The Largest Flaw in Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Influencer marketing is now a prevalent PR and marketing tactic. PR agencies and corporate departments frequently boast about the benefits of influencer marketing to clients and corporate C-suite executives as a powerful yet affordable strategy.

By partnering with influencers, that is, social media celebrities or personalities with substantial and loyal followings, brands can dramatically increase their reach and create more authentic messages. The strategy, either through paid or nonpaid influencers, is often more effective and affordable than more traditional marketing and advertising.

However, many digital marketing experts warn of a major shortcoming in influencer marketing programs: the lack of measurement. PR and marketing measurement may show the end results of programs that involve influencers, but that does not demonstrate the amount work required for an influencer program.

What’s the Additional Value?

“Influencer marketing measurement must show the additional value influencers brought above and beyond what the campaign would have brought without them,” comments digital marketer Ben Brausen.

A Google Trends graph shows that interest in the term “influencer marketing” exploded the last two years while “influencer marketing measurement” remained flat. Either marketers are not sure how to measure it or are measuring the same way they measure other campaigns.

Without proper measurement, PR cannot claim their influencer marketing programs are truly successful. According to Brausen, none of the agencies he’s met have truly shown an understanding of reporting related to the influencer piece itself. “If you can’t show that influencers actually gave lift to a campaign then why should a client pay you more money to integrate influencers?” Brausen asks.

The same may be said about corporate PR seeking budget approval from C-suite superiors.

Measurement over the Campaign’s Lifetime

“As with every other aspect of your business, you need to know that your relationship with your influencers is working. The only way to do this is to have a set of metrics in place and continually measure them over the lifetime of the campaign,” agrees Steven Tulman, a marketing and sales expert, in a Business 2 Community article. “If things aren’t going great, you may need to return to your research step and look again at your influencers. If things are going great, then look to see how you can make them even better.”

A social media measurement service can be vital to determine how influencer marketing programs are performing.

Digital marketing expert Mark Schaefer estimates that 85% of advertising and marketing agencies now have some sort of influence outreach capability and “boutique influence marketing agencies are popping up like flowers after a spring rain.”

Yet their effectiveness cannot be determined without measurement.

A Shift Communications analysis of eight paid and eight organic influencers on Twitter, found that the paid influencers generated about nine times more content, but just a fraction of the engagement. Although a Twitter-only analysis cannot accurately reflect market reality, the report should caution marketers against working with paid influencers without measuring their benefits.

Align Goals with Benefits

The key to measuring influencer marketing, Schaefer stresses, is matching your goals against influencer marketing benefits.

Potential benefits include:

  • Reach/Awareness, especially when yours is limited.
  • Research — since influencers are generally experts in their field.
  • Social proof — the power in aligning with a trusted brand.
  • Content ignition — an influencer can get content shared more broadly.
  • Site authority and SEO through effective links
  • Strategic leverage because true influence is a scarce resource.
  • Cost savings — impressions generated by influencers compare favorably to traditional advertising measures.
  • Authentic advocacy as the influencer begins to know and understand the product and the company.

“If you break it down into the eight benefits of influence marketing and focus on measures aligned with those deliverables, it becomes a lot easier to prove, or disprove, the effectiveness of your influencer relationships,” he says.

Bottom Line: Although influencer marketing is now a mainstream PR and marketing tactic, experts say the lack of measurement is a common deficiency. Influencer marketing measurement is a vital component to improve the effectiveness of campaigns and win budget approval from clients and corporate leaders., previously CyberAlert, grants permission to republish this article provided that the republished version contains a link to the original article on the company’s blog.

Originally published at on April 27, 2016.