Use Social Listening to do Influencer Marketing Like McDonald’s

June 21, 2018

Use Social Listening to do Influencer Marketing Like McDonald’s

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I asked our fabulous social media intern to do some research on how the restaurant industry is using social media in new and interesting ways and among the 8 million stories(seriously, she’s amazing. Overwhelming, but amazing) she came back with a tasty McNugget she found on Medium about how McDonald’s is serving up tasty content with influencer marketers. After reading the article by Karin Swanson, I was convinced I needed to write about it and explore it some more. So, here we are.

Now, one thing I want to point out before I start is that the article doesn’t specifically mention McDonald’s using a social listening tool, nor does Karin suggest that Mickey D’s uses NUVI. I want to make it clear that I am not insinuating Mickey D’s uses NUVI or even social listening in general; I’m just going to explore how they use influencers and how these results could be accomplished with the help of said social listening tool. With that in mind, let’s begin.

Identify the Right Voice for Your Brand

In Karin’s article (can I call you Karin?) she starts off by mentioning a few key influencers that McDonald’s hired to promote their McRib and McRib app, which apparently are real things. One thing to keep in mind as you begin to dive in the world of influencer marketing is to think about the audience you want to attract and really define those specific demographics you want to target. In the article, Karin says, “The [influencer] campaign itself sought to portray the brand in a positive light, specifically aimed at a younger audience [emphasis mine]. Having this information beforehand will help you determine who is a good fit for your campaign goals and who isn’t. One way to find these influencers is just to see who is already engaging with either your content or that of a competitor. I know, at this point your pounding your fists on your desk in frustration because you already have too much to do to even attempt sifting through thousands of mentions, looking for influencers. Here is one way to make that process a whole lot easier.

With social listening, you create what we in the industry call a “monitor” that scours the internet for every use of the keywords or hashtags you want to track. As your monitor pulls in these individual mentions, you can apply what we call a “segment” (which is like an advanced filter) and begin to sift through your data, looking for specific things and eliminate things that aren’t helpful. In the case of the Mcrib, McDonald’s could create a monitor that searches for people using specific hashtags and then segment out just those that have a high influencer score or a large reach. That way, you know that these people are already talking about your product or service, and they are influential. Pretty easy, right?

Now, what if you wanted to find influencers within a specific region? Maybe you are going to release the Mcrib (I’ve asked the intern to verify it’s a real thing) in a specific market and want to find micro influencers that are local to that market and could start promoting your content in advance of your campaign.

A “dope” (she told me to) map tool like this would come in very handy because then you could limit your incoming mentions to these areas, and then apply your influencer segment and sift out all the unpopular people in Salt Lake City and find only those that match your ideal candidate. Now you’re getting much more granular in your search to find the right person.

Measure Your Results

It is important to set goals for each new campaign and this is especially true with influencer marketing. It may be tempting to just throw money at these millennials and tell them, “Go! Talk about us and sell stuff!” and hope for the best, but this really isn’t a great practice. Karin’s article mentions another McDonald’s influencer campaign touting the hashtag #alldaybreakfast and the engagement it garnered from their use of two influencers.

Another recent McDonald’s influencer intiative was their #AllDayBreakfastcampaign featuring Kandee Johnson and Gregg Sulkin. The pair created 3 separate pieces of content on Instagram, two videos and one photo each, to boost awareness of the offering. Overall, the campaign was incredible(sic) successful , reaching over 1.3M video views and nearly 300k likes (not bad considering the average post on McDonald’s owned Instagram account typically receives less than 100k views).

As demonstrated in this example, the right influencers making the right content can do wonders to increase your brand’s reach. It can help you tap into markets that are a good fit, but may not have been on your radar before, or weren’t interested in following you on social. What was surprising to me about this statistic is that you wouldn’t think a company as big as McDonald’s would need any help creating brand awareness, yet they can still see significant benefit from leveraging the influence of individuals across social media.

Once again, it can be a daunting task to measure engagement such as likes and shares, especially if you are working with multiple influencers and attempting to manually track them across multiple platforms. With a robust social listening tool that also happens to have stunning visualizations, you can accomplish all this in a single dashboard.

Going back to the McDonald’s use case, if they were working with influencers and wanted to track use of a specific hashtag, they would simply create a monitor to track mentions containing that hashtag and they could easily see if there were peaks (hopefully when one of their paid influencers posts something) and then drill in to see the actual shares of a specific mention.

In the second image, this bubble stream shows all the mentions containing the tracked keywords. By highlighting and clicking on a bubble, you can see the reach it had (in this case how many retweets), read and respond, and analyze sentiment. The size of the bubble also indicates the reach of the author, so the larger the bubble, the more people potentially saw that post.


McDonald’s is obviously heavily invested in the influencer marketing game. They work with a wide range of people in varying formats and in many different campaigns. Their influencer marketing program is impressive and if you are wanting to go in that direction, there’s a lot you can learn from following their lead.

Influencer marketing can be an extremely rewarding practice but it isn’t easy. There are a lot of considerations to take into account and a lot of tracking to do post-campaign launch. Social listening can eliminate and automate some of the more time-consuming activities that come with this type of campaign. Is McDonald’s using a social listening tool? It is very likely. Do you have to use social listening to achieve the same results…no. You can do it on your own, but it just requires a love of spreadsheets that I don’t possess and hours spent counting tweets that could be better used for, well, anything really.

If you would like to know more about what social listening can do to help make your job easier, you’re in luck. We actually wrote an ebook about it. You can download it here.


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