If you find measuring social media campaigns to be a challenge for your brand, you are not alone. More than half (53 percent) of marketers surveyed for a recent Forrester report said measurement was their main challenge with social marketing. While we know that influencer and social media marketing can have significant ROI, there is no one simple formula for determining a campaign’s success, which bring us to the importance of identifying a way to effectively measure social engagement.

The value of influencer marketing comes from brands’ ability to tap into an influencer’s close-knit community of followers who already know and trust the influencer. This value cannot be communicated effectively with sheer impressions alone, but instead can be seen in how followers engage with a post, an indicator of lasting impact that will motivate followers’ future opinions, decisions and purchases.

The bloggers we work with continue to tell us that numbers alone are not their biggest success factor – the real connections and shared value with readers is what matters. Most of these influencers feel that there is a gap between their thinking and brands’ point of view on what works and what doesn’t in a social media campaign.

Take a look at some of the “gaps” we found:

  • Impressions and reach are not the only value of an influencer: deep, targeted connections and quality content are very important.
  • Success shouldn’t be hindered by the limitations of measurement today – avoid focusing only on impressions, unique monthly views, page visits and bloggers’ reach.
  • Other factors, such as engagement, provide valuable consumer insight and are often indications of purchase or action.
  • When their readers view posts in that moment, they are just that – readers. Purchases or actions may not be immediate, but without a doubt, there is an impact on purchasing behavior.
  • Knowing the brand’s objectives going into a campaign is extremely helpful in getting the desired results.
  • Content does not go viral right away, and there is also value in evergreen content.
  • Online influencers are more than numbers and impressions – they are community creators and thought leaders. They have a relationship with their readers built on trust and shared values, which makes them powerful voices.

We often see that brands believe working with the highest-reach bloggers will make their campaigns more successful, but we know that highest reach doesn’t always mean the best results. When sponsored content is authentic, it naturally provides value for its readers. We see influencers with high AND lower reach creating true connections with their followers, and their content performs well and garners higher engagement over time.

Since we’re finding that the long-standing impressions metric does not always communicate the inherent value of influencer marketing, we’re continuing our #MeasurementMonday series by tackling the topic of going beyond the impression — and how to measure social engagement.

measure social engagement in influencer marketing

Why measure Social engagement?

Impressions are one piece of a campaign’s success. For example, a recent study from The Motherhood found that 80 percent of blog readers were more likely to seek out brands they’d seen on social media and blogs. But when we measure social engagement, we get better insight into how users responded to the content and receive more tangible metrics to analyze.

Here are five reasons to measure engagement:

  1. Easily indicates top-performing content
  2. Allows for analysis of factors that lead to high engagement
  3. Engagement rate as a percent of total impressions levels the playing field between large and smaller influencers’ followings
  4. Industry standard ROI calculations rely on engagement as a metric of earned media value
  5. Each different type of engagement (likes, shares, comments, etc.) indicates users’ response to content

What does an Online engagement mean?

There are many reasons people like, share and comment online; however, in general, those actions can indicate the following:

Shares and re-tweets indicate that a post resonates with those individuals. 86 percent of people say that they share to give others a better sense of who they are and what they care about without having to explicitly state it.

Likes and favorites often indicate reciprocity. We do this because we want to maintain or reinforce closeness and add value to relationships as well as to indicate a shared emotion or understanding of post. (You can actually connect your Facebook profile here to find out what your likes indicate about you.)

Commenting on posts can indicate a variety of things based on the content. However, commenting does indicate that the user took time to view and interact with the post. Comments, even negative, are said to create value for other post viewers as well: 85 percent say that reading others’ responses on a topic helps to understand and process information and events.

Not all engagement is created equal; as we mentioned in a previous #MeasurementMonday post, success factors can vary based on campaign goals. Studies indicate that shared values were a much bigger driver for consumers than lots of interaction with a brand. Engagement metrics help us to better understand how online users react to sponsored content.

Social media influencers help create a more personal and shared brand experience for consumers, and the value of that experience is best showcased in understanding engagement and insights. When brands measure social engagement as a key performance indicator in their influencer campaigns, they’re acknowledging the power of well-written, authentic content in moving the needle.

Continue following our #MeasurementMonday series and view past posts here!