What’s the hardest thing about influencer marketing? Is it defining the strategy? Tracking the results? Or finding the influencers?
According to a recent study from Augure, finding the right influencers is the #1 challenge. According to the study, 75% of marketers struggle with it. It even beats out finding budget.
If you’re considering an influencer marketing campaign, or if you’re already underway with this tactic and want some help, you’re in the right place. Keep reading for a crash course in how to find the influencers who can help you get results.
Step 1: Figure out what you want to accomplish with your influencer marketing
Disappointed I didn’t just jump into a list of tools that will show you your ideal influencer? I feel your pain, but you’ve got to do some homework first if you truly want to find your ideal influencer. As the saying goes, start with the end in mind.
There are a number of ways to partner with influencers. Here are a few of the most popular, including how often they’re used:
Those are helpful for high-level choices, but you may want to get more granular. It’ll help you identify the best influencers later on. For instance, if you want to partner with a few influencers for content promotion, what kind of content do you want to promote? Which audiences and which platforms do you want to promote that content to and on? How you answer those questions will determine whether or not an influencer is a good match.
It’d be a mismatch to partner with an influencer whose main platform is Snapchat if you want to promote white papers to technical CMOs. The same would be true for content co-creation projects. Be wary of hiring people who are purely writers to make a video series. I’m not saying it can’t work, but that type of misalignment makes things harder.
Here’s a sample table for a content promotion that might help visualize how you need to think of this.
Step 2: Figure out how you expect the influencers to help with that
Once you’ve got that level of detail about what you want to do, get specific about how you want these influencers to help you. Knowing this will help you communicate more clearly with potential influencers. It will also help you screen out influencers without ever having to approach them. If you can tell they won’t be a fit for you upfront, then that saves both you and them time.
Here’s an example of how that might play out:
You want to get your webinar series promoted to 40,000 marketing managers, CMOs, agencies, and consultants. You don’t want to manage more than five different influencers. So each influencer will need to have an audience of at least 8,000 people. That winnows the field down a lot.
If you added another requirement – that each influencer must send an email to their audience about your webinar series – then you’ve got two more filters. The second filter would be a willingness to send a solo email on your behalf. The third is that they need to have an email list of at least 8,000 people.
Step 3: Figure out if you will pay, how much you will pay, and how you will pay (if payment doesn’t end up being in cash)
Influencers are usually enthusiastic about their niche, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have bills to pay. Just sending them a t-shirt probably isn’t going to cut it. But how much should you pay? Or will offering payment offend them?
Of course, every influencer is different. But here’s how the influencers in GroupHigh’s survey answered a few basic questions about compensation:
- 85% of influencers said they accept monetary compensation for posts
- 11.3% said they would not accept money
- 3.8% said they only accept products
- Most influencers charge between $200-$500 per sponsored post.
Step 4: Decide how much freedom you’ll give your influencers, and what kind of tone, opinions and approach you’re comfortable with
This is the branding step. Depending on your company’s brand voice, it might be easy or hard to find influencers that fit with your company voice. For instance, if there’s a strong corporate, conservative tone to your marketing, it might be jarring for you to try to partner with Gary Vaynerchuk on his podcast.
There’s also the issue of… issues. If your company has taken a strong position on something, be careful about partnering with influencers who have a different opinion.
Finally, consider the competition. Is it possible your influencer might want to work with a competitor of yours while they’re working with you? Are you going to be okay with that? There’s no right answer, but it’s far easier to work all this sort of stuff out internally – before you have a problem.
Step 5: Assemble your list of potential influencer partners
At last! Now you get to play with tools. Some of the ones I’ve listed below are free; others are paid. Use these to find influencers, or to vet influencers you already know and are interested in working with.
Use our free Influencer Assessment Template to keep track of all your research.
Five free tools for finding influencers
There is a paid version, but you can get basic information with the free version, too. Followerwonk is based on Twitter information. You can search for keywords in Twitter profiles and bios. Then it ranks the people who match the search for you, sorting them by Social Authority, followers, following, tweets and how old their account is. As with all tools, take what it tells you with a grain of salt.
There are free and paid versions of this tool. The free version is enough for some quick research. Here are the results I got after searching for influencers in content marketing. Note how you can filter influencers by Twitter or Instagram, or by their level of influence.
This is one of the oldest tools for finding influencers. Some people consider it outdated, but it still works for checking someone’s influence.
You can find top influencers for a given topic, and you can run someone’s name through and see what their Klout score is and what they’re an expert in.
How high does someone’s Klout score have to be for them to be considered an influencer? There’s no hard rule. The average Klout score is about 40, and someone with a score of 50 would be considered reasonably influential. Anyone with a score of 63 or better is in the top 5% of online influencers.
There’s a similar (and well-known) site called Kred, but the interface and functionality of the site suggests it’s lost most of its … cred. (Sorry.)
This is a Twitter tool with a free version. One of the stats it gives you are the top influencers for a given hashtag. The free Twitter tool Hashtagify.me will also give you a list of influencers for each hashtag.
This is a paid influencer marketing platform, but it also has a free tool for finding influencers. Onalytica also publishes lists of the most influential people in different industries. Those might be helpful, too.
Paid influencer marketing tools
There are dozens of paid tools to help you find, coordinate with and track influencer marketing campaigns. This is just a short list.
At $20 a month, this is one of the less expensive influencer marketing tools. It’s great if you want to do content promotion. To find your influencers, search via keyword, URL or author name. Then click the “View Sharers” button in the listing. You’ll see a page like this.
This is a soup-to-nuts influencer marketing platform. They’ll help you find, communicate with and set up campaigns with influencers. There’s even campaign tracking, so you can see which influencers generated a return.
This is another complete influencer marketing solution, complete with the price tag (it starts at $350 per month). Augure can help you do everything from finding influencers to tracking the results of your campaigns with them.
This tool is especially focused on blogs and bloggers. They say they have a database of 15 million blogs for you to search through to your heart’s content. There’s also an “Influencer CRM” to help with managing all the communications.
These are the same people who recently published a study of how influencer marketing generates 11 times the ROI of the average digital marketing campaign.
This platform is all about Instagram. It’s a network and a platform for both influencers and marketers.
Want even more resources and tools (paid and unpaid) for your influencer marketing? Seer Interactive has a pretty awesome list.
Before you dive into using an expensive influencer marketing tool – or even a free one – think hard about what you want to accomplish with your influencer marketing, and how you want to accomplish it. That’ll reveal more than a tool can about who you should be working with.
Are you doing any influencer marketing right now? Is it meeting your expectations? How did you find your partners? Leave a comment and tell us how you did it.
Have you ever thought about using marketing automation to engage your influencers? Take a video tour of Act-On to learn how you can score press, analysts, and bloggers so you can see who your most engaged and interested influencers are. Use this intelligence to prioritize who you pitch and to tailor your talking points to their unique interests.