Social Media influencers have fast carved a niche in the world of marketing, becoming content creators, brand ambassadors and product advertisers with thousands, if not millions, of followers online. The power and reach of influencers and micro-influencers should not be underestimated and so it’s more important than ever before to understand exactly what an influencer is, where to find them and how to approach them in order to reap the benefits of a partnership with one of the most successful ways to promote your products and services.
The key influencers in your industry are the people who are very active online, and are followed and engaged with by your target audience. They are usually individuals who are passionate about your industry and have built a following behind them based on their insight and expertise on the subject.
A micro influencer is the same as a key influencer but their audience is niche and so is highly targeted. Typically, they will have a smaller following, but if your target audiences align, then working with them is more likely to produce highly-targeted leads from their audience.
Every industry out there has influencers – you just have to know how to find them. One of the first things you should do is to identify who it is you’re looking for.
You are looking for anybody who operates in your industry or who produces content for your target audience. The most powerful influencers will typically already have connections in your industry and so are likely to have attracted press attention, links and social media shares from brands you are already familiar with, perhaps even your competitors.
Once you think you may have found someone suitable, there are a number of factors that you can use to evaluate how appropriate an influencer might be to work with you on a collaborative campaign:
Once you have an idea of who you’d like to find and how you are going to determine how suitable they are for your business, you can begin searching for them. The best place to start will vary from industry to industry. Here are some ways to find influencers in your industry.
Buzzsumo is an incredible tool; it’s primary use is to quickly determine what content is getting shared over social media, so that you can use this to drive your content marketing strategy. This search for “Blogging” shows the kind of results you can expect to see from Buzzsumo:
As you can see, some of these are linked to online influencers who have been able to attract a large audience and get them to share their content online. You can use Buzzsumo to determine who is sharing the most popular content in a given niche, the most popular social networks and whether there are specific products or services within your range that matches up with a popular influencer.
Facebook Groups have come a long way since friends creating groups about a topic or hobby they enjoy. Nowadays, in many niches, B2B and B2C communities are being run entirely through Facebook Groups.
Once you have found suitable groups and identified the people you expect to be the key influencers, follow their content within the group and start engaging with the comments they make in other discussions.
One example of a niche micro-influencer is Jamie Chevalley and his Whisky Adventures Facebook community – a group where thousands of people come together simply to discuss their favourite Whisky brands. Jamie has used this as a platform to launch in-person events and build a brand around the audience and brands are now talking to him to influence their decisions and to discuss their products with amazing results.
This demonstrates the power of micro influencers who can essentially provide you with trusted word-of-mouth recommendations to hundreds of targeted individuals who are in your ideal target audience. With 4,000+ members this translates into personal recommendations by the founder that lead to direct sales (and new fans) for many of the worlds leading brands, but also a large number of challenger brands.
Since being taken over by Microsoft, LinkedIn has been making moves in order to halt Facebook and it’s advances into its B2B space. One place where they have struggled to compete with Facebook is through groups and communities and this is something they are currently working on rectifying with a view to helping individuals and businesses find (or become) influencers using LinkedIn groups.
Whilst they are by no means as strong as Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups do naturally tend to be more professional and you will find examples of groups with established influencers and strong audiences. Find the communities and groups most relevant to your field through keywords and take a little time to review the professional profiles of members who may be able to help you with your search.
Twitter chats used to be much more popular than they are now, but they can still be useful in your search for useful influencers in your industry. The basic concept of a Twitter chat is that a Twitter account will set a time for people to participate in discussions, which are usually in the format of a series of questions and discussions set by that account.
I’d recommend taking the time to look for the longest standing Twitter chats, or ones that are hosted by brands you know and trust, for example #Semrushchat by @semrush
From there, your best strategy is to get involved in the conversations and use the answers that others are writing to determine how suitable they are for your brand. You can then look at their profile and use this as a starting point to grab more research on them or even make an approach to work with them directly through Twitter.
Finding suitable influencers to work with doesn’t have to be restricted to who you find online. In fact, if you limit your search to your social media profiles then you may be at the mercy of the social networks themselves when conducting your search. Here are two other ways you can find social media influencers
As you have already established connections within the industry, it would be a good idea to ask them who they believe the most influential people are within it. They will usually be in a position to evaluate who are the people worth listening to or following and from there, you can conduct your own research into their work and determine whether or not you agree.
When you take into consideration the huge popularity of podcasts, it is little wonder that new influencers are emerging purely off the back of them. It is quick and simple to identify influencers in your industry and by listening to their work you will quickly grasp how suitable they are for your business.
As with the suggestion to ask your existing contacts, interview podcasts can also act as a fast-route to finding influencers that are relevant to your industry, with the added benefit that you can then listen to their interaction with the host and determine if they suit your business goals.
This may be considered a little ‘old school’ for finding influencers but why not take advantage of trade events where you can meet multiple people in one industry in one place. This is also true when it comes to talks and seminars provided by influencers, since they will almost always be filled with other participants who are relevant to you and your industry.
At the very least you should be coming away with new contacts, but you could also find yourself coming away from these events with new ideas, new influencers to get to know or in some cases potential clients. Two great places to start in your search are Eventbrite and Meetup, but you’ll also find industry specific listings with a quick Google! If you are in digital marketing then we’ve created our own list of upcoming events and this is a great place to start.
The first thing you should always do is take the time to consume their content and listen to what they are saying online. You want to get to know them, their content and their other interests so that you can get a strong idea of what they are like and what they stand for. It would be a good idea to follow them on the major social media platforms.
The second stage is interaction. I would recommend taking the time to share their best content and speak to their followers about their ideas. This will help you become part of the community and will ensure that you are part of the conversation when the time is right.
Where possible, it is then a good idea to begin commenting on their posts and entering the conversation where your expertise could add to it. It’s not just a case of nodding along and agreeing with everything they say, add value to the conversation and provide expert insights.
Finding and working with influencers can be a time-consuming task, but it can be a powerful way to build up your reputation and connect your name to that of an influencer who hold credibility in your industry. If you have the patience to make it work and learn how to determine who the right influencers are for you, then you are likely to find opportunities.
These opportunities may not be the ideas you had at the start of your influencer outreach, but often they will be more suitable for your industry and may outperform your original ideas for increasing awareness of your brand or attracting new clients to your business.
Get in touch with our team at Koozai if you’d like to learn more about influencer marketing, and how we can help you with your own campaigns.
Updated November 2019