As a marketer, you’ve likely been through the exhausting experience of trying to explain the value of online engagement to a client or stakeholder. It’s especially hard to communicate this message: It’s not all about the numbers.
In fact, number blindness is a big problem in marketing. Execs want metrics and a solid ROI to back up their programs, and that’s understandable. It’s your job to help them see how online metrics can be measured. It’s also your job to convey the value of the relationships you form with your audience along the way.
This is especially important when developing an influencer marketing strategy for your brand. Engagement is the key metric behind influencer marketing, and unfortunately, it’s also one of the most difficult marketing outcomes to quantify. To identify influencers and measure your program’s success, it’s important to first understand the environment surrounding your influencer marketing efforts.
How Metrics Fit Into the Storymaking Landscape
There’s a reason that 76 percent of marketers are already using influencers to tell their brands’ stories during product launches. In the digital age of two-way communication, your brand strategy should be just as much about storymaking as it is about storytelling.
“Stories are often used as crutches that cast light on some trait or moment, rather than opening up a path to understand people more deeply,” David Berkowitz, CMO at MRY, told Advertising Age. “It’s the story that gets in the way of the relationship.”
Your brand perception is influenced just as much — if not more — by what others say about it as it is by what you do. Sure, the old adage of “define yourself, or be defined” holds true, but in the digital landscape, you must also be willing to form a relationship with your customers and tweak your brand positioning based on their unique stories.
Influencers play into the storymaking space because they have the power to steer a customer’s story one way or another. As much as you like to think you’re in control of your brand’s story, you’re still at the mercy of those people forming opinions of your brand or product and posting those opinions on various media platforms.
If you commit to focusing on relationships with brand influencers to help steer your customers’ storymaking, you need to look toward some key metrics to quantify your program’s success, including:
- Conversion rate. This is the number of audience comments or replies per post. It’s measured fairly consistently across social platforms.
- Amplification rate. This metric reflects how effectively a post is shared with users’ broader networks. On Twitter, it refers to the number of retweets per tweet. On Facebook and Google+, it refers to the number of shares per post. And on a blog or YouTube channel, it equals the number of share clicks per post or video.
- Applause rate. This measures how favorably (or unfavorably) your target audience views a post. On Twitter, the applause rate equals the number of favorite clicks per post. On Facebook, Google+, blogs, and YouTube, it refers to the number of likes or +1s per post.
- Economic value. This metric delves into the world of board reports — right alongside ROI discussions. To calculate economic value, add the sum of the short- and long-term revenue and cost savings.
First, Build Your Tribe of Influencers
Metrics are an integral part of any influencer engagement strategy, but first, you must seek the appropriate influencers for your brand. Here are four ways you can identify and engage with influencers.
1. Scroll Through Your Address Book
Your best influencers may be hiding in your current contact list. Look for people you’ve already built relationships with through social networking, emailing, blogging, or old-fashioned networking.
Ask yourself whether they could sway a large audience’s opinion in your particular industry. If so, they’re probably influencers. People with this kind of power can provide valuable feedback about your product through their audience; because you know them, you’ve likely already established solid rapport.
2. Leverage Your Data
Determine where your customers get their news and how they form opinions. Who are they following? Which celebrities or thought leaders do they engage with the most? Which subject matter experts sway their personal opinions and preferences? Use these customer insights to discover new influencers.
For instance, you could tailor product offers based on the blogs you’re using to promote them or incentivize influencers to partner with your brand using products or services that would be of interest to their target audience. A YouTube beauty blogger may be the perfect person for your company’s new eye shadow palette if it’s something she can review for her fans through a series of fun videos. She’ll help steer your brand’s story through genuine, creative content.
3. Remember That You Get What You Give
It’s inappropriate to ever ask influencers to provide value if you’re not willing to do the same. If you’re striving for a mutually beneficial relationship — as you should be — you need to set that standard from day one. Once you’ve forged a trusting relationship with one another, influencers will be delighted to associate with your brand.
4. Keep It Real
Connect with both current and potential influencers by being genuine and providing value. It’s important that you work to gain their trust before you dive in and make a request. However, once you do gain the feedback or information you’re seeking, keep the relationship going. You never know when you might need their help in the future (or when they might need yours).
By identifying the appropriate metrics and influencers for your brand and using them in sync with each other, you can provide stakeholders with the ROI they need while building your brand.
(Originally posted in The Marketing Scope)