No matter what industry you’re involved in, there’s a social media influencer online speaking to target consumers in your category. Getting the right ones on board with your brand is the smart thing to do, but there is a crucial caveat – they must resonate with your audience
Not only that, but you’ve also got to monitor them as you go to ensure they continue to provide the value you’re looking for. After all, times change, and consumers may quickly tire of an influencer that isn’t adjusted for shifting societal trends. Social sentiment tells the story.
Monitoring sentiment around the influencers you choose to work with is mission critical. It’s an important element of understanding consumer behavior, which should be at the top of your to-do list. That’s how you know which influencers to pull in to begin with – and whether they’re still pulling their weight over the long term.
Emerging trends in tandem with a short-sighted news cycle have a powerful gravitational pull on your customers. Simply put – your slam dunk influencer marketing setup of today could bring in an ‘audience of none’ in just a few short months without the proper adjustments. Staying in tune with the times takes effort, but it’s money well spent since time is money. This is not a “set it and forget it” kind of game.
Social media algorithms, trends, media events, and the changing tides of consumer opinion all act as waves eroding what used to be. If you want to stay on the cutting edge of influencer marketing, you must do your homework
As such, we’ll explore some of the fundamentals of influencer marketing that will help recenter your focus for the current times. Specifically, we’ll touch on:
- The Power of Influence
- The Value of a Comprehensive Influencer Search
- Challenges Marketers Face
- Social Insights for Influencer Identification
- Social Change Brings Challenges
- Monitoring Criteri
The Power of Influence Compels Them
Why are influencers the most potent marketing tactic at your disposal? Well, they aren’t – sentiment is, but the power of influencers comes from the underlying sentiment that they (often, unknowingly) tap into
They can reach any demographic at any time, thanks to the increasing addiction we all have to our mobile phones and create an authentic, genuine connection with followers that’s more powerful than word-of-mouth. And indeed, more viral.
How is this possible? Many influencers have opened up their lives to the public and developed such personal connections with segments that their opinions of products and services have become as respected as those of actual friends and family. That’s powerful – and probably more so than most brands realize: 88% of consumers trust online recommendations as much as personal recommendations.
Probably one of the best examples in the gaming industry is British YouTuber DanTDM. He started his channel back in 2012 playing Minecraft and now has a staggering 26M subscribers on YouTube. Over the past ten years, his followers have become invested in his life, watching his family grow. As such, whatever products he uses or promotes gets attention. He’s also active on Twitter with a not-too-shabby two million followers. People trust what he has to say and he’s definitely someone you’d want speaking positively about your brand if you’re connected to the industry.
Happy 2nd Birthday, Asher! I’m so lucky to be able to share this world with you. Love you loads 💙💙 pic.twitter.com/7xTsAxRhfR
— ᴅᴀɴᴛᴅᴍ💎 (@dantdm) January 5, 2022
But back to the 88% who trust online recommendations as much as personal ones – who are they? They span a variety of demographics and categories. If there’s one universal truth that applies to all consumers online, it’s this: They’re taking showrooming to a new level, comparison shopping even as they stand in line to make purchases, and their expectations from start to finish continue to climb. Understanding and activating influencers is one way to help connect many pieces of your overall consumer experience puzzle, from customer care to heading off a PR crisis.
The Influencer Search Isn’t Simple – But It’s Worth It
Yes, influence can – and does – offer jaw-dropping ROI for brands when done correctly. And it would seem like the only hurdle a brand really faces is finding the right influencer for the job, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What lies beneath is dangerous.
Brands powering through the influencer marketing waters at full speed without performing extensive vetting via social listening are fated to crash and sink more spectacularly than the Titanic.
It isn’t just about finding those influencers but monitoring them and making sure they’re doing things that help, rather than hurt, your brand image – as there are plenty of stories about influencers gone rogue to keep many a marketer awake at night.
This is where having the right social listening tools pays dividends. For instance, NetBase Quid offers pre-made dashboard templates specifically built for influencer analysis, identification, and monitoring.
Finding influencers at work in your area of interest is as easy as plugging in your brand, category, or trend analysis and letting the tool do the work. Setting up the monitoring function works similarly by analyzing the influencers you’re already working with:
Challenges Marketers Face
A human face is really only part of the equation – authenticity of the message shared is just as critical. You must find the right influencers for your brand—and at just the right moment in time
According to a recent joint study by eConsultancy and Fashion and Beauty Monitor, identifying the right influencers is still the biggest struggle for 73% of marketers who responded.
Why is this the case? Because you need influencers who have engaged followings. Any old celebrity with a half-million followers won’t automatically help your brand succeed. If it were that easy you could Google the top-followed accounts on any social network and make your pitch.
Also—not only are consumers hip to the idea that a paid spokesperson may not actually believe in what they’re selling, celebrity spokespeople are just as leery of damaging their own brands by selling out.
Instead, you need social analytics tools that can evaluate which of the many potential influencers for your brand are most likely to be effective. After all, influencers with smaller follower counts tend to garner higher traction and engagement per post than accounts with massive followings. Definitely don’t discount fledgling influencers or mid-tier influencers – they could be just the perfect fit for your marketing goals!
