Done right, influencer marketing has the power to skyrocket your brand to a household name. It’s cost efficient, high impact, and drives a much higher ROI than any other marketing activity – there’s a reason 68% of brands plan to increase their influencer marketing budgets next year.
But how do you find new influencers? And how can you make sure they are the right fit for your brand? Explore everything you need to know about finding the right influencers in 2023.
What Is An Influencer?
What Is An Influencer?
Put simply, an influencer is any person who has the ability to influence the thoughts, feelings or behaviors of others. They can be online content creators, social media personalities, celebrities, top customers and more. By harnessing the power of social media, influencers amass highly engaged followings who look to them for advice, inspiration or simply solid gold entertainment value.
The reason influencers have become such a big deal in 2023 is because of their ability to harness this influence to help elevate brands. With a platform to inform the opinions and shopping behaviors of hundreds, thousands, or even millions, influencers are able to drive real impact for brands, in everything from driving engagement and building brand awareness to boosting sales.
How Can Influencers Help Your Brand?
So why should brands try to find influencers? What makes influencer marketing such a successful tool? The answer comes down to three main points:
Heard of the infamous phrase “TikTok made me buy it”? Much like their celebrity predecessors, or the Regina George-esque mean girls that used to prowl our school hallways, influencers inspire. We see our favorite influencer wearing those new viral UGG slippers? We want those new viral UGG slippers. By showcasing products in an aesthetic and creative way, influencers inspire their followers to seek out those same products to recreate the look and/or results themselves.
This is especially true for Gen Z and Millennial audiences – 97% of which look to social media for shopping inspiration.
Influencers have targeted followings
The foundation of each and every marketing strategy is reaching your target audience with a specific message. Who are we trying to target? What does their everyday life look like? What demographic do they fall into? These are all key questions that determine what your target audience might look like, the qualities they may be looking for in your product or service, and how you are able to best market to them.
As influencers build content and communities around a certain niche, their followers essentially become a perfectly packaged targeted audience for brands. Female skincare enthusiasts aged 25 - 35? New parents looking for affordable baby furniture and toys? DIY beginners working on their first restoration project? You name it, there will be an influencer out there that talks directly to a community of your ideal customers on a daily basis.
Influencers provide social proof
Just like a glowing online review or testimonial, influencer-generated content acts as a first-hand validation of a brand’s products or service. Their honest feedback, combined with a visual product demonstration or walk-through addresses any doubts their followers may have had about the product, and, if done well, generates a good amount of demand for the product as a result.
You can read more on the evolution of influencer marketing, here.
How To Choose The Right Influencers
So, it’s clear that finding influencers an partnering with them can be invaluable for your brand – but it’s not as simple as cherry-picking creators with the most curated Instagram feeds. Your chosen brand partners become the face of your brand, so ensuring that they are a good fit with your company and your target customers is crucial.
Here are six qualities to look for when selecting influencers to partner with:
1. Audience affinity
Affinity between your target audience and your influencer’s community is crucial – you need to go where your target market already is. Do some research into the influencer’s followers, particularly those who frequently engage with individual posts. A rough idea of their demographic combined with the language and tone of the influencer’s content should allow you to build a good picture of the audience they are engaging with.
2. Connection to your brand’s values
To achieve authentic influencer-generated content (IGC), synergy between your brand values and your influencers’ is key. Are you on a mission to end all waste in the beauty sector? Determined to bring more size-inclusive options to the fashion industry? Seek out influencers who are vocal about supporting this same mission through their content. This will not only result in ICG that resonates highly with each influencer’s followers, but will set the tone for a mutually-beneficial long-term relationship.
3. Community engagement
Of course, the first step in deciding if any influencer is for you is reviewing their content and the way they interact with their followers. What sort of messages do they support through their posts? How do they communicate with their audience? Do they take the time to engage and converse with their followers in their comments? Think about the general aura that comes across on their channel and how this matches with your brand personality. And remember, don’t just stick to the social media channel you are interested in. Influencers can present themselves differently depending whether they are creating content for TikTok, Youtube or Instagram, so make sure to do a full sweep to understand their complete online presence.
