Likes, clicks, followers — the influencer marketing industry is obsessed with attention. But attention is only half of the equation.
Influence also requires trust.
Creators build it over time by understanding what their audiences care about and consistently delivering. Brands need to do the same to make the most of their borrowed access.
Unfortunately, most marketers are still trying to choose influencers based on vanity metrics that are slipping away and social listening tools that don’t paint the full picture. Often, they’re risking time, money, and great creative on the wrong audiences.
Influencer marketing is rapidly maturing into a core marketing discipline, and it’s time for the strategies and metrics to reflect that growth.
Where vanity falls short
According to Hubspot, social metrics edge into more superficial territory when they are “satisfying on paper, but don't move the needle for your business goals,” and we share that philosophy.
At Helixa, we believe all marketing should utilize research and data to solve your specific business problems.
That means defining a clear objective and audience — whether you want to build further loyalty among current fans, woo people who buy from your competitors, or target new customers based on shared interests.
Let’s take a look at a few different instances where vanity metrics and broad, sweeping views of an influencer’s audience are simply not enough.
The prettiest girl at the party may not be your type
Let’s say you’re a marketing director at Pillsbury, and you’re looking at influencers for an upcoming campaign. It might be tempting to open up your influencer marketing platform and find a celebrity in your space with a ton of followers and high engagement.
But if the content is seen by thousands of people who will never buy your product, your reporting will be full of empty numbers. You need to find a meaningful intersection.
It may not shock you that people in the Pillsbury audience doesn’t have much love for Kanye, but perhaps their low affinities for Gordon Ramsey and Antoni Porowski are a bit more surprising. When it comes time to sign that check, you’ll want more than intuition backing your decision.
With Helixa, you can find, rank, and validate the top influencers for any audience, based on more than just engagement. Or, if you’ve already done your research and want to vet a specific list of influencers, you can apply the full AI power of our platform to validate your shortlist.
The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, comes out on top for Pillsbury’s audience when taking both affinity and reach into account. She has a sixth of the Twitter following that Gordon Ramsey does, but her audience already cares about Pillsbury and will be more receptive to a partnership.
However, brands are multi-dimensional — especially a company like Pillsbury with an extensive product line and many audience segments to target. It’s safe to say that a one-size-fits-all approach to influencer marketing won’t fly here.
You can’t please everyone... or can you?
While The Pioneer Woman is likely the strongest choice for an overall campaign targeting Pillsbury’s entire audience, she may not have the strongest reach with every consumer segment that Pillsbury wants to reach.
We used Helixa’s segmentation to take a closer look at the different groups within Pillsbury’s audience and their feelings toward The Pioneer Woman. Most of the segments had similar affinities, but two segments were a bit more extreme and told an interesting story.
The 35- to 44-year-old mothers in the Pillsbury audience are extremely engaged with The Pioneer Woman, compared with the general population. However, she is less popular with a segment of 45- to 54-year-old women in a higher income bracket with no children at home.
You might see the second segment as an opportunity to reach new fans. Whatever you decide, what is important is the shift toward intentional, data-driven decision-making.
Influencers for a specific product? Easy as pie
Now, let’s change the rules. In the new scenario, you are not responsible for Pillsbury’s entire line of products — instead, you’re a brand manager focusing on its pie crust product.
You have been briefed that the previously mentioned segment of 35- to 44-year-old mothers is interested in The Pioneer Woman, and you want to reach them.
First, you need to validate her influence with that segment. We can use Total Consumer View to bring in consumption data through our exclusive partnership with MRI-Simmons.
When you look at the mothers in that group who have purchased the pie crust, they actually have a higher affinity for Hoda Kotb from TODAY.
Given that new information, you can decide if you want to go with The Pioneer Woman for a broader appeal across Pillsbury’s product line or leverage Hoda’s additional influence with pie crust buyers, specifically.
Reach them where they are
At the end of this process, you have some exciting influencer partnerships to explore, and you can defend each decision with data. Just as your brand is multi-dimensional, so are the audiences you hope to reach.
Take the segment of mothers for example. They aren’t only moms, but moms that do things: decorators, home cooks, fashion enthusiasts. They like a bargain. They probably appreciate the time that Pillsbury products can save them, but they want to be conscious about what they are feeding their families.
If you want to win them over, you need to know all this and more. Helixa can even give you a more holistic picture of their interests and passions, for authentic messaging that hits home and builds brand love.
Reach out to learn more about how you can bring these deep, human insights to your brand for stronger decisions.
Download Our Gen Z Report
Gen Z is highly influenced by endorsements from celebrities and influencers. But is that enough to reach them?
See what else motivates and engages this generation in our report, Gen Z: All Grown Up. If you can earn your way into their first shopping carts, you could have a fan for life.
Ryan is the Marketing Communications Manager at Helixa, where he leads content strategy from the NYC office. He believes in a lot of things, but never ghosts, guilty pleasures, or his Florida Gators’ offense.