Often, the reason for subscribing to a media monitoring service is for a company to track media mentions of itself and competitors. From there, the logical additional uses typically revolve around traditional media or reporting efforts, doing things like developing media lists, or creating a daily briefing report.
Those are excellent uses for a monitoring service, but consider this: all of that content, and any social content you might gather, are also great sources to use to find product influencers and micro-influencers. You’ll need to budget a bit more time when you are doing your media review—but that’s it. You’re most likely already pulling in the data that you need to find influencers.
Defining who an influencer is—for your brand
The first step in this process is taking a moment to define who an influencer is for your particular situation or product. If, for example, you are working with a community organization to secure public support for a project, an ideal influencer for that program would be someone in the community who has visibility, connections, and is well-thought of by those in your target audience—and who is also supportive of the project.
For a product, think of the target market for your brand. Your ideal influencer would be someone who can connect with your target market, and who is a logical advocate for the product. Your target audience might overwhelmingly love Anthony Bourdain, but he’s not a logical influencer for, say, selling lawnmowers. Influencers can’t just be popular people—they need to resonate with your audience.
A quick way of looking at this is that to perform well as an influencer, whomever you identify has to connect with your audience (resonance), be relevant to your program (relevance), and have a following that is made up of your audience (reach).
Using monitoring to find influencers
Set aside some time to review the past month or so of your media and social content. Tag any content that quotes or includes comments from individuals expressing positive sentiments about the brand. Once you have that list complete, review their social profiles and see what else they have expressed opinions on, and what their engagement level is with those connected to them online.
If they have used any Twitter hashtags that might be relevant, check those out too. Add any hashtags that merit ongoing monitoring to your tracking tool, and see who else might be engaging in the conversation—this could tell you not only who additional influencers might be, but also will flag what your opponents or detractors might be saying about your effort or product.
Examining the broader market
You can also use your monitoring tool to find influencers in broader product or idea categories. This can be particularly useful if your product is something that is totally new to an industry, or if it is a highly specialized product. What you are looking for in these situations is someone who has credibility and a following in a broader category, so that they can help to introduce your product to a target audience.
The most important part of finding influencers is making sure they are a good fit for your brand. This means not just the ability to connect with your audience, but also someone who matches your company culture. If the influencers you have identified have blogs, read their posts. Pay close attention to who and what they criticize, and how they engage with commenters on their blog. Do the same type of review on Twitter, and any other social channels they might be active on. In short—do the homework, and know who you are approaching if you want them to be a voice for your brand or campaign.
Using your monitoring tool to identify and research potential influencers will save you time, because rather than starting from scratch, you’ll be basing your research on content you have already identified as relevant—and build from there.