4. Engagement where it matters
Be sure to take a closer look at which of the influencer’s posts are generating the most engagement. A high engagement rate overall is great, but do #ads and #sponsored posts garner fewer likes than their organic content? This could suggest that they are not currently striking the right tone in presenting branded content in the same engaging and creative way as the content followers look for and expect from their channel. Look for influencers who are skilled at integrating branded content into their own authentic personal brand.
5. Authentic partnerships
In an era of ad blindness, customers view influencer recommendations as honest and unbiased, much like they would a recommendation from a friend. They also see right through content which seems out of place or the result of a lucrative (but disconnected) brand deal. Before partnering with influencers, review their channels to see what other brands they endorse. Are there any partnerships that seem random? Do they seem to support the influencer’s overall purpose/passion/journey?
A key quality which adds an extra layer of trust to influencer content is credibility. What is their background to be talking about this subject? This need not always be a college degree – life experience or an authentic passion can serve as powerful credibility markers combined with great quality content. This is most powerful for industry specific expertise, i.e a fitness brand partnering with trained PTs, a beauty brand with make-up articles, or a feminine care brand with scientists. Consider how their area of expertise might fit with your product or service and how their nod of approval may just enhance your existing brand trust.
Before Beginning Your Influencer Search
We’ve now established the qualities you’re looking for in your influencers, and the benefits that can occur if you get it right. We know you’re eager to launch straight into finding your next brand partner, but there are a few key steps to take before you get started.
We cover all of these steps in detail in our complete guide to Getting Started with Influencer Marketing, but for now, here’s a quick snapshot:
1. Determine The Goals Of Your Campaign
Is your prime objective to boost brand awareness? Or is it more about audience engagement and driving sales? This could affect the type of influencers you are looking for, so it’s wise to set these out before you get started. Read more about setting influencer marketing goals.
2. Know Your Target Audience
To find the right influencers for your brand, you need to know who your target audience is – and well. Think about their values, preferences, shopping habits, age etc to help guide your review of influencer followings.
A good tip for gaining inspiration about what your audience cares about is to look through your followers for users with public accounts and check out who they follow. You can also use surveys or polls on social media asking what they care most about or who their favorite creators are. This can help you narrow down what your audience is interested in and find potential influencers.
3. Establish A Budget
Of course, to know which influencers, or how many, you’ll be able to afford, you need to know the kind of budget you are working with. Influencers with smaller followings such as nano and micro influencers will charge much lower rates compared to the likes of macro and mega stars that cross over to celebrity status.
But, remember, there’s often a benefit to spreading your budget across a higher number of smaller influencers. Nano and micro influencers typically have much higher engagement rates than their macro counterparts, which can give them much greater influence in terms of buying behavior. Of course, this is again dependent on your chosen influencer marketing goals – check out our guide to measuring influencer marketing ROI the right way for extra guidance.
4. Be Wary Of Fake Influencers
As to be suspected in an industry growing as fast as influencer marketing, there are always scammers waiting to grab a piece of the pie. Fake influencers continue to emerge across all social media platforms and even legitimate influencers can engage in shady activities to boost engagement and inflate their followings.
This is where an influencer marketing platform can become even more critical for brands, to weed out any shady accounts and allow for better auditing of legitimate profiles. Check out how Aspire does it.
If you’re not at the stage of investing in an influencer marketing platform just yet, look for red flags before you reach out. If an influencer has tons of followers and no content, that could be a sign that they pay for followers. Likewise, if they have lots of followers but very little engagement, this could suggest a fake account. If you feel suspicious, try putting their profile picture and posts through a reverse google image search, to confirm their photos are their own.
How To Find Influencers
So, we’ve covered all the bases on what to look for in your chosen influencers and the steps to take before you get started. Now it’s time for the fun stuff – how to find influencers! From the classic Google search to finding influencers on Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn and more, here we cover all of the techniques out there to find the best influencers for your brand.
