Influencer Marketing: Optimizing Targeting – Bots and Boosting

The pendulum on the perfect influencer marketing model is literally in full swing. It’s swinging from over-indexing on great influencer content to over-indexing on analytics as the end solution – back and forth.

This compels us to thoughtfully consider and analyze the right balance to achieve the optimum impact model. It’s informed by the RIGHT data, with the RIGHT influencers who create the BEST performing content. And, no surprise: the right model is customized for the initiative – and no one size fits all. Generally, our marketing clients index to the data and our communications clients towards the creative. Our job is to balance the two.

Consider these three Influencer hot-button issues we’re tackling today:

1. Organic Reach vs. Boosted Reach.
Despite benchmarks that content on Facebook/Instagram reaches only five to 10 percent of followers organically, Ketchum’s influencer analytics sees upwards of 15 percent and as much as 300+ percent (reaching non-followers) organic reach. Why so high? Because we take the time to vet and work closely with influencers to ensure optimum relevance to a brand’s audience and develop content that matches their voice. When that’s achieved, the content works harder, and the media dollars can be managed more efficiently.

Media agencies are using numbers as low as five percent for organic influencer reach to followers and using media dollars to boost and achieve the necessary reach. They cast a wide net and spend less time doing the rigorous human-eye vetting.

2. 5 or 50 Influencers?
We believe in custom curating an influencer mix based on the business goals. In some instances, where the product and message are simple, we engage lots of influencers – perhaps as many as 50. If the brand is more of a high-value product or message, we carefully curate a small group – perhaps as few as five. For a complex story with no product, we engage one or two, and carefully educate them to achieve optimum content and messaging.

Both Google and Facebook are providing our clients with data that suggests they can achieve the same reach and impact for any initiative using a very small number of influencers and pumping up their reach with media dollars. In other words, one size fits all, pay less money to influencers and give Google and Facebook the savings to amplify. We counter this model with a few key points:

  • Reaching targeted audiences by engaging a variety of relevant voices allows for multiple authentic touch points for a brand. Our audience-first approach identifies multiple consumer interests that the brand could fit into, aside from the most obvious. Clients are looking for the lowest creative cost, and engaging multiple influencers gives them many opportunities to engage target audiences with authentic credible content. It also reduces ad agency production costs for content that can be be repurposed on a brand’s own channels.
  • The Google and Facebook model is based on the traditional “reach and frequency” of PUSH ad distribution. Our model is designed on the premise of a PULL model of opt-in content by opt-in creator voices. A completely different paradigm.

3. Fake Followers or Bots!
The New York Times recently shined a light on the issue of bots, and the subject continues to come up with many clients. A few interesting updates on this:

  • Instagram and Facebook will be moving to a verified model for influencers in light of the recent privacy issues giving the platforms more rigor to sift out the fakes. This is coming through with our partners such as Tagger, before the legislation is live in December, 2018
  • Our vetting model enables us to see suspicious behavior on influencer follower trends, e.g. large follow counts from off-shore countries with no natural link to the influencer, excessive activity in the middle of the night, or an exponential increase in followership for no reason
  • Engaging with influencers for their “Reach” is only reinforcing the bad behavior from creators.

As the data keep evolving, we continue to build up our learnings from hundreds of best-in-class case studies. We’ve never been more prepared to tackle these tough and rigorous conversations to help brands find the approach and scope that suits them best. As a discipline that has fought hard to exhibit its ability to show real financial impact, we’re finally getting to a place where we can truly deliver tangible commercial success.

For more thinking on the topic, please reach out to Mary Elizabeth Germaine (analytics).