The tide of influence hunting on the web is rising beyond public relations and social media to digital marketing at large. In particular, there’s growing attention being directed towards influencers as gateways to new audiences.
Influence as the ability for a person to inspire action amongst a community is a very powerful thing and therefore, increasingly appreciated by digital marketing and PR pros alike. An influencer program that identifies, qualifies, engages and maintains relationships with industry influencers can serve as a formidable “force multiplier” for everything from content amplification to product feedback to content co-creation.
Beyond the “brandividual endorsement”, people with a strong center of influence can provide valuable context and credibility to a company seeking to connect with an audience of buyers. But in an age of information overload and the ability for anyone, anywhere to publish, finding those influential connections in your industry can prove to be a challenge.
Here are 9 of many tools that can be used for the initial task of finding influencers aligned with specific areas of subject matter expertise. Several go beyond discovery and also support filtering, managing, engaging, monitoring and reporting.
Traackr – A premium category of service that is billed as an influencer marketing and analytics platform, Traackr helps you discover influencers, get social insights and figure out how to best connect. Features include an influencer search engine, profiles, dynamic lists, share of voice reporting, sentiment analysis, trending content and others. PR, Communications and Marketing pros use this service.
Linkdex - With roots as a SEO tool, Linkdex is a paid tool that has reinvented itself as a SaaS solution that unites Search, Social, PR & Content channels for “organic marketers”. Features include content analysis and planning tools based on analysis from technical site crawls, content analysis, social share counts, backlink counts, ranking, value and multi-channel analytics data. At it’s core, Linkdex is a digital marketing tool but also increasingly used by public relations firms that are adding integrated marketing to their services mix.
Little Bird – Founded by past RWW pioneer, Marshall Kirkpatrick, Little Bird is a paid tool that helps users discover influencers that are validated by their peers on Twitter for a variety of topics as well as emerging topics. It also supports competitive intelligence, content marketing, social sales oriented research across multiple social networks.
followerwonk – With a focus exclusively on Twitter research and analytics, this free tool from the folks at Moz provides a handy search engine for influencer discovery as well as tools for competitive comparisons, tracking and data visualizations. A social authority filter allows sorting of influencers and reports can be saved for future reference.
PeerIndex - As a premium, paid social media analytics service, PeerIndex has built an Influence Graph to identify influentials by topic that marketers can search against (PiQ) to find inflencers. Features include: audience insight, alerts, influencer research and tracking, social analytics and reporting.
Buzzsumo – A free tool that is pretty much still in beta mode, Buzzsumo promotes itself as a research tool for content marketing and SEO by providing insights into the most popular content and the influencers sharing it. Search by topic or a specific website to find the most popular content sorted by total social shares. Search the influencer option and results from Twitter data are displayed. All results can be filtered for refinement and exported as a CSV or XLS for further analysis.
Keyhole – With a freemium model, this hashtag tracking tool helps surface content and influencers, especially related to events that are using a hashtag. Views include conversations and top content as well as drill downs for influencers. Results can be copied to your clipboard. There are also a Newsroom Intelligence and Audience Intelligence paid tools that do not have a free trial.
Kred - A product of PeopleBrowsr, Kred is a paid influencer measurement tool that promises to help marketers identify, prioritize, and engage influencers. Offers a Rewards service that will connect marketers with influencers as well as audience engagement analysis, influencer leaderboards and email marketing. KredStory is a consumer application for curating and sharing on social networks and analysis of your own social media activities that also offers each user a Kred score.
Klout – Probably one of the most well known influencer discovery and engagement tools, Klout is a paid service that analyzes individual social network content to arrive at a Klout score. Early in 2014, Klout changed it’s interface to be more of a content curation and sharing platform that consumers can use. Klout for Business provides a service to research, segment and manage influencer lists, engage influencers with a Perks program, and amplify brand messages with native ads.
Before you start with influencer discovery, don’t make the mistake of simply shooting from the hip, so to speak, and search these tools using only your top SEO keywords. Think more from the point of view of who you want to influence. What topics will be important to them? What questions do they have during the sales cycle and what do you know about their preferences for information discovery, consumption and interaction?
Those insights (in combination with SEO keywords) will help guide you towards a more productive search for influencers to engage with.
Besides tools like the 9 above, there are other daily actions you can take to surface influencers for your brand to engage with including;
- Your own participation in the industry
- Blogs, news, social networks and groups,
- Talking to your sales, public relations & marketing staff.
While there are more formal means for engaging in influencer marketing programs that often include paid relationships with designated influencer specialists, our approach at TopRank Online Marketing is to focus more on the organic approach and connect with practical influencers.
By “practical influencers”, I mean practitioners who spend more time “doing” that talking about doing. Many of them do not self-identify as an influencer and yet, when they speak – everybody listens and many of those listeners are inspired to action. Rather than influencers with the largest following, engaging with niche influencers might be a more productive approach.
There’s a time and a place for the high profile influencer too, but it’s usually a mix of brandividuals with authoritative experts that have an active following that proves to be most valuable for everyone involved.
Is your business making a specific effort to work with influencers as part of your marketing and comuniccations programs? Where does influencer relations sit in your organization? Public Relations, Marketing, Social Media?