Social Benchmarking: The New Frontier for Influencer Marketing

Opinion: It is a universal need to be able to quantify your company’s performance

Benchmarking always starts with defined objectives anyaberkut/iStock

As brands pour billions of dollars into influencer marketing, the demands for new technology and data to measure effectiveness have increased dramatically. Clients no longer think of branded content and brand ambassadors as a talent model or public-relations budget—instead, it is a media buy that must map back to return on investment. With the maturation of this market, now come the comparisons to digital, TV and paid social.

Influencer marketing is now officially stealing market share from other mediums, and it must and will be judged by the same metrics. To standardize this comparison, there has already been the shift to media pricing on CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) and cost per view. Recaps for clients now consist of TV and digital terms like ad recall, brand lift, impressions delivered and frequency, but all of this is moot to a marketer if there’s no context or guidelines to define success.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s define benchmarking, why it is important and how it applies to social media. In short, benchmarking is the process of comparing performance metrics against those of other industry competitors in order to figure out whether a company is doing well in comparison to its respective marketplace. This is a process that is commonplace in virtually all industries, as it is a universal need to be able to quantify your company’s performance.

For the past decade, brands have spent budgets on social platforms through those platforms’ paid functions. In the past four years, though, brands have started spending billions of dollars on social media influencers in order to create branded content across the various social platforms. As this market matures, the need to monitor attention metrics and benchmarking is paramount to opening up the coffers of agencies and brands.

There are a number of ways to track campaign success. Some are purely halo metrics, like engagement numbers for impressions delivered, but it is imperative to match back a performance of your vertical, platform and demographic to your competitive set in order to truly understand the benefits of your media.

Influencer marketing platforms are now regularly teaming up with leading digital advertising metrics companies like Moat, Integral Ad Science and comScore to create third-party partnerships in order to validate their social benchmarking.

When it comes to benchmarking, third-party resources like these lend much more credibility, as they are independent and unbiased. And with all of the recent news on first-party data concerns, they act as policemen to the platforms themselves.

For influencer benchmarking, there are two primary categories of classification: native and paid. Native benchmarking includes: sentiment analysis; number of mentions over time; engagement analysis of likes, comments and reshares; search volume analysis on Google (based on social posts); impressions; engagement percentages; hashtag mentions; brand handle mentions; click-through rates’ and share of voice.

Paid benchmarking includes: engagement rate; ad recall rates; brand lift studies; CTRs; viewer retention rates from the platform; attention metrics from third parties that include viewable impressions, completion quality, invalid traffic rates and conversion to sale; and foot traffic and online-to-offline attribution.

In order to optimize your performance on social, you need to have a firm understanding of where your business is currently, which metrics are essential to maximize performance and how your company compares to industry leaders.

Benchmarking always starts with defined objectives. By clearly defining them, you can more easily monitor your progress and ultimately make better decisions, which lead to better results for your company and campaign.

Ryan Detert is CEO of artificial-intelligence-powered influencer marketplace Influential.