Social Media Strategy

The 4 Ways to Find Online Influencers

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Recently, I participated in a Webinar with my friends at TapInfluence, a terrific marketplace where brands can find and connect with online influencers, and a great sponsor of Convince & Convert.

The 8 Things Online Influencers Can Do For You 

We covered A LOT of ground in this session, so I encourage you to download the slides and/or watch the free Webinar replay. Here are some of the key points.

The 8 Things Influencers Can Do For Your Brand

There are eight activities and behaviors that can be tackled by an online influencer. Of course, not all of these eight are right for your brand in any particular circumstance, and one of the tenets of successful influencer marketing is very much understanding WHAT you want influencers to do for you BEFORE you find and recruit them.

I still see too much “find influencers” first, with “figure out what to do with influencers” second. Don’t make that mistake.

Here are the eight primary influencer behaviors:

1. The Megaphone: Spread the Word to Their Audience
2. The Reporter: Cover Your Event Like a Journalist
3. The Face: Be a Spokesperson for Your Brand
4. The Connector: Introduce Your Brand on a New Social Platform
5. The Creative: Produce Creative Content for Your Brand
6. The Designer: Help Create New Product/Services for Your Brand
7. The Neighbor: Spark and Facilitate Conversations in Your Brand’s Online Community
8. The Defender: Support Your Brand in Times of Crisis


4 Ways To Find Influencers

One of the most popular segments of this Webinar was the discussion of the four methods for influencer identification. Here are the four ways to find online influencers, with some examples of each type:

1. Google
This is simply the hunt and peck method of influencer discovery. Totally doable, but time-intensive and not terribly accurate.

2. Database
Using software to locate influencers based on topical authority, geography or other circumstances. This includes platforms like LittleBird (I’m a proud investor in that great company), and new options like inPowered that finds the top influencers about your brand.

This also includes platforms that allow you to not just locate influencers, but contact them as well. Companies like GroupHigh (which writes influencer outreach case studies here on the Convince & Convert blog), and Cision which is the leading software for the PR industry, and a long-standing sponsor of the blog and the Social Pros podcast.

These databases are an excellent way to find influencers, and probably give you the broadest possible selection of online influencers. You just need to then approach those influencers yourself, once you identify them.

3. Network
Influencer networks are becoming more and more popular because they minimize the effort that brands need to expend. Influencer agencies, ad agencies, PR firms and start-ups are creating influencer networks that are usually focused on a topic (Dad bloggers, for example) or a platform (Vine creators, for example). Brands can then work with the network proprietor to source influencers, ask them to participate in one of the eight behaviors discussed above, etc.

These networks can be a real turnkey option for brands, but of course the selection of influencers is smaller than what you’d find via a database or marketplace.

Build relationships with online influencers before you need them

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4. Marketplace
An influencer marketplace (TapInfluence is an example) functions by bringing both sides of the online influencer equation together. Influencers agree to be part of the marketplace and list the types of activities in which they’d be interested. Brands can then match up influencers with their needs, and the marketplace serves as the conduit. It’s a matchmaker approach to online influencers.

Regardless of which method you select to find influencers, and irrespective of which of the eight things you want them to do, please remember that the best possible scenario is to build relationships with influencers BEFORE you need them. Your program will be far more effective if you know the influencer and vice-versa than if you are faced with the “our campaign is starting in 3 weeks. we need to find and activate some online influencers right NOW.” Unfortunately, however, that kind of fire drill is still common.

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  1. Billy Beltz says

    Happy to see this being discussed, feel it is an under-appreciated, and thus often misunderstood, component of marketing. Thinking there might be one more behavior that doesn’t fit into the current eight: the Validator. This influencer may not have a large audience (like a Megaphone) but has so much credibility that if they give your org/product/campaign a mention, it provides immense value, and often leads to other influencers hopping on board.

      • says

        Billy, I think the Validator is a common influencer behavior, but it can also be a dangerous one, where many brands get into trouble. For example, the late non-lamented “pay-per-post”, where bloggers dropped brand names into their articles without disclosure, was essentially a kind of Validator role. Which is not to say it can’t be used ethically, but my rule of thumb is that if there is a spectrum between audience and influence, the audience side is by far the safer place for brands.

  2. says

    Great article Jay.

    What if you took the broad approach of databases like Buzzsumo and Little Bird and married them with some rapid on-boarding tools? Help brands build a one on one relationship with the people they want, but give them some structure and guidance to optimize influencer alignment and performance.

    Probably it could only be done efficiently if the relationship was relatively constrained and well defined, for example, getting the influencer to write for your brand and promote their content.

    But ideally, to leverage the broader reach of the databases to emulate a marketplace, with rapid, “just-in-time” recruiting and on-boarding, well that may be exactly what Skyword had in mind when it partnered with Traackr.

    Lately, this is also the space that Movable Media occupies…we use the databases, but then recruit and manage the influencers the brands identify to create content; We would love to partner with Little Bird to make that experience seamless.

    The long term problem I see with the complete influencer marketplace solution (TapInfluence) is that you may have to boil the ocean: the people who raise their hands to participate in Tap Influence (and even give the keys to their google analytics account!?) may not be the best authorities, or have the most “reliable reach” in a sector. But TI is nevertheless state of the art, until someone figures out a way to make the database approach integrate with a recruiting and management platform.

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