Influencers: how to spot them and what to do with them

In conversations with clients, talk of ‘influencers’ inevitably comes up.  It is often emphasised (especially in social media and PR circles) how important influencers are to achieving business goals.  We all really, really want and need them and we seem to really, really love them.

Influencers

However, in order to fully maximise the potential of influencers, it is important to ask yourself some key questions about what influencers can really mean for your business so you can start to develop a successful influencer strategy.

So – how do you identify influencers? And, when you spot them, what do you actually do with them?

Firstly, ask yourself why you want to know who your influencers are? What is the purpose and ultimate goal? Is it for relationship building with the potential of opening greater channels to more contacts? Are you looking for brand ambassadors’? Is amplifying the reach of your content your primary hope?

Then ask yourself, once you know who your influencers are, how do you plan to develop relationships with them? What will you be bringing to the table and what do you hope to get out of the relationship yourself?

Two fundamental reasons why influencers can be crucial to the success of a campaign are:

  1. Influencers can amplify the social reach of your content to your audience and to audiences that you want to reach but do not have access to by your own resources.

  1. Influencers can provide links, mentions and other online exposure that can be helpful for search engine optimisation and the ranking of your site.

Within any discussion about influencers, Twitter tends to be included in the same breath. Sometimes the importance placed on Twitter can be confusing as perhaps your actual customer may not be a Twitter user, ever likely to be one, or even be active on social media at all. So why so much emphasis on Twitter?

Twitter may not be important for your customers, but it is vitally important for your influencers and your influencers know how to reach your customers through other channels so it is often the first point of research and or contact.

There are several online tools available for finding and analysing influencers on Twitter.

Buzzumo is a helpful search tool that tracks content on all social networking sites and ranks influencers based on the number of shares on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest. Buzzumo monitors content by topic or user and uses an advanced search engine to deliver accurate results.

Results can also be filtered by type, so if you are just looking for journalists or bloggers you can easily find them. Your search results can also be filtered by relevance, page authority, number of followers, domain authority and average number of retweets.

Followerwonk, is an alternative to Buzzumo and is essentially an advanced Twitter analytics tool. It allows you to search Twitter profiles and bios for relevant keywords.

Both Buzzumo and Followerwonk offer similar analytics power, however they both bring up different results so it is very much worth checking and pulling data from both lists. Also use relevant and industry specific #Hashtag searches to see who and what comes up.

Perhaps the most obvious and often undervalued ingredient to sourcing influencers, is your own (or your agency’s) industry knowledge and plain common sense. Don’t automate everything or leave your whole strategy to analytics, but manually take a look at key profiles and blogs. See what they are tweeting, writing about and who they are engaging with and if what they are saying sounds interesting to you and your own audience. Also – who do you personally know who is an important player in the industry?

Read the blogs and online articles of the names that come up. Do they fit with your own audience and do their messages resonate with yours? Do a Google search for your keywords and see what bloggers and journalists come up. If their sites have good SEO then that is a good sign that they are worth developing a relationship with.

One group of influencers not to ignore, are up and coming influencers and new thought leaders in your field. Building relationships with these ‘growing’ influencers whilst they are still building their profiles, blogs and reputations can be mutually beneficial in the long run.

Now that you have found your influencers, what do you do with them? The key to a successful influencer strategy is in relationship building. In order to foster and develop relationships you need to build trust. Building trust requires being authentic in your approach and sharing valuable content. It requires providing consistent, interesting and well thought-out content.

All influencers need a constant flow of new and fresh content to share, so if you are able to provide them with good, interesting and relevant content that will make them look good, then you increase your chances of them amplifying your content reach through their blog, media title and social networks. However, it can take more than providing good quality content to pique an influencers interest.

Influencers also need to get to know you and trust you, so the more active and engaged you are in your particular field, the more likely they will notice you and engage with your content. If you happen to have a relationship with them on other platforms such as Google + or LinkedIn and perhaps a relationship offline, even better.

If you get your influencer strategy right, the results can be far reaching with an increase in B2B brand visibility, expanded message reach and growing trust built with customers and leads.

If you would like to speak to us about your influencer strategy or any other aspect of your PR and social media, then please get in touch with Jessica