How to Find Influencers for your Niche in Social Media
When social media marketing graced the online marketing stage, many business owners didn't
exactly know what to do with this new marketing monster. After all, social media started as a fun and lighthearted way for consumers to connect with one another, share stories, share pictures, and write comments on personal profiles and pages. That aspect of social media does still exist, but consumers are now being inundated with brand recommendations, advertisements, social shopping access, and a myriad of methods for connecting with their favorite businesses and brands.
In order to capitalize on the infinite opportunities presented by social media, it is important to find and use "influencers" within the social media communities. Influencers are people, brands, businesses, or groups that are able to influence the opinions, desires, trends, styles, and thinking of social media users. For example, Starbucks, a popular coffeehouse change, is considered a huge influencer in the realm of popular music, art, diet, and lifestyle. When Starbucks makes recommendations via social media for a great new song, an amazing new artist, or a delicious flavor combination, people listen. Brands that want to gain a following amongst the same niche audience that is associated with Starbucks would do well to gain the attention of Starbucks' marketers.
Finding a social media influencer that operates within your niche via social media can be quite challenging, however. Social media is jammed with users who are producing tweets, updating statuses, linking to articles, featuring videos, and performing any number of social media tasks. Not all of these social media users, however, have the ability to influence a wider audience. Sifting through the social media users to find the influencers who are capable of expanding your brand and widening your audience is an important part of any social media marketing strategy.
A recent article at Businessweek.com discussed an emerging industry that is collecting data from social media and determining who has the most influence over the largest audience population on the social media stage. This industry has emerged simply because finding highly influential social media activists is such an important part of marketing. Here are some suggested strategies for finding influencers from your niche in social media.
A Simple Search
The simplest way to discover the influencers who represent and comment on your niche is to perform a search within the social media applications themselves. Facebook and Twitter, for example, all users to search for specific keywords and hot topics. With Twitter, users who have these keywords mentioned in their profiles or who tweet these keywords on a regular basis will wind up in the search results. Facebook has recently implemented a new technology that is currently going through beta testing. Known as Graph Search, Facebook users can now enter several different search words that may seem to be unrelated and discover social media users relevant to those terms.
What Is Your Niche Discussing?
Another great way to discover information about influencers in your niche is to pay attention to the topics that your niche is discussing. If, for example, your target audience is single women in their twenties, you can pay attention to the social media activity of women who fit this profile. What topics are they discussing? Which articles, blogs, brands, and websites are they quoting? Where are they getting their information? Answering these questions will lead you to the major social media influencers whose attention your brand needs to attract.
Follow the Niche Breadcrumb Trail
Another great strategy for finding valuable social media influencers is to follow the "trail of breadcrumbs" within a social media application. Let's consider Twitter, for example. When Twitter users see a tweet that they especially like, they can choose to reply to that tweet or retweet the tweet. Retweeting is the easiest way to find the original source because the source is directly quoted in the tweet. If, on the other hand, a user replies to a tweet with a statement such as "I love this," or "LOL," you'll need to follow the Twitter trail to discover the original content that is being discussed. You can follow social media breadcrumbs in Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media accounts to find the source of information. Social media users who are creating original content that is shared and commented on by your target audience are likely big influencers within your niche.
Using Third-Party Applications
Of course, third-party applications are another great way to discover a quick list of the biggest influencers for specific topics. The most popular of these third-party informers is Klout. Klout collects information from billions of social media users and collates this data in an organized way. You can search for specific users or specific topics and discover which users are commanding the biggest following for that particular topic. So, if you are selling the latest in men's fashion, using Klout to discover which social media users are influencing this subject may help you gain an edge on the market.
The Direct Question Technique
It's also possible to simply ask your target audience directly who or what they pay attention to most in the social media world. Many consumers will tell you exactly which social media users and accounts are influencing their choices. The only problem with this strategy, of course, is that the best influencers are able to influence a social media audience without making the audience feel like they are being influenced. Your target niche may not know who their most powerful influencers truly are.
Who Mentions Your Competitors?
If you're still struggling to find influencers for your niche, consider searching for your competitors via social media. Users who are consistently mentioning your competitors may be highly influential users who require your focus and attention. If you can get those users to mention your brand, the playing field will be a little more even.
Businesses that fail to find effective influencers and direct a social media marketing strategy through these influencers often end up as lost as, well, as Hansel and Gretel.
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