1. Use Social Media Search Tools To Your Advantage
Social media is the best place to start when looking for influencers. It makes sense; a creator’s influence comes from their social media presence. And with search features that allow you to find people using keywords, hashtags, recommended content, and advanced tools, you can easily explore social media to find influencers in your niche.
Let’s explore how to find influencers on each social media platform:
How to find influencers on Instagram
Because of the ability to search keywords and quickly get recommendations, Instagram is a great place to find influencers for your brand.
Your first stop is the ‘Explore’ page. To get there, hit the magnifying glass at the bottom of the screen. This page recommends popular content based on your user account, so make sure you’re logged in as your brand.
You can also search keywords by typing them into the search bar at the top.
Use industry-related words, and then choose one of the categories at the top. Focus on top posts, accounts, tags, and places to find creators to follow or explore their followers. Once you follow a creator, Instagram will recommend other profiles for you to follow as well.
How to find influencers on YouTube
If you’re looking for influencers who create product reviews or tutorials, YouTube is the perfect place. Like Instagram, YouTube has an ‘Explore’ tab to see what’s trending and find creators in your niche. From the Explore page, you have several options.
- Check the suggested categories for ones that fit your brand. Once you click that category, you’ll get recommended and trending videos in that category.
2. Or skip the categories and hit ‘trending’ to see what videos are popular on YouTube at the moment.
3. Type industry-related keywords into the search bar to find popular videos in your niche.
For more guidance on influencer marketing on YouTube, check out our guide. Or for inspiration on the type of influencer content you can expect to see on Youtube, check out these up-and-coming YouTube influencers.
How to find influencers on TikTok
TikTok is the prime example of a platform where anyone can go viral and where finding content creators in your niche is simple.
TikTok’s ‘Discover’ page is very similar to Instagram’s ‘Explore’ page. Once you hit the magnifying glass at the top right of your ‘for you’ page (FYP), you can see trending hashtags and what people are watching right now. Or just search terms related to your brand. Then use the filters for top users, videos, and hashtags to find people posting about your industry.
How to find influencers on LinkedIn
While LinkedIn might not be top of mind when it comes to finding influencers for your brand, you can strategically search for people who list “influencer” as their profession. Once you’re on the platform, search ‘influencer,’ ‘content creator,’ and ‘blogger,’ and filter by ‘people.’
You can also refine by industry and other demographics to find people who are in your niche. Once you find someone, connect with a DM. Even if they aren’t interested in a partnership, they may help you make a connection with someone who is.
How to find influencers on Twitch
Some brands can find effective influencers on Twitch because the streamers on the platform often have very loyal viewers.
To find creators on Twitch, check out sites like Twitch Tracker, which allows you to find top streamers and popular clips. You can also check the ‘Browse’ tab for different categories, filter by tags, or get recommendations.
2. Level Up Your Google Search
Where else to start than with Google? While it’s logical to begin with a basic search such as ‘Influencers in x industry,’ Google has some other tricks up its sleeve that can help you to find the right influencers.
Firstly, don’t limit yourself to the word ‘influencer.’ What you’re looking for is people with influence in your niche, which covers many more people outside those than simply define themselves as an influencer.
Try swapping out the word ‘influencers’ for ‘artists’, ‘creators’, ‘photographers’, ‘bloggers’, ‘experts’, ‘authors’, or ‘journalists’. For example, ‘bloggers in the beauty industry’ is going to give you completely different search results than ‘creators in the beauty industry.’ Varying your search terms will give you a richer selection of content, creators, and channels.
Google also allows you to search a specific social media platform using the ‘site’ filter.
Try typing ‘Site:[platform URL] [relevant keyword]’ to filter Google results based on a website. For example, searching ‘site:twitter.com beauty’ gives you results that contain the word beauty, but only from Twitter.
Set Google Alerts
By setting Google Alerts for keywords associated with your brand, you can find people who are creating content related to your niche.
Google Alerts notify you when people post about industry-related topics. This helps you find thought leaders and people who interact with their content. Set an alert for your brand name, keywords related to your brand and product, and even competitors. Google offers step-by-step instructions on how to set up an alert.
