How to find influencers to help promote your business

8 min read
Will Stevens

Want to find influencers to help promote your business? If you've already tried, you'll know that this can be easier said than done. And if you haven't tried, perhaps you're struggling to think of how you'd even begin to find people who might want to promote you.

In this guide we'll look at how to identify potential influencers, and how you can form a successful partnership with them.

What kind of influencers should I be trying to find?

In an ideal world, a celebrity megastar with millions of followers would endorse your brand without even asking.

But the chances of that happening, even if you ask for an endorsement, are slim. Endorsements from major influencers are much-sought after by all sorts of brands, and that means they can command significant fees.

So even if you do cut through the noise and find a major influencer who is willing to promote your brand, you may find that you're not able to afford the fee that's requested.

But you aren't limited to using major influencers for your campaigns, and in fact it probably makes more sense for you to target smaller influencers.

Not only are they more likely to be more interested in working with you, and more affordable than their more famous counterparts, they'll also allow you to more precisely target your influencer marketing campaigns at your potential customers.

Why? Well imagine you're selling a product that's related to computer gaming - who would you rather get mentioned by on Twitter; Philip Schofield or the account of a gaming vlogger with a couple of thousands of followers?

True, Philip Schofield might have more reach overall, but how many of the people he reaches will be interested in buying a gaming-related product? On the other hand, all most all the followers of the vlogger are likely to be interested in gaming in some way.

Understand your customers before trying to find influencers

The goal with influencer marketing is to discover people who your potential customers are already interested in.

Clearly, that's something that you can only do if you understand what issues, topics and people your potential customers are interested in.

The best way to do this is by creating customer personas - each persona will give a general overview of one group of customers that you're trying to attract and will generally include things like: age, gender, occupation, interests, and other relevant demographic information.

You can learn more about creating customer personas in this guide.

Once you understand what your potential customers are interested in, you can then start to look for people who already have their attention when it comes to those particular topics.

Finding influencers to work with

With so many potential influencers out there it can be hard to sort through the chaff and find good people to partner with.

Because of this, it's a good idea to invest in at least one tool to help find relevant influencers. Here are a couple you should consider.

Buzzstream - Buzzstream has a lot going for it. You can run keyword-based searches for social media profiles, blogs and websites, and when you do you'll get a whole load of metrics that will help you decide if the person behind them is a good match for your campaign.

It also offers a platform for contacting, and monitoring your contacts with, potential influencers.

Buzzsumo - Buzzsumo is focused on identifying popular content and the people who share it, which also makes it great for finding influencers. Although it lacks the influencer outreach platform that makes Buzzstream super useful, Buzzsumo is still a very useful tool.

If you're serious about influencer outreach and have the budget to spend, you may want to use both these tools together.

Both Buzzstream and  Buzzsumo have in depth guides to help you make the most of their tools, but we'll cover the basics of identifying influencers here as well.

Here's what you should be looking for in a potential influencer

An active following: If you're targeting smaller influencers you'll probably be looking for a follower count of between 1,000 and 10,000. But just having followers isn't enough - you need to make sure the followers are engaged. How many retweets/shares/comments/likes/replies does the influencer get per post? If it's very few then it may not be worth your while getting in touch with them.

A habit of sharing content from others: There's no point in targeting a potential influencer if there feed is 100% focussed on their own content. Look for retweets/shares/links that promote other people's content. If you can't see any, it's a good bet that the person in question isn't interested in a partnership of any kind.

A habit of sharing similar content to your campaign: We'll talk more about the different techniques you can use for influencer campaigns shortly, but when tracking down potential influencers you need to make sure that the influencers you're considering actually share the kind of content you're planning to use in your campaign. There's little point in asking someone to share an infographic if they usually focus on sharing funny videos, for example. Seeing what kinds of content are popular among the influencers you want to target will also help you to understand the kinds of content you should be using to reach people.

Following these three steps will help you avoid wasting your time trying to attract the attention of influencers who were never going to be interested in working with you anyway.

How to get the attention of influencers

Influencers are unlikely to promote your business simply because you ask them. You need to offer something in return.

Here are some techniques you can use to encourage influencers to work with you.

Product giveaways - Asking people to use and review your product has always been a popular way to get attention, and it works with influencers. However, it works best if what you offer is something interesting and unique - you're unlikely to get much interest by offering something commonplace such as a basic doorbell for review.

Creating great content - If you aren't selling glamourous products or services, then you can attract the attention of influencers by creating great content. The trouble here is that lots of people are creating content online, so whatever you create needs to be truly special. Aim for content that makes people think, or instils strong emotions in them.  You can find a guide to creating great content here.

Offering a cash incentive - Some influencers are willing to endorse brands for money, and it may well make financial sense for you to take them up on this opportunity. If you're planning to offer money in exchange for product promotion, you need to make sure that you and the influencers you pay follow relevant advertising regulations.

Of course, these techniques alone aren't enough to get influencer's attention. Here's how to get in touch with the influencers you want to target.

Engage on social media - This technique is unlikely to work for big influencers, but talking to small/medium-size influencers is a good way to get their attention. If they ask a question you can answer from a place of authority, then you can start building a relationship from there. Commenting on YouTube videos and blog posts under your real name is another good way to get their attention.

Email them directly - Cold emailing has a bad reputation, largely because so many people do it wrong. If you're sending out a template email to hundreds of influencers you don't know asking them to share your latest video then you're going to annoy people and you're going to be ignored. But a handcrafted email asking someone what they think of your latest video is a good way to build a relationship - and you'll hopefully get constructive feedback and maybe even a share. If you've already put some time in engaging with people on social media before you email them, then they're more likely to be receptive to whatever request it is you're making.

Aim for long term partnerships - Getting an influencer to mention your product once is good, but getting them to mention it over and over again is far better. Aim to cultivate long-term partnerships with influencers rather than just using them for a one-shot campaign. You can do this by asking for feedback on future content you're planning, ensuring that they're happy with your product/service if they're using it, and by sharing their content with your audience too.

Summing up

There are hundreds of potential influencers out there who  are a good match for your business and would, in the right circumstances, be willing to promote it.

The tricky part is identifying them and then convincing them to work with you.

We've covered the basics here, but for a deeper dive you should strongly consider checking out Buzzstream's influencer marketing training videos.