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Updated Jan 16, 2024

Measuring Success When Working With Influencers

ocial media has revolutionized marketing. Are your influencer campaigns successful?

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Kiely Kuligowski, Business Strategy Insider and Senior Writer
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This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

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Social media influencer marketing is one of the fastest-growing online customer acquisition channels. And while influencers have gotten their fair share of bad press, there’s no denying the reach they have on the ever-important young demographic. 

Social media influencers can be found on common social platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok. They span industries like fashion, beauty, home products and more. Influencers’ popularity is largely a result of both the trend toward engagement-based marketing and the credibility these individuals hold among consumers. In fact, 49 percent of consumers reported they relied on influencer recommendations, according to a report from Linqia.

How to measure success with social media influencers 

Where traditional marketing offers easy-to-measure results following a campaign launch, influencer marketing is more fluid and difficult to quantify. Even if the results are challenging to measure, influencers do have a proven record of bringing in new customers. 

“Influencers often have a relatively high level of trust with their audience, [which makes] it easier to promote products and services, rather than running ads,” said Brandon Webb, chief executive officer at Galaxsio. Additionally, the inherent bond between influencers and their audience makes them ideal for creating experiential marketing moments that resonate with your customers. 

If you’re considering influencer social media marketing, you might need to be creative with how you evaluate your campaign’s achievements. Here are nine ways to judge whether your influencer campaign was successful.

1. Use affiliate links.

Use affiliate links to measure success. Through programs like Amazon Associates, you can create a specific URL with a unique code that identifies a person’s ID or username. If the visitor clicks on the advertisement or post and goes to that business’s site to make a purchase, you may receive a commission.

“Affiliate links will allow you to track purchases and clicks uniquely, so you can see the analytics specific to each influencer,” said Webb.

An affiliate link lets you see exactly who is clicking on which products, giving you data on what products are selling well or not. When working with an influencer, ask them to embed your affiliate link in their posts to better monitor engagement and monetize the users that click through.

2. Track impressions.

Study impressions to find out how many people have viewed a piece of content. Impressions are another type of hard data that show you exactly how many people may have encountered your influencer campaign. This gives you a sense of the total potential audience the influencer you’re working with was able to reach.

Remember that impressions do not equal engagement. This only shows the number of people who were served the content in their feed. It doesn’t mean they read or interacted with the content in other ways. So, while impressions are an important metric by which to understand the total size of an influencer’s audience, it doesn’t show you how much traction your campaign might have gained.

3. Track engagement.

Likes, comments, shares, retweets and reactions all count as forms of engagement. These are publicly available and can be a good initial method of vetting potential influencers by showing what level of engagement an influencer’s posts have with their followers.

To calculate engagements, add up the likes, shares, comments and other forms of interaction to determine how many people engaged with your content. You can also divide the number of comments, likes and shares by the number of impressions to create a metric known as the engagement rate.

Different types of content may have different levels of engagement. If you see an influencer’s typical engagement rate is about 5 percent, but content they share related to your campaign is less than 1 percent, that may signal that this influencer’s audience isn’t the best fit for your brand.

4.Set goals.

Do you have a solid plan for what you want to accomplish with your social media influencer campaign? If not, set some goals. Your goals should be quantifiable so you can measure against them. Try benchmarks like “achieve a 5 percent engagement rate” or “drive 10,000 clicks to my landing page.”

“The best way to measure your success is to set targets,” Mikaella King, a digital marketing manager at CB Digital Design, said. “Setting realistic targets, like ‘I want to have 1,000 Instagram followers by June,’ will allow you to see if using an influencer is successful.”

This is also helpful when choosing an influencer to work with, because it’ll give you clear expectations of what you want to achieve and help the influencer create an effective plan.

Did You Know?Did you know
Set clear-cut, quantifiable targets before you figure out how you want to measure your influencer campaign.

5. Monitor traffic before, during and after the campaign.

Observe what your site and social media traffic look like before you launch the campaign. Take daily or weekly notes as the campaign runs, noting spikes and dips. Finally, record what your traffic looks like after the campaign is over, and compare your notes to get a picture of how effective the campaign was at driving traffic to your site. For social media, assess your follower counts and engagement rates, then compare.

Analyze these results against your stated goals. Did you achieve what you hoped to? If not, how far off were you from your targets? Understanding this data in the broader context of your marketing strategy can help you determine whether influencer marketing was worth the investment of time and resources.

6. Determine your KPIs.

A key performance indicator (KPI) is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively your company is achieving your business objectives. These will depend on your industry. To set them, ask yourself basic questions about your brand:

  • What impact do you wish to have?
  • How can you improve the world?
  • What are your money-making goals?

Follow the SMART method (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based objectives) when setting your KPIs.

“Set up KPIs that are relevant to your brand and industry,” said Kyle Flaherty, senior vice president of global marketing at Cybereason. “You’ll need these in place so you can track and then report on them at the end of the campaign.”

Flaherty suggested objectives such as boosting brand awareness, improving website traffic, increasing lead generation or reaching new audiences.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway
Use SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based) goals before setting KPIs for your influencer campaign.

7. Create promo codes.

You’ve probably seen promotional codes offered by social media influencers for a discount on products or services. These are a great way to bring in new customers, as well as track sales, since you’ll be able to see how many people entered the code at checkout when purchasing your product.

8. Add UTM parameters.

A UTM, or urchin tracking module, parameter (also called a UTM tag or code) is a customizable piece of text that allows analytics software to track campaign traffic. Attaching a UTM code to the end of a URL helps you determine which campaigns brought in the most traffic, which links visitors clicked on the most, and more. Flaherty advises using Google Analytics’ Campaign URL builder to avoid mistakes.

9. Ask for access.

When discussing a potential partnership with an influencer, see if they’re willing to share their personal data and analytics with you after the campaign is over. It never hurts to ask.

“Don’t hesitate to ask to see potential influencers’ Google Analytics data,” said Flaherty. Many influencers will have sophisticated data (and plenty of experience interpreting it) that they can share with you to help you understand your campaign’s success.

Choosing the right influencer

When choosing an influencer to work with, have a firm grasp of your objectives. There are thousands of influencers to choose from in every space, so you want to partner with the right one for your business.

Geoff Crain, senior director of sales and marketing at Kingstar Media, recommends checking for fake followers and low engagement first, then seeing who has an authoritative voice in the space you’re looking to advertise in.

“For example,” he said, “if you are interested in increasing business in the fitness world, find influencers who are personal trainers or own their own gyms. Their followers engage with their content because they trust their voice to be legitimate when discussing the category in which they are experts.”

Flaherty added that asking for referrals is a great way to ensure you’re working with an effective influencer. “Not every influencer is the right influencer,” he said. “It depends greatly on your specific budget, your target market. Ask for referrals from other relevant businesses you know who use influencers.”

Influencers are worth the investment

Measuring the results of an influencer social media campaign might take a little extra planning. This effort is typically worth it for how many of your target customers you might attract. If you choose the right metrics and the right influencer, you can increase your market reach significantly. Evaluate which measurements make the most sense for you, and get started with influencer marketing today.

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Kiely Kuligowski, Business Strategy Insider and Senior Writer
Kiely Kuligowski is an expert in project management and business software. Her project management experience includes establishing project scopes and timelines and monitoring progress and delivery quality on behalf of various clients. Kuligowski also has experience in product marketing and contributing to business fundraising efforts. On the business software side, Kuligowski has evaluated a range of products and developed in-depth guides for making the most of various tools, such as email marketing services, text message marketing solutions and business phone systems. In recent years, she has focused on sustainability software and project management for IBM.
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