You’ve probably already invested in a social listening tool, if not before then as a result of the current pandemic we are in. Did you know that 51% of business leaders are getting consumer insights during the coronavirus pandemic from social listening platforms?
Did you also know that these same social listening tools can be extremely beneficial for your influencer marketing efforts?
Wait, are you still on the sidelines about influencer marketing?
COVID-19 has ensured that consumers and buyers become digital first with their purchasing and researching, and with organic social reach for most brands on most platforms declining, influencer marketing provides a unique way to incite word-of-mouth marketing from trusted users regardless of industry.
Fortunately, working from home also gives us more opportunities for social listening, since people are talking more. With that in mind, how can we use social listening for influencer marketing? Let’s take a look at how this is done.
Table of Contents:
Intro to Benefits of Influencer Marketing
Knowing the benefits of influencer marketing will help you see why it should be an outgrowth of social listening.
Right now, brand awareness is at a premium, and it must be gathered primarily online as people shun in-person shopping. At the same time, social media use is encouraged as people try to connect without seeing each other.
Social proof, therefore, will help you gain credibility even more efficiently than before.
Another reason to implement social listening for influencer marketing is reaching target audiences. Buying prime shelf space at the store doesn’t work like it used to. Even as browsing the store returns, people are increasingly making up their minds about what to buy from their computers.
At the same time, stores with niche audiences may have more trouble surviving in a post-COVID world because of the reduced foot traffic. Influencer marketing does one thing better than just about any other form of advertising: it transcends barriers.
For instance, people watch pet videos from all over the world, even if they can’t understand the language spoken. Likewise, many people follow fashion or beauty trends worldwide.
As things get shared on social media, they often jump national borders several times. Get the right influencer, and your brand message can go much farther than even his or her typical audience.
The Challenge of Finding the Right Influencer
Of course, this brings up another challenge: finding the right influencer.
No matter what industry you’re in, there are sure to be many influencers competing for business. Everyone is working hard to get noticed.
At the same time, having the right influencer can make or break the influencer marketing campaign.
Picking the wrong influencer can cause worse problems than mere failure: Sometimes, badly behaved influencers can reflect poorly on the brands that hire them, resulting in a public relations nightmare.
Even short of PR concerns and the abundant supply of influencers, there are fraud and audience factors to consider. Some influencers engage in fraudulent practices to increase their apparent value on the market. Others might have the wrong audience even within the proper niche. Or they might prefer a competing product and be unable to endorse what you are selling.
In short, choosing the right influencers for your brand can be difficult. Besides finding someone who won’t embarrass you, the chosen influencer needs to be effective. One way is to ensure they appeal to the right audience.
Through use of social listening for influencer marketing, this is much easier to accomplish. That’s because you can find people who have brand affinity already without working too hard.
Finding Those with Brand Affinity for Influencer Marketing through Social Listening
One of the best ways to use social listening for influencer marketing is by finding people with brand affinity on social media. While all companies know who their partners or employees are, it’s impossible for most to know all their customers.
After all, physical products get shipped off to stores or warehouses, where they are purchased by end users. Even if something must be purchased directly by the consumer, chances are that marketing doesn’t have all their social media profiles.
Using social listening tools allows companies to identify people with brand affinity simply by running the software. For most programs, you’ll want to set some filters that help identify people who talk about your stuff more frequently.
Then, you’ll need to look for positive mentions. These mentions reveal people who have brand affinity from sources beyond customers or employees. In fact, they’ll catch the fans, brand ambassadors, and others who you may have never heard of. Here’s how to do this effectively, using a robust social listening tool such as Mention to help.
Step One: Influencer Identification
As you probably already know, finding the right influencers, whether it’s how to find Instagram influencers or those that have influence on other social networks, is often the most difficult part of running an influencer marketing campaign. Although you can use effective influencers more than once, a good program is always looking for new ones. Therefore, the use of social listening for influencer marketing typically is an ongoing process.
A) Look for Brand Ambassadors
Many of us think of brand ambassadors as people who are paid to be the face of a brand. Given that many major brands have an “ambassador program” of some sort, there is truth to this assumption. Some people lend their name to brands over a long period of time. Typically, this involves the brand and influencer growing together.
On the other hand, brand ambassadors can be unpaid superfans who are always talking about certain products. For instance, some people shop at a particular clothing store (or catalog) all the time. Maybe it’s because the clothes fit better, or they cater to a certain style. For shoes, an influencer might need a hard to find size that a particular company manufactures. Beauty influencers might have found a type of makeup that is the ONLY one which won’t cause their face to break out.
In this type of situation, the influencer has likely become an unpaid brand ambassador because the product works especially well for them. They’ve probably tried a lot of other products and seen them fail miserably. Their enthusiasm is worth a lot of money, but they haven’t been paid a penny up until this point.Looking for these brand ambassadors who can truly help build up your brand is a great use of social listening for influencer marketing. Especially if you employ carefully crafted Boolean keyword searches, you will find these people quickly. They tend to talk about the product a lot, and in glowing terms. As reports get compiled by your listening program, the things they say will come to light. Then, you can vet these ambassadors for paid partnerships.
