Article Header

How to measure the potential value of Social Media Influencers

Written by Scott Crumpler on Monday October 22, 2018

Most small businesses know how important social media can be to promoting their brand, but is it always the right move to pay for social media influence?  The short answer is maybe.  The key is to measure potential value to your business, and that means looking at more than just total followers.

  • Follower Demographics & Your Ideal Customer
  • Follower Engagement
  • Ability To Target Messaging
  • Past Performance

I'll give you an example...

A friend who owns a bar & restaurant in my hometown of Kansas City frequently gets inquiries from random people through the bar's Facebook page with all sorts of business propositions.  Occasionally, he'll get a message from a hip-looking twenty-something touting a 5-figure follower number on Instagram offering to promote the bar on social media.  These cats are getting smarter about not mentioning pay up-front, but the bottom line is always that it will cost my friend money if he wants this influencer to tell his or her acolytes about the bar.

Ten or twenty thousand people all getting a recommendation about your business?  How could that be a bad thing?  Well, it can be, depending on the type of followers the influencer has and the kind of content they've been posting to gain that audience, and that goes to brand safety considerations that I'll cover in another article.  But for the purposes of this discussion, we'll cover how to determine whether these followers are even potential customers at all, and if so, how many?

Follower Demographics

For most businesses, whether you're a national brand or a local Mom & Pop, the ideal customer is not just any random person. If you're a life insurance agent, for example, your potential customer is likely working adults with some disposable income and perhaps specifically those who are married or who have children.  In any case, your potential customer would not be a 13-year-old junior high school student who can't enter into contracts without parental consent and who won't have the kind of income necessary (or the motivation) to pay regular premiums for life insurance.

In my friend's case, because he owns a business that serves alcohol, there are actual legal limitations on the demographic he can sell to.  Sure, he can promote his business as a music venue or a place to eat, but for the sake of this example let's assume that my friend knows that his profits come from the bar sales.  So, his potential audience for advertising is limited, at the very least, to people ages 21 and over.

If you know your ideal customer is not just anybody, then any social media influencer who might offer to promote your business needs to have a following that does match your ideal customer.

Follower Engagement

If a social media personality has a bunch of followers that match the demographic of your ideal customer, does that mean he or she is really a social media influencer?  Remember, it's their influence that may have value to your business.  When you pay them to post about your business or work with you on a special promotion, you need to know that they will likely take action.  That's where "engagement" becomes an important metric.

Social Media Engagement is any kind of meaningful interaction between a poster and their audience.  Sometimes, that's as simple as clicking "Like" (which helps extend the post's reach to the clicker's own followers), and sometimes it's the beginning of a conversation between the audience and the poster.  The most meaningful type of engagement to you, of course, is real action.  When the poster tells his or her audience about a business, a brand, or a special promotion, do they take action?  

To measure an influencer's engagement with their followers, you need to look at a break-down of past posts that were promoting a company or brand.  Here are some important considerations:

  • What percentage of their total followers actually viewed the post?
  • What's the demographic breakdown of the followers who viewed it?
  • What percentage of those who viewed the post engaged at all?
  • What percentage of those engagements was a meaningful engagement for the business being promoted?

A serious professional social media influencer should be able to answer these questions for you.  If they can't they're probably not ready to be charging money to promote a brand.  If they can't but you think their audience still might have significant value to your brand, that's when you contact my company to help you work with that influencer.

Targeted Messaging Opportunities

Social media influencers can be a really significant source of new customers if they have an integrated program of their own whereby they've captured more contact info about their followers than just their social media user names.  There are lots of ways they can do this, if they're serious about their profession, and this opens up additional opportunities to deliver targeted messaging to that audience.

In digital marketing, remarketing and retargeting are processes which allow you to deliver paid advertising and other messages to a custom audience that has already viewed or engaged with your messaging somewhere else.  It gives you the ability to reach an audience through multiple channels to get the best possible results from a campaign or promotion.  But, to do this most effectively, you'll need other contact information about that audience, and that's why you'll want to know what kind of additional information an influencer has captured about your ideal customer segment within their following.

Past Performance

This is important.  When you're evaluating the potential of a social media influencer to your brand or business, you'll want to see examples of measurable results that influencer was able to deliver to businesses in the past-- hopefully businesses like yours.  If they take their profession seriously, they should be able to give you a performance breakdown of a past promotion, and here are some things to look for:

  • What kind of business was promoted?
  • How much did they pay all-in for the promotion?
  • What was their likely overall cost (including the cost of any discounts offered in the promo).
  • Was the promotion, after all costs, profitable on its own?
  • Did the promotion result in new followers and long-term customers for the brand?
  • How many?

All of the above are important questions to ask when measuring the value of a social media influencer's offer to promote your company.  If a potential influencer passes muster by all measures discussed in this article, it will then be a good idea to also pencil in some numbers on these bullet points for what a "minimally successful promotion" would look like to you before you make your decision.

The Best Social Media Influencer Opportunities

The best opportunity to promote your brand through social media influence can be evaluated by considering everything we've discussed in this article.  Know the demographic profile of your ideal customer, and compare that to an influencer's audience.  Next, look at how engaged those followers are with that influencer.  Then, find out what opportunities you would have to create an integrated campaign centered around that audience through targeted messaging.  Finally, look at the influencer's past performance with paid promotions and decide whether the potential value is worth making the investment.

We've covered many important considerations about social media influencers in this article.  Now let us help you put these guidelines in place with real measurement and analysis.  We can help you identify and asess the social media influencers that may be able to help your brand.  Contact us to learn more.