Influencer marketing has become a powerful marketing channel, but like social media, marketers have struggled to measure it in tangible ways. Once the Holy Grail for assessing marketing campaigns, impressions and pageviews are no longer the sole metrics for determining a campaign’s success, especially in influencer marketing. While these can be useful key performance indicators (KPIs), most impressions are merely an indication that someone grazed over influencer content and don’t offer insight into referral traffic or consumer interaction.
In order to really understand the effectiveness of an influencer campaign, monitoring deeper social and engagement metrics have become the main priority of marketers. These include statistics around Facebook “likes,” Twitter “tweets” or even Pinterest “pins.” The action the audience took after they viewed and engaged with branded content is a true indicator of how well-received that campaign was. In 2016, however, we’ll see additional metrics crop up that are becoming equally as important as social measurement.
Next year, companies will measure not only the reach of an influencer, but also the reach of their followers– the ripple effect of great content. Expect to see social theme tracking, as well, which shows consumers’ purchase intent and how they engage with products, promotions, prices and availability. By tracking this data in real time, marketers can identify pieces of content that have the potential to go viral and the impact of sentiment over time.
An increased focus on algorithms and historical data in 2016 will enable marketers to better predict what kind of and how many interactions followers will have with an individual influencer, allowing for marketers to offer guaranteed audience engagement before a campaign even begins. The deeper the data analysis, the more marketers can fine-tune influencer campaigns.
Guaranteed engagement, virality and brand sentiment are all important for understanding the successfulness of campaigns, but it’s pinpointing time spent with content that is going to be the next big metric in influencer marketing—Facebook is one of the first companies to recognize this.
In June, Facebook launched an algorithm that factors in the amount of time users spend with content on their newsfeeds. Facebook knows it isn’t always as simple as measuring likes, comments or shares when determining whether content is meaningful; how long someone spends on each story is a valuable way to understand if content actually resonated with a reader. For marketers, knowing the time readers spend with influencer content on channels outside of Facebook can help determine if a campaign is relevant or if it needs to be reworked.
Whether advocating for influencer marketing or trying to master the right approach to an existing influencer initiative, defining campaign goals and tracking performance is key. For many marketers in 2016, this means a shift to using only engagement metrics that indicate people’s relationships with brands. With Nielsen reporting that consumers are five times more dependent on content today than they were five years ago, it is imperative to be able to analyze the effectiveness of branded content or risk losing sales in the long-term.