How to Identify the Perfect Influencer for Your Business

By combining metrics, online tools and commonsense, you will recognize which influencer is best positioned to boost your brand.

learn more about John Rampton

By John Rampton • Mar 3, 2017 Originally published Jan 1, 2017

Yuri_Arcurs | Getty Images

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

More and more businesses are relying on influencers to add credibility to their brand. Since consumers are increasingly wary about trusting what businesses tell them, this is one way brands can still have a voice. According to Tomoson's Influencer Marketing Study, not only is influencer marketing one of the most effective marketing strategies, it also:

  • Has some of the highest returns, with businesses making $6.50 for every $1 spent
  • Is the fastest growing marketing channel among businesses surveyed
  • Provides the best quality customers
While influencer marketing can obviously be highly effective, finding the right influencer is key. This post will outline five strategies you can use to identify the perfect influencer for your business.

1. Use BuzzSumo to find industry influencers

With its dramatic rise in popularity, it's no surprise that there are now many tools that can help automate the process of influencer identification. One of my favorites is BuzzSumo. Not only can it help you identify key influencers based on keywords, you can filter them by date, location and type of influencer (blogger, journalist, company, etc.). BuzzSumo influencer screenshot

A particularly useful aspect of the tool is the "View Links Shared" tab. If you've found an influencer that looks like a good fit, use this feature to identify links he or she has recently promoted. This will give you a better idea of the types of content they typically share, and how well that content performs.

Related: How to Get a Great ROI on Your Influencer Marketing Plan

2. Ask yourself: Who would I trust in this industry?

While a tool like BuzzSumo can be a great help, it's no substitute for common sense. As you narrow down possible candidates, ask yourself who you would trust for business or product recommendations. According to Adweek, Twitter users now trust influencers almost as much as their friends (49 percent rely on influencer recommendations while 56 percent rely on friends). But all influencers are not equal. Which influencer do you tend to gravitate towards? Which one would you trust if you were looking for a product recommendation? Keep in mind that may not be the influencer who has the largest following. Which leads us to #3....

Related: How to Create a Successful Influencer Marketing Campaign

3. Look at engagement and reach, not just vanity metrics

Fans, followers and subscriber counts are key metrics to consider when looking at different influencers. However, they're only one piece of the puzzle. According to Vervely, the three key elements of social media engagement are: conversations (comments/replies), applause (lives, favorites, etc.) and amplification (shares). Social media engagement metrics

These are all important considerations:

When applying this to influencer marketing, I would also ask questions like what kind of reach do their posts or tweets typically get? What about email opens and clicks? What kind of conversion rates have they typically achieved in similar campaigns? Do people seem to actually be interested in and engaged with what they has to say? Do they actually respond to questions they have been asking on social media?

Related: 8 Do's and Don'ts of Influencer Marketing

4. Consider relevance to your business or product

Just like number of fans and followers can't always predict reach or level of influencer, past engagement can't necessarily predict the success of your campaign. Relevance is a vital aspect of choosing an influencer, but one that can't be defined by any specific metric.

Some questions to ask yourself include: Does my audience know and trust this person? Has she successfully promoted similar products or brands before? Is he generally known as an expert in this field? Do her audience demographics line up with my own?

Follower count and reach are one thing, but you also need to know if the people who will be reached are likely to buy your products. Asking the questions above will help you figure this out.

5. Use an influencer marketplace

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-10-25-05-am

An influencer marketplace like TapInfluence can help you identify influencers, and then track your campaign performance

Influencer marketplaces are popping up all over the place. These companies are essentially matchmakers for brands and influencers who are interested in promoting brands. There's a fair bit of variability in how different marketplaces operate and how much they charge, so make sure you know what you're getting into before you sign up. Some of my favorites are:
  • Influential: A personal favorite that I've worked with since the start. I later became an advisor to this company.
  • IZEA: One of the largest marketplaces, and has reasonable rates for smaller businesses.
  • TapInfluence: Specializes in providing software to help automate your influencer marketing. Their base rate is $1,999 per month, so not a reasonable option for small businesses.
  • Tribe: Marketplace that specializes in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram influencers. The nice thing about Tribe is it's free to sign up and browse their database of influencers. You only pay if you purchase a campaign.

While these marketplaces can help streamline the process of finding an influencer, keep in mind you'll still need to identify which influencers are the best fit for your business. This will mean using all the strategies listed above.

The success of your influencer marketing campaign rests squarely on the influencer you choose. A bit of research up front can save you from choosing one who won't help you achieve your goals. The five strategies above will help with this.

John Rampton

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Entrepreneur and Connector

John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor and startup enthusiast. He is the founder of the calendar productivity tool Calendar.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

This Co-Founder Was Kicked Out of Retailers for Pitching a 'Taboo' Beauty Product. Now, Her Multi-Million-Dollar Company Sells It for More Than $20 an Ounce.
Have You Ever Obsessed Over 'What If'? According to Scientists, You Don't Actually Know What Would Have Fixed Everything.
Most People Don't Know These 2 Things Are Resume Red Flags. A Career Expert Reveals How to Work Around Them.
Business News

Massive Fire At Top Egg Farm Leaves Estimated 100,000 Hens Dead. What Does This Mean For Egg Prices?

Hillandale Farms in Bozrah, Connecticut went up in flames on Saturday in an incident that is still under investigation.

Business News

These Two Cars Are Stolen So Often Insurance Won't Cover Them

Progressive and State Farm have dropped some older Hyundai and Kia models after learning that a design flaw makes them easy to start without a key.

Business Solutions

5 Procurement Trends To Keep on Your Radar for 2023

Procurement professionals must adapt to inflation and a shortage of skilled labor in the face of an economic recession. Investing in a workforce paired with retraining and development strategies will put your company on top amid economic uncertainty.

Business News

Out With the Kibble and In With the Steak. The World's Richest Dog Has a Net Worth of $400 Million – And a New Netflix Docuseries Too

'Gunther's Millions' is set to unpack the pooch's mysterious fortune and what those around him have done with his inheritance.

Business News

'This Just Can't Be for Real': Fyre Festival Fraudster Billy McFarland is Now Hiring For His New Tech Company -- And He's Already Selling Merch

McFarland was released from house arrest last September and is currently being ordered to pay $26 million in restitution to fraud victims.