Influencer marketing was one of the biggest trends of 2017 – and it’s only projected to get bigger and bigger. That’s because the consumers of today are much more influenced (hence the name) by social media personalities they care about and trust than by any other means of traditional marketing.
Businesses and brands who work with influencers in their niche have found that it leaves them with an 11x better ROI.
More and more people turn to influencers before they make a purchasing decision – 49% to be exact.
It’s no wonder – modern-day customers are being marketed to every waking second. They no longer trust ads nowadays – what they choose to do instead is to turn to social media before they buy something. To be more precise, people on social media they admire, like or trust, or who share their interests or lifestyle.
Now, while the whole influencer marketing genre originates from celebrity endorsement, let’s get one thing clear: influencers are not celebrities in the traditional sense of the word, but rather, they are celebrities in their own respective circles.
They are simply individuals who have amassed a huge following of a particular kind: a specific niche, or around a particular subject of interest.
Why are social media influencers valuable?
Influencers are a great way to get new audiences to trust you quickly, because what you are essentially doing is tapping into an existing community of engaged followers who are inclined to like your product or service. It’s audience targeting at its best: you are borrowing someone else’s community and taking a shortcut to getting your product service or content trusted.
Let’s consider this example:
Let’s say you are a natural, organic beauty brand. Your products have just come out on the market, full of big claims: they are gentle on the skin, they treat hormonal acne, or give your consumers a heavenly natural glow. (This last one was a hyperbole, but you get the picture).
That’s all well and good, but why should a potential buyer trust your products over other much more established similar brands in the market today? How do you get your products used by your specific buyer persona – women who are interested in natural cosmetics and who want social proof of the results of a given product?
Well, the quickest way is to get an established influencer in those circles to use them. Their community, as a result, will soon follow.
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If you haven’t seen it yet, a few days ago I uploaded a new video to my channel sharing some skincare tips I use to reduce/ease hormonal acne. I also talk through some of my favourite @skinstitut products in this video and explain where I’d use them in my skincare routine, along with the other lifestyle changes I made in order to improve my skin ☺️☺️ link is in my bio! #skinstitut10 #ad
What does this type of campaign achieve?
Rachel Aust is a fitness and lifestyle YouTuber who, for the sake of this example, is a popular version of your ideal buyer: she has problematic skin prone to breakouts (and her followers know it), she’s interested in natural cosmetics, and she would post this type of content regardless of whether it had your product in it or not.
But when she posts her before and after photo of how she dealt with hormonal acne as well as her Skinstitut sponsored “How To Get Clear Skin” video – her half a million followers know that it’s true.
They’ve been following her for a while precisely for this kind of content, and for them, this type of campaign is no longer merely a generic before-and-after they learned not to trust on the internet.
How To Find Social Media Influencers
Wondering how on earth to find these people? There are literally millions of brands online, all vying for some influencer attention, so how can you pull it off?
It’s not like there’s a matching app for influencers and businesses, and if you are not the sort of person to hang out on social media so you can follow social personalities, it might be difficult to figure it out for your business.
We hear you. So here are some awesome tips that can definitely get you started.
Start with some plain old Google research
You probably haven’t heard of this one (kidding). Humor put aside, let’s go over some ways you can use the most powerful search engine around. It’s fairly simple, and even googling some general keywords of your customers’ interests will likely lead to YouTube videos, LinkedIn groups, Reddit threads, and popular blogs or websites relevant to your line of work.
- Try searching a long-tail keyword on the subject you want your campaign to be about.
For example, if you want to advertise a cleansing face mask, searching subjects such as “morning skincare routine” or “best ways to unclog your pores” will probably get you in front of the popular people talking on these subjects, whether in a Youtube video or a blog.
- Do a brand search on Google and analyze the results
You’ll probably find people who are already talking about your brand. If an influencer is already trying and enjoying your products (and marketing them for free) it makes a lot of sense to reach out to them and deepen your relationship.
- Google search a hashtag
It’s always useful to type in a popular hashtag, and look at the top results – 99% of the time they are all influencers.
- Search influencer lists
This might sound pretty straightforward and simple, but don’t leave it out. A search for “Top 100 Social Media Marketing Influencers on Instagram” can yield amazing results.
Find popular blogs in your niche
Getting mentioned in a popular blog post can do wonders for your business. After all, unlike a social media mention, blog content is evergreen and will continue to yield results over time, not to mention the SEO perks associated with influential bloggers in your niche linking to your products.
- Try typing keywords in the WordPress search bar, or visit Bloglovin – a blog aggregator where you can find blogs on virtually any topic.
Use social media tools
- Use social media tools to research brand mentions
Social media monitoring tools can really help you find the people who are already talking about your brand, and chances are that some of them will be influencers. Why not reach out to them and make their endorsement of your brand official? After all, satisfied customers are your brand’s biggest ambassadors.
There are a variety of tools out there, and of course there’s Mention, which is specifically designed to monitor who’s talking about your brand on the internet. If you want to give this tactic a go, here’s a quick guide on how to choose the best monitoring tool for your brand.
