Saturday, April 22, 2017

Guide To Tracking Social Media In Google Analytics

Imagen de Blue Fountain Media bajo licencia CC BY 2.0

Your website is the cornerstone of your business’ online presence. Alongside your website is its helpful sister, social media. Your social media and website presence should be integrated with one another in order to continuously drive traffic to your online assets. And with social media driving traffic to your site, the next step is measuring your efforts so you can improve. As always, this is where Google Analytics comes handy.

Google Analytics provides you with data to see where your website visitors come from and understand your visitors’ behavior on your site. Additionally, when you setup your Google Analytics account to track and measure your social media initiatives, you’ll then be able to adequately prove the ROI of social media for your business.

To get you started, we’ve put together this guide to tracking social media in Google Analytics in 6 easy steps.

Step 1: Create social media objectives and goals for your website

Before you can begin tracking your social media initiatives in Google Analytics you need to create social media objectives and goals. These objectives and goals should be part of your overall social media marketing plan and should be aligned with your broader marketing and business strategy. If your objective is to use social media to increase website traffic, then create S.M.A.R.T. goals that will help you achieve that objective.

For example: To increase website traffic by 15% in Q2, 100 Tweets a month will be dedicated to driving traffic to the website.

Step 2: Sign up for Google Analytics

This step is extremely important if you want to track social media in Google Analytics. It’s important that you have a Google Analytics account to access your website traffic reports. Create a new Google Analytics account, if you don’t have one. Visit, click Sign in to Google Analytics or Create an account button on the top right hand corner, and follow the on-screen instructions.

Step 3: Setup your Google Analytics tracking code

In order to gather website data from Google Analytics you need to first setup your tracking code. There are two ways to collect page tracking data: Google Tag Manager or by adding the tracking code directly to your site.

1) Google Tag Manager

This approach is recommended because using Google Tag Manager simplifies tag management on your site. It makes it easier to add other tags, such as AdWords Conversion Tracking and remarketing tags, to your site and configure Google Analytics tracking. Follow the steps in the video below to setup Google Tag Manager.

2) Adding the tracking code directly to your site

In order to do this you first must have access to your website’s source code and be comfortable editing HTML.

To set up the web tracking code:
Sign in to your Google Analytics account, select the Admin tab. From the Account and property columns, select the property you’re working with. Click Tracking Info > Tracking code.

Copy the snippet. It starts with <script> and ends with </script>. Make sure to not reuse the same tracking code snippet on multiple domains.
Paste your snippet into every webpage you want to track, and paste it before the closing </head> tag.
Check your setup to make sure the code shown in Google Analytics is the same that is on your website’s source code.

Step 4: Setup Google Analytics Goals

Tracking the true effectiveness of social media for your business goes beyond pageviews and visits. Finding out if social media actually helps your business is more important if you’re trying to prove the ROI of social media. Knowing important metrics like: product sign ups, leads, downloads, and newsletter signups, will help you solidify the importance of social media for your business.

To create Goals follow these steps by Google Analytics.
Step 5: Understanding Social Analytics Reports

There are 8 Social Analytics reports available in Google Analytics. These reports will help you understand the impact and effectiveness of your social media initiatives. You can find these reports under the Reporting tab > Acquisition > Social.

1) Overview report

This report allows you to see a glance into how much conversion value is generated from social channels. The social value graph compares the number and monetary value of all goal completions versus those that are from social referrals.

2) Network referrals

This report will provide you with engagement metrics for traffic from each social network. It will show you which social networks referred the highest quality traffic.

3) Data Hub Activity

The Data Hub Activity report shows you how people are talking about and engaging with your site content on social networks. You’ll be able to see the most recent URLs people shared, how they shared it, and what they said.

4) Landing pages

This report allows you to see engagement metrics for each URL. Each URL will show you the originating social networks for that URL.

5) Trackbacks

In this report you’ll be able to know which sites are linking to your content, and in which context. You can use this data to replicate successful content and build relationships with those who frequently link to your site.

6) Conversions

This report is the report where you can really quantify the value of social media for your business. The Conversions report will show the total number of conversions and the monetary value of conversions that occurred as a result of referrals from each network. Note: Step 4 must be completed in order for this report to be populated with data.

