You have probably heard of influencer marketing, and may even know it can be beneficial to your business.

“There are few things that drive a sale more effectively than a warm word-of-mouth recommendation,” says Misha Talavera. Influencers don’t have to be movie stars with millions of social media followers. An influencer is someone who can get others to take action.

As Jay Baer says, “True influence drives action, not just awareness.”

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Let’s start your next influencer marketing campaign by exploring the ways to identify social media influencers.

Here are some ideas that might very well help you outreach to the right people.

Related Post: Social Media Marketing 101

Find social media influencers within each social network

Facebook Groups

If you sell gardening supplies, you need to identify networks of gardening enthusiasts, then identify who the influencers are within those networks. You might want to find Facebook Groups for gardening clubs in your area.  For example, if you live in Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Gardening Club, a Facebook group of over 1,000 members, seems like an appropriate group to join.

facebook group influencers

Don’t post about your business and products to the group. Instead, observe and listen. See who tends to post more often and start engaging discussions. Observe who tends to give advice or get the most positive comments. You will begin to see who the influencers are.

Instagram and Twitter Hashtags

On Instagram and Twitter, groups exist, but not in the way you’d think with a feature built by the platform developers specifically for groups.

One way people form tribes on Instagram and Twitter is through the use of hashtags. Just look at the #lularoe hashtag on Instagram to see all of the people who sell, buy, and love Lularoe talking about it on the platform. A hashtag I like is #igersjp; Instagrammers who are from Japan, are visiting Japan, or just love Japan have found each other so they can share posts from Japan, about Japan, and in Japanese. Over four million posts have been shared with this hashtag.

Hashtags are helpful because when you’re out to find social media influencers, you’re looking for people who are talking about the topics that matter to your business. Someone who is popular may be an influencer, but that doesn’t mean they can be an influencer for any product, service, or app. If someone has 50,000 Twitter followers because they talk about baking tips, it may be a waste of your time to reach out to them to talk about your baby clothes line (unless you can convince them the “bun in the oven” joke would be hilarious).

GIF sourceMaybe you have a shop that sells specialty scissors. Look at the hashtag #embroideryart on Instagram (currently over 157,000 posts). Find the people who are doing truly amazing things with embroidery—they likely use embroidery scissors.

Using this hashtag, find the people who get the most likes and engagement. It’s likely that they are influencing many others with the same interests. You could reach out to them to feature your scissors. One embroidery Instagrammer with amazing images is @usedthreads, who has over 35,000 followers. She receives over 1,000 likes per post on most posts, and up to 7,000 on other posts.

Twitter Lists

You can also make use of Twitter lists to find influential users. Twitter lists are curated collections of users who have something in common — whether it be their location, occupation, or personal interest. If you’re looking for a dentist with Twitter influence, search for relevant twitter lists by using the search syntax seen in the image below.

twitter list search

Find posts with high reach  and shares

Identify your posts with the highest viral (versus organic) reach and then determine who shared those posts.

Identify the recent post that had the highest viral reach this month and see who shared it. Within that group of sharers are people who were able to get your content in front of more people. Although this seems like awareness and not action, users who generate more reach on a platform like Facebook, where the algorithm is tough, tend to be those that people are watching regularly (and not hiding from their feeds, for example). This reach tends to be accompanied by engagement in the form of discussions.

To see which of your posts received the highest fan reach, go to the Reports tab in your Agorapulse dashboard. Then click on Engagement in the secondary menu.

You will see the top posts in terms of fan reach as well as a column for “storytellers.” Find the posts that have both high reach and high storytelling percentages and click to view the post on Facebook.  You will see names of people who shared the post with their networks.

Agorapulse report to find social media influencers

When I used this method, I found who had shared a post that received a high viral reach (meaning many of the impressions came from the shared post). When I clicked through to the shared post, I saw that a few discussion threads had started on that person’s post. Sometimes as social media managers we focus just on the engagement that occurs on the immediate post, but there are meta conversations out there happening around our content, and those data matter as much as the organic reach (maybe more).

team social media management

What should I do once I identify social media influencers?

The man who shared my content was not a superstar. And the gardening club is not a virtual VIP room. These are all normal amazing people who are sharing life with each other in closely knit communities. In fact, that “close-knittedness” is what makes the influence even stronger in these communities.

When you identify social media influencers, you might find an appropriate way to ask them to try a product and review it (do make sure they disclose if you gave them free product to write said review). You might also just engage with them on- or offline to make sure they continue to have a good experience. They might continue to share your content with their networks for free if they love your company and products.

As you find influencers, tag them in Agorapulse. This will help you keep track, engage, and reach out. Keeping influencers on a spreadsheet requires you to look up each profile separately when you want to check in on people, but Agorapulse helps you keep track of people where you can see their activity and engagement within the dashboard.

Facebook influencer CRM

These are only a few ways to identify social media influencers. How do you find social media influencers, and how do you build your relationships with them?