For instance, we can see that Walmart isn’t just using celebrity endorsements. Here they’ve tapped interior design and lifestyle blogger Kayla Degnan to promote their @walmartfashion Instagram handle. Degnan is not a household name – yet is quite active on Instagram where she has a respectable 198k followers who love her style and listen to her recommendations.
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Social Insights for Influencer Identification
What are some of the metrics that matter when it comes to identifying influencers, then?
Follower count is a good starting point, of course – though it doesn’t take millions to be worthwhile. Anything over 500 is worth a look if there’s passion for your brand category. But if millions work, then go for it. Finding your audience and connecting with them on the right platform is what it’s all about. Like Huda Beauty on Facebook – they have it going on with 8 million followers. But if your audience is listening in – you want your brand in on the conversation.
Brand passion is what matters most, and it makes a difference even for influencers with thousands or millions of followers. An apathetic influencer that isn’t sharing and interacting with enthusiasm in or about your niche area isn’t likely to be much use. Neither is one who mentions your competition as often as they mention you.
Accurate sentiment analysis tools are where your search must start and end. Beyond accurately understanding passion, a transparent tool will share insight around other metric must-haves, like understanding engagements per post—because this tells you how interactive their audience is. And that’s what you really want, the extended audience that your influencer connects you to. But that’s far from the full picture—there’s more to consider.
Just as worthy of social scrutiny are the influencers of your competition—because they’re part of your shared audience. Are they winning the same engagement levels? Why? These are questions you must be able to answer, and not all tools are up to the task.
Regardless, the bottom line is you want to work with influencers that have engaged followings and reflect, or compliment, your brand personality. One of the best examples in the vegan social landscape is Tabitha Brown who has built a massive 4.9 million following on Tik Tok in just a few short years. Her vegan recipes and infectious personality would be a great fit for brands connecting to the space as her videos garner tons of engagement.
Social Change Brings Challenges
One of the key elements you need to consider in your influencer marketing quest is the impact emerging trends have on your audience. The last two years have brought colossal societal changes and consumers are keener than ever to what’s going on in the world around them.
This has brought in a revolution in how consumers research the brands that they choose to purchase from. Monitoring fluctuations in emerging trends should be a high priority and shape your influencer marketing approach.
Since emerging trends are evidence of social change, your influencers and campaign messaging should walk in lockstep with these new ideas and values. This is the best way to keep your content fresh and relevant to your audience. It also shows you where to focus your ongoing search for new talent who are already speaking into the space. And making your brand hip to influencers that touch base with where your audience is makes all the difference. Get @Charlidamelio talking about your brand on Tik Tok with her 137.8 million followers and you’ve got something special.
@charlidamelio win a vacation getaway! make a video using the takis sound and tag @takisusa with #takiswaves and #sweepstakes. good luck!! #takispartner ♬ original sound – charli d’amelio
How are brands able to see how successful their campaigns are? Before setting out, you have to have clear monitoring criteria in place. Here are a few of the top items you need to be paying attention to from the get-go:
You’re not after just mentions where social users @ you specifically. Many don’t even bother, and you need to pick up those as well. Your tools should also pull in common brand misspellings and brand nicknames like ‘Mickey D’s’, so you have a comprehensive measurement of how your brand is being talked about online.
A thorough capture of your brand mentions is what you’re after so you can learn what folks are saying about you specifically. Leaving mentions unnoticed won’t give you the full story. Take care to capture it all.
Then ask yourself – is your marketing working; judging by how people are mentioning you in their posts? Are they talking about your latest offering, and mentioning your brand for attributes you’re striving to build awareness around? And are you seeing an uptick in mentions of late – and why? It could be thanks to that new influencer partnership, or it may be some unknown ambassador you should be taking not of. Get into those granular details and find out!
How are these mentions playing out? Is someone just retweeting you again and again, to thousands of followers without anyone talking back and forth? If so, that can appear impressive, but it’s ultimately useless. It shouldn’t count as a meaningful touchpoint if you aren’t seeing significant engagement via comments as well.
Do segments actually love your brand or are they saying so sarcastically? Can you parse that data to know for sure? With NetBase Quid you can, but we set the bar for accuracy, so make sure any tools you are using make the the cut. Understanding the sentiment behind sarcasm, emojis, and images is more important than keeping track of brand mentions. The mentions themselves are meaningless if you aren’t capturing context. You have to understand Brand Passion. It’s a must.
Monitoring for influencers doesn’t stop once you identify – and are working with – solid brand ambassadors. Any category can change on a dime, and should your current influencers commit a social faux pas that runs counter to brand identity, or just flake entirely, you’ll want to have some well-researched backup candidates in mind. There’s no reason to ever let that pool run dry.
Understanding why someone doesn’t like your brand is essential, particularly if that person is an influencer or if you see trends around a service or product needing fixing. Making an influencer an ambassador by resolving a legitimate concern can pay off, as can addressing “regular people” and helping them out with a trending matter. People love that – and it’s the stuff viral feel-good stories are made of.
At the end of the day, you want your influencer marketing on lock. Don’t leave it up to chance – put your social listening tools to the test. If you’re coming up short, reach out for a demo and we’ll put your influencer marketing back on track!