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How to Find the Right Influencers to Partner with Your Brand

Khalipha Ntloko

Apr 30, 2023

Did you know that influencer marketing was worth $13.8 billion in 2021? That's according to Influencer Marketing Hub, which also reported that 59% of brands had a standalone budget for content marketing. Since 75% of those surveyed intended to dedicate a budget to influencer marketing, your company or brand may not be far behind.

Influencer marketing can tap into engaged audiences like no other. But as the number of influencers on social media grows, scouting them for influencer marketing campaigns becomes more of a challenge. In this post, we'll take a step-by-step look at how to find the best influencers for your brand.

Table of Contents

smiling middle eastern woman holding up an iphone to take a selfie

Before you look at how to find influencers for your brand, you need to lay the groundwork for your campaign to succeed. Arm yourself with your brand's current social media analytics and complete the following tasks to guide you in your influencer search:

1. Know your target audience

Make your influencer search laser-focused by getting a clear understanding of who you already speak to. What has your audience come to expect? And what, or who, does your target audience already connect with? Audience insight reports and software like the Meltwater Consumer Intelligence Suite make it simple to dive deeper into your audience's demographics, psychographics (meaning their opinions, interests, values, and attitudes), and online behavior. They can be especially useful for brands that cater to niche audiences and interests.

It's also a good idea to research who is already talking about you on social media. You can do this manually or get a more comprehensive look using social listening tools that track conversations about your brand in real-time and help you find influencers that mention you in their social media content. Doing this preliminary research will save you time down the line and may even lead you to potential influencers off the bat.

2. Define your influencer marketing strategy and campaign goals

With established goals, you’ll be better able to select influencers who can help you achieve them. These goals may include:

Defining your influencer marketing strategy will typically involve choosing which social media channels you want to focus on. For example, if your goal is to draw more customers to your Shopify store, you may try to find Instagram influencers to take advantage of the platform integrations.

Tip: Are you using Shopify for your eCommerce online shop? Consider taking a look at the best Shopify podcasts to listen to. We also have a list of the best eCommerce podcasts in general that could be helpful to you.

But if your goal is to answer questions about a product or service, you may look for YouTube influencers who can create longer, more detailed content, such as tutorials, walk-throughs, and unboxings.

As you develop your strategy, the perfect influencer for your brand may be different on different social platforms.

How to Find Influencers

From doing the tedious legwork yourself to getting the help of third-party software, there are many strategies for finding social media influencers. And thanks to the initial prep work you just did, you'll know which of the following influencer search methods is right for you.

screenshot of hashtag tech influencer on instagram

Method 1: Finding social media influencers using hashtags

Influencers rely on hashtags to make sure their content reaches audiences outside of their followers. In turn, you can use these same hashtags to find influencers on Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms.

Searching hashtags relevant to your brand, campaign, or niche audience will give you a plethora of influencers to look at. But this time-consuming method can leave you with a long list of potential influencers and no way of sorting through them.

Tip: Learn how to use TikTok for your influencer marketing strategy

Method 2: Using an influencer database or influencer list

Many of the free influencer marketing tools you'll find online offer databases that let you search through influencer profiles. Meanwhile some paid platforms —like Followerwonk, Upfluence, and Buzzsumo — have influencer databases on the limited, free versions of their software.

The Meltwater Influencer Marketing Suite on the other hand offers a premium influencer database which is really worth paying for. While this method gets rid of the time-consuming process of combing through social media, you'll still have to manually evaluate influencers and establish communication with them across platforms.

Influencer lists to help you find the right influencers

The following curated influencer lists will help you find influencers that actually fit your brand:

Method 3: Using an influencer marketing platform

Managing relationships with several influencers across the same or multiple social media platforms can get messy when you are trying to manage conversations through DMs. Influencer marketing platforms, also known as influencer marketing hubs, let marketers search for, evaluate, reach out to, and collaborate with influencers all in one place.

Meltwater's social influencer marketing platform lets users find the perfect influencers for their campaigns with AI-powered searches. It also allows for communication, payment, and campaign tracking directly on the platform, features you should look for in any influencer platform you consider.

A collection of screenshots of Meltwater's influencer marketing management platform, Klear

How to Find Instagram Influencers

TikTok and YouTube are gaining ground, but Instagram is still the top social media platform for influencers, according to Influencer Marketing Hub. Here are some tips for marketers looking for Instagram influencers specifically.

Find Instagram influencers using in-app features

As we mentioned earlier, hashtags are a simple way to find influencers on Instagram. However, you can also check out the app's Explore page. This method will work on any account that has an algorithm tuned to your brand or target customer. If you don't have this type of account, it may be a good idea to make one to help with your audience research.

Create a new Instagram account and use it as you imagine your ideal customer would.

Start by visiting and following your brand's page. Soon enough, the account's Explore page will lead you to other pages, and influencers, you may be interested in. 

Use an Instagram influencers list

Do a quick Google search and you'll come up with dozens upon dozens of ready-made lists of Instagram's top influencers in every industry imaginable. These lists are great for getting an overview of the Instagram influencer landscape and looking at current influencer trends. One downside to these kinds of lists is that they become out of date quickly. Plus, they may not show you the best influencers for your campaign, just the most popular ones overall. 

Use influencer marketing tools

Influencer marketing tools and platforms like Klear are the most comprehensive options for finding Instagram influencers. Focus your search not only by social media platforms but also by audience and metrics. With these tools, you can spend the time you save elsewhere, like co-creating with your chosen influencer.

How to Choose the Right Influencer For Your Brand

Perhaps you have a few relevant influencers in mind that you think would be a perfect fit for your brand, but to really be sure they are right for you, you'll need to evaluate them against some key social media metrics. Start with a Google search to gauge their reputation and see which platforms they are on, but don't stop there.

