Working with social influencers has quickly gained ground as a marketing strategy. Influencer marketing is often run as pure-play brand activity, but what many marketers do not realize is that they can achieve performance goals with these partners.

Marketing teams and CMOs can expect real engagement from their campaigns and, in the case of mobile applications, can drive installs, registrations, subscriptions, and transactions. It can be hard to decide how and when to invest in influencers, but there are several key criteria that can help any performance marketer build and launch a successful campaign.

 

Seeking volume and scale

The most valuable influencers have often amassed followings of millions of relevant users. Gamers like PewDiePie have in excess of 40 million followers. The volume of actions possible to achieve in just one campaign with social influencer partners are arguably rivaled only by the effects of chart visibility resulting from paid burst campaigns.

The cost of traditional paid burst can be extremely high, depending, to some degree, on the market in question.

 

Chart position and visibility

For the most part, incent and other forms of low-value, low-quality media are used to offset these costs. Few will credit the paid installs in these campaigns with any standalone value, with this residing exclusively in the resulting organics.

Interestingly, social influencer activity has proven to achieve the same effect as traditional burst campaigns. Influencers are capable of driving the required scale over an adequately condensed period of time — around a live stream or similar, for example — and in most cases, you can more than halve the costs of traditional burst campaigns.

Moreover, the additional value added — in particular the brand benefits — far outweighs anything generated via chart visibility alone. Here, we are not seeing a mere uplift in site visits, page likes, etc. Rather, we see user-generated content in all its forms: vast (localized) communities, social pages, fan sites, videos, and discussion boards, all originating from the most highly relevant and valuable user bases.

 

Quality and user lifetime value

Organic installs often have 2-3 times higher value than paid installs. Influencer marketing entails what the majority of users infer as pseudo-organic content from a trusted, respected, and friendly expert source: their community leader. Looking at the data, influencers have historically proven capable of directly and indirectly driving installs with a higher user LTV than offered by any other platform, channel, or media type.

 

ROI and partner selection

In light of the above, it’s not surprising that influencer activity has high potential to generate a strong return dependent on highly informed influencer selection and the commercials agreed with these partners. The gross majority of influencer offerings currently available are problematic from a performance perspective. There are many accessible via influencer networks, management agencies, or platform-based solutions, which are 90 percent publisher aligned. In these cases, the initial cost of entry and payment models offered make this valuable activity impracticable if an advertiser is looking to onboard high LTV users at an acceptable acquisition cost.

CPI, CPR can/should be applied here, as meeting or reducing these KPIs is more than viable with this delivery method. There is a significant “misdirection” of the majority of solutions and those few advertiser-aligned companies offering influencer activity on a performance payment model tend to go down one of two routes. Namely, they use very high CPIs, CPRs, and minimum spend commitments to offset the risk. In other instances there is a questionable “influencer” selection process, resulting in both low scale and low quality. Having thousands, even millions, of followers does not equate to being a social influencer, nor does this dictate influencer relevancy.

 

Geographies and market selection

Consider the market carefully in the first instance. If performance success depends largely on partner commercials, logic suggests that it might be easier to attain success in key tier two and tier three geographies, such as those located in CIS (commonwealth of independent states or former Soviet republics) and LATAM (Latin America). As costs are lower, there is a lower risk for a first foray into performance influencer marketing. Similarly, influencer activity is regionalized by language-led, as opposed to market-led, and this should be leveraged. An influencer in Mexico might have a vast following not only in Mexico, but more broadly across LATAM and even Spain (tier one) because the content is in the Spanish language.

 

Platform selection

Platforms should also be considered as part of social influencer partner selection. Can an influencer operating on Twitter offer the same degree of exposure as an influencer focusing their efforts on YouTube? A YouTube channel ensures the content produced retains visibility amongst a relevant audience beyond the initial live stream and/or upload. In contrast, a tweet, with its inherent character limitations and less than engaging text- or image-based format, offers decidedly less excitement and information, and disappears from the audience’s line of sight within short span of time. There’s no ongoing value offered and the value of the initial exposure is questionable. Realistically, this is best employed as an amplification tool in these campaigns, but certainly should not be the platform focus.

It’s a different matter if you’re Nike running a Twitter-based influencer campaign via the 10 most popular NBA players from a multi-million dollar brand budget, but few advertisers find themselves in this enviable position.

For everyone else, leverage the insights here and/or be sure you’re working with those who have deep expertise and relevant case studies. Performance-based social influencer campaigns can be essential for any go-to-market strategy where you can see and measure results related to engagement and even transactions/revenue.