The Real Performance of An Influencer Agency

Previously, we talked about the Khloé Kardashian Gucci giveaway in early March, and the Kylie Jenner Yves Saint Laurent giveaway in mid-May. We explored how these giveaways work per se, and how successful they have been over the last 2 months. If you aren’t up to date yet, head over to our previous two articles for an in-depth take on the giveaways before diving into this article. If you haven’t got the time and you want the tea piping, here is a TLDR:

Khloé Giveaway: 6th March 2019

  1. Khloé Kardashian poses on a Mercedes surrounded by Gucci bags estimated to cost US$30,000 in total
  2. She announces that one of her followers will receive all this merchandise for free — all they have to do is follow @curated_giveaways_ (the account handle has since been changed to @curatedbusinesses) and all 81 accounts that Curated Giveaways was following
  3. @curated_giveaways_ was a new account at the time, and they gained 141K followers from Khloé’s post
  4. This means that every one of the 81 participating accounts also gained at least 141K followers
  5. The accounts featured are similar to Khloé’s own Instagram aesthetic — swimwear labels, fashion brands, children’s fashion etc. — so we posited that a massive follow/unfollow situation would be unlikely (spoiler alert: we were wrong)
  6. A winner was announced on March 7th and Khloé proceeded to delete her post after the giveaway.

In Between: Kim, Kourtney, and Scott Disick held their own respective giveaways with Chanel and Louis Vuitton, Kim’s being the ‘most successful’.

Kylie Giveaway: 14th May 2019

  1. Kylie poses with 9 YSL bags and a cash prize, estimated to cost US$36,000 in total with the same rules as previous giveaways
  2. This time we are certain that the Kardashians were paid to do this series of sponsored posts, and we estimate their cost to be between US$90,000 to $1,000,000
  3. Scott Disick is an intermediary and we estimate his hire to range between US$50,000 to $100,000
  4. Curated Businesses has beefed up their profile and come clean as an agency, so we estimate their agency fee to be at least 20% of the total campaign — each participating account paid approx. US$19,000 to take part in this campaign alone
  5. We identify some returning accounts and track their growth from March till now and briefly determine if this is worth it or not (spoiler alert #2: it’s not)

I have to admit that when I was first writing the Khloé Kardashian article, I was impressed by how Curated Giveaways managed to work towards a more organic way to gain followers. It provided people with an incentive to follow accounts that they might be interested in but had not heard of yet, and stand a chance to win a prize at the same time. Additionally, the growth on each of these accounts was massive. Crunching the numbers from the Kylie giveaway, for example: to have paid only US$19,000 to gain a minimum of 99K followers (an average from each account’s growth) amounts to US$0.19 per follower, which is cheaper than the usual US$0.56 per follower.

But a closer look at the metrics reveal that these numbers might not be right.

The purpose of this article is to reinforce the integrity and need to grow your Instagram account organically and evaluate your brand’s Influencer Marketing activations, whether they are your own or from an agency.

Here are some common misconceptions about employing an agency or purchasing followers:

These discrepancies became especially obvious to me when I tracked the performance of each participating account as well as comparing them to the official deck by Curated Businesses.

What they claim here is not untrue — the campaigns do rapidly drive followers to your brand. But the question is: do they stay? According to Curated Businesses majority (100K out of 150K) of them do. I decided to investigate this claim.

Take a look at this case study of Luli Bebé. While site traffic and sales is private information belonging to the brand itself, Popular Chips can look at the audience growth and retention.

Here is a graph charting the growth of @luli.bebe’s account from 1st January to 31st March 2019. Note that Khloe’s giveaway took place on 4th March, which is when the peak occurred.

Popular Chips

We see a steep spike following a gradual increase — very telling of an account that has purchased followers.

The next graph shows the account’s behaviour after Khloé’s giveaway, and records another peak on 5th April, which is the date of Kim’s giveaway. Kourtney and Scott also held giveaways in between, but the growth and drops in follower count were insignificant so no peaks or dips are reflected.

Popular Chips

The number of followers at the point in time of Kim’s giveaway is actually almost the same as where it began before the Khloé giveaway. As with the previous campaign, the numbers dipped right after.

Popular Chips

I have highlighted the two windows we should be looking at in the diagram above.

No. of followers before Khloé giveaway: 209 481

No. of followers before Kim giveaway: 217,253

Therefore, the net number of followers gained between the Khloé and Kim giveaways is 7,772  ≈ 7K. In order to determine the actual number of followers from the giveaway that stayed, we have to look at the increases and decreases from 4th March till the start of the next giveaway.

Popular Chips

In this case we look at the numbers in green and red because they determine period growth. We are not sure what happened in the week of 25th March to cause an increase (perhaps a celebrity mention, campaign hashtag etc.) but even if we were to include this increase in the math, the number of followers who stayed out of the total gained (21.8K according to our algorithm) only adds up to 9.4K.

If we assume the cost of entering a campaign like this to be US$19,000 (based on previous calculations), it costed Luli Bebé US$2.02 per follower for each account that followed them for Khloé’s giveaway and didn’t unfollow after. That is 4 times the average cost users pay when they purchase followers.

All in all, it really depends on what your brand or account is looking for. Paying US$2.02/follower is not worth it for an increase of less than 10K because buying followers — no matter the tactic — always ends up unsuccessful, and having a large audience does not ensure a good engagement rate, which then does not translate into genuine brand awareness or an increase in sales. What is important is to understand your existing audience and/or the one you are intending to attract.

How can Popular Chips help me in this sort of situation?

  1. Specific search engines to help you pick the right influencer(s)
  2. Comprehensive metrics so you know exactly who you are hiring
  3. Demographic data to understand target audiences and their social media behaviour
  4. Campaign tracking
  5. Information about your own brand to help you understand your performance on social media, and how to grow from there

Written by Deesha Menon

Influencer Marketing at Popular Chips. Interested in social issues, narratives, books, social media, and machine learning.

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