Traditional advertising is under attack from ad-blockers. Almost 11 percent of the global internet population blocking adverts to customize and control their online experience. Shopping habits have changed. Now, 71 percent of consumers are more likely to make purchases when referred by social media. They are also more likely to trust customer reviews over advertisements. Partnering with a respected online influencer makes it possible to develop a content marketing strategy that takes advantage of this shift in consumer thinking. But which influencers are right for your brand? Here’s our guide to how to identify social media influencers so you know to find the perfect partner.

5 Ways To Identify Social Media Influencers

So, you’ve decided to develop an influencer marketing campaign. Where do you start? Here are five ways to identify social media influencers:

Use search engines.

It’s possible to search for and identify social media influencers using Google. If you run searches on the most important keywords relating to your business, or specifically relating to a particular marketing campaign, the results represent a who’s who of the most influential people talking about those subjects right now. If content creators are making it to the top of the Google search rankings, then there’s a good chance they’re content creators you want to work with. This is a cost-effective method to get started, but it’s also time-consuming. There’s a high risk of overlooking someone because you’re searching for the wrong things.

Using social media platforms.

If you intend to focus your marketing campaign on a particular platform, it’s a good idea to find and identify social media influencers that have a strong following there. Rather than running searches on Google, fire up the relevant social media service and search there instead. As with Google searches, social media searches are time-consuming. However, you have a better chance of finding someone who fits your strategy.

Social listening software.

There are many social listening programs that make it easier to establish an influencer marketing strategy. Programs such as Buzzsumo and Buzzstream let you flag the topics you’re interested in. It also identifies the content creators talking about those topics. You have options to filter results to more closely align with your content goals. The process is much more efficient than doing your own searches, and you have a better opportunity to find the right partner. The downside is that many programs have an associated cost if you want more than limited access to basic functionality or a timed trial period. If you’re starting out, you may not want to incur such subscription costs.

Local searches.

Want to do things the old-fashioned way? Then it’s time to hit some conventions and shake some hands. Checking local press and print media, and going to various presentations gives you an opportunity to hear influencers talk. You may even get some face-to-face time to discuss strategies. Getting to know some local influencers can help give a fledgling company a boost.

Influencer marketing platforms.

An influencer marketing platform is a software platform for marketers to locate and interact with content creators. The content creators provide details of their expertise, making it easier for marketers to quickly and effectively find the right people. There’s no need to rely on time-consuming and inaccurate online searches. Additionally, there’s no risk of partnering with a fake who has purchased his or her audience. Most platforms also offer additional functionality, such as analytical reporting tools.

Choosing the Right Social Media Influencers

When you need to identify social media influencers, how to make the right choice for your brand is a primary concern. There are many factors to consider:

The Right Audience Size

Your first instinct may be to look for influencers with large audiences, but that isn’t always the best option. Surprisingly, a larger audience correlates with lower engagement. For example, content creators with less than 1,000 followers receive “likes” 8 percent of the time. Meanwhile content creators with 10 million followers only receive “likes” 1.6 percent of the time, according to influencer marketing company Markerly. For a good balance of reach and engagement, consider micro-influencers with around 100,000 followers.

A Genuine Audience

Be aware that some content creators pay for followers, or use “followback” strategies to build an audience. For these creators, audience figures are largely meaningless. You won’t see a lot of engagement or sales from automated bots and people who are more interested in building their own audiences.

The Right Demographic

It doesn’t matter if an audience is too large or too small if it includes people who simply aren’t interested in what you have to sell. It’s important that you find an influencer with an audience that fits your brand. Consider mining your existing client data to establish trends. Use that information to create one or more personas representing “typical” customers.

The Right Personality

The right voice and the right demographic go hand in hand. If you find an influencer who talks to the kind of people who purchase your products, there’s a good chance they’re already talking your language. But it’s always worth checking a content creator’s work carefully. You don’t want to end up working with someone who makes controversial or offensive statements that have the potential to harm your brand.

Regular Content

In the world of social media, quality may be king, but quantity is important too. Audiences want a constant stream of content to enjoy. Posting at least once a day is essential to maintain relevance.

Industry Relevance

Let’s say you just got one of the biggest video game influencers to partner with your brand for a series of videos. The influencer posts “let’s play” videos of hot new computer games and has a large following of hip teens, so you’ve just broadened your brand reach. That’s great, as long as you’re selling products catering to that demographic. Don’t expect fantastic results if you’re selling life insurance to the over-50 crowd. When you choose an influencer, you need someone who has relevancy in your industry. That way, you know you’re tapping into an audience that’s interested in your product, and you know the influencer has the knowledge to speak with authority.

Takeaway: There’s No Single Right Choice; Just Easier Ones

When it’s time to identify social media influencers, how to get the best results depends on your goals. The right influencer for your needs may not be the right influencer for one of your competitors. Even between marketing campaigns you may feel you need to switch influencers to find success.

Before you enter any formal agreements, consider your decision carefully. Do you want to reach a wider audience with your brand? Are you targeting a specific demographic? Do you want to improve engagement? Is your primary goals to entertain or inform people? Do you want to drive people to your website, or get them to subscribe to a newsletter? Create a comprehensive influencer marketing strategy, and then search for those content creators that offer the best chance of making that strategy a success. And remember to constantly evaluate the return on your investment, using quantifiable metrics. Social media influencers may help you find success, but they aren’t a shortcut to success.

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