Last week I covered the super slippery question of what is an influencer? Now I want to take it a step further and discuss tips and tools on identifying  influencers for your brand.

Finding “mega influencers” for your brand is easy. They are the biggest names in your industry, the names that automatically come to mind when you think about your ideal social media BFF. So, in this post I am going to focus on the “mid-level influencers.”

What are the mid-level influencers? Think about mid-level influencers being smack dab in the middle of the spectrum between celebrities and your mom. Celebrities have a far reach but nothing to do with the context of your brand and your mom talks about your brand passionately and thus has influence but little to no reach.  Mid-level influencers talk about relevant topics pertaining to your brand and have a perfect balance of reach and influence. 

To thoroughly explore the topic of mid-level influencers, I recommend checking out this presentation from Ignite Social Media.

Research from Social Chorus shows that marketers can target 100 mid-level influencers and get more action and social mentions than working with a small number of “high level influencers” like celebrities. These findings are good news because mid-level influencers tend to be more abundant and easier on the budget.

A mid-level influencer can encompass many types of people and it’s very important to keep in mind that they are going to be different for every brand. After making a contextual fit the first thing to consider, these influencers can be found primarily as bloggers, active social media users and advocates of your brand.

Here are 5 tools that can help you identify mid-level influencers who are the right fit for your brand.

Social Media Monitoring

There are many free to premium social media monitoring tools available on the web. I use HootSuite which allows you to not only organize your own social media efforts but also allows you to monitor what is being tweeted about you or who is tweeting about keywords that you’ve decided are the perfect fit for your brand. Thus, using HootSuite allows you to find brand advocates and influencers.

My Streams

Another option is Trackur which can pull mentions from all social media and internet sources in to one list.

Your biggest brand advocates will insert themselves in to conversations about your brand and this way you can identify who they are. You should also set up hashtags to follow that pertain to your brand. Thus you can identify other Twitter users who post about the topics that coincide with your brand and start engaging with them to lay the ground work for future collaboration.

It’s crucial to pay close attention to the consumers who are your brands advocates aka the people who spread the love about your brand without ever being asked to. The reason your company needs to know who these people are is so that you can reward or at least acknowledge them so that they keep up the mentions. Recommendations that come from a passionate consumer are the best bits of marketing your brand will ever have. And Remember, passion equals influence.

 Follower Wonk

While HootSuite covers what people are tweeting, Follower Wonk covers who. Follower Wonk is a tool from SEOmoz that allows you to search for Twitter users with any keyword in their bio. You can also target by the number of followers that they have and where they are located.

Because an influencer’s audience defines their area of influence, keywords in bios will be very telltale whether or not that person is a good fit for your brand.

Bloggers

Bloggers are arguably the strongest spoke in the influencer wheel. Thus a blogger outreach tool is a must for any marketer conducting regular mid-level influencer targeting.

If you are a GroupHigh user, you can search for blogs by genre and then filter down by specifics like blog topics, location, Twitter followers and more. This allows you to personalize who you want to target and locate the perfect blogger aka mid-level influencer who is in the same niche as your brand.

List of Influencers

 Active Engagement Brings Influencers to You

An active presence on social media outlets and blogs will not only allow you to engage with your targeted mid-level influencers but will allow them to find and engage with you as well.

Becoming an authority on a topic on both social media channels and the blogosphere allows influencers to find you. These bloggers and social media users want to keep their audience in the loop concerning brands and want to share good content that covers their niches so if you are actively producing good content then it’s likely that mid-level influencers are already identifying you!

Google Plus Communities

There are many G+ communities that serve as a communication platform about many topics. I’d recommend joining 5 that pertain to your brand’s niche and actively engaging in the communities. Pay attention to who is actively posting and engaging in topics that are a great fit for your brand. I’ve discovered some awesome connections in my content marketing and social media marketing communities that I’m part of.

Remember that building relationships with influencers is a slow process and starts with engagement and a two sided relationship—just like your real life relationships.

Where do you find influencers for your brand? Cheers to a good discussion in the comments below: