Measuring influence in 2016: What matters and what really doesn’t

Influencer marketing remains one of the best ways to tap into a new portion of your target audience who’s primed to be interested in your product, when done right. Part of doing it right is identifying the right influencer to work with, making sure they’re a good fit in terms of both brand voice and brand values.  But what makes an influencer an influencer in the first place? Here’s what matters- and what really doesn’t- when it comes to measuring influence in 2016.

3 things that don’t make an influencer. . .

1. A large following.  

Actual influence is a question of audience engagement, and often it’s quality over quantity that makes that difference. If, for example, you were looking at two different popular Instagram accounts that had 50k and 500k followers respectively, you wouldn’t want to assume that the latter had more influence just because they have more followers. It’s better to work with someone who has an audience of 50k that actually listens to what they have to say than someone with 500k pairs of uninterested eyeballs.

2. Calling themselves an influencer. 

Much like all of the self-declared social media wizards, gurus and ninjas on Twitter, putting it in your profile doesn’t make it true. Some who are influencers might call themselves that, but it’s better to look at the engagement rate of someone’s following and their share of voice in your industry than what they call themselves. (It’s just the old rule of “show, don’t tell”.)

3. Previous brand deals. 

Don’t count on other brands to do your due diligence for you; just because an influencer has worked with another brand doesn’t mean they actually wield a lot of influence. If they have done other endorsement deals, pay attention to what kinds of brands and the kind of response the campaign received. You want to work with an influencer who is passionate about your brand’s products and mission, not someone who will work with any brand for the money. If they’re invested in the campaign, you’re both going to get a lot more out of it.

harto wine
Hannah Hart of My Drunk Kitchen paired with a wine club: Now that’s good influencer marketing.

. . .And 3 things that do

1. A highly engaged following. 

As we discussed in the previous section, true influence means an audience that is invested in what the influencer has to say and what they recommend to their fans and followers, not just that they have a lot of fans and followers.

2. A clear idea of what they want out of a brand deal. 

If you’re interested in negotiating a campaign with an influencer in your industry and you hear they have a history of saying no, that’s a good thing. It means they have clear goals for their own personal brand and want to work with other brands who have similar values and a similar mission statement. That investment means good things for your campaign for both of you: They only share things with their audience they know their audience will find valuable, which increases their audience’s trust in them and the likelihood that they will want to engage further with your brand in the event of a successful partnership.

3. A consistent presence across social channels. 

While an influencer may be particularly popular on a specific channel, we live in a multi-channel marketing world. True influencers will have a consistent presence across platforms with different tweaks and nuances for their specific, overlapping audiences in each one. For example, YouTube star Hannah Hart has a presence on Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook, and Twitter to reach her fans in every place they want to connect with her. Her branding is consistent, but her interactions with fans and followers on each platform fit in with the culture of that platform while still promoting her personal brand values, such as Have a Hart volunteer days.

harto habitat
Hannah Hart + Habitat for Humanity, on her Instagram account.

Measure your campaign

Looking to measure an influencer campaign of your own? The Union Metrics Social Suite provides all the metrics you need across social media. You can use it to measure the success of current influencer campaigns, or to identify new influencers for future campaigns. Check it out!

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