Looking to find influencers in your niche to help grow your traffic and influence and generate more leads?

Or understand how to measure influence?

Both of these are challenging topics and in this article, we’re going to provide a lot of help for you in these areas.

Influencer marketing is big business.

Why?

Because it’s too expensive to build your own audience.

It’s far more efficient to find someone influential who already has a big enough audience that also happens to be your target audience.

When I started out with my other company, RazorSocial, I made a list of the top 100 social media influencers and built relationships with them.

The result was a massive increase in traffic (1,000,000 unique visitors in year 3) and I built my own influence.

conference

I understand the challenge of finding the right influencers because I’ve been through it myself.  Along the way, I also built a model for evaluating influence.

So let’s get right to it!

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What is Influencer Marketing

An influencer has the trust of an audience you want to get access to.

influencer trust exchange

Working with influencers can either be paid or unpaid.

Note:  We’d always advise to start with an unpaid route and then move to paid if it all works out.

For unpaid, there needs to be an exchange of value e.g

You…

  • Promote their content
  • Provide testimonials they can use in their marketing
  • Buy their books
  • Guest post on their site
  • Pass leads to them that you can’t service with your business

Look:

Here’s a way of adding value. Give them a case study to write about. For example, Brian Dean is a very influential SEO guy who promotes his audience following his tactics:

Influencer Marketing

This offers a lot of value to them and to you.

By focusing on a small list of specific influential people who are a good fit for your business, you’ll get the benefit of exposure to a targeted audience that you couldn’t have reached on your own.

I love the following quote from Mark Schaefer:

Mark Schaefer

Building relationships with influencers helps to build your network.

Why is Influencer Marketing Becoming More Effective Than Traditional Paid Advertising?

First of all, more and more people are using ad blockers to fight off intrusive advertisements.

adblock

The growth of adblock

….Plus, they’ll trust recommendations from influencers they follow and trust more than any ad when they make a decision to buy a product.

According to a Twitter study, nearly 40% of their users say they’ve made a purchase as a direct result of a Tweet from an influencer.

So many brands are investing in influencer marketing, but does it really pay off?

The ROI from influencer marketing is stronger than you may think. On average, businesses generate $6.50 for every $1 invested in influencer marketing.

If these stats convinced you to start your own influencer marketing campaign, the first thing you’ll need to do is find the right influencers to work with.

What About Using Tools Like Klout/Kred or Peer Index for Measuring Influence

We were promised Nirvana with the introduction of KLOUT, Peer Index and Kred (influence measurement tools).

But…

It never happened.

In May 2018 Klout closed down and I”m sure the other tools will follow soon.

Klout gave you a single score for measuring influence:

Klout

It didn’t work because it was too easy to game and was heavily focussed on Twitter.  If you had a lot of followers and engagement on Twitter you’d get a high score and using tools this was easy to do.

Who are your influencers?

Influencers are people (blog influencers, industry thought leaders, analysts, journalists, etc.)

But influential websites could also be on your target list.

They are influential because they keep on coming up in search results for the terms you want to rank for.

But, of course, there are people behind every website!

Why, What and How of Influencer Marketing

Find Influencers Infographic

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What Level of Influencers Are There?

There are different “levels of hierarchy” when it comes to influencers. Depending on their level of influence, they will make a different impact when they share your content or promote your brand.

You’ll find many articles online that break down the influencer hierarchy, but a lot of them just make things seem more complicated than they are.

Here’s how I categorize influencers:

Citizen Influencer

When someone mentions my brand or talks about a topic that’s closely related to my business on social media – I take notice!

These people may not have a very large audience, but they could still be influential and even help me engage an audience more effectively than a power influencer.

They typically have up to 10,000 followers and solid engagement rates. They may not help you reach masses, but they can definitely drive their audience to action.

A citizen influencer could be one of your social media followers, a niche blogger who’s just starting to build an audience, an industry pro who’s well-connected on social, etc.

Power Influencer

They typically have a large audience and can reach a lot more people than citizen influencers, providing more exposure for your brand.

However….

….as the size of the audience grows, the engagement usually drops. So it’s important to find power influencers that have not only good reach but also an engaged audience.

It may be a bit more difficult to get their attention through social media channels only, so make sure to prepare your outreach emails, personalize them, and try to build a one on one relationship with them.

