Measure for Measure: ‘Like’ it or not, influencer marketing is changing

Measure for Measure: ‘Like’ it or not, influencer marketing is changing

Barney Farmer

With #ad and #spon tags increasingly visible on social platforms, and glossy, groomed ambassadors taking social platforms by storm with everything from unboxing videos to live-streaming tutorials, influencer marketing is a burgeoning ad channel, with brands set to spend up to $15 billion by 2022.

Despite the increase in influencer marketing spend, there is a big measurement gap—brands and agencies struggle to understand the real impact of influencer campaigns due to a lack of transparent, third-party measurement. The need for a greater understanding of the ROI is especially important as certain social media platforms are testing the removal of traditional engagement metrics such as likes, views and shares. If this takes off industry-wide, both influencers and influencer agencies may have a hard time proving the value of a post or a story.

Even if the removal of traditional stats wasn’t an issue, the metrics that agencies and brands currently use to understand the impact of working with influencers can’t deliver. They need a much richer picture of what works and what doesn’t. Influencers have some of the most engaged audiences, and that audience has a real sense of community, familiarity and trust. So how best can brands harness that power and create campaigns that really resonate?

How to win at measurement and influence people

Today, brands and agencies can meet these challenges head on and gain clarity and transparency into the influencer space. Nielsen’s Influencer Brand Effect gathers responses from real people who follow influencers to determine how effective campaigns of this sort are at driving key brand metrics.

Indicative findings from our first set of influencer campaigns measured in the U.K. show that influencer marketing is four times as memorable as traditional digital content, highlighting the high level of engagement and recall among the influencers’ followings.

Our research shows that influencer content can have a significant impact on a range of brand metrics that give advertisers a broader understanding of the impact of their influencer marketing. Initial findings show uplifts across three core metrics: awareness, favourability and brand consideration (12%, 15% and 17% average uplifts, respectively, driven by the influencer campaign). The metrics are also higher than those of traditional digital display and video campaigns. That’s because influencer marketing leverages people—it’s the modern day word-of-mouth—and we trust and respond well to people we feel familiar with.

Follow my lead: content best practice

Many agencies are starting to define influencers as content creators, but that begs the question: “What qualifies as good content?” And “How can we measure the effectiveness of an influencer post?”

Perhaps counterintuitively, we have found that content with a product-led focus has been most effective at driving brand KPIs. This has been the case particularly with the micro-influencers we have assessed. Although it’s important to give influencers autonomy and creative freedom over their posts, it’s also vital that the product is the focal point to ensure there’s no misunderstanding among the target audience. If you’re a beverage brand, for example, you need to make sure the bottle and brand is clearly visible. A photo or video of attractive people consuming the product is not enough.

Keep it real: authenticity is key

Influencers have communities of followers who know and trust their aesthetic and content. These engaged audiences aren’t only more likely to recall branded content; they’re also more likely to have a deeper sense of trust and familiarity with the brand. This provides brands with a platform to collaborate with the influencer and cultivate a relationship with their audience to build brand associations and likeability toward a brand.

It should go without saying, but brands must always ensure that sponsored posts are tagged as such. Despite some concern from influencers, there is no evidence to suggest that sponsored posts have a negative effect on engagement.

While the advertising world is grappling with how to tap into influencer marketing and measure ROI, some things are always safe bet: great content, partnerships that make sense, and crucially, robust measurement. That really is something to like.

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