7) Plugins

If you have social share buttons on your site it’s important to understand which buttons are being clicked on and for which content. This report provides you with the data necessary to know which articles are most commonly shared, and from which social networks they’re being shared on.

8) Users flow

The Users Flow reports shows the initial paths that users from social networks took through your site. If you run campaigns that promote specific products, you can see whether users from each social network entered your site through a product page and whether or not they continued to other parts of your website.

Step 6: Reporting on the data from these reports

Now that you have the data that you need to showcase how your social media initiatives is driving traffic to your website; compile the necessary data and present it to your boss in either a PowerPoint or Google Presentation. Make sure to only include the data that aligns back to the goals you initially created in Step 1. Your presentation should include graphs and 2-3 sentences explaining what each graph means to your business.

For example, if you want to show how social media is doing in driving traffic to your website you can create a graph that compares it to other source channels, like the graph below, then talk about how owned and organic social channels are driving the most traffic to your website.

We hope this 6 step guide to tracking social media in Google Analytics helps gets you started on the right track to proving social media ROI. Just remember to always be: tracking, measuring, analyzing, and improving, in order to constantly improve your business’s online assets.

Social Media ROI 101 A Comprehensive Guide

Measuring the return on your social media investment is no longer optional.
To secure ongoing executive buy-in and budget for your social marketing strategies you need to demonstrate how your efforts are contributing to the business’ goals.
Maturing from an experiment to a core business strategy, social media is now an impactful marketing channel that needs to compete against other channels—for budget, resources, and respect. This means that social, like other channels, has to prove its return on investment (ROI).
But beyond proving the impact on your organization, measuring and tracking social media return on investment also lets marketers dedicate more time and resources into what’s working, and improve the tactics that aren’t delivering real value.

Table of contents

What is social media ROI?

Why measuring social media ROI is important

How to set social media goals to prove ROI

How to measure your ROI

Social media ROI tools

How to report your social media ROI

Next steps: Make adjustmentsWhat is social media ROI?

Social media ROI is what your organization gets out of its social marketing efforts. After all the time, money, and effort put in—what’s the output? Ideally this would be measured in dollars.
A simple formula for social media ROI might look like this:
Money generated via social media – investment (people hours, ad budget, etc.) = social media ROI
Like any formula, the math is easy if you have all the variables. But what if your variables aren’t easily quantifiable? As social media marketers know, the success of a campaign is not always measurable in terms of hard numbers.
To account for this, in his book “Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization” author Oliver Blanchard explains that non-financial outcomes can “tell the story by capturing changes in human behavior.”
What kinds of things did your target audience do after exposure to your campaign? Did these actions align with your goals? Where did they fall short? How can they be improved for next time?
If you need another way to consider your social media ROI, think about the ratio between gain and cost, which includes things such as:
  • Labor
  • Training
  • Development
  • Social media technology
  • Agencies and consultants
  • Social media advertising budget
  • Business overhead

For estimating the gain from certain consumer actions (purchases, page views, downloads, email list signups, etc.) you need to look to analytics to determine which conversion events can be attributed to social media. This helps you define your social media ROI and prove the value to your organization and brand.

Why measuring ROI is important

Talk is cheap, so while you could tell your stakeholders or clients about the value of social media campaigns and why they need dedicated resources, nothing will convince them more than being able to actually show results through ROI.
Everything is taken more seriously when there are measurable and specific outcomes, and this is especially true for social media ROI.
Measuring your social media ROI is important for many reasons, including, but not limited to:
  • Proving the value of social media to your organization’s overall goals and business objectives
  • Showing where your efforts and resources are being used efficiently
  • Helping you determine where resources are being wasted, or used inefficiently
  • Allowing you to recognize gaps in strategy, key messages, and content