Power influencers are getting emails from people like you daily, so you need to find a way to stand out!

Celebrity Influencer

These are the people with a large-scale reach and they can be a good option if your goal is to create buzz and awareness around your brand.

But even if they are a good fit for your brand, it may not be worth reaching out to them directly.

The only way you can build a relationship with celebrity influencers is meeting them face to face at events, or getting access to them through a power influencer you’ve previously built a relationship with.

How to Measure Influence

As mentioned earlier, measuring a person’s influence is not about going to Klout and looking up a score.

You need to work out a score that is specific to each person.

And you need to understand how they can affect the decisions of your target audience.

I created a 5-step approach to help brands assess the influence of someone they are thinking of working with.

And here it is:

  • D for Domain Authority – what kind of authority does a website have and how much traffic do they get for new content (this gives you an idea of the reach you can get for a new piece of content on that website).
  • A for Appetite – do they appreciate what you are selling/going to write about? Is this something they are passionate about?
  • R for Relevance – being influential is great, but if the influencer is not relevant to your brand then working with them won’t help your business.
  • T for Track record – do they have a proven track record of success working with brands?
  • S for Social media authority – are they influential on the social media platform that’s relevant to your business?

DARTS Framework

Looking at each area of the DARTS framework will help you effectively measure an influencer’s influence.

Now, let’s look at each of these areas in more detail.

D for Domain Authority

Domain Authority is a solid indicator of the value of a website. DA (Domain Authority) score is a number on a scale from 1 to 100 calculated by an SEO company called Moz. The higher the number, the higher the authority.

Basically, if you look at the DA score of a website plus its traffic, you can get an idea of reach for a new piece of content.

This is a very useful insight to help you assess the potential impact a content piece on an influencer’s website can have.

One way to check the DA of a website is with Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool.

Here’s an example:

Open Site Explorer

As you can see, the Digital Marketing Institute’s website has a high DA of 52!

And I didn’t choose their website randomly. When I searched Google for “influencer outreach,” a DMI’s article titled How to Create an Influencer Outreach Strategy That Excels was in the top 3 results.

So, if I worked with them on a piece on influencer outreach, I could expect that content to rank well in the search results, bringing a lot of organic traffic to the content itself and consequently to my website.

Here’s a diagram which shows the power of the domain authority from Andy Crestodina:

Domain Authority Andy Crestodina

What else can show the authority of a website?

How about asking the influencer for a copy of the Google analytics report?

I was running an event recently where we gathered a group of the top travel influencers in the world in a castle in Ireland (fun weekend!) and Gary Arndt who is one of the top travel influencers globally remarked about website traffic.

He said that website traffic does not have any relevance to a new piece of content you are writing.  It shows what traffic you got for older content.

What is useful is to see the traffic you got from a previous piece of similar content.

That shows how interested your audience is likely to be and the traffic you can expect to get.

You also want to see the results of this traffic.  Did they sign up for a tour, purchase a flight, sign up for an email list, etc?

So…

Chat to the influencer and ask for the Google analytics report.  On the report you want to see:

  • What traffic was generated from previous similar content
  • What goals were achieved from this content
  • What traffic did they get for recent content (they may have legacy content driving lots of traffic but very little for new content)
  • How engaged is the audience (e.g. bounce rate)

Domain authority is a good number to use looking from the outside in but it’s also useful to look at it from the inside out.

Note:  See later on when we discuss social authority.  Some people may have low Domain Authority but a high social authority which may still be very relevant.

A for Appetite

An influencer can have all the authority in the world but if they are not interested in your brand/product then they won’t have the ‘appetite’ to share as much as you’d want them to.

Here’s a guy that got a tattoo of a coffee brand on their arm.  This is an extreme form of demonstrating passion for a brand.

tattoo

You want to find people that are passionate about your product/service/brand.

They probably won’t have a tattoo of the brand on their arm but it’s worth checking!

Here’s another example.  Bret and Mary are two of the top travel influencers globally and they are all about Ecotourism.

I think their website gives it away (Greenglobaltravel.com)

green global travel

I’ve met Mary and Bret before (two great people) and they are very passionate about Ecotourism.

No matter what type of contract you sign, if an influencer is passionate about your product you’ll get more benefit from working with them.

