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Tips And Tools To Find Key Influencers In Your Industry

Cat Fyson

by Cat Fyson on 22nd October 2013

Follow-The-Leader-On-BlackboardYou may have already been told the importance of outreaching to your key influencers, or this may be news to you. Either way, it’s imperative to understand exactly what a key influencer is, and why you need them before putting together your strategy to engage with them.

Before we get started you may also find the below video useful which I put together along similar lines to add some additional depth to this topic. If you’d rather not watch the video then you’ll find lots of guidance in the blog post below it.


A key influencer is someone who is active online and followed by your target audience. We are not talking about your competitors here, but instead individuals who are passionate about the industry your business resides within.

You need to be aware of them and connect with them, as they can tap into the audiences that you have not yet been able to reach, which can help drive leads towards your business and bring visitors to your site. Every industry out there has influencers – you just have to know how to find them. First of all, you need to think about who it is you’re looking for.

Who Are You Looking For?

Simply put, you need to find people who are active online and may be willing to share your content to their followers. You would also benefit from looking for journalists and bloggers that write about your business field.

The important thing to remember is that you are looking for people that are respected for their opinion – they are a trusted authority who adds value with the content they create and share.

This great infographic gives a breakdown of different types of influencers – not all of them will be relevant to you, but it highlights the point that each type can bring particular benefits to your business.

What Can You Do To Find Them?

So now that you know who you’re looking for, you need to make the most of the tools available to find them. There are several paid services out there like Traackr that will provide in depth analytics and draw out the crucial influencers for you. However, if you do not have the budget for this, there are a few free tools and tactics to help you out.


This Moz tool is a particular favourite of mine. The key feature that I recommend is “Search Twitter bios” which lets you type in key words and it will list Twitter users with these phrases in their bio.

The list is ranked by the number of followers and social authority but also gives you some interesting stats about the number of tweets, how many people they are following, and how many days old the account is. The individuals you want to be focusing on are those with the highest social authority.


Klout is a great resource for finding influencers with a simple search. Type in your keyword in the search bar and for most search terms, a list of top influencers will be generated. This can take some trial and error when picking the right terms. The number beside each profile image is their Klout score – the higher the number, the more influential they are, although this isn’t a perfect metric it is helpful for getting a rough idea.


Alltop is essentially a blog search engine that covers a variety of industries. You can either search for a keyword, or look at the Hot Topics. Be wary that Alltop will generate a mix of blogs of differing quality, so take a good look at its recommendations.

If it is an industry recognised blog with a good following, then track down the details of writers that cover topics specific to your industry. Most blogs will have social details for their authors, or you can just search the social networks once you know their name. Alternatively, Technorati is another blog search engine that can dig up some good sites.

Google+ Communities and Linkedin Groups

Once again, with both of these networks a simple search will do. Find Communities and Groups relevant to your field and do a little research into the members – who are they and what do they do? How many connections do they have? Do they update and share content other than their own?

Twitter chats

I am a big advocate of Twitter chats. These are hashtag discussions that take place at a given time where people come together to discuss a particular topic. Influencers are likely to either participate or lead these chats, and so they are well worth tracking down.

Twubs has a Twitter chat directory for each day of the week which is well worth having a look at.

Other top tips

I asked around on Twitter for online marketing expert’s top tips on key influencers.

Dan Barker recommends following hashtags of industry conferences, not just looking at those tweeting about the talks, but those that are mentioned in tweets too.

Peter Houston suggests looking at who is writing for trade magazines and industry blogs.

Tony Dimmock added that you can research trade and industry associations for inspiration, looking at where the industry is at, what stories there are to tell and who is best at telling them.

Brandie McCallum uses tools such as Traackr and Kred as well as word of mouth to find influencers.

Nabeel Butt adds more tools to the list with Twellow and the Find People function on Google+.

When you have all these names and their social details, put together a spread sheet so that you can keep track of those that you want to approach. By collating their details you can get a good idea of how you are going to go about making that first contact.

How Do You Engage With Them?

The first lesson you should learn when engaging with influencers is to listen first – get to know their interests so that when you’re ready to make your first communication with them, you know what to talk about! Follow them on their most active channel and get involved in the following ways:

  • Promote their content: What they are posting should be relevant to your industry, so it will be useful to your followers too. By promoting what they have to say, it shows you trust them as a source and are invested in their opinions.
  • Comment on their blog posts or updates: Don’t just nod and agree; add value to what they have to say and show them you know your stuff. This is a two way street, you can’t expect them to share your content for nothing.

Once you have engaged with them and made yourself known, it’s important to maintain that relationship. Even if they are kind enough to promote a piece of your content early on, don’t just drop them. Keep them interested by asking them to guest post, or share their opinions in an interview for a blog post on your site. We all like our egos stroked every once in a while, so let them know their opinion is valued.

Has It Been Worth It?

Needless to say, finding and keeping your key influencers is a time consuming task. Naturally you want to see results. So how can we measure the effectiveness of influencer engagement?

