Everybody loves influencers! But that doesn’t mean every influencer is going to help your brand make sales. If you don’t know how to find influencers that your audience wants to see sell your products, you’ve come to the right place.
In an influencer study by Launchmetrics, 30% of professionals claimed that influencer identification was their main challenge in their influencer marketing strategy. So if you’re also concerned, you’re not alone.
Here you’re going to learn how to find influencers that will really get your audience excited – and interested in buying your products!
What is an influencer?
- Social Media User
- Content Creator
- Industry Expert
- Thought Leader
Here we’ll be speaking specifically about social media influencers, in particular those on Instagram. So the big question is: how can you find influencers on Instagram? Here are some of our tips!
- Check trending hashtags on Instagram. There the platform will show you the most popular content (typically made by influencers) attached to that hashtag – meaning a gateway to a trove of influencers.
- Visit the Explore section of your Instagram. Again it will show you popular content and interesting people to follow (ahem, usually influencers).
- Search on Google for the kind of influencers that you’re looking for, as well as for blogs related to those topics. Finding blogs helps you find influencers!
- Visit other social networks like Twitter to see who’s trending. This will help you find people with strong profiles across platforms!
We’ve also spoken to four influencers from Spain (@cooltourtheblog, @deliciousmartha, @nadinecaldera, @albabortb)to gain insights into this unique world. They shared with us their backgrounds and experience, their followers and the various brands they collaborate with.
They’ve also given us some of their own tips on how to find influencers from the vast online array. So let’s do it!
What’s the difference between an influencer and a celebrity?
In the history of marketing, celebrities have always been the holy grail for brands. This is, first, due to their reach across social media and all marketing channels (think of the millions of devoted fans). Second, is their perceived status as opinion-leaders on all the topics which surround their name, providing fans with a role model for daily lifestyle habits.
However, as advertising has intensified in all media sectors over the years, the consumer has become – consciously or unconsciously – a studied expert in marketing and has learned how to process it. The consumer has come to understand that celebrities will wed themselves to many different brands and can change their loyalties at the drop of a hat.
By the end of the nineties, the use of celebrity marketing had reached its peak and people started to doubt it. On top of this, the arrival of social networks began to have an impact on the domain of the mass media in terms of how people consume content. With that, a new breed started to establish itself in the minds of consumers: people who were less famous than celebrities but who were seen as more trustworthy. These are, of course, the influencers – many of whom have enjoyed huge success in recent years with some even turning into celebrities in their own right.
A study by Google showed that influencers, at least on YouTube, are more influential than traditional celebrities. Could this level of influence extend to Instagram?
One of our interviewees spoke to us about this phenomenon when we asked her if she sees Influencer Marketing as a tool to grow her online presence and image:
“Undoubtedly. Nowadays, famous people have been relegated to a secondary medium: the TV (and its commercials). People spend their days on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, jumping from one profile to another and seeing how this girl or that guy represents what I myself have always wanted to be or what I already am … I too have my own influencers who inspire me and who I follow loyally.”
With nearly 80% of fashion, luxury, and cosmetic professionals implementing influencer campaigns in 2017, it’s fair to say that the balance continues to fall in their favor.
How to find influencers: What does an influencer do?
Before studying how to find influencers for your brand, it’s important to know what influencers can do for it. According to Penny Baldwin, former CMO at McAfee, “80% of internet page impressions are within the hands of just 6% of users” (source: brandmanic). The question is: what’s so special about this small, stand-out percentage?
They are their own brand. They have learned how to evolve enough to convert their own name or pseudonym into a brand; they know how to position themselves, and their product is the content which they generate. Their profiles don’t simply share information, rather they themselves are content creators who never stop communicating.
“… First and foremost it is my brand. Possible collaborations with companies will always come second and as a minority activity. I don’t seek to live off brands and my posts about their products are simply an ‘added plus’”.
They create a community
As well as having built up a large number of followers, they care about their public and know who they are talking to. For them – and also for the brands interested in working with them – the quality of their followers takes precedence over the quantity. Influencers are the “curators” of their audience, they maintain a relationship with them, they interact, they participate in the conversation.
“Your images need to be friendly and refined. At the same time you need to maintain a conversation with those followers who choose to stop and look at your photos, to get to know you, to find out what you think. They have to be able to see you, to know who they’re talking to. And you also have to get to know them. Creating a bond is very important so that they can trust you.”
They are versatile
Influencers are people, not companies, machines or corporations. This is what allows them to identify with other people and establish relationships. An influencer needs to have a clear field of expertise but also be versatile enough to be able to talk about diverse areas of interest, finding common ground with other influencers and brands.
“I began in the early days of bloggers when, even back then, I was tying together the worlds of fashion and good food … Despite success in this area, my life was turned around when I started managing the Marketing and Communication Department of a 700-metre-squared restaurant at the foot of the W Hotel. For five years, I obviously needed to give up my most cherished hobby because of a lack of spare time. With that period now over, about a year and a half ago I decided to return to my online adventures thanks to my Instagram @cooltourtheblog . This allows me to show my experience in the world of foodie communication, which I gained during those five years of research, and the lessons which I continue to learn from in this sector.”
They generate opinions
Influencers have their own opinions but they also influence the opinions of their followers and invite them to share these on social networks. If you’re looking for strategic information on a specific subject, influencers and their followers can be a great source to turn to.
Plus, people trust their opinions! So when you are able to get an influencer interested and recommending your products, it’s likely that their followers will take that opinion influence and try them out!
How to find influencers suitable for your brand
There are various tools to help you to find influencers online, basing themselves on factors such as the number of followers, posts, SEO and the topics which the influencer focuses on. You can try Buzzsumo or Followerwonk, or even a more specialized agency like Findyourinfluence .
