The best reputation management firms use some degree of influencer outreach to promote a positive online image for their clients. They're working to change the narrative about a person or brand, so third-party affirmation and brand amplification is important to reinforce brand messaging.
In its best form, influencer marketing is a mutually beneficial relationship: companies leverage influencers in order to get more people talking about specific aspects of a brand or person, and influencers get compensated for their efforts in the form of promotion and compensation from brands.
Before you rush out to find influencers, ask yourself this question. Who are the ideal, or right, influencers are for your company? If you’ve ever asked yourself this question (and if you haven’t, you should), you probably have an idea of why a particular influencer is a great fit. Perhaps they have a large following in an industry you’re trying to reach, they have expertise in a field that’s crucial to your business, or they have a personal story that will help attract your target market.
Remember that it's usually more productive to start with small- and medium-sized influencers, who may be more receptive than larger influencers because they are easier to reach. It's also easier to get something published or featured on their site, which can help your message get in front of a larger audience.
Once you've decided which type of influencers you'd like to work with, it's time to start the search. Here are a few methods to find influencers online.
In the last few years, influencer marketing has become a staple for many businesses. It’s a low-cost and effective approach for getting your brand in front of a targeted audience as well as causing the best parts of the brand to become more visible online. This is important for an ORM campaign because search volume, quality links, dwell time (how long someone stays on a web page), and other factors influence how well positive online content ranks.
Before you can do that though, you need to find these elusive influencers. Thanks to a few different strategies outlined here, getting in contact with industry influencers has never been easier.
Finding influencers using social media
Imagine there was a place where you could quickly reach out to any influencer or brand. You could ask them questions, pitch collaborations, whatever.
Well, that place exists and it’s called social media.
You’re probably on a few different platforms already (or not). Don’t worry if you’re not using them for outreach yet, it’s not too late to begin. The first thing you should do is consider your:
- Business goals
- Target audience
- Values and vision
These are important to brainstorm so when you are searching for influencers, you’ll be able to find brands that relate to you the most. Also, there are a lot of influencers out there - you need to be able to narrow them down.
Using Twitter to find influencers
Let's take a look at Twitter first.
A quick search for “Digital marketer” and selecting the “People” tab displays this.
Influencers at your fingertips in a matter of seconds, not bad. Search for any industry-related keywords under this tab and you’ll have no shortage of professionals or brands to which you can reach out.
Now you might be asking “But, how do I reach out to them?”. That’s where your networking skills come into play.
How to contact influencers
With Twitter, you can send a direct message (DM) or email them if they have displayed it in their bio. This is the fastest way to pitching any ideas you have to an influencer. But just hitting them is a cold approach. It helps to warm up the relationship a bit first. How?
- Retweet some of their posts.
- Tweet at them with questions or comments.
- Get their opinion on a topic or project you’ve worked on.
With the momentum from doing this, it’s much easier to bring up a collaboration or partnership.
There’s no better social network for visual businesses than Instagram. As you can imagine, fashion, beauty, and health have a presence here more than any other industry.
Similar to Twitter, use the search bar to look up industry-related keywords.
Again, direct messaging is the standard approach to contacting influencers on Instagram. Have a pitch ready and ideas of how you would like to work together if you’re going to do so. Since product promotion works very well, offering a free product for them to show off to followers is often a great idea.
Some accounts that have upgraded to the business version will display an email on their profile. You can also use this to contact them.
Looking for new leads or networking opportunities? Then fire up that LinkedIn account of yours. It’s a platform literally made to connect professionals, influencers, and marketers. What could be better?
Before you search for industry influencers, you’ll want to do a little self-examination. Look at your profile. What impression does it make? Would other brands be eager to work with you based on your experience and skills?
Optimize your profile to showcase your biggest accomplishments and what you can bring to the table. That way, potential influencers can better visualize if you’d work well together.
Lets look up “Digital marketers” again like we did with Twitter.
Just like that, we have almost 18,000 people we can connect with. You can narrow your search down further by location, education, and other filters. In fact, you'll probably have to.
Check out the profiles of anyone you believe may be a good candidate to work with. LinkedIn is also the best way to find CEO’s and founders of companies if you want to go straight to the top (they often have gatekeepers though).
Send them a request to connect, with a short message about yourself, and how you might help them - remember, it's not about you. Many people will check out your profile and may accept the request afterward. If so, keep the ball rolling with your pitch.
Good old Google
Sure, fancy tools and platforms are great but you can’t lose with a classic Google search and a little elbow grease. With all of the internet’s websites and data in one place, using search engines to find influencers only makes sense.
Before we dive into searching, let’s first think about what we’re looking to achieve by working with an influencer. It could be:
- A sponsored post
- A guest post
- A shoutout
- Something else
Knowing what you want will change how we search, so it’s important to decide.
For example, perhaps you’re interested in finding an influencer so you can expand your blog’s outreach. In this case, a guest post would be a wonderful opportunity. Effective Google searches would include the below followed by a keyword:
- Intitle:guest post guidelines
This is what we call using an operator and a footprint.
There are over 1,000 operators that you can use to make your Google searches more precise. “Inurl:” will only display results that include text in the URLs that you specify. “Intitle:” is a bit more lenient and will display results that at least have it in the title.
A digital footprint is essentially a common pattern we can use to find specific results. In the above examples, the footprints are guest post-related titles websites normally use.
Consider footprints that would help you find exactly what you’re after and include them with operators.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. That’s why influencer marketplaces are starting to spring up. These networks allow you to sign up and connect with other people in your industry. Famebit is one of the pioneers in this field.
You can sign up as either a creator or a brand. As a creator, you will find opportunities to receive sponsorships from larger businesses. This is a simple way to earn extra revenue for yourself while developing networks.
Signing up as a brand, you gain access to content creators that can expose your products to their loyal audience. In modern times where traditional marketing strategies are getting a bit long in the tooth, using influencer markets can yield a fantastic ROI. According to MarketingProfs, 30% of US consumers have made a purchased based off of sponsored content.
There are also plenty of specific tools to search for influencers. Here are a few of the most popular ones:
Influencer marketing FAQs
How can I find influencers online?
Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are some of the best places to find influencers online. Depending on which market you’re in and what you sell, some will be better than others.
How do I connect with an influencer?
It helps to warm up the relationship a bit first. How? Retweet some of their posts. Tweet at them with questions or comments. Get their opinion on a topic or project you've worked on. With the momentum from doing this, it’s much easier to bring up a collaboration or partnership.
What are some of the benefits of working with an influencer?
You can achieve several promotional benefits by working with an influencer. It could be: A sponsored post. A guest post. A shoutout. Cross promotion. Something else.