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? 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.
Another useful thing to do is to visit the explore section of your Instagram. Again it will show you popular content and interesting people to follow (ahem, usually influencers). You can also 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. Finally, you can 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.
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!
Through a UGC advanced platform such as Photoslurp is very easy to identify who would be your best influencer!
Where can you find influencers for your brand?
It is all very well knowing what kind of influencers you wish to get onboard your brand, but you need to know where to look. The market is not restricted only to celebrities, and there are influencers out there that, although they might boast smaller audiences, actually have great engagement rates. Here is a list of places or tools to use to get recruiting:
You need to be aware of current trends and boosted content. The best way to do this is to manually search trending hashtags that are relevant to your brand; see which influencers are using them and reach out to them perhaps via an Instagram direct message. Before you reach out to them however, be sure to do your research on them; see if their aesthetic aligns with your brand and if they share the same niche.
Don’t forget to check their follower numbers and engagement rates, which you can do through an Instagram engagement calculator. There is no use reaching out to someone with little to no engagement rate!
2. Social media
If you are looking for hashtags, you’re already on social media, but it goes deeper than that. Look out for your brand mentions as well as employing the use of social media trackers or listening tools which can help you find influencers who are already talking about your industry or niche.
You can utilize Google in a multitude of ways to find influencers. Google search alerts for example, is a software where you can set alerts for keywords relating to your brand. This enables you to find people who are talking about your brand, industry, niche, and everything in-between.
Bloggers tend to promote their own content on social media, so usually they have a strong, engaged following behind them anyway. The manual approach would be searching your keywords that relate to your brand or products along with “blog” and searching for the top blogs. In addition to reaching out to these bloggers you can also go through their following to see if they have connections with any other influencers you can contact.
There are many platforms out there available that can help you find influencers for your brand while taking out a large proportion of the heavy lifting. Some examples include Voila Norbert, Mailshake and Respona.
5. Influencer Marketing Platforms
Tools like influencer marketing platforms have search features that allow you to explore the top influencers amongst certain niches. They can provide you with information such as their emails and social profiles, providing multiples means in which to contact them. However, proceed with caution, a lot of the companies offering this service provide out of date information, so it’s important to do your research before committing!
Depending on your niche, Youtube can also be a useful place to search for influencers. Youtube is a place where influencers can do longer reviews of products, ‘Get Ready With Me’ videos which show off different products, ads and more. It’s worth digging a little deeper into Youtube and using keywords in the search bar to find influencers who produce content surrounding your brand’s niche.
Find the middle ground of influencers who have a decent amount of subscribers but also not so much that would cost you selling a kidney to fund the partnership. Most Youtubers also have successful social media pages in their belt as well which means a wider audience reach.
7. Your website
Your website needs to be accessible to influencers and have resources available if they wish to get in contact with you. It’s worth adding a link to an influencer landing page which should show how you would like to collaborate with potential influencers and leave some contact information. This is a great way to save you the effort of trying to reach out to influencers and gives them the opportunity to come to you.
This may seem like a little bit of a long shot but it is certainly worth covering all bases. With tools that allow you to search by industry and position, the task of finding relevant influencers suddenly seems less daunting. Try searching for key titles such as ‘blogger’ or ‘content creator’ and additionally you can narrow it down further by selecting the relevant industry. LinkedIn adds that sense of professionalism that Instagram may lack, so it instantly boosts your company profile. Just don’t forget to make it easy to discover your brand from your own LinkedIn page!
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. Here’s some helpful steps to get the ball rolling:
1. Show interest
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. Comment meaningfully and share their content. This should grab their attention! Influencer Marketing Platform, Reelio, suggests you start outreach 8-10 weeks in advance of your campaign to be safe!
2. Present an inspiring proposal
Once they have noticed you, it’s then time to swoop in and send them your proposal. This should include who you are, how you found them, your reason for reaching out, what you can give back in return and how to continue this conversation further. There is no need to be too specific as this is purely to spark interest in your brand. Do, however, use a call-to-action to encourage a rapport between you. This could be something like asking them to supply a suitable time for a more in-depth discussion.
Influencers are busy people, in high demand so it is likely that your proposal can get lost in their inbox. So, if you don’t hear back in a few days, send them a polite follow-up email and send a couple of these before you move on.
Ideal promotions with influencers for new brands:
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.”
5 Promotion ideas to get started:
Here is a list of influencer promotion ideas you can take into account for your brand:
1. Ol’ reliable brand share
Possibly the simplest way to collaborate with an influencer would be for them to shout your brand on their social media pages. This requires you to send over a few products for them to present to their trusty followers.
Send them all the hashtags, handles and a rough outline of what you’d like them to say so it doesn’t become an ambiguous guessing game for them. However, it is important not to script it for them. Make sure they can present your brand in a way that feels natural to them, this way you promote authenticity and it doesn’t seem like any other mindless brand deal.
2. The circle of influencers promotion
If you are aware of the circle of friends promotion, this works like that but with influencers. Essentially, once you have created a list of influencers willing to collaborate with, you can use this group to share campaigns such as giveaways, or even just to shout out your brand. Loop giveaways in particular, is when everyone in this group of influencers shares your brand and draws attention to the other influencers in the group. Everyone is then able to acquire some growth!
3. The co-hosted giveaway
If having a group of influencers in your belt is a little out of reach for now, then this promotion is great way to collaborate with just one influencer. All the influencer does is share your giveaway, and require that entrees must follow your social media pages. These kind of campaigns normally get high rates of engagement, since who doesn’t like free stuff? You will also want to include some extra marketing campaigns to ripple out from this giveaway, perhaps offering a discount code to everyone who entered the giveaway, which should encourage more users to gravitate to your brand.
4. A tutorial
This is a really effective means of seeing your products in action. Provide your products to your influencers who can then film a tutorial or a review of your products. This way you can encourage brand awareness and authenticity.
5. The co-hosted launch
This one depends on if you have got anything brand new in the works. This could be a new line of products or a new website etc. To help, use your influencers to share the exciting news. Not only is it beneficial for the influencer to be the first to announce some exciting news and being prioritized by your brand but it will drum up attention to your brand before the actual launch.
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.”
Finally, don’t forget to nurture these relationships with your influencers. You can’t drop them after one collaboration. This will help you in the long run as you can always work with them again!
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.