Influencers and Social Listening Key to Social Success for AmEx and Mini USA [#CZLNY]

Careful selection of influencers and strategic listening are the keys to successful social campaigns from brands like Mini USA and American Express, according to a fireside chat at ClickZ Live New York.

When Mini USA chose Tony Hawk as a potential influencer, the brand asked him to buy a Mini before creating branded content, according to Lee Nadler, marketing communications director for Mini USA. “[Hawk’s content] had to come from his voice, not a script,” Nadler said, adding that if Hawk had just been given a Mini by the company and didn’t actually drive one, consumers would be able to sense the disconnect between influencer and brand. “Paid influencers can sometimes come off as inauthentic,” Nadler explained.

Heather Bergstein, who formerly worked with cosmetics brand Estee Lauder, added that brands have to be careful to use influencers and social channels to create conversations that the brand has a right to join, a lesson Estee Lauder learned when promoting its breast cancer awareness campaign. “We wanted people to share stories and form a community,” Bergstein said. “But we had to walk a line between what people wanted to share while cultivating boundaries around how we spoke.”

All too often, brands become so concerned with having a voice on every social channel that they forget to ask themselves what those channels are for and whether the brand has anything to say on specific social platforms. “The worst mistake [a brand] can make is trying to be on every channel,” Bergstein said. “You have to ask where you have a right to be.”

One way that brands misuse social channels is trying to force the same content that works on Instagram onto platforms like Facebook and Twitter, where they don’t naturally fit. For example, American Express is careful to cultivate Instagram content that remains appropriate to the channel, according to American Express vice president of social media communications Mona Hamouly.

“We often have influencers take over our Instagram feed, but we’re not going to repeat that content on Facebook or Twitter. Just by the nature of the different platforms, it’s often not possible,” Hamouly said. Instead, American Express uses its Facebook and Twitter channels to drive traffic to influencer content on its Instagram feed.

The best way to win success over social, according to Nadler, is to listen to what consumers are saying and use that feedback to develop social strategy. “Focus should be on spending time with existing customers,” Nadler said. “You’d be surprised by how many brands ignore comments and suggestions. Spend time listening and incorporating what you learn into [social] planning.

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