How to Use Data to Find the Right Influencer on Twitter – a ChecklistMay 16, 2017
Four years ago, people gave us funny looks whenever we mentioned “influencer marketing.”
They’d scrunch their noses and write us off as hopeless romantics as we harped on about this new form of marketing.
Now, we encounter news about influencer marketing at every turn. Some dote on influencers for being “the golden children of marketing,” while others sour at the thought of throwing money at young social media stars who scheme to get rich from pretty photos and aimless product promotions.
This begs the question, what’s your definition of influencer marketing?
Does it mean hiring a social media celebrity in hopes of getting rich overnight?
Does it mean gambling on a millennial social-media-lite, sacrificing control of your brand?
Our team can attest to a couple of things when it comes to influencer marketing:
- Influencer marketing isn’t about a person’s follower count.
- Many companies have failed with it by hiring expensive influencers without proper due diligence, vetting, and relationship-building beforehand (and after partnership).
- It can, however, work for companies of various sizes (trust us, we relied on it when we were just a company of 10, and have also worked with large enterprise/agency clients who’ve found success in it).
- It can be beneficial in a number of ways, including giving you the opportunity to work with influencers who can offer their professional opinions on your business questions and help you understand customers better.
- It can be cost effective and very tactical—you don’t need to hire the Selena Gomez’s of the world to be successful.
Though often caricaturized as something like booking a celebrity endorsement, influencer marketing is a strategic, data-driven move towards partnering with individuals whose online influence isn’t merely defined by follower count, but rather the actual impact of his or her activity.
Getting Started with Twitter Influencer Marketing
Twitter, king of real-time content, offers unique business perks.
Despite commentary over its underwhelming earnings reports and user growth, we still find 319 million active Twitter accounts worldwide—many of whom are loyal, healthily engaged users from years prior.
They account for the 7,592 tweets being posted each second, compared to the 778 Instagram posts being published per second.
Influencers can help your brand filter through that social media noise and get you in front of the right people. Having already established trust with their follower base, influencers can provide the common connection and proof-of-concept needed to convert your passive buyers.
Below is a checklist of things to consider when searching for your influencers on Twitter. Note that finding the right influencer takes time. However, your research beforehand will affect the quality of your partnership, the likelihood of grooming a genuine brand advocate, and your ROI.
The Twitter Influencer Checklist
✔ The influencer is a trusted expert in your target vertical
Whether in fashion, Tech, SEO, or retail sales, you’ll want to find an influencer who has a solid understanding of your target vertical. He or she should have a clear focus. This doesn’t mean that the influencer is only tweeting about one thing, but rather, isn’t trying to be an expert in too many things at once (this lends to the argument that micro-influencers—people with less followers, sometimes even as low as 8,000—help brands reach a more tailored audience who don’t follow a variety of other influencers).
You can start narrowing your search by using a social listening platform like ours that can scan Twitter for keywords and search criteria, and automatically ranks handles based on the engagement they receive on posts relating to your search terms. Below is an example of an influencer leaderboard of a feed tracking content marketers who are Twitter verified.
Take special care to search for criteria that isn’t too broad (e.g., “social media” versus “social media marketing strategy”) and would attract the input of professionals in your target industry.
Another technique is to begin with a feed tracking a broader conversation, and then viewing the top associated hashtags to discover professional conferences, groups, or less-obvious conversation tags (e.g., “#HESM,” short for “higher education social media”) to monitor.
Once finding a list of influential handles to look out for, verify their level of expertise and trustworthiness.
View the job title, credentials, passions, and skills that influencers identify in their bios with top bios words data. Also, analyze their sentiment and engagement history with other handles to understand which brands and experts they look up to.
✔ The influencer engages the right audience
Check that the influencer is attracting attention from your target audience. Using Twitter Follower Analytics, you can receive demographics, locations, and popular bio words of entire follower lists of any handle.
You can also use association data to further confirm that the influencer’s follower base is engaging positively with brands, publications, and individuals who align with your target industry.