- Use social media tools to find influencers
A lot of tools offer a specific feature that lets you find influencers online. Mention, for example, lets you search for influencers on Twitter, Instagram, or the web (like popular blogs,) while with Buzzsumo, you can search for influencers on Facebook.
Techniques for finding influencers on social media
Making a Google query is one thing, but finding a prized influencer in their natural habitat (their preferred social media network) is quite another. We already established that a tool can do it for you, and like everything else, you can obviously consult Google. But, are there ways to search for influencers directly on social media?
The answer is both yes and no, as it depends on the social network in question…and it also requires a bit of digging. Here are a few solutions we’ve come up with:
- Find influencers in your social media followers
Even now, there are probably micro-influencers waiting to be discovered in your follower list, and they are already interested in your brand! Make sure you go over your followers and see whether you can find some people with large followings of their own.
Who knows, they might make sense for a collaboration.
- Search #hashtags whenever possible
Hashtags are a great way to tap into relevant conversations in your niche, but when it comes to hashtags, not all social platforms are created equal. Instagram and Twitter still reign supreme (Instagram even has a dedicated hashtag feed), while Facebook is not too shabby either.
When searching hashtags, always use specific rather than general (i.e. “#organicoils” instead of “#organic.”)
- Use Twitter’s trending feature
It’s no secret that Twitter is a great platform for discovering and interacting with influencers. You can start conversations with @mentions, make very good use of hashtags, and can also take advantage of its trending feature. Trending topics are based off of your profiles interests – and they can be a great way to find other popular social media profiles in the same niche. Be sure to use it!
Consider hiring an influencer marketing agency
If you’d rather just leave it to a professional, you can always try collaborating with an influencer marketing agency. But before you do, always research them first.
What social network is their specialty? Do they have an established network of influencers? Most importantly, what are the niches and industries they’ve successfully worked with?
Mention has already set up a list of what they consider to be some of the top influencer marketing agencies out there, and it’s a good place to start if you’re considering this approach.
How To Determine An Influencer’s Value To Your Brand
Celebrity endorsements vs. micro-influencers
This whole field of digital marketing emerged from the practice of celebrity endorsements, or in translation: paying outrageous amounts of money to a celebrity to throw in a mention of your product.
This however, has several drawbacks:
- The fact that you are paying outrageous amounts of money
- The reach you get can be excellent for product awareness, but you aren’t targeting your specific buyer persona
- Their audience intuitively knows that the celebrity in question is endorsing your product because you’ve paid outrageous amounts of money
Of course it’d be sweet if Beyonce shared your luxurious air freshener, or said she’s in love with your spa treatment. But we’re openly advocating that you spend some time finding great micro to moderate influencers with topical authority in your niche, because:
- You’ll be reaching your core demographic
- You’ll be aligning yourself with their credibility in your niche.
A particular influencer’s followers trust that their endorsement of a product or brand is the result of research and actual personal experience, and it’s a much more holistic approach than a profit-oriented signed contract between a brand and a VIP person of influence.
Discovering a real influencer that matters
As social media influencers grow into popularity, they start suffering from the same problem celebrities do: they become a product themselves, and their endorsements no longer feel genuine.
Research conducted by Google states that 40% of millennials say their favorite YouTube creator understands them better than their friends, and that’s the kind of influencer you are looking for.
Focus on micro-influencers, whose recommendations will be perceived as friendly and trustworthy by their loyal network of followers (and they are most likely to respond to your outreach positively, especially if they have already been using your products).
How To Pitch To Influencers
If you’ve managed to set your sights on that special influencer someone, then you’re now getting to the trickier part of the equation: once you find the one, how do you get them to work with you?
Influencers can be notoriously selective about their affiliations, choosing to partner with brands that reflect their unique personal brands and are careful about not alienating their followers.
Apart from the fact that influencers can often be picky, they are also just human beings and consumers. That means they’ll probably respond the best to honest, direct communication, especially if you are offering them something of value.
Do your research first
You may think that this is common sense, but a surprisingly large number of businesses focus on doing massive outreach without sparing the time to take on a more personalized approach. You should be doing exactly the opposite – emphasize quality over quantity.
- Research your influencer by following them on social media and engaging with their content (if they have content endorsing your product, share it!)
- Research their content history and see whether they’ve endorsed your products or similar products in your niche. This is also a good precaution: you don’t generally want to pitch an influencer that has criticized your product in the past.
Craft personalized outreach emails or messages
Nothing is worse than receiving an email from a business that clearly knows nothing about you.
Instead of blindly emailing a generic outreach template to as many influencers as you can find, take the time and write a friendly, personalized outreach email that emphasizes the reasons why that particular influencer should care about collaborating with you.
Conclusion: creating mutual goals
Remember: social media influencers need to get something from working with you as well, so make sure your goals are mutually beneficial.
It’s important to know that if you use or abuse your influencer relationships, it can come back to haunt you and your brand. With a little hard work, research and collaborative efforts, you can be well on your way to boosting your brand’s visibility, and creating collaborations and customers that last.
And that’s it! If you want more tips and actionable advice on how to find influencers on social media, head over to our influencer marketing stack.
If you have any questions, comments, or if you think we’ve missed something of great importance, feel free to post about it below!