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Brand perception is no longer shaped by marketing output alone. In the wake of social media, our products and services are left wide open to public scrutiny and vocal public opinion. As we shift towards real-time marketing, understanding these voices and the people they belong to is essential to any effective online marketing strategy. So how can we listen, and how do we best respond?

Woman using mobile phone outdoor during a city walk

The power of the influencer

Although many influencers might be social media professionals or celebrities, we are increasingly seeing ordinary people become highly influential on social platforms. In many cases media is not their day job, but they may have large and significant followings on social and blogging platforms.

Listening tools are invaluable in analysing who a brand’s influencers are and how much influence they actually hold.  How are these personalities affecting perceptions of your brand image? What is the size of their audience? And what is its relevance to the market you’re trying to reach? Social listening tools and analysts can dig deep to give you the answers.

The network effect

Every conversation online has a network effect. Even if an influencer has a small network, it may include key journalists or personalities who have a big impact. With each like or retweet an influencer receives, his or her influence reaches into new networks, creating new opportunities or engagement. If you’re not listening, following, tracking and measuring, then you’re missing out on key opportunities to engage with your customers, acquire new customers and tweak marketing efforts to better reach the right people.

Incentivise the positive, reverse the negative

So what is the goal of influencer marketing? It’s simple: Amplify positive sentiment, and get influencers who are negative about your brand (aka ‘detractors’) to change their minds.

There are a number of approaches to take here. Once you’re measuring and tracking social media sentiment in general and influencer sentiment in particular, you can use your data to:

• Provide positive reinforcement – show that you’re listening and that you care.
• Sway detractors to your side. If you listen to influential detractors, you may gain valuable knowledge about where you could be going wrong with your marketing or product development.
• Create tangible incentives – trial products, gifts, vouchers, experiences.
• Change tactics based on learned sentiment – adjust campaign creative, re-think your marketing strategy or make changes to product development.

Embed influencers into your strategy

Your social media, campaign management, and influencer strategies must be aligned to drive maximum value. Together, they can help you understand what consumers want from you, and help you to respond in a manner that delivers the maximum value to your business and to your customers.

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