Unlocking the power of influencer marketing

Alexander Frolov outlines five key factors that marketers need to consider before launching their next influencer campaign.

The origins of influencer marketing could be perceived as a little rough around the edges. There was no rulebook, no precedent and no guidelines. However we are now seeing more rules and guidelines from the social media platforms themselves as well as the relevant government bodies. Effective since February 1, the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) updated its code of ethics for the advertising industry. The new code obliges influencers to disclose their commercial relationships in a clear, upfront and easily understood manner.

Influencers are quickly gaining the trust and loyalty of consumers. According to a 2019 study from Rakuten Advertising, 87 percent of shoppers admit that they’ve been prompted to make a purchase by an influencer and 84 percent of marketers believe it’s an effective marketing strategy. But, from a brand perspective, that’s only if you find the right influencer to begin with. We now have access to a range of tools that can assist in identifying relevant  influencers who will truly connect and engage with your audience.

Here are five key factors for marketers to consider for the next campaign or partnership to ensure better results and avoid any potential pitfalls when it comes to Instagram influencer marketing:

1. Suspicious patterns on the followers’ growth graph

Instagram follower growth rate indicates how fast an influencer’s follower base is growing, which may have a positive or negative value, depending on the new follows vs. unfollows ratio. As such, it’s a metric indicating whether the influencer’s content is reaching new people and grabbing their attention.

When analysing follower growth rate, there are some key patterns that are red flags and call for more thorough analysis of the influencer:

Loop giveaways

Giveaways or famously known as sweepstakes on social media are one of the most common ways to gain followers and engagement on social media. A giveaway involves running a contest where you offer a free gift/voucher/hamper to the winners in return for engagement or submissions of entries. In other words, a shadow method to quickly grow a social media account.

Audiences of such influencers are usually not interested in the influencer‘s content. They were only motivated by the prizes of the giveaway at the time that they followed the account.

Sharp spikes in the number of subscribers/followers followed by a smooth outflow is a tell-tale sign that the influencer has taken part in giveaways. Usually, after a giveaway, an account loses up to 30 percent  of subscribers within a month, and the account’s reach and engagement rate drop dramatically.

Sudden spikes

There are many apps and websites where anyone can buy artificially created accounts to follow any account. It usually manifests as a sudden significant increase in subscribers or followers within one day followed by a steady outflow of subscribers. Follower churn is often a result of Instagram deleting the fake accounts.

Losing followers

If an influencer loses followers over time, it can mean that the audience has lost interest in the creator’s content. It may also indicate that the influencer was involved in some kind of controversial matter which pushed the audience to unfollow. It can be risky for brands to collaborate or associate with this influencer in terms of brand safety and brand reputation

It’s not enough to select influencers based on the size of their following. But instead brands should analyse the patterns around how they are acquiring or losing followers.

2. Engagement rate

The engagement rate is a calculation that factors in the total number of engagements on a social media marketing post, such as likes and comments. The more engaged the audience, the more likely they are to interact with any paid or partnership placements.

Nano-influencers with fewer than 5,000 followers tend to have higher engagement than macro-influencers with over 500k followers. They are usually more successful in building a reliable and loyal audience as it is more manageable to engage with a smaller number of followers.

A simple way to gauge an influencer’s engagement rate is to simply scroll through the content posted recently and check the number of likes or comments. If an account has a large follower base but few interactions, there could be something amiss and it would be a waste of investment should you choose to partner with them.

3. Authenticity is key

When checking for authenticity and transparency, the influencer’s personality and style should stand out. Authenticity is what will keep an audience engaged and interested. On the flip side, plagiarism will tarnish the reputation of an influencer and the brands associated with them.

The new ad promoting New Zealand travel mocks influencers for cliche travel shots and social posts in a bid to stop people from ‘travelling under the social influence’. The ad calls for more genuine, authentic and original content from influencers, which is what consumers are increasingly looking for.

4. Study your competitors

Study competitors’ social media profiles, ads and influencer marketing activities to get a sense of the creative assets that they’re using and the respective audience response. Having access to the list of influencers your competitors are working with can also take your competitive edge to the next level.

Since influencer marketing is a relatively new marketing channel, the information gathered about competitors’ strategies is especially valuable, as it helps to adjust your strategies and choose the mechanics that work best on different platforms.

5. Leveraging technology to maximise results

According to eConsultancy 73 percent of marketers struggle to find the right influencers. But, various tools are now available to help brands not only discover and connect with influencers but also manage the content they produce and determine the ROI of their campaigns, thanks to advances such as machine learning.

Such advancements are even able to find sponsored post cost estimates or spot bot-like behaviour. Being able to see account growth over time, engagement rates, audience tastes, and hashtags used, for instance, will enable you to not only find the right type of influencer but the influencer with the most relevant and engaged follower base for your brands.

Although influencer marketing is no longer an unfamiliar territory, it is still in its infancy. With increased cookie tracking regulations and an intense bidding war on ad space, influencer marketing can deliver significant results for your brand, if done well.

Alexander Frolov is the CEO of HypeAuditor.

Photo by Marco Xu on Unsplash.