The Dos and Don’ts of Identifying the Right Influencers

The word influencer gets thrown around a lot these days. In a social media marketer’s world, an influencer is more commonly associated with social media celebrities, prominent bloggers, and advocates, helping companies gain those all-important likes, shares, and comments on Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook.

According to Gartner, the term includes “peers in other organizations, analysts, consultants, academic experts, government representatives, credible reporters or bloggers, communities, associations and others. Collectively, these groups, and the individuals within them, are influencers — perceived experts who are not directly impacted by buying decisions, but who provide insights and opinions that contribute to those buying decisions.”

Although not every company is selling a product, let’s not stray too far away from this idea of ‘buying decisions’– whether you’re looking for an increase in sales, subscriptions, brand awareness, or authority, there should be some sort of ROI from the relationship you’re building with influencers.   

The problem is that the term influencer is getting thrown around a lot these days, and with a ton of self-professed “experts” out there, it’s getting more and more difficult to know who’s worth reaching out to.

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How do you identify an influencer, and what are some of the “influencer” warning signs to watch out for? Focusing specifically on social media influencers, let’s take a look.

How to Identify an Influencer

Let’s start with the basics – how to identify a social media influencer that’s worth their weight in likes. The three R’s of influencer marketing are important here: reach, resonance, and relevance.

1) Know where to look (Relevance)

Often the hardest part of the process if knowing where to find influencers that are relevant to your industry. Hashtags? Communities? Groups? These are all good starting points to get an idea of what people are saying in your industry, and who’s saying it the loudest.

If you’re stuck even identifying where these groups are, you can use social media listening tools like Brand24 to spot active individuals, see who’s talking about your brand already, and find out which communities are having the biggest discussions.

know where to look

Once you find one community, it’s like a snowball effect: you’ll quickly be able to find others. From there, you can start targeting the most active people, which brings me to my next point– reach.  

2) Look at follower count (Reach)

This one is a no-brainer but look at the number of followers a potential influencer has, and look closely.

Follower count is important because it identifies the potential reach of whatever it is your influencer is promoting, but followers can easily be purchased (apparently you can buy as many as 1 000 followers for as little as $14) . Do a quick sweep to see if the followers look spammy or legit. A good starting point for weeding out fake followers is looking for users who have no one following them, no activity on their feed, or no profile photo.