Social Media Influencers 101: Why They Matter & How to Find Them

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Are your content marketing and social media outreach efforts failing to generate sufficient buzz and drive engagement? The problem could be a lack of amplification. Creating great content is only half the battle: a smart distribution strategy is just as critical.

We’ve written before about the dangers of only distributing content via official company channels. When it comes to information shared on social media, people are three times more likely to trust information when it comes from another employee rather than a CEO or “official communication channel” like a company page. This holds true whether you’re targeting small business decision makers or Millennial consumers. While employee advocacy is an important marketing tactic, especially for B2B companies, it’s just one part of the strategy. An equally important component? Social media influencers.

Why Social Media Influencers Matter

What if you could tap into the power of someone outside your company who is a recognized “authority” on a specific topic and have him or her spread the word about your company? That’s exactly what happens with influencer marketing. Social media influencers drive brand awareness and word-of-mouth buzz for your brand.

Key benefits include:

  1. Humanizing your brand
  2. Reaching your core demographic.
  3. Amplifying your message

Finding the Right Social Media Influencers: Aligning Your Needs to Their Capabilities

Not all influencers are created equal, and I’m not just referring to differences like follower numbers, interests (food versus technology) or platform preference (Instagram versus Snapchat). Influencers behave differently, too. Social media strategist Jay Baer identified eight primary influencer behaviors. For example, the “megaphone influencer” is best equipped to spread the word about your business to their large audience. The “face influencer” will be a spokesperson for your brand, much like a traditional celebrity endorser. The “creative influencer” will produce creative content for your brand and then share this content on their social media channels. The “defender influencer” will support your brand in times of crisis.

Before you start hunting for influencers, take a moment to consider the type of influencer who is best suited to your brand’s needs– and recognize their limitations, too. Is your brand reach low? If your primary goal is to get your name out in front of as many people as possible, then a “megaphone influencer” can get the job done. Keep in mind, however, that just because people hear about your brand doesn’t meant they’ll be making a purchase– awareness is not the same as action.

On the flip side, maybe your brand is already well known to a wide audience, but you’d like to do a better job engaging this audience. In this case, partnering with a “Creative Influencer” could open new opportunities for engaging content that resonates with your target audience and deepens your brand relationships.

For influencer partnerships to be successful, it all boils down to an alignment of needs and capabilities. Tweet: For influencer partnerships to be successful, it all boils down to an alignment of needs and capabilities. http://ctt.ec/_sB1f+

How to Find Social Media Influencers

Once you know which type of influencers to connect with, the next step is to actually make those connections. Sure, you could go about it the old fashioned way by using Google to search for the people discussing trending topics in your field. While doable, it’s also time-intensive and not always accurate. Here are three better options to consider:

Database. If your budget allows it, consider working with an agency that uses database software to track influencers based on followers, geography or topical authority. Agencies can then contact the influencers on your behalf and broker a deal. Popular database options include Little Bird (part of Sprinkl, a social media engagement platform for enterprise users) and GroupHigh.

Network. Some PR agencies and startups are now offering access to exclusive influencer networks they’ve built focused on a specific topic or platform. Your business then works directly with the network manager to source influencers from that network who can further your marketing outreach goals. This is a great option if you have a very clear focus (e.g., food bloggers in San Diego) and need a curated offering, but keep in mind that networks provide smaller and more limited selections than what you’d get from an agency. Top networks include HelloSociety, which offers a curated network of 1500 tastemakers for fashion, food, fitness, travel and design.

Influencer marketplace. Think of the marketplace as a “matchmaker” for influencers and brands. Influencers agree to be part of the marketplace and then the marketplace offers a platform for providing scalable, influencer-driven content. Marketplaces like TapInfluence also include metrics so brands can track influencer ROI. 

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Sarah Hayes

Project Manager at 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. A self described life long learner that thrives on detail, I love bringing these skills to the table to help others succeed.

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