Have they been involved with similar brands before?

Do they write relevant stories even if they are not sponsored?

A genuine mention or use of your product will create 10x more impact than a scripted product review.

R for Relevance

How relevant is an influencer to your brand?

It’s great if someone is a “celebrity influencer” and you can actually get them to work with you.

But…

If they are not relevant to your brand, you’ll just waste time working with them because their audience won’t have any interest in your product or your brand.

I’m super passionate about sports, but my audience is not!

So, for example, if I mentioned your running gear brand to my audience on Facebook, would this really bring you any sales? Highly unlikely!

Although I have a solid number of followers, in this case, they would not be the right audience for your brand!

So how do you measure an influencer’s relevance to your brand?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this person write or speak about the topic that is relevant to your potential customers?
  • Do they attract the kind of audience that you want to attract?

It’s a complete waste of time building relationships with influencers that are not relevant.

So make sure to understand their relevance by reading their blog content, analyzing their audience, looking at what they share on social media, what they talk about at conferences, etc.

This is the only way to ensure that the influencer has the right kind of influence!

T for Track Record

Does an influencer have a positive track record working with brands in the past?

You may wonder what this has to do with influence…

Well, look at it this way:

If an influencer doesn’t have enough experience working with brands, or worse if they show a tendency towards certain behaviors that affected the brand image of companies they worked with…

…how would working with them help you achieve your goals?

A good track record gives you a piece of mind that an influencer will help create a positive perception of your brand among their audience.

So…

You want to see:

  • Traffic they generated
  • Goals achieved
  • Targets set out
  • Impressions (if that’s what the customer was after)
  • Target audience reached

An influencer can have a big audience (and big ego!!!) but may not produce the best results.

S for Social media authority

Someone may not have a high Domain Authority, but they may have an active social presence and a large, engaged audience.

For example, an influencer could have tens of thousands of engaged followers on Instagram but focus little to no attention to creating content on their website.

This doesn’t mean they are less influential or that they won’t be a good match for your business – the kind of authority they have on social networks may be exactly the right match for your brand.

You’ll often find that people that like video/photo hate writing and vice versa!  So the love goes to one part of the equation!

Let’s illustrate with an example.

Jake Paul is one of the biggest social media influencers on the planet and his videos on YouTube were watched literally billions of times.

His website’s Domain Authority? You’d think it had to be high, but the score is a low 35!

For the right brand, this shouldn’t matter at all because his audience on YouTube is counting 14+ million subscribers.

10 Ways to Find Influencers

The following is a quick summary:

10 Ways to Find Influencers

What you want to do is build a list and then you can start applying the DARTS framework to evaluate the list.

Let’s look at each section:

1. Set up a monitoring tool to track competitors’ mentions

When we built OutreachPlus, I created a project in Brand24 (a monitoring tool) to track all our competitors’ mentions.

I then hired someone to create a list of all the people and websites that were mentioning our competitors.

I wanted to have a list of the influencers that were talking about competing products because they should be talking about our product as well.

Brand24 provides an influence score and using this together with having a quick look at the person’s profile would help me make a decision about adding them to my pre-qualified influencer list. I want to see if there is a certain level of influence and if they have some level of expertise in my area of business.

2. Find one influencer and follow the trail

If you find one key influencer in your industry it’s not that difficult to find more.

Pete O’Connor runs a software startup called BulletHq. They provide a free accounting solution for small businesses. You get a complete solution for free and then you can buy add-ons as your business grows.

Pete wanted to find influencers to help promote his tool, and his approach was following the trail.

He found a couple of key influencers and then analyzed their accounts to see who they were interacting with on a regular basis.

Influencers chat with influencers.

And…

… He produced a great list that he used for outreach.

Here’s another example:

Jeff Bullas is a friend of mine and also one of the key influencers in social media.

By using a tool called Twitonomy I can see who Jeff mentions the most in his tweets:

Twitonomy

I know every account listed above because they are all key influencers.  They are either influencers in social media, digital marketing, or entrepreneurship.

It’s not difficult to find influencers by following a trail.

3. Invest in an influencer identification tool

An influencer identification tool is a quick way of building your list.

But remember these tools are not going to give you the perfect list.  You still have to apply the DARTS framework to this list.