Here are some questions to ask to ensure that you pick the right influencer to work with:

1. What is the quality of their work?

Working with Instagram influencers means giving them the creative freedom to make content for your brand, so you want to make sure that the content they already make is high quality. Take a look at the content they share on the platform.

Does it feel genuine?

Does it aim to provide real value to the audience?

Are the captions well-thought-out?

Is it captivating?

Is there a storytelling element to what the influencer shares on Instagram?

These are just a few ways to gauge if an Instagram influencer's style is right for your brand. 

2. Do they have an engaged community?

From likes and comments to reposts and retweets, look into an influencer's engagement rate to have a better understanding if their audience is an active one. Look at the comments their followers leave, what questions they ask, and how well the influencer responds to them. A passive audience is no good for a brand partnership; you want the influencer’s community to spread your message to others, expanding your reach to other social networks and online communities.

3. How large is their reach?

An influencer can have a high follower count but a low reach, which looks at the unique number of users who saw their social media post. For well-known and new brands alike, this metric is important for assessing just how many eyes an influencer really draws in. 

Reach is closely linked with measuring brand awareness and the ROI of influencer campaigns. Even influencers with smaller reach can produce great results. While macro-influencers, who have between 100,000 and one million followers, can get more eyeballs on your campaign, micro-influencers, who have between 1,000 and 100,000 followers, can introduce you to niche audiences and markets.

Some influencer marketing platforms can also help you evaluate influencers on this metric. Klear's AI-powered technology, for one, detects bots and fake followers to grade influencers on their actual reach.

4. Who are they reaching?

Having an engaged community is one thing, but if an influencer's audience does not care about your product, the ROI from a partnership will be minimal. Find an influencer whose followers are interested in topics that will lead to them converting to your brand. Influencers also have different audiences on different social media platforms. You may have to tweak your strategy depending on what channel you are targeting.

5. What other brands have they worked with?

Looking at the brands that influencers have worked with in the past can help you decide if their audience is part of your target market. Just keep in mind that if an influencer has had a long-term partnership with a competitor, their association with that brand may stick. 

Sponsored post on Instagram

Start Your Influencer Outreach

Now that you have found and evaluated the influencers you want for your upcoming influencer marketing campaign, what is the next step? You need to engage with them and establish a connection to stat off on the right foot.

1. Reach out to them

Your first outreach to an influencer could make or break your potential partnership with them, so your first impression needs to be a compelling one that demonstrates the value you offer. Many companies kick things off by sending PR packages or free samples to influencers they hope to partner with. 

Consider following them on Instagram or TikTok (or whatever social media platforms are most relevant for you) and engaging with their content. Leave a meaningful comment on a post where they mentioned your brand and express how much you appreciate their support.

The more you meaningfully engage with their content, the better the chances of getting a positive response when you pitch them a campaign. 

See our top Rules of Engagement for Influencers.

2. Craft a compelling pitch

Next, you want to craft an enticing pitch or proposal that highlights why you are reaching out, an overview of the campaign you have in mind, the deliverables you would need, the compensation you offer, as well as specific next steps and deadlines.

While it's not out of the question for brands to first reach out to influencers on social media platforms, direct business and pitch materials to their email address of choice. This is another area where influencer marketing platforms can help you avoid guesswork and save time. 

And once your pitch gets you in the door, you'll need to draft a contract agreement to make sure there are no surprises as you begin your partnership. Here are 9 crucial elements all influencer agreements should contain.

Download your free social influencer contract template here.

3. Follow up and stay in the loop

Once you start your partnership with your ideal influencer, stay on top of communications and follow up. In-demand influencers get many messages a day, so yours may get lost in their inbox. Often, a friendly reminder or follow-up can turn radio silence into a yes. As your campaign moves forward, keep that level of attentiveness and attention to detail. Even small-scale influencer campaigns involve a lot of moving parts, so we recommend consolidating them into one platform as much as possible. This makes it easier to not only manage campaigns but also maintain your brand's relationships with influencers

Measuring Influencer Partnership Success

Sustaining influencer relationships takes time and resources, so it's important to invest time in those influencers who you not only enjoy working with but who make meaningful contributions toward your business goals. By measuring influencer campaign ROI you'll know where to increase your efforts.

Use UTMs or personalized discount codes

One way of tracking the success of an influencer campaign is to add a UTM code to the end of the URL that they’re sending people to. This unique link tag connects easily to Google Analytics meaning you can track customer journeys that come from a specific source and analyze things like how long they spend on a landing page, whether they make purchases, or complete other goals such as signing up for you email list.

Another similar method is to provide influencers with a personalized discount code. This serves the same purpose, but it can be a little easier for the influencer if the same code can be used for multiple promotions. The downside is it won't help you understand see the full customer journey on your site.

Media intelligence

By using social monitoring widgets such as media exposure, you can measure whether an influencer contributes to an increase in engagement. Meltwater integrates Google Analytics with media exposure, so you can track whether a particular post has led to an increase in traffic.

By blending data types such as trending themes, sentiment, reach and media exposure you can understand whether the influencer has had an impact on website traffic, media exposure, brand perceptions, and brand awareness.

Sustaining Influencer Relationships

Once you're happy with the impact a certain influencer is having, it's important to take the next step in sustaining that relationship. Many influencers work with the same brands multiple times, which is great for credibility and brand awareness.

Think about how you can keep the social media influencer engaged. You may want to offer them VIP access to events or inform them of brand announcements and product releases before other outlets. Showing your ongoing support of your influencers by sharing their content and celebrating their success is another way to keep the relationship warm.

Follow these tips and guidelines closely to get your next influencer marketing campaign off the ground in no time. Fill out the form below to learn more about how Meltwater's influencer marketing platform can make the process even easier.