With the rise of influencer marketing (and platforms to help you manage said campaigns) in recent years, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about integrating influencer marketing into your social media strategy. If done correctly, influencer campaigns can drive word of mouth marketing and consumer growth, leading to influencers becoming brand ambassadors for companies. Brand ambassadors not only help to generate fun and engaging organic content for your brand on a consistent basis, but also lead campaigns through email, social, and advertising. Plus they help elevate and hype up any events you participate in.
In order to avoid missteps and choosing someone just based on their number of followers, it's essential to outline goals you want the influencer campaign to accomplish and do your research on influencers. With this post, I’ll be focusing on how to develop a plan for influencer marketing campaigns and how to find the best social media influencers for your brand.
Developing a Plan for Influencer Campaigns
Working with influencers can put a face to your brand and humanize the company. But first, you need to create some tangible goals for this new venture. Asking yourself questions about what you'd like your influencers to accomplish in the context of your greater marketing strategy, what you're specifically looking for them to do, and what you can offer them in return can help you you tailor your search.
For instance, are you launching a new product or service? Or do you have event you’re attending and/or organizing? Is it a promotion/contest for which you’re looking to gain more entries? Once you have that figured out, find your audience. Who are you looking to "influence" to pay attention to that product, attend these events, or enter a giveaway?
Get specific about what you can do for your influencers. If you want an influencer to write a blog post, review your product, or hype up an event, you have to think about what you’re willing to give influencers in return. Are you going to be sending them different products to review a few times per year? Will you have exclusive VIP events that they’ll be invited to? Are you expecting them to post promotions via Twitter, Facebook and perhaps do an Instagram takeover for an event?
Using Tools to Help Discover Influencers
FollowerWonk is a tool that can help you find Twitter influencers. Plus, you can add the first profile for free. Once you sign up, you can click on the "Search Bios" tab and look into the advanced search options. You can tailor your search results based on location, number of followers, and whether or not you’re searching for bloggers.
The social authority column and resulting "authority number" is the best indicator of how influential someone is. It combines their number of followers with how much influence they wield over those followers. If you see low authority numbers, that means they aren't great at engaging with their own audience, and might not be the best fit as an influencer.
BuzzSumo is another great tool to help with influencer marketing. Though the pro option will set you back about $79 per month, you’ll be able to search for Twitter influencers using specific keywords.
The number of followers will give you an idea of an influencer’s reach; and the retweet/reply ratios will keep you informed of the influencer’s engagement rates. You’ll also be able to find influencers, bloggers, companies, journalists and regular people. You can also organize results by followers if you’re interested in reach or retweet/reply ratios. Sorting the results by authority will give you a good mix of reach and engagement. Those who have high page authority are seen as experts in their niche.
Finding the Right Social Influencers
The right influencers can help you reach more of your core demographic by allowing you to piggyback on their follower base. They can also increase your SEO value by developing more backlinks to content you’ve posted.
As you search for influencers, you need to consider the criteria you’re looking for:
Relevance: Does the influencer have an audience that’s relevant to my brand? Would my own audience trust this person and be engaged with their content?
Reach: Does the influencer have enough of an audience that the content we create/promote together will bring my brand value?
Make sure you also do your outreach slowly. Don’t approach influencers right off the bat with an offer of a brand partnership. Start by following them (if you’re not already), comment on conversations they’ve having, and share their content. This way, they'll gain your trust and thus be more excited to work with you than they would if you didn't take the time to cultivate that relationship.
How to Find Influencers Using Tools You (Probably) Already Have
LinkedIn is a great platform to discover secondary connections through groups and your own network, so why not use it to connect with potential influencers, too? You can search for keywords relevant to what you'd like your influencers to promote (such as “indie film” or “food bloggers,” for example) and pull up secondary connections relevant to your industry. Send them a message about their content (make sure you do your research about what they do) and ask them if they wouldn’t mind having a chat about it. Be honest about how you found them, and start the conversation!
As you probably know, Twitter’s advanced search function is useful to look for the latest news items and notable Twitter handles. Searching for specific hashtags allows you to see who’s talking about a certain subject such as #indiefilm, or who identifies as a #techblogger. From there, you’ll have an idea of who is sharing content relevant to your brand and you can start following them, sharing their updates and making an effort to engage them in conversation.
Twitter’s also a great platform to find micro-influencers among your own fans. Your followers already demonstrate interest in your brand, so the "super fans" among them could be eager to work with you. Fans are already promoting your content and your brand without prompting, so why not make it a mutually beneficial partnership by formally giving them perks to help hype an event or write a review of some of your products? Of course, fans engaging with your brand's accounts only make up half the story. Their audiences also have to be relevant to your company, so do your research there as well.
Looking through your Instagram followers is also great way to find micro-influencers (think someone with 2,000 to 10,000 followers). Take a look at what your followers are posting about, including the reach of their posts and if they’ve been sharing your updates. If they’re consistently posting about your brand's industry, such as food & wine, or sports/fitness, they might be interested in partnering with your company.
Just like on Twitter, you can also search for influential hashtags such as #organicfood, #organicbeauty or #MMAfitness. You’ll get a list of top photos using any of those hashtags that have the most likes. Take a look at the accounts that posted these photos and see if they’d be a good fit as a micro-influencer for your brand. If you’re a fitness brand or gym facility, you could consider giving them free passes to your facility to try out training and a few classes. If you make organic sauces, marinades and spices, consider giving the influencer a gift basket to try out your products and ask them to make a few of your tried and tested recipes.