A process and tools to find influencers in international social media
The rise of social media was supposed to democratise the way we share information and in a way it has. Anyone can post information or express their opinion, but in reality some individuals and groups have more influence than others. Identifying and interacting with these key influencers or Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) can really boost your search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts, content marketing or social media campaigns.
Define your topics and research keywords
You will of course want to narrow your efforts to those influencers writing, blogging or otherwise involved in your own sector or area. You'll also want to focus relatively tightly on specific keywords as too broad an approach will be more likely to throw up a whole ocean of irrelevant leads you'll have to wade through in order to get to the good stuff.
When looking to engage with influencers in international markets it's important not to simply rely on throwing your English language keywords through an automatic translation program.
- The keywords that you use when searching for something may not be the same keywords that someone in a different country searching for the same thing uses. They might differ even in countries that share the same language.
- Vocabulary, spellings and syntax can vary between countries, as anyone who's travelled between the UK, USA and Australia could testify.
- Similarly, there are significant differences between the Spanish spoken in Spain and Latin America. A computer, for example, is generally known as an 'ordenador' in Spain but a 'computadora”'in Spanish speaking Latin America.
- Slang, colloquialisms, abbreviations and acronyms can all be particularly problematic. You’ll get the best results if you brainstorm keywords from scratch with a native speaking translator.
Use a search site
You'll need to use the right tool for the job, and search sites are invaluable in helping you identify relevant posts and key influencers in your field.
Free resources like Social Mention and Buzzsumo can be great starting points for finding the popularity of user-generated content across the web and evaluating the number of reposts and shares the content has received across major social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook. Pinterest and LinkedIn.
In order to search internationally, you might have to pay for a more sophisticated option. Traackr includes geo-targeted searches that allow you to set your influencer searches to include or exclude specific geographic areas such as continents and specific countries. Multilingual search, meanwhile, allows you to find influential people who publish content in languages other than English. Traackr currently covers searches in French, German and Spanish, with more languages to be added soon.
Salesforce Radian6 is another popular subscription based service and goes several steps further, supporting a total of 24 fully supported languages. These include all the major European languages plus others important for major markets including Russian and Chinese. It also caters for non-Latin scripts including Chinese, Arabic and Urdu.
Go beyond the usual social media sites
All the big hitters of the social media scene already have established international audiences. With well over a billion active monthly users, Facebook is available in more than 70 languages (in fact the social media giant recently claimed to have more than a billion monthly users on mobile alone). Around 67% of LinkedIn's 300 million users live outside the site's US home base and Twitter has become a worldwide phenomenon.
In some markets however, local competitors can be just as or even more important. China, where Facebook and Twitter remain officially banned, represents one obvious example. Qzone alone claims more than 700 million total users, followed by SinaWeibo with 500 million.
It's also worth learning about how people use the different platforms. SinaWeibo, for example, resembles the micro-blogging site Twitter, with users limited to 140 characters for their posts. In Chinese scripts however, this allows for much longer posts that are equivalent to 70 to 80 words in English.
Elsewhere, VK is the largest social media site in Russia and much of Eastern Europe while Orkut is huge in India and Brazil. Radian6's social media 'listening' function allows you to search some of these major sites, including SinaWeibo and VK.
Refine your list and reach out
You can also use sites like Klout and Peer Index to get an idea of individuals' overall influence, but not everything can be automated. You will have to make judgement calls on how best to reach out to the influencers you identify. You might decide to share or retweet their posts or to comment on their blogs. Don't just say, 'Hey, great blog' but try to add something of value. Build up a relationship and begin to nurture a relationship.
Identifying influencers can be a lot of hard work, especially as new influencers constantly appear while others fade away. But it can be worth the effort, as reaching out to a relatively small group of key people could have a major knock-on effect to your marketing campaigns.