Why Spreadsheets are Harmful to your influencer marketing campaigns
Spreadsheets are great. Like, really great.
Spreadsheets are free (if you use Google Docs). They’re relatively easy to build even if you have just a basic understanding of their use. And some people have built spreadsheet masterpieces that have so many sub-formulas, lookups, and macros that they’re more complex than some full-featured software products.
But spreadsheets are also terrible. Really terrible.
And in a fast-paced industry like influencer marketing, relying on spreadsheets will result in a terribly challenging campaign, and possibly inaccurate influencer analytics.
This difficulty gets dialed up to eleven when you consider that the data that populates the spreadsheets – social media statistics from influencers – usually arrives in the form of screenshots and emails.
Let’s get into the details of why spreadsheets (and screenshots) are not an influencer marketer’s best choice for running a campaign.
The struggles of spreadsheets
Hard to keep accurate
Let’s do an experiment. Go to your social media feed and click on any post by a prominent influencer. Wait exactly one minute, and then refresh the page.
Did the post’s engagement numbers change?
Yep, they did! Now imagine that this post’s performance has to be tracked on your spreadsheet. How long will it take for your latest spreadsheet entry to be inaccurate?
Unless you can somehow directly connect your spreadsheet to all of your influencers’ social media feeds, you’ll just have to accept that your spreadsheet won’t always match reality.
And worst of all? Dated spreadsheets means you don’t actually know your campaign performed at all. Unless your data is reported in real-time, there’s no true “accurate” way to follow your campaign’s performance using a spreadsheet.
Presentation is a challenge
The key to a good presentation is making data as clear and easy to understand as possible. This means simplifying the visuals to focus on the most important numbers.
Spreadsheets are on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. A spreadsheet focuses on depth of data, completeness, and context. A spreadsheet is meant for extended study and perusal – not presenting information in bite-sized chunks.
When you use data in a presentation, the data should always speak for itself. That’s how it makes an impact on whoever you’re talking to. But when you use a spreadsheet, it often comes with a long-winded explanation of the sheet’s layout and functions. By the time you get to the actual point, your audience has already tuned you out.
And if your stakeholders prefer the “just send me the results” methodology, spreadsheets mean adding another layer of complexity since there’s no clear way to focus the material in a presentation-friendly way via spreadsheet over email or Slack.
Reports with little business value
One of the biggest problems with spreadsheets by far is that it’s very difficult to produce reports that clearly define ROI and growth opportunities. That’s the whole point of doing an influencer marketing campaign, right? It’s supposed to drive the business forward.
Yet there is such a focus on engagement numbers and so much effort on simply keeping the darn thing accurate that it’s easy to lose perspective. You miss the big picture and instead focus on the little things.
Hours of maintenance and monitoring
Remember when we mentioned how social media posts are constantly updating their numbers?
Well, if you want your spreadsheet to be useful, you’re going to have to pour a lot of (wo)man-hours into keeping it up to date. That requires constantly monitoring the influencer’s social media account and manually encoding the new numbers into your database and (if necessary) updating the formulas.
It can take hours of work a week just to keep your influencer marketing statistics accurate. Especially if you’re managing multiple campaigns with multiple influencers. Most small teams don’t have that kind of time, and either have to farm out the work to freelancers or hire additional staff.
A spreadsheet will always have gaps
Even the best spreadsheet will have gaps, simply because there’s no earthly way you’ll be able to manually track all of the results of your content.
Blog pageviews? You’ll need access to a Google Analytics platform at the very least. Unique IG Story views? There’s no way for a person to see that information – not even if you’re the creator.
Even if you could pull those numbers, you’re already tracking likes, shares, comments, views, and a host of other stats. You’re going to have to drop something, whether it’s a low-priority metric or a campaign that closed a month ago.
Why brands & agencies should ditch their spreadsheets
It’s a classic trap of immediate vs. important. The report needs to be built now, because you need to present the numbers, but it’s the least important item on your plate.
Your time shouldn’t be wasted squinting at screenshots and fiddling with formulas. This is busywork, and doesn’t bring any value to your business or your clients.