Search for influencers on GroupHigh to find bloggers in your niche. This tool has a huge database of blogs that you can search through to find the bloggers that would be the best fit for your campaign.

Like with any other search engine, the key to getting the most relevant results is determining the right keywords to use for search.

For example:

I’ve been working with a local tourism board recently to find a group of influential travel bloggers and invite them to come to Ireland for a travel blogging event. I used GroupHigh to find them.

The search terms I used for this campaign were ‘travel blogger’ and ‘travel writers,’ and the tool returned some pretty good results.

I then filtered the results to only see the blogs that have a Domain Authority greater than 50.

Grouphigh

The tool has many other filters available so you can narrow down your list of influencers by location, social accounts available, MozRank, tactics they use (sponsored posts, guest post), and more.

Another great tool that you can use to find influencers is BuzzSumo. You can use it to search for influencers based on a topic or a keyword. When you run your search, you’ll get a list of influencers with their Twitter handles and bios.

Here’s a preview of the list I got when I performed a search for “content marketing.”

Now I can assess the level of authority for each influencer by looking at the number of followers they have, the engagement rate, as well as their domain and page authority.

Another useful piece of functionality that can help you further filter your search is “view links shared.” You can see what content they share most and from which domains.

Links Shared

All this information will help you determine how relevant the influencers are to your brand or a specific outreach campaign you’re planning.

Traackr is also another useful tool for finding influencers.  It has a great search facility for identifying influencers and I love the relationship funnel which helps track your engagement with the influencers.

traackr relationships funnel

4. Search on Google

When we started OutreachPlus, we used SEMRush to do a full analysis of our competitors and all the keywords they were ranking for.

We then used those keywords to see who else is ranking for them in Google.

These are the potential influencers.

For example, when I searched for ‘email marketing outreach’ I came across this article:

search result

HubSpot has a Domain Authority of 89 and they write about digital marketing.

They are an influencer. You see, influencers are both people and websites.

Now, how do I get HubSpot to write about me?

Well, maybe I do some amazing outreach like the one that worked for Bryan Harris.

HubSpot wrote an article about this and said it was the best outreach email they ever got:

 

So Brian got to write an article and also got featured in an article.

Here’s the custom example video Bryan created for HubSpot:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLKm6xR-JN8

Searching through Google can help you find influencers, but it can also be a great source of inspiration for effectively reaching out to those influencers.

5. How to find social influencers

When you spend time on social media, you can start identifying key influencers in your industry.

Find influencers on Twitter

People create lists on Twitter and add influencers to those lists.  This can be a ready-made source of influencers.

For example:

Here’s a list of Irish Journalists on Twitter:

twitter list

One way to find relevant lists is searching for a top influencer in your industry. On an influencer’s Twitter profile, click on “Lists” and you’ll see a) the lists they follow, and b) Twitter lists they’ve been added to by others.

Going through the Twitter lists your top influencers belong to is one of the quickest ways to find new influencers to follow and reach out to.

There’s also a good old “stalking tactic” that you can use to find influencers. It may sound creepy, but let’s be honest, we’re all doing it.

The reason being – it’s quite simple to do so! You find a couple of big-name influencers, you “stalk” them (their social profiles) and see who they chat with on a regular basis. This will lead you to other influencers!

These conversations could be happening on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook etc.

You can also find influencers by looking at your social following to find out if there are any influential people sharing your content.

AgoraPulse is a social media management tool that lets you filter your audience and see who among your followers has the biggest audience and engages with your content the most. These are the people you should add to your influencer list/s.

Another way to find relevant influencers on social media is using hashtags related to your topic.

For example, you can type in your hashtag in the Twitter search bar and you’ll get a timeline of tweets for that particular hashtag. Go through the list of tweets and find influencers that are a good fit for your brand.

I also wrote a separate article about the tools to help you find influencers on Twitter. Check it out for more useful influencer identification tools!

How to Find Influencers on Facebook

This is more challenging than Twitter because Facebook restricts access to their data so third-party tools only see a small part of the data.

One area that is good to look at are groups.  Who is running groups on Facebook that have a large engaged audience relevant to your product or service?

Getting involved with this group is a great way to build a relationship with the owner of the group.

6. Ask Influencers

This may sound too simple to be a point in the article, but people are not doing this enough.

