Tips for Beginning a Risk-Benefit Analysis of Influencers

The more that marketing becomes personal—with social media and hyper-targeted ads—the more influencer relationships will be important for brands. Of course, with every benefit comes some risk. Accordingly, brands and organizations must ask what goals they want to achieve with influencers or micro-influencers and whether or not the reward is worth the risk.

First, consider basic metrics, such as number of followers, reach, market, and the duration of the influencer's presence. Then dig deeper. Look at how other products or brands associated with the influencer are doing. Are those brands trending up or down? Is the influencer responsible for those results?

The best way to gauge social trending is to track engagement through the influencer's and brands' pages. Consider Twitter mentions or Facebook handles-these can provide valuable insight into the market's response to the influencer.

Next, look at how committed the influencer is to her relationship with your brand. What has the influencer done to promote other brands? If your company is simply joining a long list of brands mentioned in their videos, it may not be worth it; however, if an influencer appears to align herself with brands, you may want to catch their eye.

Measuring Benefits

Once you have a relationship, make sure you’re prepared to measure its benefits. Track sales numbers and customer reactions to your products or services. Use website traffic analytics and social media analysis. Apart from analyzing social media engagement, you can deploy tracking systems, such as Hypr and Crimson Hexagon, which allow companies and brands to gain a greater understanding of how campaigns are landing in the market. A tip: it's not only engagement you need to consider, but what engagement looks like.

An Underrated Metric

One of the most underrated metrics for rating the benefit of an influencer relationship is how customers or prospects are interacting in your social forums. Are they buying and vanishing, or are they engaging with each other as well as with your media moderators? To measure this activity properly, brands must constantly analyze social media traffic for mentions, like, shares, comments, and even complaints. You should know, at any given moment, how the public perceives your company and its influencers.

If customers or prospects are engaging with each other, then you could be well on your way to building a tribe of dedicated followers. Do not miss this opportunity. Tribes create super-fans who, in turn, become consumer influencers. They may not have the vast reach of a celebrity, but they have dedication and commitment. Moreover, they have direct access to a group of friends and colleagues that you do not.

Addressing Risk

Now let’s talk about some of the risks. As we’ve seen in recent years, tying your brand to a prominent person or an influencer involves risk.  Whether it’s a YouTube star going rogue, an Instagram model or Facebook guru saying or doing something that gets them in trouble or a spokesperson being arrested for a crime, there are potential downsides to an influencer relationship.

Preparation is the lesson here. Never enter into an influencer relationship without a clear plan to distance your brand from that person if necessary. Never wait until the crisis is happening to plan your response.

Remember, if employees are an extension of the company, an influencer is an extension of the brand. Whomever you may align with, it is imperative you research and ensure that that individual is the best representation for your brand.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR