We’re drowning in advertising. Yankelovich, a market research firm, estimated that a person living in a city 30 yrs ago was exposed to 2,000 ads per day. Today they estimate it at over 5,000. Many commentators even believe that traditional media advertising has reached saturation point and that people have learned to ‘switch off’ from ads, the rapid rise of ad blockers being one point supporting this argument. So as marketers struggle to outdo one another and discover new methods to spread their message they are learning the value of reaching large numbers of people and are embracing the use of social media. But while putting up a post on the company’s social media page may gain some attention, it has limited value as these people are already aware of the brand. However, using one influencer with a wide reach on social media can deliver a message to a large number of people and if the message is interesting enough those people will share it and increase the reach even further.

But once you’ve decided to use influencer marketing how do you evaluate the cost? A few years ago it was relatively inexpensive to employ the talents of a key influencer. But as the field has developed it has also become more expensive and more important to make the right choice; so it pays to research. Is how you pick one over another simply a question of the influencer with the largest number of followers being the obvious choice? How do you evaluate the worth of influencer marketing to your brand? Here are some fundamental things to bear in mind.

  • Does the influencer match your desired audience?

Identifying and building relationships with the right influencers can extend your brand’s reach to a much wider audience. An influencer will be regarded as an expert in a certain area. But if you’re selling auto parts there’s no point in using an influencer who talks about fashion. It seems obvious but choosing the influencer who is most relevant to your message is key to good results. Finding the right fit isn’t always easy but sometimes sites like Traackr can be of help.

  • Examine engagement of the audience with the influencer.

Number of followers is not always good indicator that an influencer is the most relevant to deliver your message. What really counts is engagement.  Beware of fake ‘likes’. The rise in ‘Like’ farms makes it so easy to buy likes that the number has limited meaning. Look past the topline number and dig deeper. Look at the number of responses and conversations each post generates. This gives a better insight into how many active users the influencer has and the kind of leverage you can expect?

  • Continue to evaluate.

Results should go beyond reach…it’s not enough just to get in front of new customers. Your marketing should initiate action from the recipients; so, how many people click on the link, or go to the website and actually make a purchase? Use analytics to track the results of your efforts. If you are running a special promotion then be sure to designate it with a special tracking link or coupon code that allows you to track how many customers took action on a specific campaign. As influencers are constantly changing you should also review them for effectiveness on a regular basis and measure the results against cost as with any other campaign.

Influencer marketing can enable you to create a large loyal audience. Improve your reach, credibility and authority within your industry. But do your research, choose carefully and continue to monitor regularly.