In a world where audiences are growing sceptical of advertising, consumers are increasingly turning to influencers to gain information on the brands, products and services they use in everyday life. As a result, organisations are reaching out to influencers to build relationships that will help raise their profile among their target audiences.
For brands who are just setting out on their influencer marketing journey, it can be quite overwhelming as there are many factors to consider.

Organisations need to first establish what channels to focus their search on, as different influencers will use different channels, depending on what their area of interest is. For example, fashion bloggers will post on Instagram whereas a tech or marketing leader is likely to use LinkedIn as their main channel of communication.
Brands must also decide what’s more important to them, an influencer with a large number of followers or an influencer with a high level of genuine engagement among followers?

IMPACT has worked with influencers across a wide range of industries and has devised the following tips to help brands identify the influencers that can assist them in building stronger relationships with their audience.

1. Explore
Use Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook to find people who are talking about your area of interest and make a list of all relevant influencers with engaged followers.
Many influencers are also on LinkedIn, especially in the B2B market, in fact LinkedIn was the first to introduce ‘Influencers’ officially as a part of its content strategy. It may also be helpful to use LinkedIn to filter down the original influencers you shortlisted from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram but you need the name of your target influencer to locate them on LinkedIn.

2. Get googling  
Once you have shortlisted your influencers, conduct a Google search for keywords related to your topic or industry of interest. Try at least 30-40 keywords to assess if the shortlisted influencers’ blogs rank at the top in Google search.

3. Get the tool kit out
There are multiple tools now available to assist brands in finding influencers, these include:
  • BuzzSumo – it operates via a simple process that requires the user to type in the relevant search term, the tool then returns a list of influencers alongside some key stats about them such as their follower count and engagement levels etc.
  • Followerwonk – this is an effective tool for finding Twitter users related to your business or industry. Users type in the genre of writer they are looking for e.g. ‘fashion writer,’ alongside the country they are operating in. The tool will then return a list of relevant writers who operate in your space
4. Do a deep dive
Once you have the shortlisted your top 5-10 influencers, take a closer look at their profiles and blogs to gain a better understanding of their content and how people respond to it. Make sure to check the following items:
  • Engagement: Check out their tweets and social media posts and evaluate their post-engagement activities and see if their updates are creating any significant discussions.
  • Follower sentiment: Almost all top influencers create discussions around the topics they write about. Run a check to see if their posts are generating conversations and whether or not the comments are positive. This is an effective litmus test to see how engaged the influencer’s audience is.
  • Sign up: An influencer’s newsletter provides an insight into the content they share and celebrate with subscribers. If an influencer obviously endorses a series of brands, you may want to re-consider whether it’s a good partnership as your brand may merely be regarded as another promotion opportunity.
With a recent survey indicating that influencer campaigns earn $6.85 in earned media value for every $1.00 of paid media, it’s easy to see why many organisations are now adding this tactic to their marketing strategies.
IMPACT advises spending quality time researching your influencer targets as this can mean the difference in avoiding a partnership that doesn’t fit or deliver a good return on investment.

Don’t finalise an influencer until you are 100 per cent sure about them. If you are commencing influencer marketing for the first time, start small and select 3-5 influencers to reach out to.
When executed properly, influencer marketing can be one of the most effective ways to expand your company’s reach, increase your credibility in your industry, and establish yourself as a thought leader within your field of expertise.