How To Measure Influencer Marketing Effectiveness When Social Metrics Are Changing?
This year social networks have introduced a number of significant changes in their metrics display. Instagram is testing Likes removal, YouTube is going to disguise channels’ live count of subscribers, Facebook began hiding Likes and reactions, and Reddit announced cutting scores on posts. These transformations have caused controversial reactions from influencers and industry leaders. Understanding these changes will allow brands and influencers to evaluate the performance of their sponsored content and to measure real influencer marketing effectiveness.
We at Cloutboost, have analyzed the key changes brought about by the most popular social platforms – Instagram and YouTube. In this blog post, we’ll explore how influencer marketers should reshape their strategy to respond to industry transformations.
“Will Instagram hide Likes?”
The social platform that accounts for over 1 billion monthly active users has announced a radical change: Instagram plans to hide the number of Likes under publications. For years, marketers used the Likes count as a major indicator of an audience’s engagement.
Instagram explained this transformation in their official Twitter account: “We want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.”
We want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get. You can still see your own likes by tapping on the list of people who've liked it, but your friends will not be able to see how many likes your post has received.
— Instagram (@instagram) July 17, 2019
Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said that the purpose of the test was:
“to create a less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.”
“My feeling is they are completely culling organic reach and pushing their ads.”
While the new feature is only being tested, there is a high probability that the social network will come to adopt this format in the near future. After that, only the owner of an Instagram account will have access to the data that shows how many Likes a post gets.
Since the metric “number of subscribers” has been known for a long time to be insignificant and vain, marketers will have to utilize a more robust approach to assess the performance of content.
“Can we count on YouTube?”
YouTube is making steps in a similar direction with announcing a new approach to displaying the number of a channel’s subscribers – abbreviated subscriber count. The video platform is implementing a round number of subscribers instead of the exact figure. This way viewers won’t be able to track up-to-the-minute changes in a channel’s subscribers count.
After the abbreviated subscriber counts are rolled out, only the owner of a channel will be able to see the exact subscriber count through the channels’ backend dashboard. For everyone else, that creator’s subscriber count will show up as a flat three-digit figure. According to Google, if a channel has 133,017 subscribers, the public subscriber count will read “133K” until the channel reaches 134,000.
This change is quite unfavorable to those brands who partner with YouTube creators. Collaborating with an influencer on a long-term basis, it is important for a brand to keep track of the influencer’s channel development. An important indicator for a marketer to consider is whether a YouTuber is growing his channel or losing fans.
In today’s fast-moving digital world, an influencer’s popularity can be disrupted in short order. Numerous scandals involving YouTuber creators show that the love of the audience is just one step away from hate. A careless word or action can cause an influencer’s audience to turn away from him/her instantly, as proved by notorious examples of PewDiePie and Logan Paul.
So the upcoming change would make it more difficult for marketers to monitor an influencer’s progress.
What challenges do new metrics present to influencer marketing?
1) Influencers leaving traditional social channels for new platforms
The imminent changes can affect both brands and influencers, especially in the early stages of implementation. Seeing a significant decrease in their audience engagement, influencers might start switching to other platforms that offer a more favorable style of metrics calculation.
It’s a good idea for brands to explore new social platforms while they are on the rise. Live-streaming platforms, like Twitch and Mixer, offer vast creative opportunities for influencers and brands they collaborate with. Another example, social video app TikTok, which attracts a huge audience due to its engaging format of user experience. TikTok was the fourth most downloaded non-gaming app in the world last year, having hit over 1.5 billion downloads on the App Store and Google Play.
Switching to other platforms may cause a small decrease in audience scales for influencers, but in the end, it can be a step to getting bigger success on the new platform, as is demonstrated by the case of influencers switching from Twitch to Mixer.
2) The value of influencer marketing will be harder to justify
The problem of “fake influence” is not new to the industry. With rogue Instagram creators buying followers, marketers relied heavily on engagement metrics to evaluate an influencer’s performance.
Let’s say an influencer reaches out to your brand with a collaboration offer and names a specific amount per sponsored post based on the number of his followers. An experienced marketer would always evaluate such an offer by checking the engagement of the influencer’s content.
Polina Haryacha, head of growth and business development at CloutBoost agency, shared her opinion with AdExchanger:
If an influencer has 1 million followers but their posts only get a few thousand likes, something may be off.
It’s important to determine the way in which people respond to an influencer’s content, and what the tone of their comments is. Indeed, as a vain and broad metric, an influencer’s followership won’t show you how many people actually interact with a post.
However, when Likes are hidden from the public, it is going to be harder to estimate the true influence of an Instagrammer.
How to evaluate influencer marketing effectiveness in light of the new challenges?
Take a deeper look
From an industry perspective, the changes just introduced will lead to more insightful measurement in the influencer space. Marketers are going to witness a significant shift from vanity metrics towards true business objectives. The solution to effective influencer marketing lies in deeper data analysis and more focus on down-the-funnel metrics.
There are several tips on how to launch an effective influencer marketing campaign. One of them is to request the back-end statistics from influencers’ profiles. A brand can ask an influencer to share his account’s data.
Here are the metrics to pay attention to on Instagram: Reach, Impressions, the number of Likes and Comments, a post’s Saves and Shares. You can also see how many people visit the influencer’s profile and how they interact with his Stories – whether or not they click on the links or sticker tags.
A good idea is to monitor these metrics before starting an influencer collaboration and then again after the campaign is over. This way both parties will be aware of the effectiveness of the campaign.
The campaign performance data can also be obtained through APIs – this technology allows other software to get access to the platform’s data. While Likes won’t be publicly visible when you look at the content, those who use a platform with API approval will still be able to see, filter, and analyze an influencer’s engagement rate.
It’s important to note that YouTube API is going to disable the real-time count of subscribers, which means third-party websites won’t be able to use the platform’s API to run real-time counters. While YouTube’s API doesn’t require user authentication to see a Likes count, Instagram’s API does. Technically, a User or Page can only query their own Likes, while other Users’ or Pages’ likes are unavailable due to privacy concerns. However, as long as an agency has a relationship with an influencer, they can get access to their data through the verification process.
Influencer marketing agencies hardly rely exclusively on data that is visible on the platform itself. For instance, Cloutboost agency has the opportunity to track influencer statistics on Youtube due to our proprietary data mining technology.
Furthermore, Cloutboost believes that the most crucial indicators for a campaign’s success are: Relevance, Reach, Engagement and Sentiment. These metrics allow brands to select the right influencers to work with.
‘Likes’ as a way to evaluate influencer marketing effectiveness are becoming less important.
Finding the best influencers for a particular product will take more than simply looking at average Likes per post, which can be manipulated easily.
Brands will need to employ more in-depth analytics and consider a wider range of metrics. Marketers will have to focus on down-the-funnel metrics such as Clicks, Downloads, Conversions, Sales, etc. In the long run, the new approach will allow brands to spotlight the indicators that determine the influencer marketing ROI.
Interested in looking into these new possibilities in influencer marketing? Talk to a Cloutboost expert today to help you launch an effective influencer campaign.