Social media has given rise to a new type of celebrity: social media influencers. These power users combine business savvy and personality to position themselves as thought leaders and icons. For example, 70 percent of YouTube subscribers believe YouTube stars change and shape culture. That kind of power has tantalizing possibilities for businesses looking to develop their brands. Influencers have the potential to be a megaphone with a reach that far exceeds traditional marketing practices. But finding social media influencers isn’t straightforward. You need to understand what you want to achieve, and which content creators are best suited to attain those goals. That’s where the process of influencer identification comes into play.
Why Influencer Identification?
Traditional advertising is out, and content marketing is in. Statistics published by HubSpot indicate that a staggering 75 percent of people don’t believe advertisements. And, only 8 percent of consumers think internet advertisements are the best source of information for a product. Conversely, 71 percent of people are more likely to purchase products after a social media referral. Social media influencers are power users capable of making those referrals on a massive scale. Approximately 60 percent of YouTube subscribers follow the purchasing advice of a YouTube star than a traditional celebrity. So, it’s obvious that partnering with influencers is a great way to enhance your business. But how do you go about influencer identification?
What To Look For When Identifying Influencers
Not all social media influencers are equal. They each have unique skill sets and ways of presenting information. Before you start looking for influencers to partner with, you need to consider which influencers are the most suitable. Three important factors to keep in mind are:
Look for the right skills:
Do you need someone with a large audience to spread the word about your product? Or, do you want a professional reporter to lay down the facts about what you do? Do you need a spokesperson, or someone who can bring your brand to a new social media platform? Need someone to work as a creative consultant? Or do you need someone who has the skills to develop new products and services for their followers? Or do you simply need someone with an amazing personality to help you engage with your existing audience?
Look for the right audience:
Content creators with large audiences might seem like an obvious choice. But it’s important to look beyond the story the figures are telling you. A large audience is worthless if they aren’t engaging with the content creator. It’s also of no use if they’re the wrong demographic for your product. It’s also important to be aware of content creators who pay for subscriptions. They may look popular and successful, but the figures are a mask, and the number of genuine subscribers may be significantly lower than it first appears. Ultimately, you need an influencer whose work is related in some way to the products and services you supply, and who has gained the trust of a loyal fan base.
The right voice:
Bear in mind that any influencer you partner with becomes a spokesperson for your brand, so it’s essential to select someone with the right style and tone. You may not want to court controversy by hitching your wagon to content creators who are well known for risqué social commentary or blue humor. Similarly, a well-spoken business mogul may not be the right choice if your brand is all about wacky humor.
Influencer Identification Tools & Processes
Once you have establish which types of social media influencers you need to bring on board to further your brand, it’s time to find them. You have the option of running DIY searches or using an influencer marketplace.
DIY Influencer Identification
DIY searches are easy and don’t have much in the way of up-front costs, but they aren’t particularly efficient, and the hidden cost of your time and effort may be considerable. Furthermore, there’s an increased risk of making a bad choice if you overlook some important details while searching. There are a number of ways to streamline your search for an influencer:
The simplest way to get started is to search for influencers the way you search for anything else: Head to Google. Start by running searches on keywords relating to your business or the things you would like to talk about, and see which influencers have high rankings.
Alternatively, search on the specific social media platform you’re interested in. This ensures you’re finding the right talent on the right platform, which cuts down on your workload.
A more efficient approach involves investing in some influencer software. These programs let you search for influencers based on audience size or content, or facilitate a search for subject matter to see which topics are trending. Software usually involves a subscription fee to get access to all of the features, but some offer free trial periods, or free access to limited services.
Influencer Identification Tools
Influencer marketplaces (or influencer marketing platforms) are the ultimate influencer identification tools. They’re like online dating for influencers and marketers, with plenty of opportunities to find your perfect match. It’s a software platform that creates the means for interested parties to connect and collaborate. Influencers joining the marketplace provide information regarding their skills and styles, and which topics they’re interested in. Then marketers use that information to find potential partners for their campaigns.
Influencer identification marketplaces vary in terms of the features they offer, but the best ones offer significant advantages over going it alone:
With a broad and diverse range of influencers, it’s easier to find exactly what you need.
You don’t have to rely on your search skills to dig through Google results.
When you go through a marketplace, you know you’re getting the real deal — not fake influencers who have purchased most of their subscribers.
Some influencer tools make it easy to contact influencers, agree upon terms, or even manage entire content campaigns, making them an integral part of a content marketing system.
Marketplaces with reporting tools and data analytics make it easier to establish the return on your investment.
There’s No Time Like the Present for Influencer Identification
Finding social media influencers who connect with your brand has the potential to boost your business in a number of ways, from introducing your products in a new market to creating content that helps to sell your vision. There are plenty of tools available to help you in your search for the perfect partner, but it’s important to remember that finding someone is only half the job — you also need to engage with them, and get them to agree to work with you. Building that kind of relationship takes time, so even if you aren’t thinking of using influencer marketing right now, it’s a good idea to put in some groundwork. Make some connections and interact with the influencers you would be interested to work with at some point, so that when you’re ready to take your marketing campaign to the next level, you’re ready to seize the moment.