3. Social Listening
Social listening involves monitoring social media platforms for conversations happening about your brand. This includes brand mentions, tags, comments and hashtags. While some marketers practice social listening manually, this can be labor intensive as your brand scales, which is why others tend to opt for a social listening tool.
By connecting your social media channels, social listening tools make it easy to see the posts you were mentioned in, how many times you have been mentioned, and what people are saying about your brand – all at a glance.
4. Tap Into Existing Customers
Because the ideal influencer doesn’t have to be someone with the largest following on Instagram, you can look just about anywhere for the perfect influencer. The people you partner with should be advocates of your brand — creators who can influence others. Who better to do that than people who already love your product?
Consider reaching out to your customers via email or DM to thank them for their purchase. You could then invite them to join an ambassador or affiliate program, where they can earn a commission on each product sold. Make sure to include incentives and a way to contact you.
5. Analyze Your Competition
Another great way to find relevant influencers is to search for ones who have built positive relationships with companies like yours.
While you might not want to use the exact same influencers, you can gain valuable insights from them, like what resonates with your audience and what doesn’t. For example, a beauty brand’s competitor recently partnered with an influencer on a beauty tutorial. They used the product in the video, posted on their own feed, and their comments were full of requests for more tutorials. This is an indication that your followers might like to see an influencer use your product in a makeup tutorial.
Pay close attention to engagement as well. People who are actively commenting, sharing, or liking competitors’ content could be an opportunity. Go to their profiles and check out their interactions.
6. Subscribe to Industry-Related Content
Stay up to date on relevant industry trends by following popular content hubs where industry experts and thought leaders contribute. By keeping an eye on this type of content, you’ll discover well-known, influential people in your niche.
Consider subscribing to industry-related:
But instead of targeting the big names, see who is being interviewed, referenced, or contributing. These industry experts often make effective influencers. For example, if your brand is in the fitness industry, you may want to follow popular fitness podcasts like Jillian Michaels’. Each week, she brings on doctors, authors, and other specialists to talk about wellness.
7. Influencer Search Tools
If you’re looking to scale your influencer marketing platforms quickly, there are influencer search engines that allow you to search for creators across all social channels using filters such as audience insight, location, demographic and at Aspire, we have an image search capability allowing you to find creators by aesthetic.
- Streamlined search – Think of an influencer search engine as Google that only searches for influential people. You can discover people across TikTok, Meta, Pinterest, Youtube in one search dashboard.
- Segmented search – Most platforms compile data from every social site so you can easily search by audience demographic, industry, or even visual aesthetic.
- Detailed influencer profiles – These platforms offer an in-depth overview of the influencer’s key data – allowing you to compare engagement rates, follower growth and audience demographics to others in the industry. Bonus: they also weed out fake accounts and provide an authenticity rating so you know exactly who you’re partnering with.
In addition to a comprehensive search database, it’s worth looking out for the following features:
- Creator marketplace – The perfect complement to outbound searching and outreach. Sharing upcoming campaigns on a creator marketplace allows influencers to find you.
- Ecommerce integrations – Search your customer base for influencers. For instance, Aspire has a Shopify integration so you can automatically send products to influencers, track promo codes, and generate affiliate links.
- Social listening – Find brand fans who are already mentioning you online and start a conversation with them.
You’ve Found the Perfect Influencers for Your Brand — Now What?
Once you have curated a list of potential influencers, it’s time to reach out to them.
This is your chance to sell yourself – tell them why you’re interested in partnering with them, what you have in mind for a campaign, and what incentives you can offer in return. If you’re looking for some inspiration, our influencer brief template tells you everything you need to know.
Make sure to keep your message super personalized, and include all of the key ideas and preferences for your campaign. This is another area where marketers are inclined to opt for an influencer marketing platform, to manage influencer communication, campaign terms and content approvals in one place.
Aspire offers all of these tools (and many more!) to help global brands manage all things influencer marketing. Schedule a demo to see our platform in action!