In over a decade, influencer marketing has transformed into a booming, billion-dollar business. In 2017, one billion was spent on Instagram influencers alone, and overall investment is expected to reach $5-$10 billion dollars by 2020. With increased spend comes higher expectations for a return on investment, giving 78% of marketers heart palpitations in the process. Gone are the days of interns shipping out product freebies when top tastemakers like Danielle Bernstein, Rumi Neely, and Julie Sariñana are commanding million-dollar paychecks.
While most creators have a genuine impact on their followers, the allure of the influencer lifestyle—jet-setting holidays, brand name gear, bling, mountains of cash, and celebrity status—has spurred an industry of fake influencers and ad fraud.
From big names loading up on fake followers and paying top dollar for artificial love in the form of bots and inflated engagement to talent agencies amplifying their client’s clout and emerging players promoting faux sponsored deals with boldfaced brands, the need for standardized, independent verification and data transparency couldn’t be more relevant. Those hyped numbers can sway a hotel marketer with an awareness appetite. Before you start signing checks, ask yourself whether these influencers are trying to influence you with inflated numbers or their audience with authentic content.
Then ask yourself if the desire for blockbuster returns is creating a blind spot when it comes to selecting the right tastemaker to represent your brand. As noted in a Digiday article, “Brands often preach “quality” engagement but seek big numbers, which means influencer networks are often scrambling to make up big goals.” As a result, even the most risk-averse marketers could catch influencer influenza. Left unchecked, it could put brand safety and creator authenticity at risk.
In today’s influencer marketing world, every player is self-reporting the success of their campaigns to their clients. It’s like grading your own homework. So why not utilize an objective, third-party platform that vets creators and validates their reach, quality, and impact?
Enter Sylo, a platform that empowers creators and brands to navigate data with confidence. (Co-founder, Brett Garfinkel says that Sylo “verifies and validates strategies, partnerships, and campaign performance for brands, influencers, agencies, and platforms and gives CMOs what they need—access to unbiased, accurate third-party measurement and reporting on influencer marketing campaign and content strategies
In a phone interview with Sylo’s co-founder, Erick Schwab he relayed what we, as hotel marketers, already know—third-party measurement isn’t a new concept. We purchase tools to validate the efficacy of our established media (e.g. television, broadcast, print advertising) and digital spends. However, as influencer marketing is maturing, there needs to be a means of measure to verify those transactions. And as more budgets are being allocated to this new form of advertising, marketers need insurance and assurance that they’re working with the right creators who have real influence. Erick notes, “[Sylo] helps marketers get more effective and efficient about buying, as well as smarter about their content strategy to engage the target audiences that they seek.”
Consider Sylo the EKG of your influencer marketing strategy. What sets Sylo apart, aside from their technology (which we’ll get into), is the fact that they’re determined to set a new standard for objectivity and transparency in influencer marketing. Unlike influencer networks or management companies that rely on their creators’ performance to sell in more lucrative campaigns, Sylo doesn’t have a vested financial interest in campaign or creator success. Rather, they’re focused on lifting the iron curtain that has long separated marketers from creators’ public and private performance data. Independently verified data paves the way for unparalleled campaign and creator insights that drive real ROI.
How does Sylo work? Sylo has two core products: Pulse and Tracking.
Think of Pulse as a means of influencer vetting and analysis, where Sylo assesses a creator’s performance data for quality and effectiveness and delivers scores based on audience, engagement, and behavior. They also alert brands and account managers on any content abnormalities. Pulse gives you the confidence that you’re investing in a healthy audience and an influencer who has stability in terms of followers, reach, engagement, and content over time.
Tracking gives you in-depth campaign and creator performance analysis and inches marketers closer to attribution. From viewing individual posts and post performance to overall campaign efficacy, Sylo’s dashboard and insights helps marketers determine the efficiency of their spend (ROAS/ROI) as well as gain insights in how they should be investing in the future. This aspect is critical because it narrows the tension gap between fees influencers command vs. the efficacy of their impact. Creators who are committed to the longevity of their brands can have honest and fair conversations with brands on fees that commiserate with performance.
- Measurement: Sylo collects clean, public, private, and proprietary data on influencers’ social media posts every 5 minutes to verify audience and performance.
- Verification: Brands, who need a standard to measure success, and creators, who need to sell success, turn to the Sylo score – an unbiased, independent score, comprised of three universal and measurable attributes:
- Performance: Deep analytics broken down by Engagement, Consumption, and Reach
- Audience: Authenticity of audiences and their interactions with content
- Brand Safety: Brand integrity and FTC compliance
- Forecasting: Once Sylo verifies that creators’ audience and post data are free of fraud, we provide measurement and content analysis so you can see what is and isn’t performing well. This can include anything from your creator partners, content, campaigns, social media platforms, demographics, to the day and time of day you’re posting, and beyond. Sylo also delivers key insights into your past and current strategies to predict and inform future strategy performance.
- Reports: Sylo’s cross-channel analytics platform will help you better understand your audience, improve your content performance, support your brand pitches, and in the end, help you packaged these insights into better reports. From validating spend to brand safety, Sylo provides you with the knowledge and insights to make the most of your influencer marketing efforts
Technical advisor Michael Montero says, “This is the biggest threat to the influencer marketing space stalling in 2018. If those who are matching and executing the influencer marketing campaigns are allowed to continue to self-report, success metrics will continue to be inflated and risk brand safety and creator authenticity.”
This is why every other form of legitimate advertising media adopted standardized measurement, and it needs to be adopted by the influencer marketing space if we are to justify the investments and increase budgets into the space going forward.
At the end of the day, influencer marketing can work and thrive—when the strategy is right, the content is authentic, and the data can be verified. Everyone involved in the industry is going to have to come forward and work together to solve it.
Learn more about how your travel, tourism, or hospitality brand can elevate its Influencer Marketing creative and strategies with our Influencer Marketing Transformative Training Programs.
See Sylo in action. Schedule a demo on their site and mention Storified Hospitality Group for preferred partner pricing.