You see them everyday: bloggers, influencers, the “Insta-famous”. They’re eating our favorite snacks, repping our favorite brands, and apparently never ever have to “work”. But if you’re following one of the good ones, you understand that what’s going on in the background is more than just photos of a carefully placed latte next to designer sunglasses.
As the world is inundated with more and more creative advertising tricks, the topic of ‘influencer marketing’ is growing in popularity (and budget allocation!). But what makes an “influencer” influential? And how do you even begin to measure their impact on your brand and ROI of your engagement?
People discuss ‘social reach’ and follower counts ad nauseum, but with the ease of buying followers, those metrics are going the way of AVE (ad value equivalency)...so let’s discuss real, actionable metrics that you should be tracking for any influencer you engage.
For purposes of brevity, this post focuses on the travel and tourism industries, based on articles from Forbes and CNN, listing the top 10 travel influencers. The Forbes article dives into impressive social media stats like ‘total reach’ but as several articles detail, that number can be faked so easily; read more here, here, or here. And depending on your brand’s organizational goals, as well as your team’s goals, that number might not move the needle.
The travel and tourism industries have seen a huge influx of “influencers”. Who doesn’t want to get paid to travel, stay in the best hotel, and get free room service?? But for every true influencer, there have to be hundreds of wanna-be’s or scammers vying for the perks.
So, I challenge those with an influencer marketing budget to help us redefine who and what an influencer is...let’s start with one of my favorite examples, US President Barack Obama.
This image is from Pinpoint Contacts, TrendKite’s response to the market that was tired of outdated, antiquated media contact databases. The Pinpoint Contacts product is constantly being updated and catches more than just journalists.
Is Barack Obama a journalist? No. Is he an incredible influencer? Of course he is. So, because he has contributed to a journalistic piece, he is now included in Pinpoint Contacts’ database. What this does is give brands the ability to find truly influential people in context of the influencer’s proven expertise, and can potentially flush out the wanna-be influencer.
But most of us will never get Obama to write for our brand, so in the context of redefining what truly makes someone influential, let’s look at the analytics you need to review before you engage an influencer.
At TrendKite, we discuss ROI and bottom-line impact a lot. We feel it empowers our target audience to have tough conversations and to also take credit for incredible successes. Consultative insights are built on data so what should you look for when engaging someone that would make that “top influencer” truly influential?
First, if the influencer isn’t blogging or consistently contributing to a publication of some type, walk away. With the ever-changing rules of Facebook and Instagram, there is no such thing as an ‘evergreen’ post. You may see a one-time big hit but that’s all it is; that’s for the social media peeps, because in the world of earned media, we need longtail results. So, let’s look at the Pinpoint Contacts profile of Brian Kelly AKA ‘The Points Guy’:
His average SEO impact is 63/100, which is pretty incredible for a personal blog. For context, major pubs (NYT, Washington Post, Huff Post) tend to be in the 80 - 90 range, with trade pubs dipping as low as 50 in some cases.
This gives you an idea of the author's impact on search engine results. You want more than a one-hit-wonder; you want a post that is going to show up time and time again in search results. If Brian writes about your hotel in London and his SEO impact is high enough to get to the top of search results when people google "amazing hotels London", then you're looking at an earned media hit that will bring people to your website consistently. Consistent visits = revenue, because Brian is a trust travel advisor.
Maybe you need more than SEO impact. Your boss could be drilling you on "potential/total reach"...well, as we discussed, that can easily be faked, so instead, you need to focus on social shares.
Check out this article featuring Lee Abbamonte, with social shares reaching 2,300. THAT is a real number. That is the number you take to your boss and say, "Lee's reach for a tweet is ###, but the reach of those 2,300 people across several social media sites, that is exponential!"
And let's just get real here, you have to have a full author profile to truly understand what kind of success you will see from an earned media mention. It's no longer enough to say 'I pitched 100 people...'
What if you get to go to your CMO with, "I pitched 45 journalists/influencers whose strong SEO impact will ensure an evergreen, revenue driving mention and whose social media influence will provide social amplification across all mediums!"
I mean, Jada Yuan's impressive stats are probably why she gets to travel the world on the New York Times this year...
So, before you engage that hot new influencer, make sure you have the data that will move the needle for your brand and mean success for your team!