Eliza Steely

3 Tools to Help You Find Influencers in Social

Finding Influencers on Social MediaInfluencers are influential. They have a significant following on their social channels and are so knowledgeable about a topic that people not only like to consume their content, but share it. Engaging an influencer and being promoted by them is a great way for your brand to increase visibility, grow a following, and rank in search. Sounds simple right? It’s actually something many brands struggle with.

There are over 500 million registered Twitter accounts, 300 million active monthly Google+ users, and 1.26 billion Facebook users. Add to that the 150 million people that are active on Instagram in any given month, the 70 million on Pinterest, and the 238 million members on LinkedIn and it’s no wonder finding influencers is a bit like playing “Where’s Waldo?”

But it doesn’t have to be. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of tools out there that can help find influential people in your industry in an easy, cost-effective manner. The problem becomes how to choose from all of those tools. Don’t worry; we’ve made that easier too. Here are three tools we love for finding influencers on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn:

For Twitter: Followerwonk
A picture is worth a thousand words. Followerwonk knows that, and shows you a majority of data in visual formats to make it easier to understand.

The tool, which delves deeply into Twitter analytics, can show you things from who your followers are and where they’re located to when they tweet, what keywords are used most often by your followers (or those you follow), who you’re following relative to someone else, and when your most active hours for retweets are.

FollowerwonkFinding influencers is made easy by the search Twitter bios function. Enter a keyword – a product name, a topic, an industry, whatever seems relevant – and Followerwonk generates a report for you of everyone who uses that term or phrase in their Twitter bio.

The list bolds the word you searched for, shows the name and avatar of the account, how any followers they have, and their social authority. Sorting by relevance, or social authority can help you pinpoint people who are influential on Twitter for that phrase.

The tool makes it easy to follow the people you find by including a “Follow” button next to the avatar of those who show up in your search. The free account has some reporting limitations that can be circumvented by ‘subscribing’, which is free for 30-days.

For Google+: Circle Count
Designed to help you understand Google+, the homepage of the tool shows popular categories like: people with highly engaging content, most followed profiles and pages, and today’s cream of the crop which highlights interesting profiles. All of the categories are great places to look for inspiration and creative ideas.

How it works: you can search using a name, location, or the URL of a profile to generate a list of results. Click on any one of them, and you’re taken to a profile of information.

Circle CountWhat you’ll see: The profile has a ton of useful information in it including:
• Links to their other social channels
• Bio & Occupation
• Profile rank (where their profile ranks out of all Google+ profiles)
• Number of followers and following
• Follower history graph
• Average activity numbers for the last 50 posts
• Stream of latest posts

Feature we really like: the profile also shows how many public circles the person has been shared in. Taking it one step further the Circle Count reports who shared, the number of followers they have, the date of the share, how many users are in the circle they shared to, and how many comments, reshares and +1s the share received.

That feature is a great way to identify the influencers that are engaging with your content and have a noticeable interest in that topic. You can click on any name in the author column and be taken to their Circle Count report and follow their page from there.

The tool is also a great way to search for influencers you’ve identified on other channels to determine their klout on Google+.

The numbers of each profile are the public numbers shown on Google+. However, the platform caches the numbers so the profile generated by Circle Count isn’t always the most up to date data.

Not all profiles will show up in Circle Count but can be added by using the URL or profile ID on the homepage.

For LinkedIn: Influencers Program
Launched a little over a year ago, the Influencer Program on LinkedIn allows thought leaders to share their original content directly with LinkedIn users. Users in turn can follow influencers to read and interact with their content, along with sharing it with their own networks.

Social Media Tool for LinkedInThere are over 300 influencers in the program. Their average post receives around 30,000 views and is read by entry-level professionals all the way through to director-level and above.

You can browse influencers by a list of them all, or by channel which sorts the posts by topic. The channels cover a wide variety of information from accounting, customer service, the economy, and green business to healthcare, online advertising, retail and technology.

Not only are the authors influencers themselves, but make sure to pay attention to the people who interact with the post. People who comment, like and share content have shown an interest in the topic, and demonstrated their own knowledge in their posts. Those kinds of people are likely to engage with your content, and can be great people to cite and connect with!

Influencer marketing has the ability to help your brand reach its audience in a personal, honest way that doesn’t take a huge bite out of your budget. There are tools out there to help you narrow down the arena of social media users to a manageable list of people worth connecting with. But it’s up to you to build a relationship with them through engagement, support, and conversation.

What tools have you used to find influencers? What are some unique ways you’ve begun to engage with them? Let us know in the comments!


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  1. Hi Eliza,

    Interesting post. However, the “problem” (for want of a better word) is that it’s still primarily looking at audience size and supposed influencers over context and relevance to the audience in question.

    Take Followerwonk – can it identify the people who impact a potential customer’s decision-making process, based on where they are in the purchase life cycle? If a customer is in the Research stage, for example, who sways them to move to the Intent to Buy stage? If they’re in the Intent to Buy stage, who sways them to move to the Buy stage?

    Context like this – not to mention external situational factors – are key to putting the right message in front of the right person at the right time.

    It’s why something like the LinkedIn Influencers program is limited in its scope because it’s defining influence by a platform – yet as little as 20% of these LinkedIn Influencers would actually matter to me when it came to taking action based on their words.

    This is the problem with influence definition today – it’s still very much skewed to “social influencers” that have very little real influence over a brand’s customers. Until that mindset changes, brands will continue to struggle to effectively use influence marketing as a part of their overall business plan.

    • Hi Danny, great points and thanks for commenting. While the notion that influence extends beyond social is entirely valid, the topic of this post is specifically about finding influencers on social networks.