If you want to get a better idea of the platforms before throwing yourself in with the professionals, these are some of the characteristics which you should consider when seeking influencers for your brand:
How to find influencers whose content image is in line with your brand
Let’s not get sidetracked with how many followers or how many deals with well-known brands an influencer has: if they don’t share values with your brand, the collaboration will come across as a fake and consumers will notice. You need to look at an influencer’s career, how they’ve developed over time, the causes which they support and their outlook on life. When an influencer doesn’t share the vision of a brand which they associate themselves with, the outcome often involves a loss of credibility for both parties. By contrast, when there is a sharing of principles and values, the relationship is natural – people can see that. The promoted product should seem like something that the influencer would actually use or recommend.
“Usually it’s me who selects the brands because I like their products … I don’t say yes to everything, I accept work from brands whose products I genuinely like. I’m not going to showcase something which I myself wouldn’t wear.”
“… and most importantly, don’t get carried away with the offers you get – they might be well-paid but not your style at all. Staying loyal to your own tastes is the best option.”
How to find influencers with quality content
More than the number and the frequency of updates (which in themselves are important), what matters more is that the influencer creates quality content and is recognized for this. They need to be relevant, know how to express themselves, take quality photos, research their topics, have recognised contacts. An influencer with these traits is someone who concerns themselves with the content they publish and not just with getting likes. This type of influencer is an online professional who will work with the same dedication and attention as you invest in your campaign.
“I wanted to present my vision of gastronomy and for people to like what I was showing … it’s something that grows over time: your dedication and more than anything, putting your soul into what you do.”
One tool that can really help when selecting influencers is Reelio. In their platform, they have a unique component called “featured creators”, which provides users a vetted list of creators. They have verified that these influencers have real audiences and create quality content for brands, so that you don’t have to! The featured creators are based on real campaign data from Reelio.
How to find influencers with a quality audience
When we plan a campaign, we analyze the variables which will determine its success. We need to do the same when choosing the most suitable influencer and one of the most important factors to analyze is their audience.
According to Influencer Marketing platform Brandmanic “Audience data can help us to foresee the reach of the campaign. The data which we need to consider might include metrics like page hits or average time spent on the influencer’s site. A tool which can be useful for this is SEO for Chrome.”
“If there’s a brand or a space which I don’t feel comfortable with or don’t identify with, I’d prefer not to work with it. I wouldn’t feel loyal to my followers who are there because they share my tastes and interests.”
And even when you find influencers with a quality audience, it’s important to be sure that they also have a genuine audience. Influencers who buy their followers or collect them in a “follow-back” fashion may not make much of an impact to their audience.
Finally, there’s the decision about the kind of influencer you hope to target. This is a whole topic on its own, so check out our resource on Marco Vs Micro Influencers.
You’ve found an influencer: what next?
So you’ve chosen the person or people you want (or hope) to collaborate with. And thus begins the courtship phase. This needs to be carried out, in true romantic style, subtly and cleverly. Begin by following your influencer on social networks. Comment on their posts, tag them in your articles or suggest that they be a guest on your blog. Influencer Marketing Platform, Reelio, suggests you start outreach 8-10 weeks in advance of your campaign to be safe!
Once you’ve established a trusting relationship, it’s time to discuss how to roll out a campaign which will be beneficial for both sides. How do you want to involve the influencer? How can they help you? In an article for Forbes.com, Jason DeMars suggests some possibilities:
- Share your content on social networks with the followers of your influencer.
- Write a guest post on your influencer’s blog or profile page(s).
- Ask them to write a review of your product.
- Ask them to collaborate on an article you’re writing.
In the same Influencer study by Launchmetrics, sampling and gifting is the most used tactic in 2018 – with 98% of professionals using this approach to engage with influencers.
When we asked our influencers about their initial contact with brands, their responses were varied:
“Up until a few weeks ago I used to deal with brands directly but right now I have a representative who takes care of talking to brands and negotiating with them.”
“Usually, proposals come directly from the brands but a few times it’s been through agencies which specialize in that.”
“There’s a bit of everything: brands which look for you directly, agencies that know you and propose your profile to a client … it varies depending on the brand and the product.”
Final recommendations on how to find influencers
Once you’ve contacted the influencer you want to work with, there’s a couple of things to consider putting in writing:
Though only 30% of Influencers say they always sign a collaboration agreement, it’s still a good thing to ask for. It gives you the chance to define certain items such as the terms and conditions of the work for both parties, what the influencer commits to, and how they will benefit in return. If you can, write it up and get it signed. One of these conditions could be to clarify in each collaborative post that there is a product or service being advertised.
If you’re simply sending products to Micro-influencers to be sampled and hopefully featured, then you likely don’t need to send an agreement. For bigger features, with payment, then you should definitely push for this model.
We asked our influencers if they generally use this practice:
“Not always, although I will from now on. But generally, it’s so obvious that up to now I didn’t think that it was necessary.”
“Always, especially on YouTube. I signal every collaboration either in the title or in the description. I think it’s a minimum requirement and the fairest thing both for the influencer and the viewer.”
“Yes, in the majority of posts I do. Those are the conditions set by the brands. On my blog I often add posts which only talk about collaborative work.”
Conclusion: How to find influencers
Whichever influencer you choose and however you decide to contact them, the most important thing is to personalize your message and show them how your product could benefit them. They want to know why you love them and why you think they would be perfect for working with you.
Have you been thinking about launching a campaign using influencers or have you already done so? Do you know how to find influencers for your brand? Tell us about your experience in the comments!
Looking for more Instagram tips? Head to our complete guide to Instagram Marketing, where you’ll find everything you need to know about promoting your products on this crucial platform.