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Your smartphone starts lagging, and you decide to buy a new one.

You start googling products, but there are millions of sites, ads, and reviews to keep up with.

While branded content shows only good sides of popular products, customer reviews are subjective, and they contradict.

Frustrated, you ditch your search and call a good friend of yours that has recently bought a new phone.

You ask them for opinions, and voila, you’ve made your buying decision.

Every day, when we feel unsure about the choices we’re making, we turn to the people we trust most.

The same goes for your online customers.

Just like they ask friends and family for help, they also turn to popular bloggers and social media stars they follow. Given that, it’s not surprising at all that 60% of customers are impacted by blog content or social media post when making purchases at a store.

Precisely because of that, influencer marketing should be an integral part of your branding campaign.

And, to make the most out of it, you first need to find the right influencers.

1. Start with Manual Google Searches

Just like its name says, manual research means finding influencers all by yourself, analyzing numerous web pages for additional information, and then copying this information to a spreadsheet.

You need to start by creating a detailed spreadsheet. It should include the information such as a blogger’s name, sector and niche, target audiences, total followers on all platforms they use, links to their blog and social media profiles, pros and cons of working with them, their email address, and any additional notes (previous collaboration, promotions of similar brands, etc.)

Then, conduct a manual Google search to find the right influencers. You could start by simple queries, such as your major keywords + “blog”/ “guest article”/”guest post”/”contributing writer” to find bloggers that are publishing content similar to yours.

If the results you get are too broad, you can also use advanced search modifiers to get more precise results. By combining inurl, intitle, intext, allintext, OR searches and so forth, you will get a narrower list of relevant bloggers.

I’ll say it right away. No matter how simple this may seem, this method of influencer prospecting is extremely time-consuming and will probably make you pull your hair out. Sometimes, you may spend hours, hopping from one page to another, from one site to another, just to find one influencer that promises.

2. Search for Hashtags

In addition to your keywords, hashtags are one of the most powerful ways to search for relevant influencers. They help you find authoritative people in your niche that are already promoting products and brands similar to yours. Chances are they will be interested in promoting your products, too.

Apart from being able to tune in to relevant conversations in real time and identify active participants (potential prospects) in them, tracking hashtags also lets you come up with topics for your content that will be interesting to authoritative figures in your niche.

Now, to get the most out of your hashtag research, you need to choose specific hashtags relevant to your products. For example, if you’re selling organic cosmetics, searching for #naturalskincare or #organicskincare will give you more precise results than just #skincare.

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Now, you can search for your preferred hashtag on each social platform individually or simply google it. The latter option seems to be more effective, as Google will provide you with the most relevant results for your hashtag from all niche blogs and social networks.

To make your hashtags easier to follow, you can also use hashtag research tools. For example, Hashtagify helps you find the most popular hashtags for your campaigns, as well as identify influences using them.

3. Find Bloggers that Already Shared Similar Content

Your goal is to find bloggers that already wrote about or shared content on the same topic. Let’s stick with our natural cosmetics example. If a blogger has already written/accepted a guest post on the benefits of natural cosmetics, they may also like your blog post on best natural cosmetics products.

Sure, you can look for such blog posts manually, using the abovementioned Google search operators. Bloggers usually leverage multiple channels to promote the content they publish, so you should look for your major keywords on all social networks, Q&A sites, blogging platforms, discussion sites, and so on.

Sure, you don’t have to do all this on your own. There are numerous cool content research tools that may help you.

  • BuzzSumo is definitely my favorite content research tools. It lets you see who the author of the article is, where it is published, who exactly shared, and how engaging it is (it displays the number of shares and links).
  • Google Alerts and similar tools notify you when new content is published around your major keywords.
  • Topsy analyzes billions of tweets and provides you with the most popular and relevant ones.
  • Content Strategy Generator Tool generates awesome content ideas and pulls content results from social networks, Q&A sites, content aggregators, discussions sites, and so on.
  • Bitly lets you find out who shared the post you found using the tools mentioned above.

4. Automate Influencer Prospecting

Finding and sorting through hundreds of influencers you find may be exhausting when done manually. The abovementioned tools can make this work easier for you, helping you with the research. Still, no matter if you’re looking for popular people in your niche manually or using tools, one thing is sure- you still need to check their profiles and analyze them carefully before you even reach out to them. This means checking their relevance to your niche, their domain authority, user engagement, reach, the quality of content and so on.

This research phase also takes time. And, this is exactly where automating your link prospecting process may help. Namely, link building tools like Dibz let you enter relevant keywords and find giveaway opportunities, popular blogs, sites that publish reviews of brands and products, and popular influencers on Twitter for these phrases. It also uses numerous metrics to assess the authority of sources and filters out all irrelevant or low-quality results for you.

5. Use Influencer Networks

This is another effective way to connect with influencers. Namely, reputable networks like Activate or Hello Society usually specialize in certain niches and focus on identifying and managing top influencers in those niches. Another amazing benefit of influencer networks is that majority of them provide analytics tools that let you track your performance in real time.

In addition to influencer niches, there are also influencer platforms and marketplaces, such as Tribe, Heepsy, or Brand Snob. Just like a social network or a dating site, a marketplace allows you to check multiple profiles of influencers before connecting with them. There, you can immediately see an influencer’s following, their reach, examples of their work and decide whether they’re the right choice for you or not.

Over to You

Even though the term influencer marketing is still relatively fresh, this practice is nothing new. For decades, brands hired authoritative people to make their brand more relatable. And, with the rise of the World Wide Web and social networking, this process is made even more natural and user-friendly.

Working with influencers will help you increase your brand awareness and build trust with your target customers. Of course, every solid influencer marketing campaign starts by choosing the right people to promote your brand and products. And, I hope these tips will make this process easier for you!

Hope this helps!

Cooper Klein
Cooper Klein is an entrepreneur with a degree in marketing based in Sydney. He’s a regular contributor to Futurpreneur, RetailNext, BizzmarkBlog, and other online magazines. When he’s not working, he’s reading sci-fi books and playing with his kiddos.

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