Last month, social influence analytics service Klout shuttered its doors after 10 years. Klout would rank the influence of social media profiles on a scale of 1 to 100.
Given the rise of influencer marketing, why would a service that scores influence for marketers go under? Ultimately, black-box one-metric numbers provide comfort but are meaningless—measurement doesn’t work like that. Summarizing an influencer’s reach, resonance and relevance in a two-digit number doesn’t address the complexity needed for measuring campaign effectiveness.
Klout scores aren’t the only metrics that have outstayed their welcome. The latest vanity metric du jour? Earned media value.
For those unfamiliar with EMV, it’s another metric attempting to provide an arbitrary dollar value to earned social media content based on proprietary algorithms that include views, likes and engagements. It’s essentially a born-again version of advertising value equivalent from the old public-relations world, which attempted to provide earned media with a cost equivalent to buying advertising placement in the same publication or medium.
Thankfully, AVE has been dismissed as meaningless and misleading by all respected measurement bodies, but it has reincarnated as EMV as influencer marketers look to justify their efforts and prove impact.
Like Klout scores, EMV also has no place in a forward-thinking influencer program. Here’s why:
- You’ve already moved on: Fundamentally, the reason why you’re doing influencer marketing is because you know that authentic brand recommendations from trusted individuals carry significantly more weight than an advertisement. So, why undersell yourself by comparing with this old metric?
- There’s zero consistency: EMV is a black-box metric with each vendor having its own methodology for calculating. This not only makes it hard to compare the impact of influencers on brands, but also to understand how to improve on key performance indicators and brand performance. For example, if your brand cares about views and its tool calculates EMV in a way that heavily weights impressions or likes, the EMV is downplaying the metric you find important. You would want to measure quality views versus maximizing for an arbitrary metric that might move the EMV needle but not help you achieve your brand goals.
- The price tags are phony: The dollar value is incredibly misleading as it has no connection to ultimate return on investment or sales. How does one measure if a post valued at $500 brought $500 worth of value to a brand? EMV doesn’t tie to the actual value driven to your brand.
- There are no market standards: Obviously, influencers do sponsored content, and so it is possible to put a dollar cost against a social media post. But just as no-one has ever paid rate-card prices for buying media in the offline world, the same also applies online. An influencer’s fees can vary massively based on how much he or she wants to work with that brand, what the campaign is and, ultimately, what’s in it for them.
- There is no room for nuance: Just as every campaign has different goals, so should the KPIs and measurement. Sometimes you may be looking for awareness if it’s a new product launch, sometimes you may be looking for engagement among key niche groups, etc. A single dollar number doesn’t necessarily fit into your goals and help you measure performance in these specific areas.
- Quantity, not quality: EMV is also a purely quantitative metric. It doesn’t take into account the sentiment of a post, engagement, other competitor mentions in a piece, or whether your key messages are included. Suppose an influencer posts a negative review of your product—the post would not be equivalent to a positive post valued at $500.
- Audience matters: EMV doesn’t take target audiences into account. EMV treats all audiences as equal, when influencer campaigns can have different goals and different target audiences for each. Measuring effective campaigns means looking at the demographics and relevance of influencer audiences.
EMV has become popular because it provides a simple answer to a complex question. The reality is that there isn’t one simple magic silver bullet KPI that can be applied to all brands, industries or campaigns. A more comprehensive measurement framework would set goals in advance, set custom measurement matrices per goal and report performance periodically.
- Start with the goals of your influencer program, working backwards from your desired outcomes.
- Define output objectives and input targets that you need to reach your goals.
- Strategize the activations you need to implement to achieve these.
- Build your timeline, set your monthly, quarterly and yearly targets and go.
- Track results against targets, learn, iterate and achieve success.
- Download these worksheets and planning materials as a guide for influencer measurement.
People will always look for a single metric that veteran marketers already understand to demonstrate the impact of new strategies, but in order to effectively implement and scale influencer programs, it’s time to use newer and better analytics frameworks. Klout is out, and EMV is next on the chopping block. Don’t let outdated metrics leave your influencer marketing programs in the dark ages.
Sam Cookney is an account director at influencer relationship marketing platform Traackr.