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The top influencer-marketing metrics on Instagram that brands are tracking to measure success, from saves to comment sentiment

  • Many influencers earn a big chunk of their revenue by promoting products to their followers on Instagram.
  • And when it comes to influencer marketing, brands are no longer looking to hire those with the most followers. Instead, they are often interested in the accounts with the highest engagement. 
  • To measure engagement, brands and marketers are studying new metrics, like how many saves and likes a post has and whether followers mention the brand or product in the comments of the post.
  • Subscribe to Business Insider's influencer newsletter: Influencer Dashboard.

As the coronavirus pandemic has hit advertising budgets, the brands that are continuing to spend on influencer-marketing campaigns want to know they are getting results.

The pandemic has put into focus the new metrics brands are using to measure the success of an influencer in promoting their products, as the industry moves away from follower counts and likes (which are easily bought) and toward clearer engagement metrics.

Brand partnerships are a huge source of revenue for influencers, and brands are set to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022, according to Business Insider Intelligence.

To assess where to allocate their spending, major brands like Dunkin' are looking at engagement-rate benchmarks and the responses of an influencer's followers to determine if their sponsored content is resonating, Melanie Cohn, the director of brand engagement at Dunkin' Brands, said.

Business Insider spoke with influencer-marketing experts, brands, agents, and managers on the metrics brands are paying attention to as a way to track the success of a sponsorship on Instagram.

Here's what they said.

What metrics brands want to see, from Instagram Story stats to comments

Instagram influencers should be listening closely to what their followers are saying, the industry experts said.

Evan Asano, the CEO of the influencer-marketing agency Mediakix, told Business Insider that many brands were looking at the quality of comments left on a sponsored Instagram post and the level of engagement from an influencer's fans.

Companies "are looking for a balance of influencers who engage with their fans, create authentic content, and partner with brands authentic to them, rather than anyone who will just pay them," Asano said.

Asano said brands were now looking at comments as a part of engagement, and if a majority of the comments are in a different language, they might assume the influencer bought them. Brands also track if followers are mentioning the company within the comments or have any intent on purchasing the product mentioned, he added.

Claire Rose Cliteur, a fashion and lifestyle Instagram influencer with over 500,000 followers, said she shared the direct feedback that she gets from her followers (such as DMs) with the brands she works with to show the level of engagement she gets.

Industry insiders told Business Insider that on Instagram, many brands now look for:

  • In-feed post saves:
    • On Instagram, followers can save a post to view later from their personal account. 
  • Comment sentiment:
    • Brands track the quality of comments left on a sponsored Instagram post. They want to see if followers are mentioning the company within the comments or have any intent on purchasing the product mentioned. 
    • Likes:
      • With the growing concern of fake metrics, "likes" are now studied along with comments, views, and saves, which together round out total engagement. 
      • Views on Instagram Stories:
        • Before they partner with an influencer for a campaign, some brands ask for the total views they've received on Instagram Stories over the past 24 hours.
        • Direct messages:
          • How many followers directly messaged the influencer about the brand or product looking to learn more?
          • Return on investment:
            • ROI is tracked by how much traffic a creator drove or by how well a creator met the benchmarks decided upon in a partnership agreement.
            • 'Saves' are sometimes referred to as 'super likes' and have become increasingly important

              Some brands compare how many people view Instagram content (like how many views an Instagram Story slide got or how many people saw an in-grid post) with how many people engage with it (such as double tapping the post to like it and swiping up to purchase or comment on the content). 

              Brands get a better idea of an influencer's impact by reading the engagement stats from Instagram Stories. Influencers are able to share this data with brands by accessing their Instagram Insights tool on the app. 

              "Reach is definitely still important, but what Instagram is starting to really dig deep into and pay attention to is the number of shares and saves that your content gets," Britney Turner, a lifestyle microinfluencer who has a creator-coaching business, said, adding that brands also focus on those measurements.

              These "saves" are sometimes referred to as "super likes" and have become increasingly important to brands and creators, especially as concerns around fake metrics (such as fraudulent follower counts or likes) grow. 

              Many influencers are starting to include these kinds of metrics in their media kits, which showcase their prospective value to a brand.

              The influencer Marina Mogilko includes case studies from past sponsorships in her media kit. For instance, in her campaign with the brand Puffy, Mogilko posted one sponsored Instagram post and one brand-tagged giveaway. She included insights from the sponsorship in her media kit, such as the number of views, likes, and saves she received.

              For more on the business of influencers, check out these posts on Business Insider: 

              • An influencer coach breaks down how to use Instagram Stories successfully, from the number of slides to how often to post: Instagram Stories are allowing creators and brands to increase engagement and reach. Here are a few recent trends, explained by an influencer coach.

              • How Instagram and TikTok are becoming powerful tools to help Poshmark clothing resellers drive sales: Two Poshmark sellers are using TikTok and Instagram to grow their resale businesses. One generates almost $1,000 in sales each week.

              • The top 11 affiliate marketing networks that Instagram and YouTube influencers can use to get a cut of sales from products their followers buy: Affiliate marketing networks let influencers earn money when their followers purchase recommended products.

              Exclusive FREE Report: The Stories Slide Deck by Insider Intelligence

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