Influencers have something to say. They also have people who listen… an audience who is, well, influenced by what they have to say.
Influencers are thought leaders… industry experts… authorities in their fields. People like Brian Clark in the content marketing industry, Jeff Bullas in the digital marketing industry, or Debbie Millman in the graphic design industry.
They’re important people to associate with and follow. Building relationships with influencers can be beneficial in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, enhancing your own credibility and expanding your audience.
But, how do you find them?
It’s fairly easy, if you follow these steps:
Step 1: Use an Influencer Finder Tool
Yes, there are such things! Two of my favorites are BuzzSumo (a paid tool) and Klout.
You simply enter your search topic (paleo diet, solar energy, social media, or whatever area of expertise or industry you’re trying to find influencers in), and the tool will generate a list of people it has determined to be influential for that topic.
It really is that easy.
Let’s look at BuzzSumo first. Say you’re researching the paleo diet and want to know who the top influencers are. You would…
- Go to the app and click on the Influencers tab.
- Type “paleo diet” into the search bar.
- Filter by type — bloggers, influencers, companies, journalists, regular people — as well as location, if you choose.
- Sort your results by relevancy (default), page authority, domain authority, followers, retweet ratio, reply ratio, or average retweets.
Here’s a screenshot:
BuzzSumo uses Twitter data exclusively to determine who is influential for a particular topic. Klout, on the other hand, uses data from a wider array of social networks.
To use Klout, you’ll first need to create an account. (The free version works just fine.) Enter the same search topic (1), and Klout generates a list of experts (2 and 3) as well as recently published content (4).
This is what it looks like:
The number in the orange flag by the expert’s profile image represents his Klout Score — a measure of his overall online influence on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher the number, the more influential the person is.
(By the way, if you connect your social networks, Klout will give you your Klout Score, as well. Knowing your own “web cred” is pretty cool.)
So, you now have some lists of names. But, you’re not quite done yet.
Step 2: Evaluate for Relevancy
BuzzSumo and Klout use sophisticated algorithms to generate their lists of recommended influencers, but not all of their results will be relevant to exactly what you’re looking for. You’ll need to determine that yourself.
To do so, click through to the influencer’s social profile and ask these 5 important questions:
- How often is he talking about your topic?
- How engaged are his followers?
- Is his content about your topic timely?
- Is he producing high-quality content?
- Is he curating and sharing content produced by his fellow influencers?
One quick note about evaluating an influencer’s followers: it’s not always just the sheer number of followers that’s important, but how engaged they are. Look at how many comments, likes, and shares the content gets.
Also, look to see if the influencer responds to the engagement. Does he reply to comments? Does he acknowledge and thank those who have shared the content with others?
The best influencers build relationships with their followers; they don’t just broadcast to them.
Now you’ve narrowed down your list to the best and most relevant influencers on social media. But, what if your topic or industry is one that doesn’t have a lot of social media activity?
Step 3: Expand Your Search
As crazy as it may seem in our uber-connected society, not all influencers are professionally active on social media. They may have a different platform for their message, but you can still find them.
Influencers may review products, make industry predictions, publish special reports, write books, give presentations, be interviewed and quoted by others, etc.
So, your next step is to expand your search to Google.
Type in your search term, and when Google gives you the results, click on the News tab to see who’s being interviewed or otherwise quoted as a source in the news articles. Click on Books to see who’s writing books about your topic.
Additionally, search for industry associations and events. Look to see who serves on the boards and committees. Find out who speaks — about your specific topic — at events.
Even if you have a good-sized list of influencers from social media, I recommend you not skip this step of expanding your search to Google. You never know what gems you might uncover.
Next Steps …
Once you’ve found some relevant influencers, start following them on social media. Comment on their content. Share their stuff with others. Develop a relationship with them.
If they’re not active on social media, set up a Google alert for their name, so you’ll get notified whenever they do something new and noteworthy.
(Go to google.com/alerts for more information about Google alerts.)
It’s also a good idea to set up a Google alert for your search topic. If you start noticing a new name being associated with relevant, quality content about your topic, you might just discover a new influencer.
I’d love to know what industry or subject matter influencers you follow and how you found them. Leave a comment below to tell me your story.