Rating Influencer Partnerships: What to Look For
As influencer marketing becomes a vital part of several brands’ marketing strategy, it’s crucial that brands, or their agencies, are actively scaling the value of each influencer they are partnering with. Rating each influencer not only allows the brand to measure the overall success of their influencer campaign, but it also allows them to compare influencers against one another to determine which influencers made the largest impact on their target audience.
Most brands may think they are already scaling their influencer partnerships by measuring the quality of the influencer’s photos, i.e. high-resolution vs. low-resolution, and the number of posts they’ve shared as a result of the partnership, but brands need to get more granular in their evaluation to effectively determine which influencers brought the most value to the brand’s influencer campaign.
How to Calculate the Quality of an Influencer Partnership
Once an influencer’s post is live and the terms of the partnership have been completed, an evaluation element should be implemented into the brand’s strategy. To start, it’s imperative that there is a source of measurement, whether it may be rating social media influencers on a scale or using the point system, to rate components that fall directly within the influencer’s post, as well as rate the partnership in its entirety.
At Power Digital, we rate our influencer partnerships by awarding “stars” to each influencer based on 9 key components outlined below:
Signed Image Rights Release Form (+1 Star)
Upon creating an influencer partnership, we present each influencer with an agreement and an image rights release form to review and sign prior to starting the campaign. The agreement outlines the terms of the partnership and posting guidelines and the image rights release form requests that each influencer gives the brand copyrights to the content they create as a result of the partnership.
Although it’s important for the influencer to sign the agreement form, showing that they are agreeing to the posting guidelines, it’s crucial for the influencer to sign the image rights release form.
Why? Obtaining the rights to influencers’ content is a vital part of any influencer marketing campaign, as it allows the brand to repurpose the material influencers create to support their internal marketing efforts. With that being said, it’s imperative that the image rights release form is signed prior to moving forward with the partnership to ensure that copyright issues don’t arise in the future. At Power Digital, we award influencers one star for signing the image rights release form before they have even started working on the influencer campaign.
High-Resolution Imagery (+1 Star)
Once the influencer’s post is live, our team begins evaluating key components that create the foundation of a top-performing social media post. We start by evaluating the quality of the influencer’s imagery, and whether their post includes high-resolution imagery that is visually attractive to its audience. Did the influencer spend time photographing the brand’s product or packaging with a camera or did they use their smartphone to capture an easy shot?
As influencer marketing is primarily used as a brand awareness play, it’s essential that brands reinforce the importance of creating high-quality content to the influencers they partner with. Our team awards influencers with one star for posting high-quality, visually attractive content that was well thought out and positioned.
Product Packaging Inclusion (+2 Stars)
Within the social media influencer’s photo or video, our team also checks to see if he or she included the brand’s product or packaging within their post. Although every brand may request that each influencer features the brand’s products, it’s very difficult to get influencers to agree to feature the brand’s product or packaging within their image, as several influencers don’t want their post to appear as a blatant advertisement.
However, since featuring the product or the brand’s packaging is such an important aspect of any brand awareness campaign, our team values the influencer we partner with that follow our posting guidelines and incorporate the brand’s products or packaging organically into their photo. We award influencers with two stars for product inclusion, regardless of whether the product is featured off to the side, in the background or even partially cut off within the photo or video.
Brand Mention and Tags (+1 Star)
Moving away from the social influencer’s image onto their caption, our team checks to see if that influencer properly tagged our client’s social media account within their post. For Facebook and Instagram, we check to see if the influencer tagged the brand’s social profile within their photo and within their caption. For YouTube, we check to see if the influencer has included a link to the brand’s website within their video description and listen to the video to make sure that they mentioned the brand within their post.
This may seem obvious, but several influencers neglect to tag brands in both the caption and the photo or some may even misspell the brand’s handle or website. Our team awards influencers one star for including brand mentions and tags within their social post.
Brand Messaging (+1 Star)
Within our influencer contract that we have each individual influencer sign upon agreeing to partner together, we outline three to five key messages about the brand and its products and request that the influencer we are partnering with includes at least one key message about the brand or highlights a specific detail about its products within the post. Upon reviewing the influencer’s post, our team carefully evaluates the influencer’s caption to determine whether the influencer has incorporated any brand messaging.
