Written by Ian Cleary

How to Find and Partner with the Right Social Media Influencers


Are you working with social media influencers? And if so, how do you know whether they’re the best ones for your business?

Influencer marketing exploded over the past few years and became one of the key marketing tactics for many big brand names. But it didn’t stop at that. Its effectiveness also made it attractive to smaller companies and those serving narrower niche markets.

Working with influencers includes everything from content amplification to product endorsements and it can drive great results for your clients’ business. But only if you can find truly relevant influencers, engage them in a strategic partnership, and effectively track and measure the results.

In this article, I’ll walk you through tactics and tools for finding, evaluating, and working with the right social media influencers as an agency working with clients.

So, let’s get started!

What Is a Social Media Influencer?

A social media influencer is someone who has access to a relevant audience that you want to reach with your brand message. Social media influencers have earned the trust of their audience and can persuade them to take action.

Also, they deliver valuable content regularly and demonstrate a high level of engagement. They also have a great track record in delivering results to the brands they’ve worked with.

Types of Social Media Influencers

There are different “levels of hierarchy” regarding nfluencers. Depending on their level of influence, they will make a different impact when they share your content or promote your brand.

Here’s how we categorize social media influencers:

  • Celebrity influencers.  These are the top influencers in your industry that are typically difficult to connect with. They’re so popular they have so-called “gatekeepers” and can choose the brands they want to work with.
  • Power influencers. -They have an influence over a large audience but don’t have the celebrity status that makes them more approachable and easier to work with.
  • Micro-influencers. They have influence over a smaller, niche audience. They may not help you reach masses but can definitely drive their audience to action.
  • Media influencers. Typically journalists who write for one or more reputable publications
  • Connectors. Well-connected people whose influence lies in their network

Influencer Marketing Programs to Consider

You can work with influencers to connect with your target audience on social media in different ways. Let’s take a look at the most effective ones:

Social media takeover

Social media takeover is a great way to increase brand exposure and deliver interesting content to your audience.

In essence, you are handing over the control of your social media accounts and letting an influencer to promote your brand on social media. This, however, requires a huge level of trust. You’ll typically do this type of program with an influencer you’ve already built a relationship with.

Product launch campaign

If you were launching a new product, you could involve influencers directly in the launch campaign to help build awareness, generate interest, and drive sales. The right social media influencers will build hype around your product launch, create, and share unique content about your product, and drive their audience to action.

Contests and giveaways 

If your company is active on social media, then you’ve probably run contests and giveaways before to create buzz around your product and get your followers to engage with your brand. Now, you can amplify this by getting an influencer to promote a contest and expand its reach to a much wider audience.

Brand ambassador

This is probably the most effective type of influencer marketing, given that you’re working with the right social media influencer for your brand.

It’s a long-term engagement in which an influencer promotes your brand by regularly sharing images, posts, videos, and articles about your product or service, mentions your brand at events, etc. Brand ambassador programs can help you get exposure to a wider audience, drive relevant traffic, and generate sales.

Define Your Influencer Marketing Goals

Now that you know more about the different types of influencer marketing programs, make sure to clearly define what you would like to achieve from working with influencers.

Doing so will help you determine the KPIs you should track and monitor to measure the overall success of your social media influencer campaign.

Your influencer marketing goals could include:

  • Building brand awareness
  • Expanding your social media audience
  • Increasing engagement
  • Generating more leads
  • Driving sales
  • Building brand advocacy, etc.

Finding the Right Social Influencers for Your Brand

By focusing on building a list of highly relevant influencers who are also a good fit for your planned campaign, you’ll expose your brand to a targeted audience that you couldn’t have reached on your own.

Now, let’s look at some proven and effective ways of finding social media influencers.

1. Use a tool specialized for finding influencers 

There are some good tools out there that can help you find influencers who are relevant to your business and have the right level of reach, social influence, and overall authority.

One of those tools that I often use and recommend is GroupHigh and it’s incredibly useful if you’re looking for influential bloggers in your industry.

GroupHigh has a large database of blogs that you can tap into to find influencers who’d be a great fit for your campaign.

You can search for the right people by entering in the most relevant keywords. Same as you would in Google search, you just type in, for example, “content marketing,” and the tool will display the results that looked something like this:

social media influencers GroupHigh

You can then filter the results by location, social accounts available, MozRank, frequency of posting, and more.

Here’s a more detailed overview of finding influencers with GroupHigh.

2. Use Google to find influencers 

You already know the top keywords for your business (and hopefully for your competitors) and you can use them to find relevant and popular blogs, social media groups, videos, podcasts, etc.

The key to getting good results from your search is using long-tail keywords around the topic of your campaign.

So, for example, if you want to work with an influencer to promote an app for time management, you can search phrases like “time management tools,” best tools for managing time,’ etc. to find influential blogs and people talking about these topics. The most influential ones will consistently appear at the top of the search results.

3. Search on social media

Like Google search, this is a pretty straight forward way of finding influencers. You can use search option in social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to find potential influencers.

Depending on the platform you’re searching, you’ll get more or less sophisticated search options.

  • LinkedIn has an advanced search option (i.e. filters that you can apply to get to the most relevant people). However, this doesn’t mean you’ll find influencers immediately. You’ll get a list of people who fit the keywords you entered and who are typically a second-level connection to you. Then you can apply filters like location, industry, current company, and more. But then you’ll still need to go through people’s profiles to assess their influence based on connections, the content they publish, the level of engagement, etc.
  • Twitter has some great options for finding and interacting with influencers. It’s advanced search options let you find people who are addressing niche audiences in your industry. You can search for hashtags that are relevant to your business or your product to find influencers who are right for your campaign.Or you can find them by looking at the Lists of an influencer you already follow. Twitter lists are a great way to discover new influencers!
  • Facebook gives you an option to find popular groups relevant to your product or service and find out who are the admins/moderators. There’s a good chance that these people are experts in this domain and have influence over an engaged audience interested in your topic.

