Influencer Marketing Metrics: Why Followers Don’t Matter
When running influencer marketing campaigns, brands seem to only care about one thing: Followers. Without fail it is the first question that I get asked when I help a brand run an influencer campaign. I’m writing this piece to tell you to STOP OBSESSING OVER FOLLOWERS! Not only is it a bad representation of an influencer’s reach, it is actually completely irrelevant unless you are looking at it with other pieces of data. Here are some data points you should be looking at:
The first thing I look at when reviewing a potential influencer is engagement. This includes likes, comments, and shares. I can’t tell you how many times brands show me influencers they paid to post about their product, and they literally have NO comments (except for for the occasional automated bot comments, but I’ll cover those in a minute). Think about it. If someone has even 200 followers, they should at least have a few comments. So why would you compensate someone who has over 50k followers but little to no comments? This is a sure sign that they have fake followers or followers that are extremely unengaged… either way it’s not going to benefit your brand.
Make sure to look at the number of followers and make sure that the number of likes and comments seems reasonable.
You calculate an accounts follower ratio by looking at how many followers they have compared to how many they are following. If you see an account where the number of people they are following is substantially higher than the number of followers they have, this is a bad sign. That means they are fishing for followers and these accounts will tend to have a lower engagement and less reach.
Beware of Bots!
If you are on instagram, you have probably noticed those weird comments that show up on your posts that don’t seem to make any sense with the context of your post (i.e. “super cool,” “wow,” “love it,” “coolio” etc.). These posts are canned comments (normally paired with random emojis) that people are automating based on the hashtags you use. Although someone thought this was a good idea, in my opinion these are causing a huge problem on the instagram platform. Before selecting your influencers make sure that they have AUTHENTIC comments, not just canned bot responses.
Also, I just want to put this out as a PSA: If you are using bots to comment, please stop. My friend just told me a story about how she posted a sad post about someone’s death and a bot commented “awesome!” …. Please don’t let that be you.
In conclusion, If you are choosing influencers based on number of followers then you are throwing away your money.
Not only does the follower metric mean nothing alone, but studies show that influencers with a lower number of followers actually have a much higher engagement rate than influencers with a higher number of followers. This means that if you are paying money for influencers with hundreds of thousands to millions of followers, you could actually get better reach if you rounded up many influencers that have a smaller following (not to mention more user generated content). Some people call these individuals “micro-influencers” but I prefer the term “power-middle” because they have so much impact if you partner with them the right way.