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Social media has created a new breed of content creators. The individuals use their wit and ingenuity to cultivate huge fan bases. These social media influencers have an incredible amount of sway in shaping online marketing. Statistics published by Google indicate 70 percent of teenage YouTube subscribers relate to creators more than traditional celebrities. Savvy businesses are leveraging that influence, working with content creators to improve brand reach and engagement. If you want to develop an influencer marketing campaign, start by identifying social media influencers that best match your brand’s personality.

Who Are Social Media Influencers?

Social media influencers are content creators who have garnered a reputation and developed a following on social media. They may be bloggers who have earned respect for detailed analysis of business practices, cooking, or DIY; or they may be YouTube creators with a dedicated fanbase hungry for video game play-throughs or technical product reviews. Working with these influencers offers your business a number of advantages to help promote a brand:

Improved social media reach:

Creators have often spent years building audiences, and the biggest successes have millions of followers eager to hear from them. If you work with such creators, you get a lot of eyes on your content.

Targeted content:

Creators often specialize in particular areas. If your business specializes in the same area, then the right creator’s audience represents a perfectly curated demographic for maximizing return on investment.

Developing trust:

There is a bond of trust between creators and their audiences. Creators interact with fans regularly, and often seem much more human than traditional celebrities. It has been found that 4 in 10 millennials think their favorite YouTube creators understand them better than their friends. If creators trust your brand, then their audiences are more likely to trust your brand. As creators are constantly engaging with their audiences, it’s possible for your brand to build stronger relationships with customers.

Improved sales:

Statistics from HubSpot indicate 71 percent of consumers are more likely to make purchases following social media referrals. With a big-name creator spreading the word, the potential for sales increases.

Identifying Social Media Influencers: How-To

If you want to work with a social media influencer, you want one who matches your brand. Ideally, you’ll find someone who regularly produces content for a large audience. And that audience fits the demographic your campaign targets. Most importantly, you need someone with industry relevance. That way there’s a natural connection between the influencer’s content and the product you want to push. There are numerous ways of identifying social media influencers who are good partners for you.

Search Engines

The cheapest method for finding and identifying social media influencers is to search as you would for anything else. Search engines are a good starting point. Simply search for keywords relating to your business. Then follow the breadcrumbs to find the content creators that are hitting the high notes in the ratings. While this method is straightforward, it’s more time-consuming than other tactics.

Platform Searches

Search for and identifying social media influencers on specific media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube is another route to take. This kind of targeted searching is particularly useful if you want your campaign to operate mainly on one platform, and you need to partner with someone who has a strong following there. Not all influencers work on all platforms, but 99.3 percent use Instagram, while 70.2 percent use Facebook. Be aware that influencers may not be as successful on all of their channels. For example, a well-respected YouTuber may have significantly fewer followers on Twitter.

Manual Searches

You may have some luck finding contacts by reading through industry magazines and visiting conferences. These much more traditional approaches may not require much in the way of financial investment, but they still have the potential to be labor-intensive and time-consuming, as they aren’t the most efficient, and it’s much harder to consolidate all the information you need for an informed decision.

Social Listening

Social listening involves monitoring digital conversations to see what people are talking about. By using software such as BuzzSumo, it’s possible to track certain topics to see what’s in vogue and who is attracting a lot of attention at the moment. Furthermore, some programs have functionality for identifying creators in specific fields, so it’s quick and easy for you to find partners.

The wide range of search tools and features on these programs are valuable assets, but they usually come at a cost. If you’re a small business, you may not want the cost of finding an influencer to eat into your marketing budget — otherwise you may not have sufficient funds to make good use of the information you discover.

Influencer Marketing Platforms

An influencer marketplace or influencer marketing platform is a way of connecting companies with social media influencers. The platform lets you search for the perfect partner for your upcoming campaign by providing a centralized place to access a huge network of bloggers, vloggers, writers, composers, and designers. Having one place to search for the talent you need streamlines the process, saving on time and resources. Furthermore, you collaborate closely with influencers, and gain valuable insight on your return on investment thanks to accurate data.

Takeaway: Making the Right Choice

Social media influencers have the potential to revolutionize your content marketing system, but only if you partner with the right people. When choosing influencers to work with, you should think about the product you sell, the message you want to spread, your target audience, and your campaign objectives.

The influencers with the biggest audiences may not immediately be the best choices, as they may charge too much for their services, they may talk to the wrong demographic, or their content may not get the shares you need to expand your brand reach. Additionally, an influencer’s style of presentation and how he or she interacts with an audience is important.

You don’t want to risk harming your brand by placing it in the care of someone whose irreverent humor causes controversy, for example. Use the tools available for identifying social media influencers, research their work, and then consider whether you would trust those influencers yourself before making a connection.