How to set social media goals to prove ROI

Now that you know what social media ROI is and why it’s crucial for your business, it’s important to set some goals.
As mentioned above, before you’re able to measure your social media ROI, you need to know what metrics you are actually measuring.
When pitching your boss and trying to get buy-in, the key is to set social media goals that complement existing business and departmental goals.
If you have set a specific number of leads you’re trying to attain this quarter, set the number of leads you want to be driven via social media.
If one of your goals is to increase landing page conversion by 10 percent, ensure that you’re tracking the conversion rate of people who land on the page through social channels.
Audit your existing social media performance to establish baseline targets, then set appropriate goals for improvement.
The brand awareness created by social media—seen in vanity metrics including likes and retweets—is valuable, but not enough. According to Altimeter, only 34 percent of organizations feel that their social strategy is connected to business outcomes. To demonstrate social media’s value, you need to measure social media ROI as it relates to your broader business goals.
Key examples of social media metrics to track include:
  • Reach
  • Site traffic
  • Leads generated
  • Sign-ups and conversions
  • Revenue generated
It’s important for social data to be relevant to stakeholders within your organization, not just social media practitioners. Tying social media to the big picture by linking it to organizational and departmental goals will help you achieve that.
If you need some help determining goals, we recommend using the S.M.A.R.T goal framework. Explained in more detail through our piece Don’t Just Create Social Media Goals—Reach Them, you want to ensure that the goals you are setting are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
For example, rather than simply saying that you want to increase your engagement, set a numerical value and a deadline for this, such as aiming to have 50 customer interactions per week by the end of your first quarter.
As outlined in our post 7 Social Media Metrics that Really Matter—and How to Track Them, the following are specific social media goals, and the metrics to measure for each, to get you on the right track with your social ROI efforts.

Goal No. 1: Increase social media engagement

  • Basic social media metrics to measure: likes, shares, comments, retweets, mentions, and favorites
  • Advanced social media metrics to measure: Bounce rate, social share of voice, amplification rate, and applause rate

Goal No. 2: Increase customer acquisition on your website

  • Basic social media metrics to measure: URL clicks and traffic from social media
  • Advanced social media metrics to measure: Share of traffic driven and leads generated

Goal No. 3: Increase brand awareness

  • Social media metrics to measure: Follower growth rate, percentage change over time in followers, Twitter sentiment, reach by region and clicks by region
  • Advanced social media metric to measure: Conversation rate

How to measure your ROI

While it’s great to set social media goals and act on them, your job isn’t done until you’ve proven the value of your efforts, which is a challenge for many social media and content marketers.
According to the CMO Survey, social media spending increased 234 percent from 2009 to 2017, accounting for 11.7 percent of total marketing budgets. Still, only 20.3 percent of marketers say they are able to prove the impact quantitatively.
  • 56 percent—an inability to tie social media to business outcomes
  • 39 percent—a lack of analytics, expertise and/or resources
  • 38 percent—poor tools
  • 35 percent—inconsistent analytical approaches
  • 30 percent—unreliable data

While it may seem difficult to prove these hesitations wrong, there are several tools available to help you.

Social media ROI tools

Once you’ve established your social media goals, you’ll need the right tools and tactics for measuring results. Here are a few of the best:
Google Analytics: Track website traffic, on-site conversions, and sign-ups originating from social media campaigns.
Hootsuite Analytics: Hootsuite offers a variety of analytics tools to help you track your reach, conversions, and more. A few noteworthy examples are:
  • Hootsuite Insights will help you identify conversations within your industry, your reach, brand sentiment, and much more, with 100 million data sources, real-time results, and an intuitive interface.
  • Custom URL parameters allows you to track which social networks and social messaging did or did not drive traffic to your site, blog, or landing page.
  • Hootsuite Analytics Reports offer quick snapshots of your reach through metrics like follower growth, total daily URL click-through, and per-post stats for Facebook, Twitter, and more.
LiftMetrix: Designed to help organizations understand the revenue impact of owned, earned, and paid media social media strategies. A few ways they do this:
  • ROI dashboards allows large teams to easily create different views based on job roles and departments. Measure the full social conversion funnel—end-to-end ROI measurement of true business metrics like purchases, sign-ups, email acquisition, and more.
  • Daily recommendations provides easy-to-understand content recommendations and insight.
  • Content theme analysis allows you to filter and measure which content themes perform best across all of your posts from Hootsuite.
  • Competitor analysis keeps your finger on the pulse. Know what your competitors are doing and saying on social media and how they are achieving success.