Reach out to an influencer you already have a relationship with and tell them you want to get to know other people in the industry. Ask them to give you the names of 2 people that they think are worth following.

Then reach out to those people and tell them their buddy recommended that you followed them and ask for 2 more people.

Before you know it you’ll have a list of influencers.

But that’s not all that happened. You also interacted with these influencers in a nice way. You are starting to build a relationship with them.

In OutreachPlus, we have a “contact temperature” feature to help you track if you’re doing enough work to build a relationship.

For the interaction from the example above, your score would have gone up by 1 point on the temperature gauge (sign up for a trial of OutreachPlus here)

7. Find Influencers sharing relevant content

We’ve already mentioned BuzzSumo and how you can use it to find influencers. It’s an awesome tool, so I’m going to show you another way you can use it to find influencers.

“It’s easy to underestimate the human side of influencer relationships. Begin by joining their audience–it’s simple and inexpensive to offer your support for an influencer’s content. BuzzSumo is ideal for this type of organic influencer outreach. Once you’ve identified influencers, you can see their newest content as soon as it’s published, which makes it easy to share, like and comment on influencers’ posts. 

Because there is so much content available online today, influencer relationships and collaboration are more important than ever before. When writing a blog post or working on a project, it can seem simpler to work alone–no pesky email strands to follow up on! But, that’s a short sighted view. Including others in the creation process not only strengthens the content, it increases the distribution as well because people who contribute to a piece of content are much more likely to share it. 

I guess we could say, “Create alone; distribute alone. Create together; distribute together.” 

I’m making it my goal this year to never work alone. 

Susan Moeller, Senior Marketing Manager, Buzzsumo

If you perform content research in BuzzSumo, you’ll be able to see who shared every piece of content the tool returns for your query.

For example, I’ve searched for “influencer marketing tips” and the tool quickly showed the most popular articles for that keyword. I clicked on ‘view sharers’ next to one of the articles and got a list of people who shared it, along with their audience size, engagement rates, and DA and PA.

I can now go through the list and find influencers that are sharing relevant content. These are the people who are likely to be interested in the kind of content I’m producing.

8. Find good backlinks for top related content

Search through Google and find the top articles related to keywords you want to rank for. Get the URLs of those articles and run them through Ahrefs Site Explorer tool.

You can then find the top backlinks for that particular piece of content and pick out only relevant high authority domains.

Here’s how to locate referring domains in Ahrefs:

Site Explorer > Enter article URL > Overview > Backlink profile > Referring domains

These authoritative referring domains are your influencers! By using this tactic you’ll probably find some link building opportunities that you haven’t discovered before.

9. Attend industry events

What about industry events? Who are all the speakers and sponsors? What are the names that consistently appear? They are the influencers in your industry.

Attending events can be a great way of connecting with influencers. However, when meeting with an influencer face to face, things can get awkward if they have no idea who you are.

If they are top influencers they’re going to be super busy and may not give you the time of the day.

Most influencers I know personally are actually very approachable, but you need to do a bit of work prior to the event to make sure your name rings a bell.

This means taking action in the online world (consume their content, comment on their work, share their articles on social, mention them in your tweets, etc.) before meeting them at an event.

10. Track results from shared links

Imagine if you had a database of email subscribers. You are running a promotion and you ask your subscribers to share.

If they share and something happens (e.g. a sale) they get rewarded.

So you make a list of people that generated sales for you.

They may or may not have large followings, but they are generating sales for your business which makes them influential.

You can use your email marketing automation tool to generate trackable links or use a custom tool such as ClickMeter.

The good thing about ClickMeter is that it will track the clicks on the personalized links, but it will also track everything right through to a conversion (if there is one).

What’s the outreach process for reaching out to influencers?

When you are reaching out to influencers you want to send personalized emails and show the influencers you have put in the effort to understand who they are what they value.

When you are reaching out you want to track all that outreach because this is an ongoing process

A step by step guide to influencer outreach

Summary

Identifying the right influencers for your brand is the prerequisite for a successful outreach campaign. And while there are many ways to find influencers in your niche, the 10 tactics we covered in this article are more than enough to help you build a list of relevant influencers to reach out to and build relationships with.

What tools and tactics are you using to find the best influencers for your brand or campaign? I would love to hear what works (or doesn’t work) for you in the comments!