Attention is the new currency. And, as your business grows, you’re either flush with it or fighting to get it. This is why, as new digital marketing strategies continue to present themselves, being on the forefront of execution is, oftentimes, mission critical. My favorite of these strategies? Influencer marketing.
While not new, influencer marketing is still in its infancy. With that, the ability to tap into the trust your audience has given to the influencers they follow is still too large of an opportunity to ignore.
It’s gas on the fire of your social media marketing.
But, how do you find the right social media talent? Who’s writing the blog post that speaks directly to your audience? Where do you begin?
The truth is, oftentimes, marketers are faced with more questions than answers. Or worse, they believe they’ve found answers, but are taking the advice from someone who’s never executed truly successful influencer marketing efforts and are just recycling the same, tired practices that deliver mediocre results and the obligatory congratulations for getting content live, rather than building influencer marketing campaigns that actually push the needle.
We’ll dig into the partnership methodology, but it all begins with finding the right talent. This is where your toolkit comes into play.
Social listening is one of the most underutilized tools for influencer marketing. Oftentimes, brands turn to databases or tools that showcase underlying audience demographics. Those are great assets for inclusion in your stack, but identifying who is already speaking about you or your competitors is a surefire way to ensure that your brand is included on social media channels in a more authentic way.
What is social media monitoring?
Social media or brand monitoring is a way to find people that are talking about your brand or industry… typically influencers are at the center of the conversation. However, it goes a step further than just the ability to find who is talking and allows you to get insight into the what they are saying. This allows you to better craft your message to align with their tone or to combat online negativity.
It’s the process of finding and analyzing conversations and gathering insights to make better sales and marketing decisions in the future. With this, you can:
- Improve your content strategy
- Increase brand engagement
- Build smart, strategic partnerships
- Take a more targeted approach
- Optimize future campaigns
Social media monitoring allows you to truly listen to what people are saying and to realize these benefits. Knowing how to use social listening to build an influencer program that works for your business will be instrumental in your success.
Let’s get started.
Get & Implement Tools To Start Listening
Before you can start social listening, you’ll need to have the right tools in place. Crawling through social media for references of your brand will be too time- and labor-intensive. There are many notable social listening tools that allow you to take an automated approach, cutting the time and hassle involved in the manual process.
Simply, set up your social listening platforms to identify mentions of your brand, keep a close eye on competition, or to track social media for industry specific news. Once you’ve set up your platform for brand monitoring, let it run and generate reports tailored to your brand. Paying attention to these reports and carefully analyzing them lets you identify influencers you could work with in the future.
With that, it’s time to take a few other specific steps to start putting together your influencer program.
You need to monitor all social media platforms in order to identify where untapped opportunity may lie. This gives you the best chance of finding influencers that have an audience engaged with your brand.
To do this, you’ll want to track:
- Relevant Hashtags
- Brand Name, Mentions, & Social Handles
- Competitor Names, Mentions, & Social Handles
- Industry Specific Keywords
Start by casting a wide net with your brand monitoring efforts, as this will allow you to determine where your audience is most actively talking about you. From there, you’ll be able to narrow and focus your efforts.
This is crucial, because without knowing whether your audience is most active on Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram, a broad (initial) listening approach could ensure you don’t miss the fact that Instagram is where you get most of your brand references, for example.
Given the massive amount of bots, spam accounts, inflated followers, and general noise that exists on social media, it’s important to be able to identify influencers with an engaged following. Engagement is your north star when trying to identify whether the juice is worth the squeeze in the relationship.
There are a few key metrics you should track when evaluating influencers:
- Number of Comments vs. Likes on Posts
- Negative Sentiment in Comments
- Account Engagement Rate (Average Number of Likes & CommentsPer Post)
- Mention Ratio (How Often an influencer is Mentioned in Comparison to their Follower Count)
Ideally, you want to work with influencers that have high levels of engagement with their followers. This signals that they have a dedicated, engaged following that are more likely to listen to what they have to say—including any recommendations
Rank Your Potential Influencers
Listening cross-platform and identifying who is engaged with the most by your desired audience is one thing. Determining who to partner with is another.
It won’t be possible to partner with everyone. Not only would it mean you’d invest a large budget into the campaign, but you’d spread yourself thin on the management. You’ll need to prioritize the most appropriate influencers for your campaign.
In order to assess which types of influencers are most relevant for your brand you should take several other factors into account, including:
- Brand Mentions
- Competitor Affiliation
- Reach plus Engagement
- Impact of Their Recommendations
If you’re able to identify talent that have a large, engaged following that are already speaking about your brand or using your product or service, you’re winning. To reach out, keep it simple, connect on something meaningful from their content, and offer some form of compensation (yes… even if they’re already talking about your product).
Follow Competition Closely
Now that you’ve identified your influencers, you’ll want to ensure that you can partner with them in the most effective way possible.
There’s a great quote from William H. Calvin, “You can always tell who the pioneers are by the arrows in their back.”
This is not meant to say you shouldn’t be a pioneer, but rather that you can learn from the pitfalls (and successes) of your competition. When influencer marketing first became a thing, many brands just threw money at influencers and saw a direct return on investment. This is no longer the case, as influencers have more opportunity and their audiences have become more discerning.
In order to stay ahead of the curve, you need to understand what your competition is doing with influencers. This means understanding:
- What influencers they’re working with
- How much they’re spending on influencer marketing
- What kind of content they’re creating
- When they’re posting this content
- What platforms they’re using to post it
By understanding these key details, you can adapt your influencer marketing strategy to be more effective than your competition.
Collaborate, Don’t Dictate
This is a partnership. Lean into the experience and expertise of your social media influencers. Ask them what resonates with their audience. What kind of content do they love creating? What kind of campaigns have been most successful in the past?
Your influencers are creative professionals. They know their audience better than anyone. By collaborating with them, you can create content that will resonate with their followers and result in a higher return on investment for your influencer marketing campaign.
Treating the relationship like a partnership will ensure that you are creating content that serves your partners’ audience’s desires. That will ensure that you’re serving your goals.
A core part of your influencer marketing strategy is to review the data on each of your social media posts to determine what’s working and what needs improvement. By understanding what’s resonating with your audience, you can replicate that content to drive even better results.
There are a few key metrics you should be paying attention to, including:
- Hashtag Use
- Leads Generated
Effective measurement is a step you’ll need to engage in, no matter whether you’re deploying an influencer campaign or a social media marketing strategy.
If you put effort into the measurement of your influencer programs and use that data to iterate influencer integrations, you’ll likely see, not only increased brand awareness and more engagements with potential customers, but actual sales that move the needle for your brand or service.
Social listening is an effective way to gain actionable insights about how customers feel about your brand. It lets you determine which social media platforms are most likely to generate brand mentions, where your ideal influencers are hanging out, and what your audience truly thinks about your product or service.
Pairing the right social listening tool with your influencer marketing campaigns will ensure you find conversations that are already happening, identify the right influencers for your brand, and determine where you can learn from competition.