Influence, measurement and meaning

Sharyn Smith explores what success looks like for Influencer Marketing in 2024.

Influence, measurement and meaning


Marketing and measurement go hand in hand. There’s no two ways about it. For every modern-day marketing campaign, the question of success has persistently loomed large. In the more recent world of influencer marketing, it looms larger still. We’ve moved past the early days of influencer campaigns – the wild west, non-disclosure days – that saw a singular metric, like reach or engagement, often used to prove ROI. But where have we landed?

Today’s influence channel mix is multi-faceted and varied. It’s not just influencer content but also includes reviews, trials, word of mouth, partnerships, and activating networks. It’s for this reason that we need to move beyond superficial metrics and instead look at a comprehensive measurement system, one that tracks well beyond the campaign period to reflect an authentic measure of all the channels under the influence umbrella.

Understanding the aftermath of someone encountering your content piece is crucial. Your ad might reach a million people with 5% engagement, but what did the audience think of the post? Did it make them change their mind about your brand? Did it affect consideration? Did they purchase, or did they talk to others about it? It’s about what happens after the initial impact and about tracking these over moments, weeks and months to breathe meaning into measurement, allowing for a true assessment of ROI.

What works for us is tracking KPIs longitudinally. So, for our partnerships, we get a neutral read before the campaign starts and then check in quarterly (or whatever cadence is needed) on both sentiment and action. If we find that certain messages, message styles or channels are resonating and changing behaviour in the desired way, we can amend accordingly for future campaigns. This means our work is always dynamic; we are consistently responding to the audience and maintaining relevance and connection to the culture.

Of course, the approaches you can take are endless. The real kicker here is that when you look at a brand’s macro goals, and plan out influence channels to support them, you also need to plan out what success looks like and how to leverage a measurement system to prove it out.

How do you go about such a measurement system? Your initial planning phase should make it clear what success looks like. That means you will need to start measuring before your program or campaign starts so you can understand your baseline and what you need to set up before you’re into the program. It’s also worth spending time to understand the “so what” beyond the accepted conventional measures. Are they telling you what you need to know? Is that going to be a clear indication of the success of this program? Is it going to give you the right insights or learnings to understand how to do it again, better, differently?

For a FMCG partner of ours, it meant reaching out to every influence channel after nine months to track behaviour, impact and ongoing purchases – then reaching out to those they had impacted (followers, friends) to understand how this engagement created behaviour change and purchases.

We took a different approach for another FMCG client however, implementing a test and control methodology where we followed two groups – one involved in the program and one not – and asked them to submit their grocery receipts over a period of eight weeks so we could test what impact the program was having.

By tracking and testing behaviour months and months after our campaigns, we have been able to find deeper insights that allow us to continually shape future marketing.

The call to action is clear: let’s re-evaluate our metrics, challenge the conventional, and unearth the authentic impact that lies beyond the immediate outputs. Always look for additional insights beyond standard platform metrics. The future of influencer marketing measurement rests on our ability to go beyond the surface, ensuring that the numbers we accept truly reflect the enduring success and influence of our campaigns. Just as influencers are conduits to people, your campaign metrics should be conduits to understanding how audiences act and evolve over time in response to content.