Social influence: How to find specialized influencers

You can’t log into Instagram without seeing an influencer post somewhere in your feed, and those posts aren’t so uncommon on Twitter or Facebook either.

But if you’re the brand, how do you go about finding the right influencer to work with, especially if they’re not a big name you’ve probably already seen working with other brands and you’re in a niche industry?

We dive into it.

Got questions or something we missed around social influence? Find us on Twitter @UnionMetrics.

Finding the right niche influencers

If you’re in a niche industry, you need some niche influencers. Or maybe you’re not in a niche industry, but you have a story to tell in a campaign that would make sense being told in partnership with niche influencers. Either way: You need some niche influencers, so how do you find them?

The best way is to be an active member of the community that is also part of your target audience; then you’ll likely already have an idea of who the popular, influential accounts are in these spaces. (And keep in mind that “popular” doesn’t have to mean “millions of followers”; engagement rate is usually the best sign of an influential account. We talk more about that in the next section.)

If you’re not, there’s no time like the present and this will also get you better results when you launch your campaign or partnership. Online communities respond best to authentic participants who actually want to forge relationships with them and don’t just want to pop in with a bullhorn to sell things. This approach also takes some of the work out of your due diligence around vetting an influencer since you’ll already be familiar with their work and approach on the platform.

If you’re starting from scratch on Instagram or Twitter, start by searching the hashtags popular in your industry and see who’s using them over and over. Drill into related hashtags to find increasingly niche accounts (like someone whose life revolves around woodworking rather than whose coworker’s pieces they occasionally share, for example).

Instagram search automatically recommends related hashtags, but it takes a little more work on Twitter, especially because most people aren’t using more than one hashtag at a time since that often signals spam.

You can make things easier by using something like our analytics, which have a few different ways to tap into influencers:

  • You can run a free Twitter snapshot report around any keyword (like the niche you’re after), account or hashtag and look at the list of contributors and most retweeted tweets to start
  • A Twitter account Tracker will also let you dig further into contributors and hashtags
  • An Instagram account Tracker (your own authenticated one) will also let you dig further into hashtags and followers

The latter lets you tap into a potential influencer you already have an established relationship with, which makes the whole process easier.

Finding the right micro-influencers

Niche-influencers could be of any size; it’s just more likely they won’t be mega-celebrities if they’re influential in a specialized space, so there is some overlap with micro-influencers, or those with smaller followings but high engagement levels.

Why engagement? Well it’s easy to tell if an influencer’s audience doesn’t actually care what they’re trying to share with them: Check engagement. A high follower count but low engagement signals- few likes compared to their follower number and even fewer comments, for example- means an account likely bought followers to try and appear more influential than they actually are.

There’s no shortcut to actually responding to comments and building relationships over time with people on Instagram or any other social platform. When brands work with influencers they should be looking to expand and enhance their own work in a space, not cop out of doing it.

So how do you find micro-influencers? The same steps listed in the previous section will help find micro-influencers. Pay attention to their accounts: They’ll be very passionate about the space they’re in, and they’ll have a very engaged following even though it’s not a huge one.

The most important thing in influencer marketing

Once you’ve found influencers you want to work with, the most important thing is to be clear about the goals of your partnership and/or campaign with them. Be sure both of you know what you expect from one another- the goals of the project and how those goals will be measured- before launch.

And certainly do your due diligence to avoid any kind of crisis communication situation.