How to Find Brand Influencers on Social Media

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Marketing through brand influencers has become a key ingredient in many successful social media campaigns.

Using a blog or social network, an influencer serves as a trusted go-between who connects a brand with its target audience and encourages them to take action.

If you’re a digital marketer, establishing relationships with brand influencers who have engaged followers can help you reach audiences you might not have access to through conventional advertising channels.

Recent surveys have found that a majority of modern consumers, especially millennials, are likely to trust online opinions about products to a greater extent than most forms of traditional advertising. Influencers represent a form of online consumer opinion that has the potential to resonate with thousands or millions of consumers. It all goes back to people trusting someone whose opinion they value rather than listening to what a brand has to say about itself.

Here is a quick guide for finding and reaching out to the best influencers for your brand.

Who are Influencers?

An influencer is more than someone with a massive social media following. They are focused on a specific niche, such as fashion, travel, interior design or fitness. They frequently have professional experience within their niche, but an influencer can also be a talented amateur who builds a reputation exclusively through social media.

The ideal influencer for your brand is a good contextual fit. Unless it makes sense for them to be talking about your brand, it won’t matter what they say. This is where a niche expert wins out over a celebrity--it all gets back to authenticity.

Once you’ve located a potential influencer who makes sense contextually, look at their reach. You want someone who will reach the widest possible audience. Finally, you need to have a sense that followers will take action based on a brand suggestion from the influencer.

Where to Find Brand Influencers

Deciding what you want from an influencer will help you find the best candidates. If your brand is suited for an image-driven campaign, look for niche leaders on visual social media networks and blogs. Otherwise, you may want to look for leading bloggers who can write about your brand.

You could start by using social media tools to monitor mentions of your brand on social media networks and blogs. Reach out to passionate talkers who are also leaders in your niche. Check out this article about social listening tools by Huffington Post or this article about the benefits of social listening by Think Digital.

The problem with social listening tools is that social media is becoming increasingly visual. Networks like Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and Twitter now offer increased opportunities for customer insights gained by harnessing the power of images. These insights can be used to target your market and detect conversations and trends about your brand in real-time.

The Beautifeye social listening platform offers visual search and can also be used alongside textual mentions so you never miss out on conversation about your brand and you can find brand influencers organically and contact them directly, in one click direct from the dashboard.

Beautifeye's visual filters found out who Coca Cola's organic brand influencers are. Check out some of the results:

find brand influencers online
find brand influencers online

Establishing a Relationship with an Influencer

Once you’ve found candidate influencers, make it clear that you’d like to establish a professional relationship. This means that you’ll need to determine the best way to compensate them for promoting your brand. Offering free or discounted samples of your products or services is probably the most common approach, but it’s not unheard of to offer financial compensation for mentioning your brand. If you can track sales that an influencer is responsible for, you might want to consider a commission.

Finally, don’t forget to treat a brand influencer campaign like any other social campaign. Decide on marketing metrics up front, including basic metrics like cost per acquisition (CPA) and key performance indicators (KPIs). Ask your influencers to use dedicated landing pages, customized promo codes or other tracking tools to help you assess conversions.

Further reading:

 Consumer Trust in Online, Social and Mobile Advertising Grows (2012)

Global Trust in Advertising (2015)