Evaluating Influencer Marketing: It’s All About the Connection

As influencer marketing budgets grow, it’s understandable that there are calls for a closer look at how it works and how brands can make better use of it in their marketing campaigns.

Influencer marketing agency Tailify specializes in “influencer marketing, powered by science”. It uses live data sources and evolving behavioral science metrics to analyze over 100 variables of an influencer’s production, style, and approach.

This can power the selection and messaging of influencers who, according to Tailify, return on average double the ROI compared to campaigns that rely on leading metrics and gut feel.

Speaking at Influencer 360, Alan Gray, Senior Research Psychologist at Tailify, revealed some of the benefits of taking a psychological approach to evaluating influencer marketing.

Drawing on a report produced by Tailify that includes 41 actionable tips for content creation, Gray discussed some of the ways brands could make their campaigns more effective.

“When you’re on Instagram, some posts stand out more than others that you scroll right past. Why so?” He asked.

It’s all in the eyes
One of the most powerful ways to ensure content gets through is through eye contact. Research shows that when the person on the post looks directly at the viewer, it attracts more attention.

“You’re more likely to notice a face in a crowd if they’re looking directly at you. It’s faster to identify them and faster to call them back in the future,” he said.

By capturing our attention, it changes the way we process information, Gray said. It can even increase the propensity to buy a product.

“Even looking at you with one eye means more likes, more comments and more clicks. This is true for multiple campaigns on Instagram, and it also extends to other platforms such as YouTube where you get a higher engagement rate.

Tailify has developed software to assess the level of eye contact throughout a video to produce an “average eye contact score” for individual videos or across an entire channel, and again, an correlation between eye contact and engagement is established.

“We’re able to compare influencer performance on this subtle metric,” he said.

Left side bias
Another fascinating revelation from Gray is that most of us tend to favor the left side of our face when presenting on camera.

“Most people pose this way in their photos and selfies,” he said.

A study in 2019 looked at the top 25 influencers on Instagram and took the 10 most recent photos that showed their left side, and the 10 most recent photos that showed their right and compared them for likes.

Only three influencers had more likes for their images on the right than for their left.

No one is quite sure why this should be the case, but studies have shown that people associate left-sided images as being more expressive, more emotional, more honest, and more trustworthy.

In terms of influencer campaigns, this equates to more likes, comments, and clicks for images on the left.

it depends on the platform
Gray noted an interesting caveat about the results – different contexts call for different things.

For example, on Instagram, you might want to be perceived as emotional and expressive. Whereas on LinkedIn, people want to come across as professional, unemotional and respectable – and studies have shown that people are actually more likely to show their right side over their left on the platform.

“So it’s platform-dependent, because both of those things are really context-dependent,” Gray said.

Insights from psychology show that what may appear to be randomly generated images actually have a deep logic that we are only beginning to understand.

Influencers send messages about their relationship with their followers even if they are unaware of it.

“Instagram and other platforms are all about generating relationships and there are many subtle ways to generate those relationships,” Gray said. “The successful influencer depends on the relationship they have with their followers. It’s all about connection.