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Opinion

Measuring Influencer Emotion: Moving Beyond the Reach Economy

By measuring a combination of biometrics, reported emotions and brand metrics, marketers can gain a crucial level of reporting that social media metrics cannot give us, thinks Will Rix, communications manager at Whalar.

We work in a constantly evolving industry. With influencers in anything but short supply, multiple platforms appearing every week, and the point of contact between brand and consumer is increasingly blurred ― proving the effectiveness of an individual campaign, or even the performance of a singular piece of content, can be extremely challenging. 

Many influencer platforms still insist on reporting on basic metrics ― impressions, reach and engagements ― none of which indicate the impact influencers have on brand awareness, product consideration or sales. Although these metrics are useful in tracking social media performance, they offer us very little in terms of how a brand is perceived, if the brand is even being noticed in the content, or the level of influence that content is actually having on the consumer.

Reimaging influencer data

Even if a piece of organic influencer content performs well ― what does that actually tell us? Are consumers ‘liking’ the brand? Or the influencer? Is the product being noticed at all? Would the information from the content affect their future purchasing decisions?

All of these key performance indicators are impossible to accurately measure within the ‘reach economy’. However, they are essential questions that need to be answered if the long-term potential of influencer marketing is to be taken seriously. Instead, by measuring a combination of biometrics, reported emotions and brand metrics, marketers can gain a crucial level of reporting that social media metrics cannot give us and begin to tackle the pivotal questions that marketers have shied away from.

Why is testing emotion important?

If content evokes emotion, you’re far more likely to remember it. Maya Angelou famously wrote, “You’ll forget what they said, but never how they made you feel”, which rings true in almost every aspect of life. For context, maybe you can’t remember all the details of the award-winning Nike campaign, ‘Dream Crazy’  but you will far more likely remember how it made you feel. 

For example, if neuroscience studies are applied to advertising, you can accurately measure emotional response to content, and then compare that response to different methods of advertising. For example, studies from 2019 found influencer content to be significantly more emotive than traditional. Most notably, how relevant influencer ads are 277% more emotive than TV ads. 

whalar influencer ads

Yes, this endorses influencer marketing on a deeper neurological level. However, the study also highlighted a missing piece in the influencer puzzle. Although influencer content was far more emotive, as a measurement it is far difficult to report and put into data. There was almost no way of tracking which content was the most emotive, or any method of giving brands access to this data. 

Can we measure this?

To measure the emotions influencer marketing stimulates, you have to go to the source of the emotions ― the creativity. 

The creative and storytelling potential of influencer marketing has always been its core value. Behind the universal reach, re-shares and selfies ― it’s how creativity can now come alive from anywhere, speak to anyone, and provide an instant connection. And it is those factors that resonate with modern consumers. 

Instead of reach, impressions, engagements, our new metrics are along the lines of: emotions evoked, expressions, eye fixations, brand recall, intent to purchase and/or share.

How can it be tested?

There are two key responses we can measure to finding this data once a user has been exposed to the influencer content. 

Biometrics measure our emotional response to content, which is an automatic reaction and cannot be controlled. Mapped out by measuring expressions (facial coding) and fixations (eye-tracking). This is how we instantly respond to content, what our eyes naturally focus on and which emotions it instantly evokes. 

whalar tracking

Biometrics are strong as they are a very truthful method of measurement; viewers’ facial expressions are subconscious and automatic. However, they only go so far. A smile, for example, is indicative of a positive emotion but says nothing of which positive emotion someone is feeling or how intensely they’re feeling it. To really get to the heart of emotions, you would also need to use a survey.

Employing a survey would require an established framework to give it legitimacy and help establish a hyper-specific emotional response to content that would be useful to marketers. From admiration to awkwardness, disgust to fear, nostalgia to surprise ― and everything in between. 

Below is an example of a full-circle example of a survey of what emotion content is evoking and how brands could use that information to reinform strategy based upon shifting brand perception for consumers.

whalar creative report

A new market

For a long time, influencer content has been published, shared and boosted with little measurable creative strategy behind the key decision making. 

Social media has turned a generation into creatives, and influencer marketing gives brands an opportunity to tap into that person to person creativity and daily storytelling that has engulfed our society. Brands no longer have to be separate from the consumer, and emotive reporting gives them the sight to tap into the most engaging areas of social content. Tracking emotion is the most effective way to measure how a brand is being perceived and how that brand will be remembered after a campaign. 

What the “the reach economy’ is simply alluding to, emotive testing would confirm. 

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