It’s clear that finding the right influencers is not simply about finding people with the highest number of followers on Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram. So, what do you look for? Research by influencer marketing platform Traackr found that 3 percent of people generate 90 percent of the impact online.

The key is understanding your customers’ influence circles and whom they’ve defined as niche experts within their trusted communities. “It’s important to establish some context: identify the topic in which you wish to gain influence,” says Dennis Shiao, Director of Content Marketing, DNN Software. “Next, define your objective. Putting the two together, one example might be: ‘To encourage marketing experts to share our definitive guide to A/B testing to their social networks.’

Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder of Orbit Media defines an influencer

Within this framework, influencers are people that marketers follow and respect, because of their expertise in marketing. These people (i.e., the followers) will also take action based on the influencers’ recommendations. They’ll model their behavior. If influencers share their successes with A/B testing, their followers will try the same tactic for themselves.” Similarly, you’re looking for an influencer who will be able to incorporate your brand into their usual style of storytelling—not someone who’s willing to cut-and-paste your brand message (and sometimes your instructions) into a social media post for anyone who sends them a check.

“Online, influencers are typically characterized by large followings and high authentic engagement, but one dimension that is often overlooked is the ‘scope’ of somebody’s influence,” says Li. “This is a huge oversimplification, but there are 1) global influencers (mega-celebrities like the Bieber), 2) niche influencers (the best in the world in a specific field/topic), and 3) local influencers (the person in your friend group who can convince anybody that “those” Korean tacos are worth waiting in line for). Generally speaking, global influencers reach far more people than local influencers, but local influencers can be much more effective in spurring action than global ones.”

When approaching an influencer about working with you, it can help to share a summary sheet about your company including any impressive content or media highlights, your reach and engagement across social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.), number of blog subscribers, newsletter open and click-through rates, and other metrics that demonstrate your content reach and engagement. Showing how you can promote them to your audience is important to show the relationship is a two-way street with benefits to both parties. If you fumble your initial pitch, you may not have the opportunity to try again. “With influencers, you truly get one—and only one—chance to make a first impression,” says Beale. “So make it count! Whatever your platform of choice, make sure your engagement is personal, about them, and anything but ordinary.”

“With influencers, you truly get one—and only one—chance to make a first impression,” says Beale. “So make it count! Whatever your platform of choice, make sure your engagement is personal, about them, and anything but ordinary.”

5 Steps to Connect with the Right Influencers

  1. Use social listening to follow keywords, trending hashtags, and topics related to your market, and get to know potential influencers that talk about these topics
  2. Look for communities on social channels—such as Twitter chats, Facebook, and LinkedIn groups—that center around topics that relate to your brand and identify their most active members.
  3. Research media sites that talk about your market/industry and look for bloggers, analysts, and journalists who cover your market extensively.
  4. Search across blogs, media sites, and even your competitors’ websites to find analysts, bloggers, and journalists to reach out to.
  5. Prioritize your list of influencers by their level of engagement on their social channels and with their audience. Listen to hear if these influencers talk about other brands in your market (not only what they say, but how they say it) to see if you have an opportunity to reach out.

Targeting Your Outreach

PR pros are known for often taking the “firehose” approach when pitching stories to journalists and other influencers. Using a media contact database lets you harvest as many names as possible with even the remotest connection to your topic and email or message them all. However, influencer marketing, as we’ve covered, relies on building a mutually beneficial relationship based on understanding. Unlike a traditional media contact database—rooted in increasingly outmoded criteria, such as beat and publication—Meltwater’s influencer tool enables users to search by keywords and surface results based on recent and relevant content. (This might sound like the obvious approach, but today it’s the only media contact database with this modern search functionality.) You can now zero-in on influencers who are interested in the same topics you are.

This is an excerpt from our ebook, The Communication Pro’s Guide to Influencer Marketing, get more insights to establishing relationships that help tell your brand story by downloading the free ebook today!

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