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How to Find the Right Influencers and Successfully Appeal to Them

Currently a lot of hype is surrounding influencer marketing in the online industry. As the battle for the online user’s attention continues, it's now made easier with an increasing number of useful influencer marketing tools.

Currently a lot of hype is surrounding influencer marketing in the online industry. As the battle for the online user’s attention continues, it’s now made easier with an increasing number of useful influencer marketing tools. 

The idea behind it: An important opinion leader or multiplier that’s associated with a company can constitute a recommendation, give the brand a positive boost, and – if conditions are right – increase sales.

It’s no wonder many companies rely on building relationships with influencers whether it’s to introduce a new product, raise their brand profile, polish up their image or disseminate their own content.

But what lifestyle brands especially have already mastered seems to be a major challenge for other companies. How are they to find the right influencers in their industry? How can is it possible to win their attention? How do you decide who are the best influencers? And what should you offer them in return?

When is an influencer really an influencer?

According to a study by the software company Launchmetrics, it is very difficult for many companies to identify truly relevant brand influencers.

First, you should ask yourself this question: When is an influencer really an influencer? The determining factor here is not necessarily fans or followers, but instead whose voice is the one most listened to in the respective target group? Who is an expert on the company’s chosen topic, and who has the best links with the people you want to reach?

The following criteria need to be considered when selecting influencers:

  • Expert status: Who is perceived as an expert on the company’s chosen topic? Who has industry credibility and also has something to say?
  • Activity: Across which channels is the person active, and how often?
  • Range of influence within the respective target group: Countless influential people float around on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, but only those who also have their own target audience residing within that community count as influencers – though this may also include other relevant contacts within that same target group.
  • Commitment and interactions: Does a person generate content in the form of comments, likes and retweets? Are they positive? Interactions are an important indicator of the bond between the influencer and his or her community. You should also observe the kind of reactions the person is able to elicit in response to a specific topic.

Useful tools to help you find influencers

Nothing can replace a personal relationship – and this is also true in influencer marketing. It’s not recommended to rely solely on virtual networking to find influencers, especially if it means ignoring your own trusted resources. But why not take advantage of the opportunities the Internet offers? Tools can often give you initial indications, which are then confirmed by qualitative research, or identify completely new online contacts.

Klout: A Klout score represents the online influence of a user. The tool calculates a score from 1 to 100 based on social media data, such as number of friends, activities and interactions. Although the weight of Klout scores can be debatable, it provides an indication of how active a person is on the social Web. The search engine Bing displays the people most relevant to a topic, who have the highest Klout scores, right next to the search results.

BuzzSumo: BuzzSumo analysis is often inconclusive about social media content. However, the tool can determine the most important influencers for a particular concept, and thus it helps identify relevant multipliers.

Social Mention: This social media analysis tool not only reveals what is being said about a certain topic on social media in real time but also who the top users are of a certain buzzword. Social Mention analyzes data from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

There are several platforms that help you determine the key opinion leaders in the Twitter Jungle. Here is a small selection:

Followerwonk: This tool finds people with particular keywords in their Twitter profile and ranks them according to their number of tweets and followers as well as on their “social authority.” In addition, different users or companies and their followers can be compared.

Klear: This allows you to identify major influencers on a topic around the world and manage your relationships with them. Klear sorts influencers by popularity, reach and relevance and also shows their top content and information about their community.

TweetReach: How far do Tweets with a certain a term, or those with a hashtag, really travel? Who are the top contributors on an issue and have shared the most tweets about it? TweetReach knows the answers. Use this to discover which Twitter users most frequently interact with a brand.

Many important influencers blog. If you want to find suitable bloggers to work with your company, here is a useful tool to help filter and classify those available:

Twingly: This blog search engine seeks out blogs to find a particular keyword. Twingly scans more than 12 million blogs in 30 languages and sorts them by influencer ranking.

What do influencers expect of brands?

Once you have assembled your list of potential candidates for influencer marketing, the next task is to approach them properly.

This requires a lot of tact: Most influencers are professionals who are probably not interested in becoming involved with a company just for its own promotional purposes.

So it’s important that the influencer really suits the brand and understands why the company has carefully selected him or her. Before you contact your influencer, take an in-depth look at your topic and consider how the influencer will benefit.

According to the Launchmetrics study, brand influencers are primarily expecting the following things:

  • Support and benefits for their content creation
  • Exclusive background information
  • Invitations to events
  • Free product tests
  • Monetary incentives

Exclusive information and material that helps influencers improve their own content must clearly be weighed against an up-front financial advantage. Remember influencers use their own platforms to strengthen their reputation and, naturally, want to provide their community with good content. So exclusive content such as infographics, e-books or interviews will assist them in designing their own activities.

The influencer must clearly recognize whatever you offer in return as added value so that it becomes a win-win situation for everyone involved.

The correct way to approach influencers

Which channel should you use to approach your chosen influencer? In an article on PR Blogger, experienced communications expert Klaus Eck advised that the best way to initially attract the attention of bloggers is via quality content in your own corporate blog. The more high-quality, readable content a corporate blog offers, the easier it becomes to enter into a dialogue with key influencers in the industry.

The Launchmetrics study revealed that the majority of companies contacted influencers via email. The other popular means for reaching influencers is Twitter, and many companies also use their blog as a communication channel.

When speaking with influencers, it’s definitely important to introduce yourself (company and function), briefly refer to the background and context and just mention the possibility of working together and indicate that that it’s open to discussion.

In addition, it’s always beneficial to provide your own quality content whether it’s to persuade influencers on your agenda or provide them with exciting content for their own community.

As you can see, developing successful influencer relationships requires hard work, skill and a lot of patience. But good links with important multipliers can be extremely valuable to companies in many ways, including new product promotion, content seeding and even crisis management.


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