If you use Agorapulse for Social Media Management you’ll see that it automatically identifies influencers within your feed.  This is very useful because if influencers are engaging with you, it’s an opportunity to engage back with them!



4. Track competitors’ mentions with a monitoring tool 

This may not seem like an obvious path to finding influencers, but bear with me for a moment…

People who talk about your competitors or their products may as well be influencers in your industry.

Don’t you want to know who they are so you can do everything you can to get them to talk about your product, too?

Of course, you do! And this is easy with a tool like Brand24,  you just set up a project to track mentions of all your key competitors, their brand name, and their product name.

You can then see who is talking about these topics and Brand24 will show you an estimated influence score for these people.

social media influencers Brand24

How to Check How Influential an Influencer Actually Is

Not every influencer that ends up on your initial list will be a good fit for your brand. You’ll need to measure their influence to figure out who you should reach out to and build a relationship with.

To identify the most valuable influencers for your brand you need to look at the following:

  • Website authority. To understand the authority of a website, you’ll need access to their analytics to check the amount of traffic they’re generating, engagement metrics, goals achieved, etc.Alternatively, you’ll use an SEO tool such as Ahrefs to assess the authority of a website. It calculates the website authority based on several parameters, including the Ahrefs Rank, the Domain Rank, and the number of backlinks to the website. This is a quick and easy way to evaluate the overall authority of a website.


  • Relevance and nterest. You want to make sure that the content an influencer is creating and the audience they’re attracting are relevant to your campaign goals. You need to check if they’re already writing about the topics you want to promote and how often and the level of engagement they’re getting for these topics.
  • Social authority. This may be the most important thing to check for a social media influencer – what is their actual level of influence across social channels? How many followers do they have? Are they attracting the audience that is relevant to your brand? Is their content getting a lot of positive engagement?
  • Quality of content. You can get an idea of the quality of content an influencer produces by taking the time to read some of their content, looking at how many people are sharing it, and also looking at the sentiment of comments people are leaving on their content on social media.
  • Track record. A good influencer will have proof of successful brand partnerships. They’ll have testimonials from companies they have worked with, giving you a peace of mind that they’ll help create a positive perception of your brand among their social media audience.

How to Reach Out to Influencers

Connecting with influencers and building relationships with them takes time, research, and sincerity. The first email you send to an influencer could literally make or break the relationship.

So, when you’re sending that initial outreach email, make sure that:

  • You’ve done your research. This helps you write a personalized message that will set you apart from a large majority of people who send the same, generic emails to everyone.
  • You highlight what’s in it for them. Influencers are busy people and most of them won’t work for free. Be transparent about the type of influencer program you want to run, how they can contribute, and what you’ll give to them in return.
  • Show flexibility. You need to let them know you’re open to exploring different collaboration opportunities that may work better for them so they feel appreciated from the outset.

KPIs to Measure for Different Stages of Your Marketing Funnel

Different influencer programs can help you reach your wider marketing goals at every stage of your marketing funnel, from creating awareness to improving brand advocacy.

Here’s the summary of the KIPs you need to measure for each of the funnel stages:

  • Awareness → Increased visits to the website, increased conversations about the brand
  • increased fans/followers.
  • Consideration → Improved brand reputation, generated inquiries, number of trial sign-ups.
  • Decision → Higher proposal rates from interested prospects
  • Action → Higher conversion rates than cold channels
  • Advocacy → Generated referrals from existing customers.


Finding the right social media influencers for your brand is the first step towards a successful partnership and a successful influencer program.

I’ve shown you the most effective ways to find influencers that are a good fit for your brand, gave you actionable tips on how to reach out to them, and walked you through the key KPIs you need to measure to understand the value that the influencer program brought to your business. Now, it’s your turn to apply all of this in practice!

Want to find a social media agency that can help you even further in your social media marketing? Check out our global directory to find a digital agency near you.

Ian Cleary

We help B2B businesses drive more traffic and sales through inbound and outbound marketing. Ian Cleary is founder of RazorSocial where he provides practical and strategic advice to B2B companies through consultancy and training for all areas of Digital Marketing/Content Marketing. He is an Inbound and Outbound Marketer! When he's not working from his office in Dublin he's keynote speaking at marketing conferences around the world. He is an exciting and entertaining speaker that is consistently listed as one of the top rated speakers at any event he speaks at. Here's a couple of recent achievements... ♦ Listed as the 8th most influential person in social media globally by Onalytica in 2016 ♦ Listed as one of the top 100 online marketers globally by Brand24 in 2018 ♦ Listed as one of the top internet marketing blog globally by INC Q1 2016 ♦ Listed as one of the top 50 content marketing influencers globally in Q2 2015 ♦Contributing author to Digital Marketing Superstars, published by Entrepreneur.com ♦ Top 40 Digital Strategist in a recent annual report by Online Marketing Institute in the US ♦Winner of "Best Social Media Blog" annual blog award by Social Media Examiner 2013 to 2016 ♦ Professional speaker speaking at many international events. Martech, Social Media Marketing World, Content Marketing World and Tbex. ♦ Awarded as one of the top rated speakers at Content Marketing World ♦ Published in Forbes, VentureBeat, Entrepreneur.com, Huffington Post, Social Media Examiner, MarketingProfs and many more. ♦ Co-founder of the Content Marketing Mastery conference with Mark Schaefer