Most people trying to reach a decision for a vendor, a product or a service will try to get at least a couple of third party opinions on the downsides or benefits of any particular choice. In addition to recommendations from friends and business partners the world’s influencers are often key-components in this process.
So far so good, but when you are planning to engage with these influencers the first step is to identify them. For any given topic there usually is a vast pool of relevant people to take into account. This not only includes the top journalists and tier 1 industry analysts but also various other potential influencers in the market. Among the obvious candidates are consultants, associations and bloggers but it might also be worth to think about the account managers and client relation people supporting your potential customers in their interactions with the analyst firms.
A good way to get started is to review what is being said about your market niche in the various social media groups, blogs, Tweets and magazines. By checking the number of replies, comments and page views you will get a good first impression of the market reach and interest the topic has. Also it is well worth checking the published research by the leading analyst companies to see what trends are shaping the market and who is covering these topics. In addition you can use the search engines to check the key sources in the web and their relevance in the eyes of the search engines. Also don’t forget to talk to your customers and prospects to get some feedback on how they have come across your company and products and what information sources they use to reach a buying decision. The combination of these efforts will probably yield a long list of people who have something to say about your area of interest.
To narrow down the list of influencers to target you will first have to decide what you want to achieve with your influencer marketing activities. For this purpose it makes sense to create „influencer rating cards“ to rank the influencer depending on various criteria. The choice and importance of these criteria obviously depends on the goals you have set for your influencer marketing activities. Examples for potential criteria are market reach, thought leadership, geographical coverage, page views, number of followers etc. Gathering this information will take up some time but it pays to get it right to make sure you spend your (limited) time on the right audience. To speed up the identification and ranking process it might make sense for you to involve an influencer marketing agency who already has some background information or an influencer data base with the relevant metrics. At the end of this process you should end up with a list of 5-15 key influencers relevant for your market with whom you can start your influencer marketing activities. But keep in mind – things will change over time with influencers changing their focus, losing audience and new influencers appearing in the market. This means you will have to continuously review and update your list.