How to report your social media ROI

Once you’ve set your goals and chosen your social media analytics tools, it’s time to actually track your social media ROI.
The ability to track should be built into everything you do on social media, so you’re never left scrambling to try and prove the success of a campaign.
Best practices for reporting:
  • Use templatesCreating analytics templates will allow you to track your desired metrics without having to build out custom reports for each campaign. These reports will also present the data in a digestible way, allowing you to simply and effectively share your ROI on social media with higher ups in the organization.
  • Check your metrics daily—You should check your various social media metrics frequently to ensure that your social media goals are being met. The lifecycle of a social media campaign is often very short, so you need to stay on top of the data as it happens.
  • Stick to a timeframe—Choose a timeframe that works for you, and stick to it. You can often have reports sent to your email inbox on specific days of the week so you don’t even have to remember to pull reports yourself.

Next steps: Make adjustments

Once you’ve identified what works and what doesn’t work for your organization on social, it’s time to adjust your strategy. The point of tracking your social media ROI isn’t just to prove your social campaigns are valuable, it’s to increase their value over time.
Go back and take a look at the goals of your specific campaign and evaluate how they tie into the organization’s overall goals.
Due to the short lifecycle of social media campaigns, a failing campaign should be changed and improved as soon as possible. Social media is never static.
To meet your social media ROI goals, you’ll need to update and adapt your strategy constantly. Take into account the analytics data you’re tracking. Think about whether your data needs adjusting after calculating your first round of social media ROI, and get back to the drawing board if necessary.
The setting of business goals and calculating your social media ROI is not going to be a black and white, one-time event, but rather an always-evolving process.
Measuring social media ROI gives your organization valuable insight into the success of current and past campaigns, and what might work in the future.

Friday, April 21, 2017

101 The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It

If you’re using Facebook ads—or you plan to use them in the future—there’s one key tool you should start using right away to get the most out of your social ad budget: the Facebook pixel.

What is a Facebook pixel?

A Facebook pixel is code that you place on your website. It helps you track conversions from Facebook ads, optimize ads based on collected data, build targeted audiences for future ads, and remarket to qualified leads—people who have already taken some kind of action on your website.
It works by placing and triggering cookies to track users as they interact with your website and your Facebook ads.

Benefits of using a Facebook pixel

There are several ways you can use data collected from Facebook pixel tracking to refine your Facebook advertising strategy.

Track conversions

The Facebook pixel allows you to monitor how people interact with your website after viewing your Facebook ad.
You can even track customers across their devices so you know, for example, if people tend to see your ads on mobile but switch to a desktop before making a purchase—or maybe it’s the other way around. This information can help you refine your ad strategy and calculate your return on investment.


Pixel tracking data allows you to show targeted ads to people who have already visited your site. You can choose to get really granular here—for example, you can show people an ad for the exact product that they abandoned in a shopping cart or added to a wishlist on your website.
This capability is why you should create a Facebook pixel now, even if you’re not using Facebook ads yet—so you have retargeting capabilities from your very first Facebook ad.

Create lookalike audiences

Facebook can use its targeting data to help you build a lookalike audience of people who have similar likes, interests, and demographics to people who are already interacting with your website, helping you expand your potential customer base.

Run effective ads

Using a Facebook pixel can make your ads more effective by improving the quality of the ads you run, and by improving the targeting of the people who see them.
In addition to improving your ads based on tracking their effectiveness, you can use Facebook pixel data to ensure your ads are seen by the people who are most likely to take your desired action.
For some examples of companies using the Facebook pixel effectively, check out our post 5 Surprising Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Ads.

How to use a Facebook pixel

You can use Facebook pixel tracking to collect data on two different kinds of events: a set of nine standard events that Facebook has predefined, or custom conversions that you set up yourself. An “event” is simply a specified action that a visitor takes on your website.

Standard events

The nine standard Facebook pixel events for which you can simply copy and paste standard Facebook event code are:
  • View content: Someone lands on a page on your website.
  • Search: Someone uses the search function to look for something on your site.
  • Add to cart: Someone adds a product to their shopping cart on your site.
  • Add to wishlist: Someone adds a product to a wishlist on your site.
  • Initiate checkout: Someone starts the checkout process to buy something from your site.
  • Add payment info: Someone enters their payment information in the purchase process on your website.
  • Make purchase: Someone completes a purchase on your website.
  • Lead: Someone signs up for a trial or otherwise identifies themselves as a lead on your site.
  • Complete registration: Someone completes a registration form on your site, such as for a subscription product.

