With all the social media platforms available, there is no shortage of opportunities for companies to get noticed online. But brands have to consider carefully who would be the best person to relay their message, especially when non-celebrity endorsements are 10 times more likely to drive in-store purchases than their conventionally famous counterparts. Noting this trend, PR professionals, marketers and advertisers alike are scrambling to figure out who best champions their brand.
Enter the “influencer.”
An influencer is an individual who has amassed above-average impact on a specific niche by offering instruction, inspiration, entertainment or advice. According to TapInfluence.com, “influencers are self-made success stories; people who turned their creative outlets into beacons that others rally around. They pour personality into their work.”
As authenticity continues to rank as a brand’s ultimate competitive edge, influencers introduce an opportunity to bring a genuine voice to a brand, while reaching vast audiences who trust and respect their opinions. In fact, these individuals carry so much clout that Forbes cites influencer marketing as the trend to watch in 2017.
It’s not hard to see the value in having an influencer champion your brand; instead, the challenge lies in identifying the most relevant influencers for your industry (especially if you occupy a smaller niche). To help you track down those elusive game-changers, here are our top, tried-and-true 5 tips to help kickstart your search:
1. Google it.
While this may seem blaringly obvious, the reality is that there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Chances are some pretty comprehensive lists already exist, citing the top bloggers or Instagram accounts in a particular industry. Do a little digging and see what other people have already found to start your search efficiently.
If your Google search yields a few people who are particularly relevant to your industry, find them on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc., and spend some time combing through the list of people they follow to get a sense of some of the best influencers they’ve identified (and then take a look at their followers’ followers, too!). Be prepared for a slow-going process here; you want to make sure you’re identifying quality leads. Just because a Twitter handle speaks to your industry doesn’t mean it has a strong following. Keep in mind: Too small of a following and your message won’t reach a broad enough audience; too big you might run the risk of being buried by other collaboration offers. Make sure you’re also monitoring who your competitors follow on a regular basis to keep tabs on who they’re identifying as quality industry influencers!
3. Keep track of hashtags.
As you uncover more influencers, take some time to scroll through their pages to get a sense of the hashtags they use and the posts they share. It might be helpful to compile a document with some of these hashtags to serve as inspiration for your own page and ensure you’re engaging in the most pertinent feeds. Be sure to follow the pages that post relevant content to make yourself more accessible, too!
4. Leverage Databases.
Once you’ve gone as far as you can on your own, it will be helpful to employ a media databases such as Cision or MuckRack. These (along with a number of others) can help you find the most popular content related to your industry. Once you’ve tracked down a few more people, repeat steps 2 and 3 to build your list out even further.
5. Read. A lot.
Create Google alerts with the key terms for your industry to make sure you are up to date on the most recent industry news. See who wrote the article, then check out their social media accounts to see who they follow. You could also subscribe to outlets such as The Skimm or Need2Know to make sure you’re always in the loop!
Once you’ve compiled your own comprehensive list, start building relationships with your top targets; repost their content when it’s applicable and engage with them on their most active channels. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to collaborating with social media’s biggest names!
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