How Do You Measure Influencer Marketing Success?
-- GUEST POST --
With 2021 underway, many social media-savvy brands have started revamping their influencer marketing programs for the year ahead, only to discover that’s anything but a straightforward task. The influencer marketing space is complex and dynamic, and now, more than ever, there’s no cheat sheet for building Instagram’s next cult brand. But by understanding the composition of your fan community, and keeping tabs on metrics like relationship retention and fit, you can cultivate a family of loyal, passionate advocates that will drive consistent and impactful conversation.
Here are some key strategies beauty, fashion, and lifestyle brands can use to stand out on social media this year.
Group Influencers by Their Posting Activity to Optimize Your Outreach
Let’s face it—no matter the size of your influencer marketing team, you just don’t have the time (or resources) to devote the same amount of attention to every content creator you work with. To streamline your outreach strategy, it’s helpful to sort influencers into four distinct groups based on how recently and consistently they’ve posted about you, and create a tailored outreach strategy for each cohort.
Retained Fans have posted about your brand at least once every three months, for the past six months. These are your most loyal and impactful supporters, and the most likely to continue advocating for you in the future.
New Fans have posted about your brand in the past three months, but not the three months before that. They may have recently discovered or rediscovered your brand, and it’s crucial that you sustain their enthusiasm.
Lost Fans didn’t post about your brand in the past three months, but did so in the three months before that. These influencers have expressed an affinity for your products, but may have recently lost interest. Swiftly re-engage this cohort, so as not to curtail the lifetime value of relationships you’ve already invested in.
Potential Fans haven’t posted about you in the past six months, but are likely to appreciate what you offer. They may mention brands similar to yours, or create content that aligns with your brand’s messaging. Because these influencers may be entirely unaware of your brand, it will take some extra work to welcome them into your community.
Importantly, these groups are highly dynamic. Think of influencers as leads in a marketing funnel, who need to be nurtured from one group to the next as they develop stronger and stronger connections to your brand. Effective nurturing will look different for each group: Retained Fans might eagerly accept a virtual or in-person event invitation, but a personalized product send is a more appropriate way to pique the interest of a New Fan.
Invest in Long-Term Relationships to Make a Lasting Impact
You can turn to any number of metrics, from the number of influencers talking about your brand to your brand’s Earned Media Value (EMV), to help benchmark the impact of your influencer marketing efforts. But the most reliable indicator of your brand’s long-term success relationship retention: the proportion of influencers who posted about you in the last three months, who also posted about you in the three months before that. The greater your relationship retention, the more loyal and genuinely invested your influencer advocates are—so it’s no surprise that strong relationship retention is correlated with sustained growth in EMV.
Relationship retention doesn’t happen by accident. Consistent posting comes from consistent outreach, and making an ongoing effort to re-engage content creators—particularly valuable Retained Fans—so they don’t lose interest is key to keeping influencers active and invested. Marketers can also drive retention by ensuring that their relationships with fans are collaborative and mutually empowering, rather than purely transactional.
Let Data Decide if an Influencer is a Good Fit
It may be tempting to work with a content creator based solely on their follower count or aesthetic.
Of course, the look and feel of an influencer’s work is important! But the best way to tell whether or not a content creator will be a valuable brand partner is by seeing how their followers respond to mentions of your brand. At Tribe Dynamics, we calculate an influencer’s “fit” by comparing the engagement that posts mentioning a brand receive, to posts that don’t mention that brand. If their branded content prompts less engagement than their other content, the influencer is a “poor fit,” and marketers can better focus their attention elsewhere.
By taking this data-driven approach, brands can ensure that their message resonates not only with influencers themselves, but also with their followers—the consumers you’re aiming to win over in the first place. Additionally, because content creators are motivated by audience engagement, influencers who see enthusiastic responses when they post about you will be more likely to post about you moving forward.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that there’s only so much you can plan for. Thankfully, loyal influencers, like loyal friends, will champion you through whatever new challenges and changes 2021 has in store. If you prioritize the consistency of content creators’ activity, and conduct thoughtful, deliberate outreach to the fans that matter most, you’ll foster a community of brand champions that enables you not only to maintain momentum in a rapidly evolving industry, but also to increase your brand’s earned media footprint over time.
Catherine Kulke is a Senior Content Editor at Tribe Dynamics, a San Francisco-based influencer marketing software company.