Custom conversions

You can use custom conversion events in place of standard events, or to collect more details than Facebook pixel standard events can provide.
Custom conversions use URL rules based on specific URLS or URL keywords. So, for example, you could use Facebook pixel tracking to record views of a specific category of merchandise on your website, instead of tracking views of all content using the “view content” standard event—perhaps to separate dog owners from cat owners based on which sections of your pet supply website they viewed.
Before you can use Facebook pixel custom conversions, you’ll need to help Facebook understand the details of the conversion event you want to track. To do so, head to your Facebook Ads Manager, then go to Custom Conversions and click Create Custom Conversion to define your custom conversion event using URL rules.
You can also create Facebook pixel custom events by adding more details to standard events using additional bits of code called parameters. These allow you to customize the standard events based on:
  • How much a conversion event is worth
  • Product name, category, or ID
  • The number of items someone adds to their shopping cart
  • A specific search string
  • The status of a registration

How to create a Facebook pixel and add it your website

Now that you know what you can track, and why you would want to do so, it’s time to create your pixel and put it to work on your website.

Step 1: Create your pixel

1. From your Facebook Ads Manager, click the hamburger icon (≡) and choose Pixels.
The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog
2. Click Create a Pixel.
The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog
3. Name your pixel, accept the terms, and click Next. When choosing the pixel’s name, keep in mind that you only get one pixel for each ad account, so the name should represent your business, rather than a specific campaign.
The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog

Step 2: Add the pixel code to your website

To put the pixel to work gathering information on your website, you now need to install some code on your webpages. There are two ways to do this depending on the tools you have incorporated into your website. We’ll use the copy-and-paste method here. The other option is to use an integration or tag manager.
1. Click Copy and Paste the Code.
The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog
2. Copy and paste the pixel base code into the header code of your website—that is, post it after the <head> tag but before the </head> tag. You need to paste it into every single page, or into your template if you’re using one. When you’re finished, click Next.
The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog
The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog
3. Copy the appropriate event code based on the actions you want to track on your website. For custom conversion code, click Custom Event. This Facebook help article can help you figure out which type of setup is best for you: basic, recommended, or advanced.
The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog
4. Paste the event code in the appropriate location on your webpage based on the action you want to track. It should go just below the </head> tag for a new page that opens as a result of the tracked action (like a thank you page). Or, you can attach the code to specific HTML elements like buttons that trigger actions within a page. When you’re done, click Next.
The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog

Step 3: Confirm your Facebook pixel is working

Before you start relying on the data from your Facebook pixel, you should confirm that it’s working properly.
1. Download the Facebook Pixel Helper extension for Google Chrome.
2. Visit the page where you have installed the Facebook pixel. If the extension finds the pixel, the </> icon will turn blue, and a popup will indicate how many pixels are found on the page. The popup will also tell you if your pixel is working properly. If not, it will provide error information so you can make corrections.

The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog
Image via Facebook for Developers.

Note: The current Facebook pixel combines two older pixel versions: the conversion tracking pixel and custom audience pixel. Facebook discontinued the conversion tracking pixel on February 17, 2017. If you were using the Facebook conversion pixel, you’ll need to switch over to the new Facebook pixel. You can learn how to do so in this Facebook business help article. If you were using the old custom audience pixel, these instructions for Facebook pixels explain how to upgrade to the new version.

The 101 of Influencer Marketing on Social Media: Everything You Need To Know

You probably know that word-of-mouth is one of the most valuable forms of marketing out there: It’s been shown to influence 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions. After all, potential customers are much more likely to be receptive to recommendations from a person they respect and trust than to ads or other corporate messaging.
In the new world of digital relationships, word of mouth extends well beyond recommendations from friends and family into the realm of influencer marketing.
In fact, research from Twitter shows that 49 percent of consumers seek purchase guidance from social media influencers, and 20 percent said that a Tweet from an influencer inspired them to share their own product recommendation. Even more important for marketers, nearly 40 percent of Twitter users said they had made a purchase as a direct result of an influencer’s Tweet.
And on Instagram, the amount brands are spending with influencers is over $1 billion per year, according to a study from Mediakix.
In this post we’ll take you through everything you need to know about influencer marketing—from strategy and tips, to tools you can use to boost your campaign.

