What Is The Most Misleading Metric In Influencer Marketing Right Now?

This article was originally published on Bandt.

I was recently a judge for a couple of local Australian marketing awards. I love giving up my time to do this because I love what I do and there is nothing more satisfying than getting to hear about more great ideas – of which, there are more and more to be proud of in this country.

Let’s keep it super simple – potentially too simple for some. The goal of brand marketing is to expose your brand to as many unique individuals/unique people to your brand as possible, as regularly as possible, for as far as your budget will take you. You must be the brand they’ve seen most recently when they are in the market for whatever it is you produce or the service you provide in order for you to be considered – essentially, be mentally or physically available to people in life when they need you.

Each agency and the in-house team will have their own metrics they measure success against. But taking on board the above brand marketing methodology, reach is the metric that should tell you how many unique individuals/people you have been seen by.

My participation in judging a number of awards so far this year has highlighted when it comes to the measurement, the metrics businesses are clinging to are downright misleading. One campaign for an Australian-only based brand reported having reached 87 million people. That is three times the total population of Australia and utterly impossible.

The critical pitfall when measuring reach is to take the potential reach figure as the actual reach figure. Potential reach is the number you get if you add together ALL of the audiences of all the influencers who shared content as part of the campaign.

Say an influencer’s audience is made up of YouTube subscribers (300,000) and their Instagram audience (180,000). So, you engage that influencer to co-create and post content for your brand. Your potential reach figure of 380,000 – almost half a million people – when in actual fact, not every audience member would have seen the post. Indeed, nowhere near that amount people would have seen that video, image or blog. So, why are we still constantly seeing and hearing these outrageous claims? There must be a greater emphasis on the right metrics. Be sure to address this issue whenever somebody puts a report in front of you or you see a case study.

The major error with this means of reporting is it is only measuring potential reach and not the actual number of eyeballs who saw the content. Potential reach can also be labelled as “opportunities to see”. Another example of trick terminology is “combined reach”. Accurately measuring the success and impact of influencer activity is still a grey area, and unfortunately it comes down to a lack of education for brands. These misleading metrics give no real insight as to the success of a post or program and is fundamentally valueless.

All social networks, besides Twitter, report on unique reach per post (this is called ‘unique views’ on YouTube), and we base our ensuing insights on this solid data. Establishing this figure requires a lot more legwork, but it’s a true representation of the number of people exposed to your brand.

Very little has changed. Google Analytics started November 14, 2005 after Google acquired Urchin Software Corp earlier that year. Fun fact: Urchin is still referenced today as the U in UTM tracking codes. As a digital marketer over the last 10 years, Google Analytics was our bible, but all indications suggest we really haven’t moved very far past the days of reporting page views, even though ‘‘unique visitors’ has been available.