of starting with the tactical whens and wheres of social media or any other medium, or even with the broader logistical questions of how, start by asking why and what.

Here are a 8 things you can (and should) do to become an effective storyteller for your brand—before ever working with an agency or consultant. Instead of starting with the intent to engage on social media, begin with these questions and let the process of finding and validating your answers drive your objectives.

Developing the ability to think and act like a storyteller for your brand will take you farther towards building an authentic audience than any list of tactical recommendations ever will.

1. Begin with inquiry

Why are you in business? Whose real, but unexpressed and unmet needs are you in service of? Who are you engaging in the process of storytelling? Why?

Knowing your audience is half the story

It’s tempting to cast too broad a net when it comes to your core audience. It feels risky to stake a claim on a smaller, more discrete segment. But there’s incredible value to be had here—and your story will be better for it. Consider what segment of your audience will produce the most value for your brand over time. The more your brand is positioned around this key segment, the more effective your storytelling (and ROI) will be.

2. State your goals

This seems like it’s a no-brainer, but I’m always surprised by the number of times I’ve encountered companies that are actively putting resources towards producing content for social media, the web, or traditional media outlets, without clearly defined objectives, or metrics to measure their success.

What are the most important actions you want your audience to take as a result of engaging with your brand? How will you measure these, a what metrics will you use? (e.g.: consumption, completion, velocity, or sharing.)

3. Follow with empathy

Once you’ve clearly defined your key audience (and aligned your brand’s positioning and objectives with their needs,) you can begin to explore how you might engage with them through storytelling.

Think back to the last time someone told you a story.

Likely there were hand gestures and laughter. The person telling probably embellished or modified what they were telling you based on your responses along the way. And I bet they also added supporting information or contextual details based on what they know about you too—to make their telling more interesting, relevant or entertaining.

That is exactly what’s involved in brand storytelling too. To tell your brand story, you’ve got to be just as responsive and dialed in to your audience, as you are in a face-to-face exchange. You need to know what matters to your audience.

What’s exiting to them? Who do they trust? What do they already know? What are they bored with? What do they love?

4. Discover the context

You can begin finding this information by listening across platforms (Twitter search is a fun place to start; Google Trends is another) and participating in relevant conversations (leave comments, share content, follow influencers, etc.)

In doing this you’ll begin to gauge how your audience feels about information and content relating to the story you hope to tell, and you’ll begin to understand the bigger cultural context to.

What trends are at play here? What cultural movements is your story a part of? Who is influencing the conversation?

It’s also useful to explore analytics for any existing web properties you own, and for everything that you share online to uncover how people find and engage on your site, and respond to the content you share (Google Analyticsis excellent if you’re familiar with it; Clicky is a great and simple real-time analytics tool I use; and Buffer is the best I’ve found to track and share content across the web.)

A good market research firm can provide in-depth quantitative data to support or disprove the information you’ve gathered through your own qualitative analysis, analytics and participation. But listening and participating before strategically engaging your audience is a necessary step that, in my opinion, cannot be skipped. It will help you to cultivate both empathy for your audience, and a necessary appreciation for context.

5. Know the medium

By participating in conversations that are already happening, you will also begin to get a feel for the unique value of each medium, and begin to understand the expectations for interaction, the content shared, and the devices used on each.

The most important thing I can tell you is that every medium (and every platform) has unique voice—and a given set of expectations and restrictions that dictate not only when and where we engage, but why and how.

Authentic brand storytelling is about sharing content that is native to the environment it is encountered in (Sharing the same content across every social media platform is a bit like telling the same story over and over again to everyone you meet. Lots of people will hear it, but it wont matter to most of them.)

6. Map the experience

With a feel for your key audience, including the stories they’re sharing, the mindsets they have, the media they preference and devices they use, you can map your audience’s experience as they encounter your brand’s story across touch points.

This work often surfaces opportunities or white space within a touch point, and reveals where you might focus your storytelling activities to best meet your strategic goals.

Where will your audience hear about you for the first time? What are the touch points they’ll encounter along the way from non-awareness to full engagement? How will you empower loyal fans so that they can contribute to your story?

Then consider what actions you want your audience to take.

7. Tell your story

The real-time part of storytelling is all about tactics. The when of Twitter or LinkedIn or infographics or long-form content, the where of Pinterest or animated gifs or podcasts or mobile apps.

The tactics you choose will depend on the audience you have, the opportunities that exist, and the objectives you’ve defined. There are thousands of resources available for developing both the tactics and the mindset to navigate the constantly changing mediascape. My recent favorite is Jab Jab Right Hook (and just about anything else by Gary Vaynerchuck).

Storytelling is the most meaningful way to create an all-encompassing and valuable brand experience for your audience. At the end of the day, if your story is timely, truly dialed to the needs of your key audience, and aligned with your strategic objectives, your audience will grow. People engage with stories that matter to them.

But as with traditional storytelling, nothing is a constant. The tactics that delight or entertain today, won’t be relevant next week or in a year from now; and the content that’s meaningful in this moment, won’t matter when the context shifts—and it will.

8. Listen, interpret, and respond

Telling the story of your brand is an ongoing activity—across multiple media and platforms in real time. Adaptability, responsiveness and creativity are vital to your success in connecting story elements together to create your brand’s overarching narrative. This requires both resources and time not only to produce content — but to actively monitor engagement, to analyze your audience’s interactions, and interpret what their feedback means.

Only with insight into how your audience perceives and is responding to the story you’re telling, can you make critical and timely adjustments—so that the story you are sharing continues to be one that matters, even as your audience’s interests, needs, and media habits change over time.