Besides, most teams don’t have the manpower to dedicate to this thankless task. Even large marketing teams only have a handful of people dedicated to influencer marketing, so you’re going to be tight on resources no matter what.
Saying you’ll stop tracking when a campaign ends also doesn’t work, because a campaign never really ends. The numbers will keep updating as long as the post is live, which means you’ll be reporting on it for months afterwards.
You should be focusing on useful things, like:
You can’t afford to waste time
It’s a classic trap of immediate vs important. The report needs to be built now, because you need to present the numbers, but it’s the least important item on your plate.
Your time shouldn’t be wasted squinting at screenshots and fiddling with formulas. This is busywork, and does not bring any value to your business or your clients.
You should be focusing on useful things, like:
Improving campaign progress. Hand-assembling a report based on how poorly your campaign is doing is not the best use of your time budget. . You should be working towards improving the actual campaign, instead. In order to do that, you need time and space to step back and consider the big picture.
Pivoting partnerships when necessary. Are you so busy reporting on how low your numbers are that you lose sight of the fact that your influencer isn’t performing to expectations? This is a case of not seeing the forest through the trees. You’re so trapped in the minutiae that you don’t realize that it may be time for you to pivot away from your current influencer partner.
Pipelining impressions and engagements to the right opportunities. Social media trends occur in waves. And if you want to catch the wave, you need to be paying close attention. When you’re bogged down in what happened last week, you don’t see what’s happening right now. Now, instead of investing on a campaign while it’s hot, you miss the wave and your brand ends up looking like a try-hard.
You can’t afford to waste money
Influencers can cost a pretty penny (especially the high profile ones), and so influencer marketing campaign budgets are large by necessity. However, you still have to be smart with your money.
This means reducing your spend on things that don’t deliver equivalent value: poorly performing partners, ineffective influencer marketing platforms, and manual labor.
Your money should be going towards more important things, such as:
Partnership deals. This is the whole point of influencer marketing, after all. If the money isn’t going to effective partners, then what’s the point of the exercise? You should be investing in the best partners that your budget allows for.
Just keep in mind that a high fee doesn’t automatically equate to high value. Your influencer marketing campaign can still get plenty of mileage from partners with a more modest fee.
Optimized campaigns. The operative word here is “efficient.” Efficiency works with both time, effort, and cost, and is a careful balance between multiple factors. It’s okay to spend a little more money on something like an influencer marketing platform as long as it reduces an equivalent or greater amount of effort and time. Likewise, optimizing your processes and removing bottlenecks are quick wins for reducing costs and increasing ROI.
The better solution: InfluenceKit
As far as influencer marketing tools go, spreadsheets and screenshots are a pretty bad choice. But they’re not your only choice.
Dedicated influencer marketing platforms like InfluenceKit address many of the downsides of a spreadsheet-based system, and come with additional benefits to boot.
With InfluenceKit, brands will be able to:
Measure accurate campaign performance. No more misleading reports that are based on screenshots and second-hand information. With InfluenceKit, you can assess a campaign’s success based on actual data drawn directly from social media platforms.
Follow campaigns live through dynamic reporting. InfluenceKit users enjoy up-to-the-minute reporting of campaign performance thanks to integration with every major social media platform. Follow campaigns live and respond quickly to any trends or opportunities.
Make better campaign decisions.Don’t waste time and brain space chasing influencers for stats. Step back from the minutiae and invest more hours and effort in campaign strategy and planning.
Influencer reporting platforms are a stark contrast to the purely manual system that plagues many marketing teams. While it does require a higher cost than your typical spreadsheet, the savings in time and effort, and the benefit of accurate data and dynamic reporting make the investment more than worth it.
Want to learn how InfluenceKit can help remove spreadsheets from your vocabulary? Book a demo with one of our founders now!
About the Author
Chris Tuttle is the co-founder of InfluenceKit, and owner of the popular blog One Good Thing. He's personally helped dozens of brands and agencies say "good bye" to their spreadsheets, and restore their sanity. If he's not at is desk he's usually with his twin girl's Ruby & Addie and his dog Minnie.
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