7 min read

How to Discover Influencers for My Online Business

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Influencer marketing is growing like weeds, and for a good reason. A whopping 75% of marketers are holding on to influencers for their brands, and won’t let go anytime soon. What does that tell us?

Firstly, it tells us that the influencer wave is here to stay. 43% of those marketers even plan to increase their investment on this marketing segment as they watch leads roll in. Secondly, not partaking could mean losing a huge marketing opportunity. While it takes a few dedicated hours of research, the ROI (Return on Investment) for influencer marketing is well worth the job: according to Marketing Hub, brands are getting a ROI of $5.78 for every dollar spent.

What Can Influencers Do For My Business?

Glad you asked. 

The social media influencer acts as the middleman between your brand and your audience. With their relatively large following and high authority, influencers can be “it”, especially for smaller brands that haven’t made an impression yet. They can easily take a brand from not to hot--and vice versa. Plus, it gives you an edge over the competition. 

If you haven’t given influencer marketing a shot yet, this could be the missing puzzle piece of your brand strategy. Be careful, though: there’s a science to discovering just the right influencer to work with. Following the right steps will make your research more effective and prevent you from getting scammed. Yep, it happens, and it’s more common than you think. 

Don’t worry. Simply follow the steps below and you’ll be good to go. Here’s how to discover the perfect influencers for your online business.

Know Your Audience Like the Back of Your Hand

For those of you who have been in the game for a while, knowing your audience might sound like old news. You’ve already powered through the grueling task of developing a brand persona and swam in an ocean of analytics to get where you are today, thank you very much. 

Given that you know your audience deeply (as you should), you must then decide on an influencer whose audience aligns with yours. 

For instance, let’s say you’re a vegan coffee brand. Though you might be tempted to reach out to the first top coffee influencer, remember your brand caters to vegan coffee lovers. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to reach out to a non-vegan coffee influencer as their values might not necessarily align with those of your brand. 

They’ll either not accept your proposal to work with them, or potentially spread the wrong message. In a worst-case scenario, this could spark controversy among dedicated customers. “Wait, this person isn’t even vegan!”, they might say, thus reaching the conclusion that you aren’t true to your values. You don’t want that. 

This strategy requires you to think and plan ahead to avoid hurting your brand’s reputation. You need to be aware of these small nuances, as they will make a difference down the road.

Create an “Influencer Persona”

This will be the model your ideal influencer should fit in, which pretty much mirrors your brand persona and your company’s core values. It doesn’t need to be perfect--just something you can easily refer back to when doing your research. It helps if you bookmark this post for quick access later on. 

To create your influencer persona, you need to consider the following:

  • Niche. Of course, this is the most important thing. It’s a no-brainer, but it doesn’t hurt to remind you that you’re looking for an influencer who’s in the same niche as yours. 
  • Personality. The influencer’s personality must be in sync with your brand personality. They must share the same values as your brand (this is important!), and preferably sound like the voice you’ve defined for your brand. You wouldn’t like a formal, elegant influencer to advertise for your edgy clothing store. 
  • Reach. Reach is about the total number of followers an influencer has. However, just because their profile has a high reach, that doesn’t mean all of their, say, 10k followers interact with them on a daily basis. Aim for influencers between the 1k-5k follower range, as research suggests this “chunky middle” tends to have greater engagement with their followers. Speaking of which: 
  • Engagement. Look for influencers with high engagement. That’s easy to find out: check out the number of comments they get, as well as the number of likes. Then, consider the follower-to-like and follower-to-comment ratio.Try to avoid influencers with low engagement--their followers don’t interact with them regularly, their following doesn’t matter. After all, you want your brand to be seen and engaged with.
  • Reputation. You’ll want your ideal influencer to have a great reputation (duh?). In your research, be sure to check if the person you have in mind has been involved in any feuds or had their name slandered for some reason. It’s also helpful to take a look at a few brands they’ve partnered with and check their legitimacy. 

We’ve covered the “how”. Now, time to get to the “where”. 

Where to Find Influencers for My Business?

Social Media 

Social media listening is crucial if you want to find out what people (especially influencers) are saying about your brand. 

How to listen? You can do it the old-fashioned way or the modern way. Or both. You can either manually search for your brand name on Twitter or online forums and see what comes up about your brand, or use tools like SOCIALHOSE.IO to be alerted whenever someone mentions your brand. The latter will save you a lot of time, as you’ll always be notified when a mention comes up. 

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Of course, for this type of research, you’ll want to stick to the positive reviews. In researching the profiles who mentioned your brand, you could find some interesting influencers to work with. 

Hashtags

Another way to find the right influencers is through hashtags. Instagram is the best place to do this. Search for tags like #ad or #sponsored or any variations thereof. These are tags influencers are required to use in order to set regular posts apart from sponsorships, but can also be research fodder. 

When you do that, you can even switch to the “recent photos” tab to stray from posts and influencers that are way too popular. Plus, if the photos are recent and fresh, they’ll have fewer likes, which gives you a chance to interact before more and more people come along. 

Online Platforms

Platforms like influence.co make your job easier. When you meet influencers where they hang out, you’re much more likely to find several people to choose from and make an educated choice. 

The Right Way to Reach Out to Influencers (and Get That Partnership)

Put yourself in an influencer’s shoes for a while. It’s their day job--they wake up to probably dozens of emails begging for partnerships. What would make your brand stand out to them?

Just like they caught your attention, your proposal must catch theirs.

First and foremost, don’t just throw a proposal on their face. Nurture a relationship with them, first. Comment and like their posts. Interact with their stories. If possible, start a conversation that’s unrelated to business. 

If there’s a professional email you can write to, prefer it. If not, you can send a proposal via direct message. 

When it comes to the proposal itself, you have to make a few points very clear. After you’ve greeted them, tell them about:

  • Where you heard from them or where you first saw them.
  • What you like about their work (to build trust and warmth. Be truthful!).
  • What your product is and does, as well as your brand’s core values.
  • Why, of all influencers, they’re the perfect people to work with you. You’ll have to be convincing and transparent. 

If you can, avoid copied and pasted formulas. Personalization is hot in marketing right now, and your preferred influencer would love to receive a message that’s wholeheartedly written just for them. Trust us, they’ve been in this business long enough to sense when a proposal means what it says. 

Last, But Not Least: Beware of “Fake Influencers”

Yes, that’s a thing. They’re called fake influencers because their seemingly large following is nothing but a scam, although they look just like regular influencers with a high-quality profile. 

Small businesses can fall prey to influencer fraud if they’re not careful. This could harm their business in a lot of ways, especially in terms of reputation. 

The good news is, you can avoid influencer fraud by learning to spot a fake influencer. When analyzing a profile, look for warning signs such as:

  • A huge following with low engagement
  • Generic comments that don’t really apply to the photo being shown (yes, some people buy fake comments!)
  • The number of real followers the account has. Tools like IG Audit can tell you how many “bots” follow an account. Although all profiles can have bot followers, look out for a majority of fake followers. 

The Takeaway

It takes time, but choosing the right influencers will help your brand immensely. On the flip side, you’re also giving them an incredible opportunity to grow as professionals--by having them use your product and promote it to a sea of like-minded people. It’s the ultimate win-win. 

Which influencer marketing tips would you add? Let us know in the comments :)