Before we jump into EMV, let’s define Earned Media. Earned Media is any media created by your community that talks about your brand. According to Forbes, “[brands should]...consider this the return of good-old ‘word-of-mouth marketing,’ albeit with a modern twist”. As such, Earned Media Value (EMV) is a metric used to quantify the value of branded content created by your community. In modern marketing, this often means measuring influencer effectiveness—though you’ve paid for the media in a way, it isn’t created by you and is perceived differently by your audience than other owned and paid marketing mediums.
EMV has become increasingly popular in recent years. This growth in traction can be attributed to the continued sophistication of brands’ influencer marketing programs. As these programs continue to mature, influencers of different sizes and audiences are being included (as opposed to traditional tactics, which heavily favored larger influencers). We anticipate the trends to continue and expect that EMV will become more prevalent as an industry standard.
At Dash Hudson, EMV is used to estimate the value of influencer posts and relationships, using an algorithm that considers the reach of a post, post engagement, and follower growth rate. It gives an apples-to-apples comparison between creators and individual pieces of content that brands can use as a baseline for measurement. For example, we know that micro-influencers (less than 10,000 followers) can be more effective than macro-influencers (100,000+ followers) because they have highly engaged niche audiences. However, if a brand is evaluating its influencer program as a whole, it becomes extremely difficult to accurately measure and compare the ROI of each influencer, especially since smaller influencers are less expensive. EMV allows brands to compare influencers of different audiences to determine which content creators drive the most return.
Since EMV is a newer metric to the social media marketing stratosphere, there are some common misconceptions and points of contention. Firstly, EMV is expressed as a dollar value; however, it doesn’t represent the number of real-world dollars that the influencer has brought in or the amount that a brand should pay that influencer. Instead, it acts as a baseline, where influencers with higher EMV are more impactful.
Secondly, there’s no industry standard in how it is calculated, especially across social media analytics platforms. Some calculate EMV based on the channel that the post is on—so you’re comparing Instagram content to Instagram content—while others have a global metric that isn’t channel-specific. There are also discrepancies in the equation, focusing on impressions and others focusing on growth. This discrepancy leads to confusion when brands compare metrics across social analytics tools.
While EMV is only one piece of an influencer management strategy, it provides a great benchmark to understand content and influencer performance. As a result, we recommend it as one of the baseline metrics you use to audit your influencer marketing program. An impactful and complete audit relies on access to accurate data and the time and ability to make strategic decisions based on that data. EMV, especially when calculated with true data from a badged social media partner (such as Instagram Marketing Partners), can provide a great baseline to measure both overall performance and ROI.
From there, teams should take a deep dive into other metrics such as followers gained, total engagement, as well as conversion data. For example, if a particular piece of content from a typically high-performing content creator has a low EMV, that’s an indicator that you should dig into that piece of content and compare it with similar content that has done well. We recommend looking at things like posting time, caption, medium (feed posts versus Stories), and style of content (static shot versus low-fi, video versus tutorial-style). Using an unbiased metric to identify benchmarks for average performance, as well as highest-and lowest-performing content and creators empowers strategic teams to spend more time on high-value activities like campaign creation and less time sifting through spreadsheets.
To recap, EMV is a way to get an apples-to-apples comparison of one influencer to another, as well as one piece of content to another. While EMV is shown as a dollar amount, it’s merely an objective measure of performance; it doesn’t represent the amount of income the creator has influenced, nor the amount that they should be paid. It’s calculated based on a variety of factors, such as reach, impressions, views, and follower growth rate. However, teams using EMV should be careful, as there’s no industry standard for how it’s calculated, and comparing EMV across tech providers can lead to skewed results. Using an unbiased metric as a baseline indicator of performance empowers teams to spend more time digging into the “why” of performance and less time focused on the “how.”
The numbers are different because the platforms are likely to calculate EMV differently. Dash Hudson calculates the EMV by social channel, to make sure you’re optimizing your content for each channel. Our EMV is based on an algorithm that takes into account things like reach, as well as follower growth rate.
EMV is a great starting point for your influencer management program; however, it’s important to be tracking other metrics as well, so you’re getting a well-rounded view of performance. Some other metrics we recommend are followers gained, engagement, and conversions/sales.
EMV helps brands compare micro and macro-influencers because it takes more into account than metrics inflated by large follower bases. For example, likes and followers are inevitably larger in macro-influencers. Engagement rate is a useful metric but doesn’t consider the size of the account and growth potential. EMV blends the principles of all of these metrics by measuring both how engaged a following is, as well as how large it is, and also the potential for future exposure through follower growth rates to get a more unbiased, accurate metric.