Table of contents

What is a social media influencer?

How to incorporate influencer marketing in your social media strategy

How to find the right social media influencer for your campaign

Influencer marketing best practices

10 influencer marketing tools

What is a social media influencer?
An influencer is quite simply someone who carries influence over others. A social media influencer is someone who wields that influence through social media. The form of influence can vary and no two influencers are the same. Celebrity endorsements were the original form of influencer marketing, but in the digital age of online connection, regular people have become online “celebrities” with powerfully engaged social media followings, especially in certain market segments.
In fact, a survey of U.S. teens conducted for Variety last year found that YouTube creators took eight of the top 10 spots in a survey of influencers, outranking traditional celebrities like musicians and movie stars.
Perhaps no one embodies the concept of the social media influencer more than DJ Khaled, whom The Washington Post dubbed “The King of Snapchat.” His 6 million Snapchat followers make him an obvious choice for brands who may not (yet) have a strong Snapchat presence of their own.
When the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority debuted on the social network, they hired DJ Khaled for an account takeover that brought in more than 350,000 views in its first two days alone.

How to incorporate influencer marketing in your social media strategy

Think of influencer marketing as simply another arrow in your marketing quiver. While it’s a different approach to brand messaging, your influencer campaigns should still align with your larger content strategy and brand image so that they enhance your overall brand reputation.

Extend your reach (or laser-target your message) through influencer channels

In many cases, you will use influencer marketing to extend the reach of your brand messaging by working with social media influencers to create or support content they post on their own social media channels. This allows you to piggyback on someone else’s follower base, either to reach a broader audience or to segment your efforts in ways that would never be possible through your own branded social media accounts.
For example, the National Pork Board has partnered with Latino social media influencers in its #sabrososmomentos campaign to encourage Hispanic American families to serve more pork at family get-togethers throughout the holiday season, targeting a specific segment it would be challenging to reach through the board’s own branded channels.
This video, posted by influencers Los Pichy Boys on October 18, already has more than 340,000 views.

Boost credibility with influencer messaging on your own channels

You can also recruit influencers to participate in content that you share or cross-post on your own channels, as clothing company ThreadBeast did when it created a series of Facebook Ads with streetwear influencers like Nightwing2303 unboxing ThreadBeast packages.
Check out the views on that Facebook video: 3.4 million! Plus, it garnered another 200,000 views on Nightwing2303’s YouTube channel. The campaign targeted 18- to 24-year-old men in the U.S. with an interest in hip-hop or streetwear brands, and resulted in a 36 percent increase in clickthrough rate.
ThreadBeast’s Facebook ads influencer campaign ended in July, but the company is still working with influencers: Nightwing2303 posted a new unboxing video to YouTube earlier this month.

social media takeover, like the DJ Khaled example above, is another effective way to leverage an influencer’s following and cross-promote your own channels to build up your own follower base.

How to find the right social media influencer for your campaign

Before reaching out to a potential social media influencer, you’ll need to consider the Rs of influence:
  • Relevance: The influencer is sharing content and developing a following relevant to your business and the particular market segment you want to target.
  • Reach: The number of people you could potentially reach through the influencer’s follower base that would bring value to your business.
  • Resonance: The potential level of engagement the influencer can create with an audience that’s valuable and relevant to your brand.
When determining whether an influencer is a good match for your three Rs, you’ll need to ask yourself a couple of important questions.

Who are you trying to influence?

