Influencer Marketing: 5 Tips for Increasing and Measuring ROI

#Fakenews… #FakeAd? We are living in a world where 75 percent of consumers don’t accept advertisements as truth.

And you know what? I don’t blame them.

On the other hand, consumer reports are full of that kind of honesty, and it’s what buyers are looking for. In fact, 70 percent of people believe consumer opinions, which is pretty wild— people are seeking out strangers’ opinions to inform their buying habits—and they trust those strangers more than advertisements.

So imagine the potential for success if a brand could get those “strangers” talking about their products or services.

Welcome to the world of influencer marketing.

When three out of four consumers aren’t swayed by traditional advertisements, brands have to get creative. They look to influencers to create authentic content and drive brand engagement… without banging people over the head with a hard sell.

From celebrities like the Kardashians to local bloggers to political figures, anyone with a captive and active following can be an influencer.

Maybe it’s because I’m a Millennial or just because I am a total sucker, but I must confess to being a victim of influencer marketing. Don’t judge me, but I love all forms of ABC’s The Bachelor: The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise.  You know the addiction is deep when you watch the reunion shows.  The point is, because I follow the show, I also follow a lot of the contestants on Instagram (have to keep up with the love story somehow!).

Past-contestants are known for their influencer status, and it’s folks like me who mimic their exercise regimens and purchases, like buying Sugar Bear Hair gummies… because Lauren has the prettiest hair, and she eats those gummies.

I believe in influencer marketing, not only because I have lived it, but because there are stats to back it up. Almost nine in 10 (86%) marketers used influencer marketing in 2016. So, yes, influencer marketing is officially a thing. Consumers are eating it up. Marketers are utilizing it. But there’s also a quantitative rationale behind it all.

In the PR world, it all comes down  to ROI.

How can we tell this is actually working? And how does it grow my business and my business’s profit?

Often, it isn’t the marketers themselves who are struggling with accepting influencer marketing as a tactic. They have seen its effectiveness; they know the stats; and they understand it’s increasingly how consumers are making decisions. Instead, marketers are struggling when it comes to demonstrating ROI to their leadership team. In fact, 78 percent of marketers say that their top challenge is determining ROI.

We executed an influencer event for our client HOUSEpitality Family, the restaurant group behind The Boathouse locations, Casa del Barco and Dinner in the Field. For the event, we invited 20 of Richmond’s top food

influencers out to The Boathouse at Sunday Park, including popular Instagrammers and bloggers like Eating Bird Food, livingwithpie and iheartveggies. The influencers came out for two hours on a beautiful evening and enjoyed a sampling of the restaurant’s warm weather cocktails, salads, seafood and desserts, while representatives from HOUSEpitality Family were on site to answer questions and provide background on the restaurants and the menu.

It was a peculiar scene, as normally it’s considered rude to be on your phone at dinner. That’s no

t the case at an influencer event. The more phones out, the better. The entire time, the influencers had their phones out taking pictures, boomerangs and insta-stories – some even standing on the wooden benches to capture the ever-popular food-overview shot.

Following the event, we boiled down all that engagement into quantifiable results.

Here are our tips:

Know your baseline

Reports are helpful, but it is easier to prove success when a brand can compare it against something. How many followers did the account have prior to event announcements? What was the pre-event average engagement per post? Average number of tagged photos, mentions, and stories? What’s the hashtag engagement like?

Authenticity is everything

When selecting influencers to speak about your brand, be smart. The right influencers will capture the right audience which will drive engagement… i.e. results.

For example, Beyoncé may have millions of followers, but would they care about your brand’s gardening tool? A better fit would be an outdoorsy, green thumb with a loyal niche following.

Often  finding the right influencers for your brand is more important than how many followers they have.

Make it easy 

The more your influencers talk about your brand, the more potential there is for engagement. So make it easy on them!

Plaster your social handles everywhere. Provide a useful branded take-away so your influencers function as walking billboards. Make your food, space or activity have ‘grammable moments. (Check out this Boathouse seafood platter and tell me it doesn’t scream, “Post this to Instagram!”)

Grab the stories fast

Instagram stories create buzz. It is the most authentic way for influencers to communicate with their followers, but they disappear 24 hours after posting, so it is important to capture them quickly.

For our event, we used QuickTime Player and a trusty iPhone to record each influencer’s story.

  • In QuickTime, select “New Movie Recording.”
  • In the movie recording drop-down menu, make sure to select your iPhone as the camera and microphone source.

Numbers talk

When it comes to demonstrating an event’s success, numbers talk, especially to your leadership team.

To show the success of your influencer event, include several different measurements in your reporting.

  • Combined follower count of all attendees
  • Total number of likes and comments on photos of the event
  • Instagram story impressions (Number of followers x .1)
  • Instagram post impressions (Number of posts x Number of followers)

Most results will be within 24-48 hours following your event, but continue to check back as more “likes” will come in even after that time.

Aidan Newbold

In both her professional and personal life, Aidan is a storyteller and makes it known in her writing, strategic thinking and creativity. Aidan’s experience at Hodges ranges from engaging NASCAR fans through a social media campaign to writing regular content for Swedish Match’s Umgås Magazine, to pitching media for Richmond Region Tourism and planning press and influencer events.

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