Social Media Posts Don’t Matter

Opinion: Photos get posted on Instagram, go quiet and resurface, pinned and repinned on Pinterest

Confused about how to fully measure content’s lifetime engagement and earned media value? AntonioGuillem/iStock

Brands wisely investing in influencer marketing may be stupidly short-sighted when it comes to measuring the actual value of what they’re buying. Unfortunately for marketers, the vast majority of approaches to measuring the value of earned media and influencer programs are seriously limited by a focus on the post, as opposed to the content.

It’s critically important that any brand budgeting for visual content, social media marketing or influencer programs has a clear window into the return on that investment—the earned media value it is producing.

I’m a huge believer that marketers need to see all of the content related to a brand—not just how many times a logo appears. However, most social media monitoring and content marketing platforms are really blinkered and only look at individual and specific social media posts (on Instagram, Pinterest and elsewhere), and not at the lifetime value of that earned media and the content within the post.

Brand- and product-related visual content—whether in the form of a company-created image or one that is user-generated—is nearly always reposted, re-embedded and shared, getting moved from Tumblr to Twitter, then to Instagram and Pinterest, and so on.

What’s more, each individual platform’s dashboard provides very limited insights and analytics, and the systems are siloed, giving a blinkered view of content performance.

The major brands ShareIQ works with previously had a very limited view of the value of their content—often simply how many times an influencer’s product post got liked or commented on—and no perspective whatsoever on what happened to that post later, outside of the initial platform where it appeared.

That state of affairs short-changes brands, as well as influencers. Marketers are crying out for influencer marketing to be made as quantifiable and measurable as the rest of the marketing mix. Brands want to know what influencers’ work is worth, and so do the influencers.

Sophisticated tech companies like Cision are at the forefront of helping brands get a fuller view of the value of text-based content and a deeper understanding of how all of their earned media is contributing to the bottom line.

Textual content that positively reflects a brand helps people feel good about future purchases. Sharing and interaction with visual content helps brand and product discovery and communicates powerful consumer intent signals. However, most marketers don’t have deep data on lifetime engagement with their visual content and are leaving earned media value on the table.

Everyone can agree that access to limited information paints a narrow picture of the value of social media, influencer marketing and visual content. In an era where we’re learning to question the veracity of everything, marketers need as much data as possible to make informed decisions.

Let’s look at an example of how a top fashion brand, Forever 21, completely under-measured the value of its social media content.

The initial product image post on Instagram generated $21,563 in earned media value for engagement for the fashion retailer. However, in the months that followed, the post was pinned and repinned on Pinterest, generating nearly six times the return, for a total in $121,050 in earned media value. By not seeing the whole data and insights picture, Forever 21’s marketing team, agencies, influencers and partners are short-changing the value of their work, potentially impacting strategy, budgets and investment in the long-term.

Until now, the long tail of social media content has been largely unmeasurable. Brands may have thought their social and influencer marketing campaigns were doing well, but the value was underestimated. Marketers know that their photos get posted on Instagram, go quiet and resurface, pinned and repinned on Pinterest for months to come. Now they can fully measure content’s lifetime engagement and earned media value by looking past the post and seeing the full picture of their content.

Brian Killen is the founder and CEO of visual content performance platform ShareIQ.