      Here’s a question for you: Did you consider that this post is geared towards our target audience that is early in the discovery stage on the topic of social influencer marketing?

      That aside, I’ll take the bait of your comment and valid recommendations.

      I don’t think anyone that is intelligently engaging an influencer marketing program would use influencer discovery as the only dimension. I’ve evangelized profusely on this blog about customer segmentation and buying cycle marketing where we employ an attract, engage, convert model at all stages. A very similar model applies to influencer identification, engagement and activation.

      Not everyone is ready for that though. There are millions of businesses that can barely create a blog post a month and a useful tweet per week, let alone sales cycle marketing and optimization with influencers and advocates.

      I appreciate an idealized scenario as much as anyone, where customer segments are identified and personas are created. Then for each segment, the customer journey from awareness, to interest, to consideration and purchase are outlined with topic/keywords used to identify pain points, goals and buying triggers.

      Used as filters and context for social media monitoring and channel participation, influencers can be effectively identified, relevant to the target customer buying cycle.

      I’d love to tell people that’s the way to go every time. But the truth many consultants and industry pundits won’t say is that it’s simply not practical. Not every time. They do have to start somewhere though. Without confidence in the tactics, the sophisticated advice just never gets implemented.

      This post is a handy intro to basic tools for influencer discovery on social networks. Whetting that whistle leads to more that aligns right along with some of the suggestions you’re making. Thank you for that.

      • Lee,

        I sometimes wish I had the energy to elevate these conversations like Danny does, given how we all know influence isn’t about online action but rather behavior and belief modification that can’t be so readily measured.

        Personally, I read these articles but avoid such conversations because I am too torn about whether pandering to the discovery crowd with an inaccurate but alluring system is a good thing or not. On one hand, we all have to use these tools to understand them and ferret out the value. On the other, none of them really capture influence because the social definition they base their algorithms on are watered down and wonky.

        From my perspective, Eliza did a great job writing up an introduction as you describe. But even I have to wonder sometimes whether these introductions ought to include disclaimers that we’re probably talking about audience discovery as opposed to influencer discovery.

        That said, I’ve always been found of your efforts to help transform SEO think into social relevance. You were ahead of your time on that point while everyone else was still pandering to the discovery crowd. It took real courage.


  2. Really influencing topic.Social media(Google+,Twitter,Facebook,Pinterest,LinkedIn) is very powerful medium.Thanks for the detailed information.

  3. Great article Eliza, influencers add that seal of credibility to your business/brand. With the tools you have mentioned makes the process simpler and easier with effective results.

  4. Thanks for that useful article – a few of these tools are new to me. Do you know of any similar tools you’ve found for Facebook or Pinterest?

  5. Hey Danny,

    Have you ever been at a party having a discussion and someone listening in halfway through jumps in offering unsolicited advice? That’s you.

    There are a million things we could do differently but they are my things, not yours. We implement buying cycle content mapping with all our engagements to the degree which they are implementable.

    The politically correct thing to say would be to thank you for your comments and leave it at that. But I really think you don’t have a single, citable example of a complete buying cycle implementation and are instead, simply a talking head trying to get attention for yourself.

    • Wow, I guess you don’t want to encourage discussion and alternatives in your comment section, Lee. If you want a citable example, there’s a complete case study as the whole first chapter of the book I co-wrote with Sam Fiorella on influence marketing (which I deliberately never referenced or linked to, to respect this is your platform). An example that saw a new company own 20% of a very competitive space in less than 12 months.

      However, it’s clear you only really want your take on things on your platform – and that’s your prerogative, so I’ll interact no further, except to once again thank Eliza for the conversation starter.

      • Talking about the tools, tactics and alternatives is fine. Second guessing and presuming my writers’ rationale for a topic chosen on our own blog is indeed something I use discretion with.

        • Avatar Steven Bill says

          Hey Lee Odden – reading this dialogue between you and Danny has just lost you a reader/customer. Thanks to your inability to gauge sentiment and foster healthy conversation, I suspect I’m not the only one completely turned off of this site. Eliza and your other writers have much to be grateful for with having a boss like you drive away their audience.

          • Not allowing people to pitch themselves on our blog is a choice I’m entitled to make. If you enjoy reading that sort of thing, it won’t be found here.

      • For the record, I would not consider that single case study proof of anything Danny. As you state in your own book, there were many confounding factors that happened in parallel with the influencer activities for that company, including other media exposure and live customer events. There is no way you can statistically isolate the impact of the influencer activity as the single cause for that increase in sales. It is beyond a stretch to make that conclusion.

        While some of the tools in this post are blunt instruments, sometimes all you need is a blunt instrument to find a direction, especially if you are a company with limited resources (almost everyone)

        • If I was intoning that influence marketing was the sole reason, I’d probably agree with you Mark. As it is, I didn’t, so your point is moot.

  6. Avatar web design company los angeles says

    Really amazing information about tools for finding influencers. Great post. Thanks for sharing..

  7. Avatar Ted Lederer says

    MavenSocial has successfully developed a platform to track and measure influencers and all who opt-in as a result of an influencer sharing campaign. The results are an increase in sales, reduced cost of acquisition and the building of an intelligent data asset (sCRM) for forward marketing. “MavenSocial provides true Social ROI!” “This platform is a game changer!”

  8. Avatar Ted Lederer says

    Hi Dave. Hey, could we connect to discuss the platform? [email protected]

  9. Thanks for suggesting the tools, will soon try out the the above tools

  10. Useful article. I would also suggest eCairn – is a great tool to find influencers in your verticals. They have 600k influencers grouped into several specialized communities that push content thru twitter, blogs, YT and Facebook.