B) Listen for Brand Mentions
Another way to use social listening for influencer marketing is by looking for brand mentions. If you’re using Mention software, be sure to set alerts for each of your company’s brands, products, and branded keywords. Unlike an ambassador search, you’re looking to see everything people say about your brand, good and bad.
Of course, not all of these mentions are going to be good news. Especially on Twitter, people use social media to air their grievances against a given brand. Did your customer service team do a bad job of dealing with that defective product? There might be a Tweetstorm. Make sure you address the concerns publicly and get to the bottom of what happened.
On the other hand, positive mentions can help you identify an opportunity. When a social media account makes frequent mention of your brand, it’s time to check out their profile. Profiles with a lot of followers that talk about products in your niche might be relevant influencers. If this appears to be the case, then be sure to follow the profile more closely. At that point, you’re looking for potential partnership suitability.
Mentioning products in a positive light without having a sponsorship agreement often shows that the influencer has some level of brand affinity. They might not be ambassadors or customers, but they could be admirers. This would be evident if they said something like “I can’t afford this brand, or I’d try it.” For us as marketers, this kind of comment is a golden opportunity to offer a product in exchange for sponsored content.
C) Look for Influencers Outside of Your Brand Affinity
Even if someone hasn’t talked about your brand doesn’t mean that they aren’t suitable influencers. Rather, it means that they are someone who hasn’t expressed brand affinity yet. Even if they mention your direct competitors, these people might be interested in learning about your products and services. This is true so long as they still are within your niche, not just interested in competitors that also have different lines of business which don’t compete.
So, which ones should you consider? In short, the ones who have a reason to try something new, and who aren’t too loyal to competing brands. Especially if your brand is small or new to influencer marketing, you might not have the distribution or brand recognition to have earned spontaneous Mentions from influencers. This is when using influencers who don’t have brand affinity yet is especially valuable.
Most importantly though, finding this kind of influencer is a major reason to use social listening for influencer marketing. Big-name brands often have a lot of influencers following their social media accounts, and as a result these people are easy to find. Or, they might be able to pick up endorsements from well-known macro-influencers and celebrities. From here, the engagement can lead them to other influencers. Social listening is still used, but it isn’t as critical for influencer discovery with these brands.
Step Two: Choosing Influencers to Work With
Once you have a meaningful list of influencers and their social media profiles, it’s time to create an influencer shortlist. Besides the personal taste of an influencer, you should pick based on how well they fit your target market or buyer persona. Depending on your brand, this can be slightly different for various campaigns.
Be sure to include a variety in your shortlist.
Another thing to consider when choosing influencers is the size of their following. As I’ve said a lot recently, micro and nano-influencers are often highly effective, so you shouldn’t overlook them. At the same time, those with larger follower numbers should also be considered.
Depending on the collaboration type and campaign goals, different follower numbers are ideal at different times.
Just be sure that they aren’t using fake followers or buying engagement to ensure you get the right deal.
Step Three: Learning More about Each Influencer
Once you have an acceptable shortlist, take a deep dive and make sure they are right for your brand. These considerations extend beyond the ones which you used to assemble your shortlist.
For example, your brand might have a particular aesthetic which might clash with certain influencers. In other words, a very button-down businessperson influencer might not mesh well with a brand that has a reputation for offbeat advertising.
The offbeat brand is better off with an influencer who has quirky tastes.
Another hazard with influencer marketing is an influencer whose values don’t match the company well enough. For instance, a leather goods brand should eliminate any vegans from their shortlist, because vegans don’t approve of leather. Alternatively, a B2B brand probably doesn’t want to work with influencers who openly smoke marijuana, get themselves arrested, or brag about their drunken parties.
Getting to know influencers is another great reason to use social listening for influencer marketing. This is true because you can set alerts which will tell you what people are saying about the influencer.
While the alert won’t help much with personal style, it does wonders for determining their values. That vegan lifestyle influencer, for instance, might not talk about being vegan on every post, or even on a certain account. But he might participate in vegan Facebook groups. Social listening can tell you these things.
Step Four: Collaborating with Influencers
Once you’ve learned enough about each influencer, it’s time to approach the one that you have chosen for each campaign. Keep in mind, you might want to have one in mind for those situations where your first choice says no.
When approaching an influencer, it’s important that you have engaged with their content a little bit. This shows that you are interested in reciprocity, rather than just a commercial transaction. Fail to do this, and you risk being drowned out by your competitors who cultivated the relationship first.
Then, it’s time to reach out with the idea of collaborating. Once terms have been negotiated, both the influencer and your team are ready to create and post killer content.
Both during and after the collaboration, it’s important to keep track of the results. One way to do this is with analytics software, which can help track activity on your website and social media profiles.
However, social listening for influencer marketing also helps measure impact. This is because social listening alerts can be created that indicate when sponsored content is interacted with in any way. Not only does it track immediate reactions, but also those three and four layers down. Truly this is an invaluable tool.
Finally, if the collaboration is successful then consider doing another one with the same influencer. This can be the same type of collaboration or a different one.
You should also continue using these techniques to bring new influencers onto your team. You already know how beneficial social listening is, even as a tool to help benefit your search engine optimization.
Over time, by using social listening for influencer marketing, you’re setting your brand up for continued success in social media and across all of your digital marketing.