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Identifying opportunities that make sense for influencers is important. Your brand is best served when creating mutually beneficial relationships with these online personalities, assuming you’ve chosen well, that is.

In my last post, we explored the influencers to avoid like the plague, and why. In this piece, we’ll cover how to identify the right influencers and the right opportunities to pitch to them. And why it matters more than you’ve been led to believe.

Aware vs Unaware Influencers

First, there are two different types of influencers: aware and unaware – and the latter is far from a negative.

Aware influencers are those that are familiar with the brand. They’ve mentioned the brand; they understand the brand; and, they’ve talked about the brand in the last 24 months. The unaware? They’ve posted about the industry and have great influence in that industry, but they haven’t mentioned the brand specifically.

Finding both kinds of influencers takes a few steps, but it’s well worth it. We build a topic around a brand and key brand terms we plan to promote and then a trend analysis to understand the conversation, as step one. Then we’ll perform another topic search based on the industry, and excluding all brand terms used to define the ‘aware’ topic. Sentiment analysis accuracy will make or break your results here.

Both groups are valuable, as understanding what each is talking about offers insight around adjacencies and often reveals new segments. And there are seemingly endless segments out there to explore.

Are You Hearing Voices?

Social intelligence gives brands access to the true voice of the consumer – what interests and motivates them. It’s important information to have; game changing, really as it’s also a window into the psyche of the consumer, allowing brands to reach them on an emotional level and make those interactions more impactful.

When done right, data informs those decisions. And that same data helps brands accurately identify influencers that bring this consumer understanding full circle with online activity that resonates and solidifies the experience – moving consumers from that ‘consideration’ phase to conversion.

But before we get too far along, let’s explore where you hear these voices and what to look for.

Where Art Thou, Dear Influencer?

Influencers can be anywhere and everywhere. And they’re often specific to platforms. Instagram, for example, is an exceptional resource, offering brands the ability to track not only what influencers are sharing, but how their audiences are responding.

And if you’re not understanding how influence works on that site, you’re wasting your audiences’ time. As proven influencer marketing and Instagram platform pro, @racheltravels shares, some travel influencers just aren’t worth a brand (or consumer’s) time.

You can explore her posts for a study in how influence looks, or check out her series designed for those new to the influencer marketing game (from a “want to do this for a living” perspective). Before approaching any influential personality though, a brand needs to dig a little to make sure that person is a good fit for the brand’s specific needs, regardless of how exceptional an influencer we’ve stumbled upon appears at first blush.

And the way we’d find these folks to begin with would actually have most of that work done for us – we’ll explore that in a moment. Just know that scrolling through Instagram (or any platform) after a rudimentary hashtag search is far too basic to meet a brand’s needs.

When we understand what the influencers talk about, we’re able to bring content to them that’s important to them, and also fits with the brand. It’s all about keeping influencers authentic and offering content that fits with their audience, while also benefitting the brand.

Daily Grind

We search for influencers for our clients almost on a daily basis, using NetBase, which does a great job of creating dashboards that are user friendly and only require slight modifications to find relevant influencers.

The Influencer Identification Dashboard allows you to review top influencers by followers/visitors or mentions, to see which influencers other influential people are talking about the most.

Or you can view trending terms and trending hashtags to see what’s popular among brand or category influencers with a follower count of 500+:

And discover what posts and media published by targeted influencers with 500+ followers are the most engaging:

Taking a Swim in the Social Stream

And then it involves looking at those conversations through the social stream and making sure there’s an engaged audience around the topics we’re seeing. And that the influencers we’re looking at, in particular, have engaged followers in those topic areas. It needs to be natural conversation regardless of them being aware or unaware influencers. We don’t want people who share a promotion on every other tweet. It’s just not a good fit for most brands.

Once vetted every which way, we can use this info to create storylines that are relevant to that influencer and offer things that will resonate with (and be relevant to) their audience.

If we wanted to collaborate with @SusanPazera, for example, we’d see that she has a dedicated following around not just travel, but family travel on her visually stunning Instagram feed. That’s an important distinction. Approaching her to post about a single’s resort would be misplaced.

Or maybe you’re looking at a food influencer fond of phenomenal biscuits and s/he posts about which are the best biscuits in the south and so on – and you’re a brand with a new biscuit coming out later this year. Approaching this biscuit lover, who has the attention of a supremely targeted and engaged base (which you know from vetting the influencer), and offering a first taste and the ability to brag all about this exclusive sneak peek to his/her audience – that is a delicious, mutually beneficial offer. Paying her wouldn’t be out of the question either, of course! (And be sure to comply to advertising laws regardless.)

Don’t Drive Blind

Taking the time to understand these influential people and their audience makes it all possible. It’s really important to deliver authentic and contextually relevant experiences to the influencers because it’s about them maintaining credibility – it’s not about the brand. And if it is, you’ve likely lost focus and fallen into the “influencer of all things, credible in none” trap.

Whether you want to identify folks that love gourmet French Fries and live in a certain part of the world or single moms who sing about shopping experiences – they’re out there somewhere, waiting to be discovered and collaborate. Or they’re entirely unaware of their value and are about to help you disrupt your category, assuming you find them before your competitors do. And your target audience will be just as excited as you are to see them succeed. Win-win!

Watch for my next piece on Influencer DISqualifications that goes beyond fake influencers to some things your brand really needs to worry about!

Ted Tagalakis, Vice President, Social Media at Intermark Group. Ted is a highly-motivated digital and social strategist who has consistently assembled and led successful and profitable digital and social departments. 

 

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