How to find influencers as part of online outreach?

14 simple steps to help find relevant influencers

Lots of people will tell you ”Social Media Influencers” are the key to social media marketing, but what does that really mean? Is influence based on number of connections? Klout, Peer Index or Kred score? A combination of all of the above? How do you identify them and what do you do with that information once you think you know who they are?

The short answer is all and none of the above. There is no cookie cutter answer for creating an influencer list on a particular topic because you have to fine tune the list of influencers to the ones who are most likely to be interested in what you have and willing to talk about it.

Now, should you want to locate the influencers in your particular space, here’s the bare bones guide to social media influencer identification.

How to find the right influencers to help with your blogging?

At Tatu Digital we’ve been doing influencer and blogger outreach for our clients for some time now and we think we have got the process down to something of an art. We also invest in the tools we need to be able to drill down to the nuts and bolts quickly so we don’t have to do all this work by hand anymore.

Here are the steps we follow and some of the free tools we use:

  1. Define the key topic(s) you want to locate influencers for. Refine this as finely as possible so you don’t have to filter though too many false leads in broad categories.
  2. Visit a search site like SocialMention.com and enter your key topics, one at a time.
  3. Refine the search here until you start to see results (Titles of posts, etc) that really relate to your topic, people posting who seem to have aligned interests. You may want to start by searching only blogs, or only Twitter or videos for example.
  4. Follow all of the links you find to see how relevant the other material that person is posting is. Did they only write one post that is relevant or do they have several? Do they seem to have knowledge in this are? Do they have similar beliefs or are they open to discussion? Do they get comments and do people share their content through social media?
  5. Create a first draft list of influencers who are posting consistently relevant information.
  6. Take the list and search their names, their blog title, URLs to find out how many mentions there are online. Are those mentions also relevant to your topic? If so, continue, if not consider discarding this one for now. If the inbound links to their blog or profile aren’t relevant, their influence on that topic may not be so hot.
  7. Now take your refined list and do searches on your favourite social media networks. Gather links for their Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Linkedin profiles at a minimum.
  8. Keep a list of who they influence (who they talk to) and try to determine how far their influence reaches out into the interwebs.
  9. If the influencer is blogging, look up the page rank of their blog on Google to get an idea of how popular the site is.
  10. Look up the blog URL on Compete.com and/or Alexa.com to see an estimate of how much traffic they get.
  11. Visit Klout, Peer Index and Kred and use average scores to get a ballpark idea of how influential they are overal (not necessarily specific to your topic)
  12. Decide what the best communication method is for each blogger. Will you share their blog posts? Retweet a few things? Answer or ask a question?
  13. Begin to nurture a relationship before you ask them for anything.
  14. Rinse, repeat with all of the influencers and on each topic

Wow, that’s a lot of work for each and every influencer isn’t it? It’s essential to have a well thought out spreadsheet which you update contacts and prioritise outreach.

Yes it is. But it’s essential to finding real influencers as opposed to those people who practice black hat SEO , buy followers on social media networks to get inflated fan counts or use other practices that make them appear to have influence, but in reality it’s all buzz and no substance. Real relationships are hard work!

  • zagor

    if you use social mention you’re not a professional…

    • http://www.smartinsights.com/ Dave Chaffey

      Thanks for your thought Zagor,

      If budget isn’t an option then there are better options I agree. Many we speak to use Radian6 for example. Social Mention is a starting point though for small businesses researching listening. Would you recommend any other free tools?
      We’re currently using http://www.grouphigh.com/ to manage outreach for some clients and would recommend that also.
      Dave

      • http://twitter.com/timolloyd Tim Lloyd

        I think you make a good point Dave. There’s nothing wrong with Social Mention as a starting point, when there is no budget to spend.

  • http://janetfouts.com Janet Fouts

    I prefer to offer free or low cost options in my posts as many small businesses don’t have the option to afford professional tools. In the original post on my own site this was titled “bare bones guide to finding Influencers” so it is appropriate to use an entry level tool.
    I use several tools for this for my own business. Current favorite is eCairn but I like Radian6 as well.

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