Measuring Influencer Marketing

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Many marketing organizations today have an influencer marketing strategy. The purpose of this strategy is to help with customer acquisition (number and/or rate) and rate of product adoption.  The findings in the 2013 Influencer Marketing Survey support this perspective, “influencer marketing is seen as a customer acquisition and lead generation practice not a brand exercise.”

This strategy entails establishing and tapping relationships with people that are perceived by the market and customer to have the ability or power to affect or sway other people’s thinking or actions. Influencers exist within every ecosystem – these can be members of the press/blog community, analysts and industry thought leaders, industry experts, trusted advisors, etc. The breadth, quantity and quality of your influencers will impact the success of this strategy. 

Before we jump into how to measure influence marketing, we’d like to respond to a question we’re frequently asked, “What is the difference between influencer marketing and public relations?” The answer to this could be its own article, so to quickly explain the difference, we turned to our friend Chris Aarons (@Chris_Aarons), an expert in implementing influencer marketing strategies. 

Chris says, “The simplest answer is that public relations is about communicating your messages to and with members of the press (and some PR firms include bloggers as well) to spread information or news. Whereas, influencer marketing focuses on identifying and securing credible third-parties with extensive networks, who may not necessarily be members of the press, to drive engagement and/or marketing objectives.” We’ll leave it to you to tweet with Chris on how you feel about this explanation!

Back to influencer strategy management… Relevant metrics include:

  • Activity-based: number of influencers, types of influencers, and the degree of engagement by each influencer
  • Pipeline: deals and wins, influencer contributed lead and acquisition cost, sales cycle impact, and influencer lift

Ultimately, what you want to know is whether influence or sway is impacting customer acquisition, and if so, how much and how fast.

Should this be a viable strategy for your organization, you may want to think beyond counting, and create a way to measure influence. In the social world, various organizations are creating influence metrics.  But influence occurs both on and off line, which means you need to be able to measure influence/sway beyond the “social digital world.” As with many key performance metrics, an influence metric is comprised of several measures.  

So how might we construct such a metric? Conceptually we can posit that influence is derived from two variables, quality and impact. The equation would look like:

Influence = Quality (%) x Impact (#)

In addition, factors that affect each of these variables include the following:

Quality Factors:

  1. What percentage of the desired influencers participated? 
  2. How prominently did they feature your company/product? Assign percentages to these or others you if you prefer [Top billing or stand-alone article/blog, subject line mention or tweet,  quote in general or related article, participation in LinkedIn Discussion]
  3. What is the overall sentiment/tone of the influencers’ content/conversation/discussion? Assign a percentage to each of these positive, negative, neutral

Impact Factors:

  1. Quantity – the total number of tweets, shares, likes, comments, click throughs, etc. generated by the influencers
  2. Penetration – how many of the targeted markets/communities were reached (for example – LinkedIn Groups, click throughs to links)

Add up your quality factors, add up your impact factors, and then multiply the two sums. Start by collecting the data and establishing your base line. Monitor the change in your influence metric and analyze the impact of each factor on the score. Once you complete these steps, it will be necessary to evaluate the relationship between the influence score and your number and rate of customer acquisition.

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