The Rewards (and Risks) of Influence

The Rewards (and Risks) of Influence

2372 1952 Hunt Adkins

Influencer Marketing is a hot marketing topic. While PR/Communication departments may have once been responsible for this medium, it’s now trending toward the duties of advertising/media teams. And nearly 40% of marketers planned to increase their influencer budget in 2018. But while the rewards can be plentiful for marketers, there are risks involved as well.

Advantages/Opportunities to Marketers of Influencer Marketing

There are three primary advantages to brands that use influencer marketing—authenticity, relevance and engagement. In today’s market, these three advantages are key to driving purchasing and encouraging brand loyalty. According to Business Insider Intelligence’s report, 90% of marketers list engagement as a top success metric for influencer campaigns.

Consumers have many choices available, so the more a brand can connect with them, the better their chances for winning a loyal customer. The right influencer whose voice is trusted by their following can provide fruitful customer relationships because of an authentic opinion offered. As the influencer passes on this information, the product becomes relevant to the followers.

And once you have authenticity and relevance, engagement follows. In fact, the average influencer engagement rate across industry verticals is 5.7%, which is double the average rate for brands on Instagram.

Average influencer engagement rates soar over those of brands—but are those followers really hot air?

Disadvantages/Threats to Marketers

There are three questions to ask before agreeing to work with an influencer:

  1. Where did the followers come from?
  2. What risks are associated with using the potential influencer?
  3. Do I have the right tracking system to verify metrics of success?


To ensure authenticity, any influencer you work with should have obtained their followers organically. Make sure to vet the influencer to assess whether followers are from paid lists—which will provide less engagement—or are a motivated, participative audience.


There are a few risks associated with selecting an influencer, including the influencer going rogue and having less control of the message. This has been witnessed publicly when Disney had to fire gaming aficionado and mega-influencer PewDiePie after his anti-Semitic remarks. The backlash from political or ethical opinions can be severe. You can give an influencer talking points, but then you run the risk of coming off inauthentic—as if the influencer was bought by the company. It’s a good idea to not put all your eggs in one basket. In fact, Linqia’s recently released report “The State of Influencer Marketing 2018” showed that 95% of brands work with anywhere between 1 and 50 influencers.


Influencers have their own networks which typically means limited access to analytics. Make sure you have tracking systems in place that provide information to measure your campaign’s goals and objectives.

How to measure Influencer Marketing success

Success happens when you know what it looks like—set clear measurable goals before the campaign is launched.

Whether media strategists like it or not, we are in a data-driven world. And media strategy teams need data to provide insights to their clients. How Influencer Marketing campaigns are measured and what success looks like are questions that need answers before a campaign is launched. While influencers have control over much of the data, here are few tactics brands/agencies can use to access key data:

  • Promo/Coupon Codes – A simple way to track sales/conversions from a campaign
  • Giveaways – Through sign-ups for contests, you can measure engagement and obtain first-party data (a topic for another blog)
  • Tracking URLs/UTM Parameters – This does measure website volume, but it also offers insight about where users go after visiting your site. This data can be used to build future prospecting and retargeting campaigns where the marketer can be more concise.
  • Share influencer content on other platforms – Test content on owned platforms. The ROI could potentially be poor on some influencer content, but introducing it to a new audience on a different channel may also provide more positive results.

The rewards of using an influencer can be remarkable for brands who wish to connect more deeply with consumers to instill greater brand loyalty. However, understanding the risks and implementing strategies to measure the success of the influencer is crucial to unlock the potential of Influencer Marketing. – MR