Examining the imprecise science of influencer marketing

Influencer Marketing


Influencer marketing campaigns are notoriously hit or miss. If you’re lucky enough to run a successful one, it’s akin to catching lightning in a bottle.


So is it worth it?


What’s the right way to do it? What’s the wrong way?


How do you pick an influencer to headline your campaign? And how do you even measure success?


Erik Radtke, VP at social media influencer platform BLU Market and Jeff Roberto, Head of Marketing at smash hit social image editing platform PicsArt sat down to discuss these and other thorny issues surrounding influencer marketing at The Mobile Growth House during SXSW this year. Some of their thoughts might surprise you.

When it comes to retention and profitable growth, Jeff Roberto knows a thing or two. His app PicsArt has 400 million global installs, 85 million MAU, and more than 600 million shared images flowing through its system.

“Some of the most successful campaigns we’ve realized were driven by influencers. For us, it’s all about spotting trends. What are they doing, what are they part of, and how do we insert PicsArt into that social dialogue,” he said.

PicsArt had viral success in December with Tree of Life, an organically occurring social media trend of millennial moms sharing breastfeeding selfies (“brelfies”, for the uninitiated.) Brelfie takers were using PicsArt to edit their photos in interesting ways, and the company reached out to some of those creating the most re-shared ones.

“They started sharing these on Instagram, Facebook, etc. and people would ask how they did it and where it came from. Once we recognized that was happening, we launched a full marketing program. We reached out to those users and really leveraged them, pitching them to press with examples.The press picked it up and we got a full round of consumer media telling that story. It starts organically and then we amplify it with marketing.”

As for the future of influencer marketing, Roberto says the key remains figuring out how to get your brand or product in front of a trend and inserting it in an organic and unobtrusive way.

“It’s not just an ad to install our app, it’s a mention within that dialogue. I think brands need to figure out how to fit in there. No one wants another social media personality telling them to go check out this brand. There’s too much noise there. If there are too many brands working with the same person, the engagement is just not there,” he stated.

Roberto admits that for every influencer marketing success, there are “hundreds of failures” and that it’s a daily battle to find what works. Which emphasizes the importance of trial and error.

Radtke pointed out that although working with influencers has plenty of upside potential, it sometimes comes with its own headaches. Sometimes the influencers themselves can be just plain tough to work with. He asked Roberto how he navigates that.

“You’re going to find people who are disorganized or may not be easy to work with; I’d say have a good social influencer person on staff who gets influencers. It’s a full-time job; you really need to work with these folks,” Roberto said.

Let’s say you have an influencer on board who you think is resonating with your audience. How do you go about actually proving it’s the influencer driving those clicks or revenue? Roberto says there are methods, but it’s still not an exact science.

“If you’re working directly with influencers and have a roster of folks I’d hand out specific tracking URLs to each one so you can measure the return, but it’s still not 100 percent.”

Radtke points to this as a huge ongoing problem in the space right now.

“We’re a clickiverse. No one wants to click stuff. You can put the right creative asset for the right product in front of the right person and make a compelling story and that person still will not click on that link. They’ll back out of it, go to the app store, and search for it.”

Roberto says even asking users basic questions in brief surveys can yield results over time once averages establish themselves.

“We ask age and gender to get a feel for demographic, how did you hear about us, what led you to install us. You’ll be surprised at how even in those basic questions over time trends start to play out which you can identify as driving a ton of revenue to the business.”


Catch the whole discussion here:



Looking to dip your toe in the waters of influencer marketing? Say Hi@tmga.co and let’s talk about how TMGA can help!

Key takeaways:

 • Influencers aren’t always famous. Look to expert, heavy users of your app and its tools as potential influencers regardless of their current social media reach.
• Exclusive or semi-exclusive relationships are best. Too many brands under one influencer has a watering-down effect. At the very least you should ensure they aren’t repping other products or services within your space.
• Meet regularly, daily if possible, to discuss hot trends on social media. Look to insert your product or brand in an organic way to make it part of the conversation rather than shove an ad in someone’s face. Users will resent the latter.
• For every influencer marketing success, there will likely be hundreds of failures. This is a normal part of the fuzzy world of influencer marketing.
• Look to hire a full-time influencer marketing specialist who really understands influencers to handle personalities who might not be used to working on a deadline or being told what to do.
• Tracking ROI is not an exact science but can be fudged fairly accurately by knowing your internal numbers




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