Most marketers have no trouble coming up with a high-level answer to this question: you’re trying to influence your customers, prospects, and the broader industry community. But your influencer campaign can’t be all things to all people: as in all types of marketing strategy, a meaningful answer requires greater focus and a clear understanding of your goals and your audience.
Perhaps you’re trying to influence people who work in a specific job function—social media professionals or community managers who tend to spend significant amounts of time on social media every day, for example. Or maybe your goal is to influence decision-makers in a particular vertical—maybe government or finance leaders who tend to place deep trust in recommendations from their peer network. Or, you could be trying to target a specific consumer segment, like millennials looking to buy their first home.
These are three very different groups, and an effective influencer marketing strategy requires you to speak to the right people using the right tools (and, in this case, the right influencers), just like you do in all of your other marketing work.
Looking at a very specific marketing niche, for example, a recent survey from public relations firm MWWPR found that influencer marketing is the most effective way of marketing spirits to millennials, along with earned media. According to the report, 54 percent of Millennials share branded content from spirits companies when it is posted by a social influencer, and 93 percent usually try a new liquor after someone recommends it to them. For any liquor brand looking to expand into the millennial market, those numbers should be hard to ignore.

Who do your customers, prospects, and community trust?

For marketers, the key requirement for true influence is trust. Your audience must trust and respect the opinion of the influencers you partner with. Without the trust component, any lift in results will be superficial and you’ll struggle to see a tangible business impact from your efforts.
Working from a clear idea of exactly who you’re trying to influence, take the extra step to find key opinion and thought leaders whom your audience already looks to as sources of meaningful information. These people are already influencers—and partnerships with them can drive real impact.
Keep in mind that your audience demographics play a major role in determining which influencers will be the most trusted in your marketplace. Data from Twitter shows that people aged 45 and up view more traditional household name celebrities as preferred influencers, while millennials prefer digital content creators.
Targeting that millennial market, Contiki has been using influencer marketing for five years through its #RoadTrip series, hosting groups of YouTube stars as they follow Contiki itineraries around the world. Some videos, like the one below created by influencers Jesse and Jeana (BFvsGF), racked up more than a million views (not to mention more than 125,000 likes).
Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that after its 2015 RoadTrip to Southeast Asia, Contiki saw a 175 percent increase in owned YouTube audience and a 25 percent increase in traffic to its Asian trip packages online. Anecdotally, when Contiki’s Canadian sales managers visited various campuses across the country, they heard from at least one person each day who mentioned they had first learned about the travel brand through their favorite YouTuber. The campaign helped Contiki win the Skifties award for Best Travel Brand on YouTube and the British Youth Travel Award for Best Use of Social Media.
There are plenty of tools to help you identify people with large and engaged networks talking about topics that matter to your audience, including followerwonkTraackr, Klout, and Hootsuite. But remember that reach alone does not indicate a powerful influencer—you also need the other two Rs: relevance and resonance. Watch for engaged followers—that means plenty of views, likes, comments, and shares, all from the precise follower segments you’re trying to reach.
A huge follower count is meaningless without evidence that those followers are paying attention, and a smaller follower count can be very powerful if it’s a niche area and the potential influencer is a recognized leader. Markerly, a network that connects brands with influencers, recently found that partnering with “micro-influencers” can provide much better ROI than trying to snag a big celebrity. Their analysis of 800,000 Instagram users found that the  influencers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers offer the best combination of resonance and reach.
Image via Markerly.
Image via Markerly.

Influencer marketing best practices

Influencers are becoming increasingly important in the social media world, and they expect to be recognized for the value they bring to your brand. Here are some key ways to ensure you build influencer relationships that are beneficial over the long term.

Reach out slowly

Once you identify a social media influencer you want to engage with, start the connection process by reaching out through content they are already sharing, and conversations they are already starting or leading. Twitter chats are a great way to do this. If you know your potential social media influencer is hosting a Twitter chat, be sure to mark the date and participate. If they have a blog, comment on their blog posts to show that you are actually reading their content.
Once you’ve begun to build rapport, the relationship can bloom into a mutually beneficial one. On that note…

Create mutual value

As a marketer, you’re probably focused on the value that influencers can provide to your brand, not the other way around. But to create a meaningful and lasting relationship, influencers must also derive value from partnering with your brand—and not just in the form of cold, hard cash (although that always helps).
“Value” doesn’t only mean financial compensation; it simply means that the perceived benefit of the partnership is equally important to both you and the influencer. It could involve a content swap, an introduction to a unique community, or some kind of swag or product placement, but always keep in mind that mutual value will be the key driver of long-term influencer relationships.