Social Mentions

There are several free tools including Social Mentions and Topsy where you can type in your brand name and look at where it has been mentioned across the web. Alternatively, you can use a social media dashboard to monitor mentions. Tweetdeck lets you set up columns for your brand name and relevant terms so that you have a real time update of any mentions on Twitter.

Other Mentions

For mentions outside of social, set up Google Alerts for your brand name and relevant key terms. As well as this, keep analysing your backlink profile to see who is linking to you. Last but not least, tracking your Google Analytics data for traffic sources will give you an idea of your impact as well.

Now you have some of the tactics and a beginner’s toolbox to get searching for the people that are going to help you spread the word about your business. Have you used any tools or methods that I have missed or have any questions about key influencers? Let me know in the comments below.

Image Source
Follow the Leader via BigStock

Cat Fyson

Cat Fyson

Cat works as a Content Marketing Executive at Koozai. Having studied an NCTJ accredited course at University, she has gained valuable skills in creative copywriting, press communications and research. She is an avid blogger and has a keen interest in popular culture and technologies.

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  • Chris Meier 22nd October 2013

    Hi Cat

    I too love Followerwonk, especially since it includes information such as percentage of their tweets that include RTs and URLs, and also their social influence. Not to sound like I’m a snob, but when it comes to looking for influencers, these are all important factors to consider.

    Twellow I always find a bit hit and miss, but maybe I’ve just been using it wrong, while I have never considered Klout or Kred for this – will look into that later this week. Hootsuite is also good for monitoring social mentions, and for monitoring specific keywords on Twitter – like Tweetdeck you are able to set up columns.


    Reply to this comment

    • Cat Fyson

      Cat Fyson 22nd October 2013

      Hi Chris,

      Many thanks for your comment. Followerwonk really is a fab tool, and it’s not snobbish at all – those factors are incredibly important.

      I myself have not used Twellow so I might have to have a play. I think none of these tools can be used as absolute gospel and some more delving into online activity needs to take place as well. That’s why it’s such a lengthy process to get Influencer engagement right.

      Hootsuite is a tool I’ve used in the past and found a slight preference with Tweetdeck – but they are both great for keyword tracking and brand mentions.

      Reply to this comment

  • Nabeel 24th October 2013

    Hi Cat,

    Thanks for the mention. I love followerwonk but there are several other tools which are in my top list such as twellow, findpeopleonplus. However, one can do some manual research to find out worthy people. For instance, I follow Rand Fishkin and often explore through the profiles he’s been following. We all believe an influencer will most probably follow another influencer. So just to add here a bit, i think manual research is also a part of finding influencers.

    Choose a way that works well for you, let it be via tools or doing it manually.

    Thanks again for the mention :)

    Reply to this comment

    • Cat Fyson

      Cat Fyson 24th October 2013

      Hi Nabeel,

      Many thanks for your comment (and tweet too!). These are some great extra tips – I particularly agree with finding influencers via other influencers and that manual research is key too. Tools will only show you so much, but you should always delve a little deeper.

      Reply to this comment

      • Chris Meier 24th October 2013

        Nabeel & Cat

        I actually forgot about the manual research, which can be the most effective ‘tool’ of all. Although I do have a tool for this too – on my iPad I use the DiscovrPeople app (spelt correctly). With this app you can search for a specific user (or influencer as it may be), and then get to see a list of their followers (not all, but enough to get you started). What I like about it is that when you select one of their followers you then get to see their full profile and a list of their recent status updates (tweets?), both of which can also help you decide whether you want to follow or not.

  • Cat Fyson

    Cat Fyson 24th October 2013

    Hi Chris,

    That sounds like an awesome app – definitely useful for finding the relevant people. I imagine it’s also rather handy at industry events if you are looking for attendees.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply to this comment

  • Well done Cat, you’ve provided some good practical advice in your tutorial and the whiteboard video works well too. I would just like to add a favourite tool that I use daily to help me identify then connect in a relevant way with influencers: the tool is Little Bird which also allows users to dig deep into the themes and topics that engage the community of influencers most. I have written an appraisal of this tool for marketing managers on Smart Insights which might interest your readers and extend their toolkit. Have a good weekend and thanks for inviting me to comment! Stephen

    Reply to this comment

    • Cat Fyson

      Cat Fyson 28th October 2013

      Hi Stephen, many thanks for the comment.

      Little Bird keeps cropping up so I will have to take a look! It’s clear that Twitter seems to be the favourite social network for finding key influencers.

      Having looked at your article, the Compare function looks really interesting. Certainly very useful for when you get stuck in a rut of not quite being able to expand your list of influencers. I have now signed up, but will have to take some time to really have a look at it.

      Reply to this comment

  • Fernando Cuscuela 25th October 2013

    Great article! Definitely check out Little Bird as well. You might have to wait for the trial because they’re in beta, but you can easily find influencers in each industry!

    Reply to this comment

    • Cat Fyson

      Cat Fyson 28th October 2013

      Hi Fernando

      Just submitted my interest, so hopefully will be all signed up soon. Look forward to having a play around.

      Many thanks for your comment.

      Reply to this comment

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