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At a time when consumers turn to each other to inform their buying choices, social influencers play a big role in every brand’s digital marketing strategy. If you’re not using social listening to find and leverage these powerful voices, you’re doing it wrong.

So how do you identify those “passionate” influencers – the ones with a dedicated social following proving they’ve earned the trust of many – and channel that passion into your own brand? Short answer: consumer sentiment analysis.

If that sounds out of reach, our latest Success Story proves it’s possible with a shoestring budget.

Wanted: Punks and Poets

Stance, the unique and colorful sock brand that co-starred with Christopher Walken in a Kia Optima SuperBowl ad, knows first-hand the power of influencers – and how it feels to be the underdog. To slug it out with bigger rivals like Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour, the specialist sock company focused on using social media to affordably market their brand.

Knowing their best bet was using their own fan base to amplify messaging, Stance poured their limited resources into finding the most avid and passionate fans of their products – their Punks and Poets. Just as they “took the traditional white sock and transformed it into a canvas,” as The Inertia eloquently put it, Stance transformed celebrities, musicians and athletes into brand advocates – extending their reach exponentially.

But they didn’t do it haphazardly.

Finding passionate influencers in a haystack

To build on the success of the Punks and Poets program, Stance turned to NetBase to streamline the process of identifying influencers among its fan-base. What Stance understood is a lesson for all brands: It’s not about having the most influencers, it’s about having the most passionate ones. And while celebrities are great, theirs aren’t the only voices who can impact your brand on social media.

Using NetBase’s social listening and sentiment analysis tools, Stance automated the process of finding the most passionate fans and those with the most sway among followers. This route is far more precise, as well as efficient, than attempting it manually.

In Stance’s case they identified many potential influencers among their diverse fan base –inclusive of the surf, skate and snow crowds as well as others who love their brand. And they made sure passion intensity was the focus, knowing influencers with a passionate following of their own were a better fit than those consumers didn’t have a strong opinion about either way.

Why passionate voices matter

Consumers who are only lukewarm for a brand won’t go out of their way to talk about them on social media – that’s why influential enthusiasts are so paramount. Plus passion runs in both directions – detractors can be just as influential if left unchecked.

Analyzing sentiment and passion shouldn’t stop at identifying influencers – it should be a routine part of monitoring brand health in real-time. This is especially important with the distinct voices Stance looks for in influencers. Strong emotions can easily turn, so keeping a close watch for signs of negative conversation is key to controlling the message when things go wrong.

But an amazing byproduct of having such dedicated influencers in place is they become your brand’s first line of defense on social media. Stance has witnessed this, finding their own customers chiming in on social media before their customer service team gets there. Could there be a better endorsement for a brand than its customer base feeling such loyalty and ownership?

And there were more results Stance achieved through their influencers, namely #1 share of voice amongst competitors, and a solid 90+ Net Sentiment score. They couldn’t have done that if social listening hadn’t led them to the ideal Punks and Poets. That’s the way to “sock” it to the competition.

To learn more, read the full Stance success story, or get in touch for a free product demo so we can make our next success story yours.

Image from Francis McKee

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