Go for a consistent look, feel, and tone

When choosing an influencer, in addition to finding a fit for your niche market, you need to find someone who’s producing content with a similar look and feel to your own, and whose tone is appropriate for the way you want to present your brand to potential customers. This will make it much easier for the brand and the influencer to share, swap, and collaborate without creating a disjointed feel in either party’s social media posts.
A social media influencer who has worked hard to build a following will not accept a deal that makes their own personal brand seem inconsistent. And allowing the influencer creative freedom is much easier when you know that their content will gel with your own. Combining your efforts creates the best results—data from Twitter shows that exposure to a brand Tweet creates a 2.7 times lift in purchase intent, but exposure to both a brand Tweet and an influencer Tweet more than doubles that lift to 5.2 times.

Measure the results

Social media influencers should be able to provide analytics and detailed reports on the reach of their posts, but remember that you’re also looking to track engagement. This can be tricky, with 47 percent of respondents to a recent survey saying that proving the value of their influencer marketing campaigns is their biggest measurement challenge. Hootsuite allows you to measure campaign success by tracking mentions of the brand or campaign hashtags with social listening streams.

Remember that influencer marketing is one of the hottest online marketing trends right now, but you still need to do your research, ensure your efforts align with your overall marketing strategy, and test and track your results to improve performance, just as you would with any other marketing tool.

10 influencer marketing tools

A list of influencer marketing tools to help you find influential people to partner with, and track the success of your campaigns.

1. Influencer strategy template

Stop chasing online personalities that have little sway over your target audience. This template will help you map out your influencer marketing strategy and inform partner decisions.

2. Followerwonk (free tool)

This tool by Moz makes it easy to find relevant influencers on Twitter by topic and location. Use it to build a list of potential influencers to engage and partner with. Pro tip: create a Twitter list for these individuals for easy reference.

3. Hootsuite (free tool)

You can use Hootsuite search streams to discover social media influencers by monitoring conversations relevant to your industry. Who is your target audience engaging with? Whose content are they sharing? These people have clout that can help your brand expand it’s reach.
Once you have a set of influencers to follow, you can add them to a Twitter list and save it as a stream to easily track what they share and who they engage with—learn from the best.

4. Demographics Pro for Twitter (free tool)

Use this tool to determine whether an influencer’s audience is right for your brand. The app will give you relevant data on a user’s following, including average age, income, location, likes, interests, and profession.

5. TrendSpottr for Instagram app

Find the top trending photos, videos, and influencers for any tag or topic with TrendSpottr for Instagram. The app also makes it easy to engage with key influencers, view trending hashtags, select from a list of popular tags, and easily share trending posts to your social networks.

6. Streamview for Instagram

Find local Instagram influencers posting in your area (or an area you choose to follow). You can monitor for locations and hashtags, or combine search terms for advanced listening.

7. UTM parameters (free tool)

These short text codes can be added to a URL to track important data about website visitors and traffic sources. Create them for your influencers to use when they share content on social media so you can track how much engagement the campaign is receiving.
Use the Hootsuite dashboard to create UTM parameters in a few simple steps. Then you can share the links with your social media influencer or easily add it to your posts.
Check out our guide, How to Use UTM Parameters to Track Social Media Success and learn more about this invaluable tool.

8. Facebook’s Pixel (free tool)

As we explain in our post, The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It, this tool makes it easy to track conversions from a Facebook ad, optimize ads based on data collected, build targeted audiences for future ads, and remarket to qualified leads (people who have already taken some kind of action on your website).
If your influencer marketing strategy includes a Facebook ad component, you can use a pixel’s remarketing capabilities to expand an influencer’s reach and connect with a new and relevant audience. Check out our step-by-step guide to learn how to put the tactic to work in your next campaign.

9. Right Relevance Pro

This app identifies and ranks industry influencers and uses their inherent trust to discover content relevant to your audience. This makes it easy for you to find and share content that will help expand your businesses’ reach on social media.

10. Insightpool

Do your busy @mention streams make it more difficult to engage with influencers? InsightPool’s single-click response interface makes it easy to cut through the noise and connect with key individuals.