fbpixel How should brands quantify the value of influencers? - MG Empower
Written by - Daniel Shale

How should brands quantify the value of influencers?


Return on investment, key performance indicator, return on equity. These are the metrics to  which modern businesses have turned in order to quantify their success. Everything that can be measured is.  However, the rise of social media has added another layer to the equation, one that has seen brands extend themselves beyond the realms of traditional media and partner with up and coming or established influencers. And with KPI’s built directly into the platform in the form of likes, comments, and shares, quantifying the value of influencers should be simple, right? Not really. While big data and the metrics it tracks have become a tenet of business in the digital age, an over-reliance on it can also be a hindrance when it comes at the expense of business savvy. Knowing how to interpret the data and how to act on it are crucial factors. Taking this into account, determining the value of influencers requires a holistic approach, one that gives equal importance to “likes” as well as the more intangible aspects of digital presence.

Taking this into account, determining the value of influencers requires a holistic approach, one that gives equal importance to “likes” as well as the more intangible aspects of digital presence.

All Followers Are Not Equal

We can’t talk about influencers without talking about followers. It’s the base metric by which all influencers are measured, what separates them from the average social media user. An influencer’s following is their platform, and the larger the platform the more lucrative it can be for brands to gain direct access to it. But numbers aren’t the whole story and aren’t reliable in and of themselves for quantifying the value of an influencer.

There are a number of different ways an “influencer” can purchase followers and artificially inflate the size of their platform. Furthermore, brands must take into account the kind of following an influencer has. It won’t matter if you’re potentially reaching 2 million users on Instagram, if most of them can’t relate to your brand’s story. Marketing dollars would be better spent on partnering with an influencer who aligns with your image.

A good example of this is Whole Foods’ partnership with TikToker Tabitha Brown. At 3 million followers, she doesn’t even break into the top fifty most popular influencers on the service. But the demographics she connects with are exactly the type of clientele the health food giant caters to.

Influencer With A Capital “I”

The relationship between brand and influencer is not wholly unique, as influencers are essentially contract workers brought on due to a specific set of “skills.” Part of that skill is being able to use their platform and reach a certain demographic. However, just like it does for other professions, trustworthiness also factors into an influencer’s overall value.

In the age of social media backlash and “cancel culture” being able to trust an influencer to not damage your brand is paramount. There are plenty of examples out there of brands that have been hurt and forced to distance themselves from the unprofessional behavior of an influencer. At the end of the day, the relationship between the brand and the influencer should be symbiotic, with both sides understanding what they stand to gain and how to go about it.

Content is Key

With social media engagement up right now, brands partnering with influencers have the opportunity to stake out premiere digital real estate and interact directly with more users. However, in an oversaturated market, the kind of content influencers are producing matters just as much as who they are targeting with their platform.

Rather than be sold a product, users are looking for authenticity from brands and influencers. And while this has been common knowledge for a few years now, it has taken on new importance in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. More than ever, users are looking for genuine engagement when they hop online. For brands, quantifying influencer value calls for them to take a hard look at the content influencers are producing and whether it is authentic or not. Having a slew of followers and pushing a product on them simply won’t cut it. Users want something more personal, they want stories.

The best influencers can give them content that is personal and engaging at the same time. They can produce professional quality photos, utilize the various mediums available to them such as Live or TikTok or Stories to create content that is unique and suited to each. They are constantly thinking of new ways to engage and interact with their followers. In short, they function like a production shop.

And Now…The Numbers

This is where those metrics we mentioned earlier factor in. Once a brand has partnered with an influencer and generated a campaign, there are a variety of analytics tools that can be used to track its reach and impact. For example, Cost Per Engagement is a term that gets thrown around a lot in reference to social media. However, it is important to note that it is not always the most accurate measurement of a campaign’s success.

Ultimately, having access to metrics like CPE and click-throughs will help brands quantify an aspect of their relationship with influencers, but shouldn’t come to define it. Influencers are incredibly important assets in today’s world. But their value lies not only in the size of their platform or the content they  produce, but in the way also in which they are utilized by the brands that employ them. And the criteria by which we judge the success of the campaigns surrounding them, should be just as varied as the campaigns themselves.

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