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How to find an influencer who is genuinely influential



Influencer marketing has been the hottest, not to mention most divisive topic in comms for some time now. And trust us when we say that situation is unlikely to change in the near future.

But while most brand managers understand what the term means less are clear on how to avoid falling foul of the significant risks associated with trying to harness the power of someone else’s social media following. Get it wrong, and there’s a serious danger you’ll wind up wasting priceless hours trying to court useless people.

Or, worse still, come a cropper and damage a good company name by sidling up with irresponsible ‘ambassadors’ who ignore ethical expectations and legal guidelines in a bid to make a quick buck. Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

In a bid to help you avoid misspending resources we asked a senior member  of Smoking Gun’s digital team, Carly Chell, to note down some sure-fire ways to guarantee you find influencers who are genuinely influential. And once you’re done here why not take a look at our comprehensive guide to influencer marketing, which is available as a handy PDF download 

Finding influencers in five simple steps


Understanding what an influencer is should be your first step.

The best people to reach out to may not be those with the biggest follower and fan numbers, but rather those with high social media engagement, direct relevance to your sector and those you want to reach with the campaign. We often look at ‘connectors’ on any given topic – those most often talking about and spreading conversation and are therefore most likely to generate the most impact.

Next, work out why you want an influencer

This is more important than asking ‘who do we want?’ That’s because once you understand why you want an influencer you should get a good picture of the sort of influencer you want.

Decide on ‘micro’ or ‘macro’ influencers

It’s still amazing how many people seem to think influencer is a catch-all term, when in fact there are two distinct types.

On the one hand you have ‘micro’ influencers. Specialists in specific fields who carry a lot of clout amongst a relatively limited community, they can be priceless to niche and B2B brands.

Then you have ‘macro’ influencers— celebrities, sporting personalities and similarly high profile individuals with a greater general reach.

Search out potential ‘influencer candidates’

Thankfully there are several apps that can take the labour out of this task. Take a look at:

-Traackr; a pro-level analytics and search platform that allows you to find key spokespeople by subject, assess their voice, reach and resulting sentiment

-followeronk; This free tool only works with Twitter, but again provides both a search engine to find useful accounts and an analytics system that can judge authority, how the account stacks up against peers and even create reports

-Buzzsumo; In effect this is an influencer marketing hub that lets you see which pieces of content are working best for rival brands, manage outreach lists to make the first approach and drill down into the stats and facts relating to people of interest

Monitor, monitor, monitor

Once you have your shortlist, before making an approach, it’s vital to do some observing, research media coverage surrounding the account holder (where possible), and go back through their timelines as far as possible. This should give a rounded understanding of how reliable they are, and warn of any potential problems well before you get in touch.

Read our guide to influencer marketing

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