Opinion

Stop Using Engagement Rate to Judge an Influencer’s Value

Luke Bristow, director and head of client services of Kairos Group looks at how the currency and value of an influencer should be measured today.

In the past year, global brands have massively increased their influencer marketing budgets and it is projected that the global figure for influencer marketing spend will grow to $8.08 billion by the end of 2020. Recent research has also shown that brands now dedicate around 20% of their total digital marketing budget to influencer marketing. 

After years of relying on vanity metrics such as likes and followers, it’s becoming clear that these are now outdated and do not deliver ROI. Instagram is currently testing out a feature that prevents users from seeing how many ‘likes’ posts have and if this rolls out this could spell the end of one of the most used metrics in the business; engagement rate. This change from Instagram is just part of a wider shift in the social media game. 

Just because an influencer is savvy about what content to create to harvest those elusive likes, this does not necessarily mean that they will be creating content that aligns with a brand’s objectives. Ultimately likes are an extremely superficial metric and are not a good reference point for the quality of content. 

Removing the visibility of likes puts a stronger emphasis on campaigns that drive results like brand awareness or click-throughs. This is what we need to be tracking rather than engagement.

As brands get more familiar with the concept of influencer marketing, they need to look beyond vanity metrics and dig deeper into what influencer reach really is by looking at geographies, and other performance indicators to judge an influencer’s value.

Credibility and value

The currency and value of an influencer today should be measured in their credibility, not their reach or their engagement rate. Credibility is the sum of transparency, authenticity, and trust. This is what drives true consideration and action from their communities (or your target audience). Does it feel like the content they produce is part of their lifestyle and not forced around staged scenarios? Is their tone of voice human and not robotic? Do the branded partnerships that they are taking on feel authentic to their channels and previous content? 

Only if they are real and authentic can they actually “influence” the behaviour of their following.

Although authenticity is currently a bit of a buzz-word in the world of influencer marketing, it is also the key to sourcing a credible influencer. It’s essential to look into their past work to see what kind of partnerships they have taken on in the past and ascertain whether they fit naturally or whether they feel gratuitous. If every post is sponsored by a different brand, this calls their credibility into question.

Although the most important thing on a marketer’s mind is reach, it should be finding influencers who authentically align with the brand. A truly credible influencer will need to be looking to move away from one-off partnerships for a product towards more long-term relationships to promote the brands that they love. These longer-term partnerships will in turn help to build the brand. A good way to start is to look into people who are already fans of the brand and have previously posted about them without being paid. That way, both the influencer and their following already care about the subject, and you’ll get the best results.

Want to work with the right influencer for your brand? Measure tan influencer’s value on their credibility, not their reach or engagement rate.

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