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Published October 31st 2016

How to Find Influencers on Social Media

Influencer marketing is great for spreading your message but only if you find the right people to work with. A practical guide on how to find influencers.

Since the early days of social media marketing, influencer marketing has been a popular way of spreading a brand’s marketing message. The algorithm changes that have to lead to reduced organic growth have only increased its attractiveness.

In the early days of influencer marketing, it was generally thought that working with an influencer with the biggest possible following would yield the best results, as it would maximize your reach.

However, if you sell foreign exchange software, getting Justin Bieber to tweet about your brand is not going to drive much business.

Brands are now realizing that the best strategy is to find micro-influencers with a smaller, but more engaged, audience. If an individual has built a reputation in a particular field, their audience will be more receptive to what they have to say. It’s also a similar idea to targeted ads on social networks. While you might not know the demographics of the audience, their relevancy will be self-selecting.

Finding influencers on social media

So how do you find the smaller influencers? There are various tools like Kred and Klout that score users based on their influence, but you still need to discover the right people. Social intelligence is the best way of finding relevant influencers for your brand to work with. 

Whichever platform you are looking to find influencers on, there are two routes you can take.

Either find influencers who are already talking about your brand, or find ones who are active in your industry but not necessarily talking about your brand.

Using branded searches to find influencers

Influencer research begins by writing a search for your brand (at Brandwatch we call this a Query). This allows you to discover the publications and individuals that are already talking about you.

To illustrate, I thought I’d have a look at the Nakd brand from Natural Balance Foods. Nakd are a range of healthy snack bars that are wheat, dairy and gluten free.

Nakd query

If you open the results of this Query in our influencer Dashboard, you are presented with a selection of automatically categorized influencer lists. Each tab on the Dashboard covers a different type of influencer – Top Authors, Top Tweeters, Top Bloggers and Key Advocates and Detractors, so you can track the most influential conversations wherever they are taking place

The lists all feature the Brandwatch Impact Score, which measures of the influence of the individual and the reach they have managed to get with their Tweet, blog or post. The Dashboard also features follower counts, Kred scores, and Mozrank for blogs.

The Dashboard provides a shortlist of individuals to further investigate. Now you have something to work on, and can investigate further to discover how suitable these accounts are. Are their tweets relevant and positive? Do they have a blog? Do they have other social media accounts?

A Brandwatch dashboard for finding influencers

In the Nakd example above, @Healthy_Helper has Tweeted 49 times over the last 3 months. Taking a closer look reveals it is the Twitter account of Kaila, a healthy living blogger, who fits the profile of someone that could be useful to Nakd’s influencer marketing.

Which influencers you decide to use will also depend on your goals and strategy. Do you want to engage with someone who talks about your brand a lot already, and turn them into a true brand advocate? Or someone who might have only mentioned you once or twice but has a high impact?

Finding Influencers on Facebook and Instagram

Of course, the open nature of Twitter makes it a great platform for finding influencers. Facebook and Instagram are a little harder, as the access these sites allow to their data is limited due to privacy settings. However, there are a couple of ways that you can find Facebook influencers or important Instagrammers.

The first is to use your Twitter Query and Dashboard. Influencers often have a presence on multiple social networks, so it’s worth looking to see if those you have identified have Facebook or Instagram accounts.

The second is our Channels feature, which offers a detailed analysis of your – and your competitor’s pages. Simply enter the URL, and select Facebook Dashboard.

You can then open the “Audience Activity” section of a Channel for that brand, to see all the Facebook users engaging with the account, including the number of comments and likes each post has received.

Finding influencers with non-branded searches

Brandwatch Analytics

Non-branded Queries can be even more useful for brands, as it’s a less restrictive method. It looks very similar to the above method but will involve searching for related terms rather than brand names. 

Writing a Query around the product category will reveal people that are relevant, but might not specifically talk about you. So Nakd could create a Query with terms like “snack bars, vegan snacks, gluten free snacks, healthy snacks, health bars” to discover the individuals and topics leading that conversation.

Brandwatch Audiences

Our new audience analysis platform, Brandwatch Audiences, makes finding influencers in this way really easy. Featuring a live database of 200 million active Twitter profiles, you can search a variety of terms to uncover a tailored list of relevant influential accounts.

You can specify any keyword in a bio, gender, interests, professions,  and location. You can specify individual or organizational accounts, and search for keywords in their last three months of tweets.

If we go back to the Nakd snack bars, we can use a combination of these search terms to find a wider pool of influential, relevant people, rather than just looking for people who have already mentioned them.

Finding Twitter Influencers using Brandwatch Audiences

I searched for US bloggers who have an interest in food or health and fitness, who had mentioned gluten free in one of their recent tweets.

The platform returns 191 bloggers that have relevant interests and an audience that relies on them for related lifestyle advice. An influencer doesn’t have to already be an advocate for your brand if you develop a good relationship with them by getting your outreach strategy right.

This audience of people also highlights a common profession of these food bloggers: sports person/trainer. This could be another avenue to investigate. A different set of influencers will be able to reach a different audience.

There are many facets to a successful influencer marketing campaign, but the foundation is in finding influencers who are relevant. Find the right people, and the rest of the process will be much easier, and much more likely to succeed.

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