How to Measure the Effects of 'Influencer Relations' Measuring something as seemingly unwieldy as the effects of bloggers and social media users talking about your brand can be daunting, but it's achievable.

By Cory Edwards

This story originally appeared on PR Daily

You can't manage what you don't measure.

If you've identified a list of important bloggers and social media users and put a program in place for managing your interactions with them, how do you measure your success over time? Is it the number of times you interact? Is it measured by how well you're faring in relation to your competitors?

An effective campaign for reaching so-called "influencers" is about more than building one-on-one relationships with people who have big followings. It's also about aligning your efforts with specific business goals in mind. Building and measuring a successful programs for working with influential people starts with defining goals, setting benchmarks and tracking change.

Define goals

At the most basic level, a solid influencer-relations campaign involves collecting data that can be expressed concretely, and evaluating your progress against benchmarks you've set. Measuring the value of a relationship with a particular person depends on your business and what you're trying to accomplish through that relationship.

Staying focused on business goals is key. For instance, if you're looking to build buzz about a product before launch or trying to generate a few positive reviews, then checking to see if the bloggers and social media users you're working with are helping with those goals will help you identify if your campaign is achieving the results you intended.

Some key performance indicators might include:

  • Changes in how much your target audience is talking about your brand in relation to your competitors
  • Changes in how popular social media users and bloggers talk about your brand
  • The ability of the people you're working with to drive traffic to your website or spread the word about your brand
  • Progress from awareness to credibility to emotional connection, and finally to loyalty and advocacy
  • Impressions (particularly among your target audience) during a launch or campaign
  • Frequency of conversations about your brand

Benchmarking and measurement

Before beginning a campaign, set benchmarks that relate to both how many people are talking about your brand, and the sentiments they express when they do. It's important to understand the quantity of people discussing your brand, but also how and in what context. If conversations increase but are not favorable or in support of brand goals and messaging, then the uptick doesn't help drive sales or accomplish other goals.

There are many free tools available to help quantify the number of mentions, and offer some analysis of sentiment. More sophisticated tools, such as those within Adobe Marketing Cloud, offer automated measurement and the ability to evaluate changes in how people feel about your brand.

However, measurement is often subjective. Sometimes the best measurement option is simply reading content yourself and evaluating how tone has shifted or changed. Reading yourself can give you a clear look at what your audience is learning.

The key things to capture when creating benchmarks for measuring impact include:

  • Movement through the advocate lifecycle of awareness, credibility, emotional connection, loyalty, and advocacy
  • The transformation of someone with an online relationship into an offline customer and advocate
  • The overall online influence of each blogger or social media user in the program, and whether they're benefiting your brand

The big picture

Across industries, reaching out to people with big online followings is increasingly core part of operations. It makes sense to standardize an approach for identifying, managing and measuring the success of your program.

However you decide to pursue measuring your "influencer relations" program, the goal should be to establish a way move engagement from an ad hoc, impromptu process to a formal, targeted practice. By standardizing your approach, you can exert your own influence, creating loyalists and advocates for your brand.

Cory Edwards is head of Adobe’s Social Business Center of Excellence. He is responsible for the company’s social business operations and integrating social media into the way Adobe does business. 

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