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Whalar x Element Human | The Emotions of Influencer Marketing

A version of this article was originally published alongside Talking Influence.

Why measuring the emotions that influencer content evokes provides brands with far more valuable reporting than calculating reach, impressions or engagement. In partnership with Element Human, Whalar has developed our own creative reporting methods to fill the substantial reporting void in influencer marketing.

The Challenge | Proving Influencer Effectiveness

We work in a constantly evolving industry. With influencers in anything but short supply, multiple platforms appearing every week, and the point of contact between brand and consumer is increasingly blurred - proving the effectiveness of an individual campaign, or even the performance of a singular piece of content, can be extremely challenging.

Many influencer platforms still insist on reporting on basic metrics - impressions, reach and engagements - none of which indicate the impact influencers have on brand awareness, product consideration or sales. Although these metrics are useful in tracking social media performance, they offer us very little in terms of how a brand is perceived, if the brand is even being noticed in the content, or the level of influence that content is actually having on the consumer.

Aware of this gap, Whalar has developed our own creative reporting to fill the current void in the influencer economy. In partnership with research tech company Element Human, we’re focussing on measuring real-time biometric responses to influencer content. The aim is to be able to effectively track how emotive influencer content is. From this, we can offer brands full visibility of how their branded content is actually being received, which content is the most effective in driving brand awareness, and which influencers are best suited to be long term ambassadors.

Filling the Gap | Reimaging Influencer Data

Even if a piece of organic influencer content performs well - what does that actually tell us? Are consumers ‘liking’ the brand? Or the influencer? Is the product being noticed at all? Would the information from the content affect their future purchasing decisions?

All of these key performance indicators are impossible to accurately measure within the ‘reach economy’. However, they are essential questions that need to be answered if the long term potential of influencer marketing is to be taken seriously. Instead, by measuring a combination of biometrics, reported emotions and brand metrics, marketers can gain a crucial level of reporting that social media metrics cannot give us and begin to tackle the pivotal questions that marketers have shied away from.

The Problem | Why is Testing Emotion Important?

If content evokes emotion, you’re far more likely to remember it. Maya Angelou famously wrote, “You'll forget what they said, but never how they made you feel”, which rings true in almost every aspect of life. For context, maybe you can’t remember all the details of the award winning Nike campaign, “Dream Crazy” - but you will far more likely remember how it made you feel.

Last year, Whalar opened the door to neuroscience as a precise measurement of the effectiveness of influencer marketing. Specifically, the study measured how our brains respond to premium influencer adverts in comparison to other media. The study proved to be a huge accolade for what happens when you invest in highly creative and authentic influencer marketing. Notably, how relevant influencer ads are 277% more emotive than TV ads.

Yes, this endorsed influencer marketing on a deeper neurological level. However, the study also highlighted a missing piece in the influencer puzzle. Although influencer content was far more emotive, as a measurement it is far difficult to report and put into data. There was almost no way of tracking which content was the most emotive, or any method of giving brands access to this data.

The Solution | How can we measure this?

To measure the emotions influencer marketing stimulates, you have to go to the source of the emotions - the creativity.

The creative and storytelling potential of influencer marketing has always been it’s core value. Behind the universal reach, re-shares and selfies - it’s how creativity can now come alive from anywhere, speak to anyone, and provide an instant connection. And it is those factors that resonate with modern consumers.

Alongside Element Human, Whalar have designed a reporting process that aims to get to the route of how humans react to influencer content - and thus give marketers invaluable insight to how their strategies are working and how they can improve them moving forward.

Instead of reach, impressions, engagements, our new metrics are along the lines of: Emotions evoked, expressions, eye fixations, brand recall, intent to purchase / share.

The Results | How do we Test?

There are two key responses we can measure to finding this data once a user has been exposed to the influencer content.

Biometrics measure our emotional response to content, which is an automatic reaction and cannot be controlled. Mapped out by measuring expressions (facial coding) and fixations (eye tracking). This is how we instantly respond to content, what our eyes naturally focus on and which emotions it instantly evokes.

Biometrics are strong as they are a very truthful method of measurement; viewers' facial expressions are subconscious and automatic. However, they only go so far. A smile, for example, is indicative of a positive emotion but says nothing of which positive emotion someone is feeling or how intensely they’re feeling it. To really get to the heart of emotions, we also need to use a survey.

We have combined world-first research studies by Berkeley and Ehrenberg Bass to arrive at our unique set of 32 emotions. Using this list we’re able to get hyper-specific about emotional responses to content. From Admiration to Awkwardness, Disgust to Fear, Nostalgia to Surprise - and everything in between. The survey provides full-circle insight regarding what emotions content is evoking and what brands can do to change their perception in consumers’ minds.

Conclusion | A New Market

For a long time, influencer content has been published, shared and boosted with little measurable creative strategy behind the key decision making.

Social media has turned a generation into creatives, and influencer marketing gives brands an opportunity to tap into that person to person creativity and daily storytelling that has engulfed our society. Brands no longer have to be separate from the consumer, and emotive reporting gives them the sight to tap into the most engaging areas of social content. Tracking emotion is the most effective way to measure how a brand is being perceived and how that brand will be remembered after a campaign.

What the the 'reach economy' is simply alluding to, emotive testing is now confirming.

For more information on measuring emotions, contact studio@whalar.com to learn more about our collaboration with Element Human. We’re now delivering these reports on all our campaigns. Whichever partner you choose to work with, ensure their measurement stacks up and never settle for metrics which do not measure influencers’ influence throughout the funnel.

Banner content from @georgiarosehardy.