At Power Digital, we encourage our influencers to share content within their own voice and rephrase messaging as they see fit, since they’re the ones who are most familiar with what content resonates with their followers and which content doesn’t. When evaluating the influencer’s caption, our team doesn’t pigeonhole the influencer to sharing a key message word-for-word, as long as influencers share the general idea about our client’s brand and its products, we award that the influencer with one star.
Custom Hashtag & FTC Hashtag (+1 Star)
Another aspect our team looks for within each influencer’s post is whether they included the custom hashtag we provided them with, as well as #Ad, #Sponsored or #Partner, to comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s influencer guidelines. Whether the influencer posted on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or even Twitter, it’s crucial that they disclose that the post is a result of a partnership with a brand. Without the FTC hashtag, brands and influencers are susceptible to being penalized. For several brands, it’s crucial for influencers to include a branded hashtag in addition to the FTC hashtag, so that they can simply type in that hashtag on any platform and see each of the influencers’ posts within their search. If the influencer included both hashtags, our team awards that influencer with an additional star.
High Engagement (+1 Star)
Aside from imagery and the influencer’s caption, the engagement an influencer generates is another component that builds the foundation of a top-performing social post. At Power Digital, we evaluate the quality of engagement from the influencer’s followers and how well the influencer returns the favor and actively engages back with their influencers. To measure the quality of engagement from the influencer’s followers, our team compares the influencer’s follower count to their engagement rate to determine the performance of their post. We also compare engagement rates from the post we partnered with them on to their other sponsored posts.
In addition, our team also looks to see whether the influencer actively engaged back with their followers and responded to any questions that were asked or comments made. Engagement from the influencer is an important aspect of an influencer’s post because it shows that the influencer is an active part within their community and they are carrying out the brand’s messaging. We award an influencer with one star if their post received high engagement and they make an effort to re-engage with their audience.
Full-Feature Post (+2 Stars)
The last aspect our team evaluates within an influencer’s post, is whether the post is a full-feature. Meaning, our client is the only brand featured, mentioned, or tagged within the post. This excludes influencers who tag several brands within their image or mention another brand’s products within the same caption.
Within any influencer marketing campaign, the primary goal is to generate brand awareness and educate potential consumers on the brand and its products. The reason for putting an emphasis on a full-feature post is due to the simple fact that when an influencer’s followers are viewing the post, we want them to solely focus on our client’s brand. We want viewers to be educated about the brand without getting distracted by other brands or potential competitors. Since full-feature posts are often more difficult to acquire from an influencer partnership, we award influencers with two stars for only featuring, mentioning, and tagging our client’s brand in their post.
Instagram Story with Custom UTM Link (+3 Star)
In addition to a post on an influencer’s Facebook or Instagram profile or YouTube channel, our team requests that each of our influencers posts an Instagram story featuring the brand’s products or packaging, tagging the brand’s Instagram handle, and most importantly including a custom link back to the brand’s website. As per Instagram’s most recent algorithm update, influencers with business accounts that have over 10,000 followers are able to attach links within their Instagram Stories. At Power Digital, a large part of our influencer strategy is creating custom UTM links for each influencer we partner with, and requesting that they include that custom link within their Instagram Story.
Once the Instagram story is live, our team is able to go into Google Analytics to monitor any traffic that influencer is driving back to our client’s website. This allows us to show how influencer marketing is affecting our client’s bottom line, in addition to generating brand awareness. Since this is such a vital aspect of the influencer partnership, in addition to the influencer’s post, our team awards influencers three stars, who post an Instagram story including the custom UTM link we created for them.
If your brand is currently running an influencer marketing campaign and is only scaling your influencer partnerships from a surface level perspective, you should strongly consider incorporating a more granular evaluation element into your influencer strategy. Rating each of your influencer partnerships will allow you to measure the overall success of your influencer campaign, and determine which influencers made the largest impact on your target audience.