3 Ways to Find Online Influencers
A relationship with a well-connected online influencer can be worth its weight in gold for your business. Influencers are trusted industry voices with a significant following who range from journalists and bloggers to analysts to colleagues. They can help promote your brand across several social media channels as well as at conferences and in the press … and that’s not even the best part! Online influencers are a word-of-mouth marketing channel that is both low-cost and high-return.
Finding online influencers is a natural extension of the professional networking and public relations that you’re already doing and it’s made even easier given the right tools. A social media listening and engagement platform like Meltwater Buzz not only helps you identify new online influencers, but it helps you organize and segment them for follow up in the future. Here are three ways to find online influencers who can help promote and legitimize your brand online:
1. Leverage Existing Connections to Find Online Influencers
You already have a network, so use it! The professional networks that you’ve built are full of potential online influencers. This can include journalists, analysts, colleagues, competitors and anybody who’s ever given you a card at a conference. The first step toward finding online influencers within your professional network is as easy as connecting with them online (made easy now that Twitter handles are standard on business cards). Because you already have an in-person connection, real-world contacts who are online influencers can be the best promoters and advocates for your brand.
Meltwater Buzz allows you to easily vet and segment online influencers into groups to keep an eye on and follow up with later. When you see a contact on the Listen or Engage tab within Buzz, click on their name and their social media profile will pop up:
The first thing you want to look at here is (1) how big this online influencer’s audience is. Meltwater Buzz gives you up-to-date follower numbers for Twitter, Facebook likes and characterizes the user based on how and how often they engage. If you’d like to add this person to the Community Tab within Buzz for further follow up, click on (2) the add contact icon in the top right of the box.
2. Social Listening to Identify Online Influencers
Social listening is the best way to learn more about what your customers and competition are saying online (check out our new e-book Listen Up! The Definitive Guide to Social Listening for Smarter Business for more on social listening). If you’re listening on social media then chances are you know where your community of stakeholders is talking online – be it Twitter, LinkedIn, message boards, etc.
Finding online influencers via social listening is as easy as sorting incoming content on the Listen tab by Rank or Views. First, a quick definition:
Rank analyzes the author of the post based on all discoverable social information. Rank takes into account the size of the author’s community, the frequency at which they participate in social environments, the channels on which they have a presence and their level of engagement with you. Rank is on a scale of 0 to 10. Views represents the total possible unique views for a specific post if everyone to whom the post was directed was able to observe the post in their stream. This is the number of impressions the post made in the world!
To sort by Views or Rank, click on the correct column in the top right of the screen:
Depending on the search, sorting social listening results can identify online influencers who hold sway in any of the industries or markets your company operates in.
3. Using Metrics to Find Online Influencers
The Meltwater Buzz platform has in-depth reporting tools to help you measure the success of social media marketing campaigns. Among these metrics are a few that are especially geared toward identifying online influencers.
The “Top Posters” graph displays the users who have written most about a topic in a specific time period. On the Listen tab, click on Analysis in the top menu and select Top Posters from the drop-down menu.
The resulting graph is interactive, so click on any of the lines to display the user’s social profile if you want to learn more about them or to segment them in the Community tab.
Another useful metric is the Sentiment graph within Trends in the top menu. Meltwater Buzz uses Natural Language Processing (a series of smart algorithms) to approximate the sentiment of each post.
Online influencers are respected because of their opinions, so look at both the most positive AND the most negative posts. To do this, click on the green or red parts of either graph and a list of posts will load below them. As in #2 above, you can then sort by Views or Rank and move users into the Community tab for follow up.
The time you put into identifying online influencers and establishing these relationships will drive third party endorsement, increase your company’s credibility in the industry and drive brand equity online. If word-of-mouth marketing is the gold standard, then consider a well-connected online influencer to be social media’s King Midas.