Influencers… we’ve all used them, but have we used them efficiently? When I first started out in digital marketing, influencers were not only the new hot thing in digital but they were usually real people building their own brand. They had real followers, were getting real engagement, and really understood their audience’s tolerance for marketing partnerships. Since then, I’ve used them in all sorts of capacities and at different ranges of cost for a majority of the campaigns I’ve been involved with.
Now that becoming an influencer is now a common job title, bots have started to populate the influencer sphere. They are being used to help grow the influencer's audience and help with engagement rates, with the sole goal of the influencer becoming a more intriguing partner for brands.
So how does someone determine if an influencer is really getting the numbers they seem to be promising and how do you know what your return on investment is going to be?
- Create a database of trusted influencers, in various markets, that you have either worked with or done the research on and know they’re quality and worth the spend. This is something I’ve developed myself. This will help you feel more comfortable about the engagement and reaching being true.
- Run the data! Bots can be expensive and there’s no way that every influencer that you want to use can hold up the engagement rates that you’re looking for in a campaign. Go back through their posts and gather data on how many likes, on average, do they receive? How many video views to likes or comments? What’s the ratio of comments and are they spam comments or engaged fans? This is also where you can take a look at your ROI - how much is the influencer charging per post? Does their CPM or CPV make sense for your campaign?
- Manual research. I’ve plowed through comments and likes looking for bot-like names. It’s not really a guarantee, but it can be a helpful aid if you can determine where the engagement might be coming from. It's enough that it might allow you to separate two equals.
- Use an application. There are apps out there – they do cost money, but they can help break down the fanbase’s quality and demographics. I have a tool I use that runs through all followers and comments looking for some of the same things I do manually. Apps can run the data across all of the followers vs. the few hundred that I can get to in a reasonable amount of time. This just adds a layer of peace of mind to the process that you're getting value out of your efforts and spend.
What I’ve come to believe over the last few years is paying a high cost for macro-influencers may not be as efficient of spend as using micro-influencers, whom at a lower cost allowing you to expand your portfolio of talent and hyper-target a similar quality audience if not allow you to diversify the target audience. That being said, I still see value in macro-influencers for the right execution. That's where running the data will help solidify your campaign - just as if this were a traditional media spend. Overall, influencer marketing is a gamble, but do it right - the right influencer paired with the right creative - and you will have a winning campaign.