As mentioned above, hashtag analytics can reveal a remarkable amount about people and their interests, both professional and extracurricular. Using your follower analytics, you can find hashtags that are trending among followers and hone in on certain events, grassroots movements, or popular topics that are often connected to a hashtag. With this data, evaluate the audience’s relevance to your brand and/or search for opportunities to engage in conversations that they’re participating in.
✔ The influencer posts tasteful content
View sentiment data around the influencer and take a pass at his/her content to ensure that there’s nothing alarming there.
If you see a negative blip in your sentiment chart, zoom into content associated with ‘NEG’ tags, or whatever denotation that your social listening platform gives it, to decipher whether there’s a reason for concern. In our mini experiment tracking YouTubers Rhett and Link, we were able to see that negative content was largely related to posts complaining that the duo didn’t air on the weekends (no big deal).
However, take caution when hiring the PewDiePie wannabes, even on Twitter. Keep in mind that their unfiltered personality is likely what fuels their success.
Once you enter a partnership, the influencer’s voice and reputation will become one with yours. You shouldn’t expect to shackle your influencers with rules and limitations that detract from their well-known personalities and still reap the benefits you want from influencer marketing.
Find an influencer who already speaks your language (or a language similar to yours) and doesn’t post haphazardly, especially around sensitive topics.
✔ You can trust the influencer’s strategy
Along the same lines, make sure that you can support an influencer’s social media strategy.
Monitor his/her daily activity with social listening feeds that track tweets, alongside content from other social channels for insight into his/her larger multi-channel strategy. Seek answers to: How often does he/she post in a day or week? Does he/she regularly interact with other users, brands, and events? Is every tweet automated or scheduled?
There’s nothing wrong with scheduled tweets, unless they become time-fillers lacking creativity and are borderline spammy.
Consider if your influencer is a forward thinker who understands the congested, on-demand nature of Twitter and has a strategy for keeping up. You might need to prod at his/her strategy through an over-the-phone interview (more vetting tips to come in a follow-up blog), but smart influencers will have a strategy, along with the flexibility and desire to experiment and optimize. In addition, they’ll probably have a presence on other platforms—though perhaps not as strong—to support their activity on Twitter, and enrich their knowledge of the social media space.
On the contrary, influencers without a strategy or who are siloed on Twitter may rely on your brand for direction. They may not proactively search for (or approach you with) new opportunities to expand your brand’s reach. Moreover, sponsored content will stick out like a sore thumb.
Ensure that your influencer shows a potential to adapt to your brand’s needs without sounding robotic or disingenuous.
✔ The influencer has a need for your brand
An influencer relationship is a two-way street, meaning your influencer needs to have an interest or need for your product or service.
Many of our influencer relationships involved conversations about Zoomph, and how our platform can help them with their day-to-day social media marketing. We always strive for mutually beneficial agreements, whereby our brand ambassadors can enjoy all the benefits of our platform—not just as a form of repayment, but as a way for them to experience and enjoy our product organically.
— Chris Barrows 🎙 (@CBarrows) February 21, 2017
Don’t merely “sell” influencers on your product. View their affinity and association data prior to setting up a meeting. Glean insight into their favorite brands, everyday lifestyle, and values to determine whether they would naturally have a use for your product or service.
Remember that some of the best brand advocates might also exist in your current customer base. Examine some of your most loyal clients or active Twitter followers, and see if there’s a partnership opportunity there.
✔ The influencer doesn’t have any other competing priorities or partnerships
Gauge your prospective influencers’ engagement with other brands by curating and analyzing their content. Are they promoting another brand or competitor? If so, are they publishing sponsored promotions? How often do they interact with other brands, and why?
Don’t shy away from influencers if they’re simply engaging organically with a competitor without an apparent contract. For one, this confirms that the influencers do have an interest in brands like yours. Secondly, this is a great opportunity for you to win them over with your strengths and/or gather competitive intelligence.
Also, many influencers will have their own projects, side gigs, or full-time careers that they manage on top of being a social media personality.
Next Steps: Vetting Your Influencer
Once identifying a good candidate, don’t jump the gun! You’ve done your due diligence, but now you must start engaging the influencer, fostering a relationship (not a partnership straight of the bat), and confirming that you will work well with one another.
Stay tuned for our next part to this series for tips on vetting your ideal influencer.