In the ever-evolving world of communications strategies and campaigns, connecting with your audience through social media is now more vital than ever. Because social media offers channels for engagement that traditional media coverage cannot, it’s essential for your PR team to analyze social content to understand the stories and topics that are reaching and resonating with your audience.
But first, you must identify and learn from the individuals on social media who drive the conversations that matter most to your industry.
What is a Social Media Influencer?
A social media influencer is an individual who has established a following on social media based on their reputation of expertise or knowledge in a certain subject. Their content often generates significant engagement (such as views, likes, and shares) when they post to their social channels. And, as Forbes explains, they are people with large followings that can leverage their audiences to promote different products or services. Influencers can range from those specializing in niche topics, like gardening, to individuals with broader appeal, like popular celebrities or public figures.
Why are Social Media Influencers Important to Your PR Strategy?
Social media influencers are important to your PR strategy because they have established themselves as credible sources on topics relevant to your industry with your target audience. Tracking what they are talking about can clue your communications team in on better ways to reach your consumers and create campaigns that will resonate with them. They can also showcase which topics generate the most engagement and provide a blueprint for the types of messaging that draw the best response from your target demographic.
Ways to Identify the Right Social Media Influencers
Finding the right social media influencers takes a bit of craft; unfortunately, there’s no magic list you can simply search (yet)! A large part of condensing your search begins with defining your target audience as well as your communications goals. In other words, who are you reaching out to and why?
Here are three things to consider when identifying your industry influencers:
Shared Target Audiences
Start by clearly defining your target demographic. This requires knowing more about the who in “who is using my product or service.” Major target audiences are often broken down by demographics, including age, gender, race, political affiliation, spending ability, and geographic location. Creating detailed buyer personas for your consumers will also help you to better understand your audience. Once you know your target audience, it will be significantly easier to find the appropriate influencer who has successfully tapped into that same audience. For example, if you sell athletic wear, your top influencers will be vastly different if your target consumers are teenage girls as opposed to middle-aged men, etc.
Next, you must find the “movers and shakers” that are garnering traction in your field. A great way is to track hashtags, keywords, and key topics that relate to your brand on Twitter.
Compile a list of the keywords and topics relevant to your industry, as well as key messages important to your brand, like Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, etc. The most valuable influencers are those who have not only engaged your audience on industry-specific content, but also on the broader social issues that your brand is concerned with.
You can also use Google Analytics to isolate the top posts (i.e., those generating the most engagement) within the conversations happening on social media about topics relevant to your field.
Social Media Reach and Engagement
When evaluating the influencers responsible for your industry’s top social content, you must consider the following:
First, how many followers do they have? Their follower count indicates the potential reach of each post.
Second, what is their average number of retweets per post? Along with follower count, the degree of engagement they regularly generate is important when considering their pull. Further, retweets indicate that their follower base is active and that they are posting content worth engaging with. Determining a user’s engagement based on this metric requires a full analysis of their published content, so it’s best to have a team doing this work for maximum efficiency.
Finally, what kind of influencers are they? If they aren’t a celebrity, their bio will often tell you what kind of content they post and provide links to their other social accounts. Keep in mind that, while a celebrity may have a larger following, a micro-influencer that specializes in your field will likely reach more people interested in your product or service.
Measuring Influencer Activity
Once you’ve identified the right influencers for your industry, measuring their activity can provide invaluable insights to inform your PR strategy.
In addition to analyzing their posts with the most engagement, the keywords and topics they use are also worth tracking. For instance, if increasing your ESG messaging is one of your team’s priorities, look at how your industry influencers have approached the topic.
By analyzing the top social content, you can learn which aspects of ESG, like sustainability or social justice, your audience reacts to most. And, with sentiment analysis, the tone of the conversations around these subjects reveals the direction and strength of your audience’s views on topics central to your industry.
Observing how your shared audience responds to topics relevant to your brand can guide your messaging campaigns. Influencers are successful not only because of their reputations, but because they have tailored their content and methods to reach their audience. Thus, emulating their activity can help you appeal to that same audience.
Utilizing Influencer Insights
In communications, pinpointing the right influencers means that you can tap into the people leading conversations in your industry and use that information to cultivate a more effective strategy for reaching your audience.
PublicRelay’s hybrid approach to media analytics pairs advanced technology with human analysis to help you to identify your top social media influencers and draw insights that can prime your communications strategy for success.
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