My eyes widen like crazy thinking about how long old school PR outreach must have taken. Hunkering down with a notebook, a landline phone (it probably had a cord!), a Rolodex, and maybe even the phone book. The horror!

Making calls, waiting while the phone rings and rings, getting routed around to different departments’ extensions. I imagine it taking a long time just to have a simple 5-minute conversation. Modern PR pros, marketers, and entrepreneurs don’t have that kind of time.

Working with influencers is all about getting more bang for your buck, so why would a successful influencer strategy include such a time-waster? Nope, savvy professionals like us rely on a powerful toolbox to help them save time without sacrificing quality of work.

As part of our vow to show you how to work with influencers from start to finish, we’re helping you build your toolbox. Today we’re focusing on researching influencers and building the initial list of people to reach out to. Next week, we’ll talk about tools for actually getting in touch.

Want help making sure you’re picking the most relevant influencers for your brand? Download our free guide to find out what to look for.

Power up influencer research with these tools:

Mention – find industry influencers

Our own influencer dashboards and scores are great for identifying influencers that are true advocates.

influencer analytics

Instead of looking at a list of influencers and finding people who fit your audience, using Mention works the other way around. We can show you people that are already talking about and supporting your brand, then pick out which ones are influential.

Not to mention (pun intended), a social listening dashboard will come in handy for nearly every other step of your influencer campaign. For example, you can use it later on to track the influencers’ actual campaign activity, monitor the buzz it garners, or create a report summarizing the results.

Hey Press – find influential journalists

Hey Press

For finding journalists and influencers in the media, Hey Press is a sweet and simple search engine. Focusing specifically on tech journalists, this research tool starts at $15/month and is great for founders getting started with their first round of PR and influencer outreach.

One of the great benefits of working with influencers is that with the right strategy, their involvement can make your project a lot more appealing to the press. Noting a few journalists to reach out to once it’s gained momentum can give you another bump in coverage once the campaign’s underway.

Klout – see all-in-one social scores

I don’t know about you, but hearing about Klout back in 2011 marks the first time I’d heard of a dedicated social influence tool. Not a social tool with an influencer feature – a dedicated tool.

Today, Klout is still one of the go-to options for an all-in-one social score. It looks at so many different social networks, and so many data points, that it’s a score you can trust. Plus, Klout also offers solutions for brands and agencies, so you could run your entire campaign on their platform.

BuzzSumo – analyze content shared by influencers

buzzsumo-influencer-search

BuzzSumo’s influencer search tool is my favorite way to find social media profiles based on a certain keyword or what websites they share content from. For example, if I specifically need influencers who talk about content marketing, I would run a search for that (as I did above).

BuzzSumo also breaks down each person’s influence, showing you domain authority, number of followers, and how often they’re retweeted. Those numbers could all help me narrow down my choices of who to work with.

I can also see a list of links the person has shared on Twitter, so I can check for relevancy to make sure the rest of their content aligns with our campaign’s message.

Little Bird – view your connections to influencers

Little Bird is another solution that makes things easier by breaking down influencer lists by topic. And they give you massive amounts of other information, too.

As you’re building your list within their platform, you can see information like the influencer’s likelihood to impact perception. And isn’t that one of the biggest benefits of working with VIPs in the first place?

You can also run quick reports to see who you’re already connected to and engaging with. That list is an important one. Why? An influential fan would be sure to say “yes” to a partnership or campaign together.

MozBar – check SEO performance

MozBar, a Chrome plugin for Moz users, makes it easy to see SEO stats for websites as you’re browsing. If you have the full bar displayed, it’ll show you things like keyword difficulty score and backlink info for whatever page you’re on. You can also minimize it so that instead of the full bar, you just see the current site’s domain authority on the MozBar plugin icon.

If you’re looking for partnerships that can help your site’s SEO, this is a toolbox must-have. Google’s algorithms are also smart enough that they’re a reliable signal of general influence. While someone can easily get a ton of Twitter followers, it’s harder to build up a strong SEO profile.

Looking at the rankings and authority of a potential influencer can tell you how well campaign activities on their website will increase your reach, as well.

Followerwonk – find influencers already following you

followerwonk-influencer-search

Again, here’s a tool that’s like advanced Twitter search x1,000,000. Followerwonk is also brought to you by Moz, so kudos for them for making more than one appearance on this list!

A really powerful Twitter search tool in general, you can see how you can easily search for users with a lot of followers (an indicator of influence), then compare different users or filter through potential influencers that are already following your brand.

Inkybee – segment your outreach list

Inkybee is a blogger outreach platform that covers the entire influencer campaign, but their research features are especially powerful.

They have built-in discovery, so it may suggest a perfectly relevant blogger or influencer that you hadn’t thought of including. And in addition to building influencer lists, you can also use Inkybee to filter and segment them.

Twitter Lists – stalk your targets

software-influencers

So this tool is kind of half for research, half for stalking. 🙂 In order to use Twitter lists in your influencer research strategy, you need to already have a list of influencers you’re considering. Then you can throw them into a private Twitter list, and the real “recon” begins.

The list will create a feed of what’s currently going on in the minds and lives of all your potential campaign partners. Getting to know them a bit better will help personalize your pitch, and seeing everyone’s tweets in one spot can help you better identify their content strategies and audiences.

Conclusion

Before you build your toolkit, think about your needs. If SEO is part of your influencer campaign goals, something like MozBar will be important. For advanced insights, something like Inkybee or Little Bird will give you more of the type of info you need.

Mix and match the tools you need, then get ready to move on to the fun part: reaching out to the influencers!

What are your favorite tools for building influencer list? Share your recs in the comments.

For more help researching influencers, download our free guide:

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(Note: This post was originally published in June 2015 and has been updated with our latest tool recommendations.)

Guest Blogger @Mention

Brittany Berger is a content marketer helping B2B companies and entrepreneurs create unicorn content that shows personality and demands attention. Connect with her on Twitter at @thatbberg.

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