How To Identify Social Media Influencers For Your SEO Campaign

“Influencer marketing” has circulated as a buzzword for a few years now, and much of the reason why is due to its efficiency and potential value overall. Influencers are gateways to a better reputation, a bigger audience, and mutually beneficial exchanges of content, information, and other online value down the road.

In fact, one of my favorite applications of influencer marketing is actually in the realm of SEO—it’s one of the fastest ways to scale and boost your strategy.

But before you can start reaping the benefits of connecting with social media masters, you need to know where to find them—and how to choose the best ones for your brand.

How Influencers Boost SEO

Before I go any further, I want to specify exactly how networking with influencers can improve your rankings in search engines:

  • Content visibility and inbound links. Link building is necessary if you want to improve your domain authority and organic search rankings. Getting an influencer to share your content could put it in front of hundreds of thousands of new eyes, each of which could link to it from their own works, or even share it further.
  • Reputation boosts and connections. Building a relationship with an influencer, or even getting mentioned by one, could build your reputation in the eyes of both followers and external publishers. Eventually, this improved reputation will allow you to guest post on bigger and better publishers, meaning you’ll be able to build bigger and better links.
  • Collaboration and mutual value creation. Collaborating with an influencer on a piece of shared content will give you both the opportunity to reach the others’ audience, driving mutual growth and increased content reach. The further the reach of your content, the more social signals, shares, and inbound links it can accrue.

How to Identify Potential Targets

Your ideal influencer has three qualities:

  • A large following. This should be obvious, but to be considered an “influencer,” you have to have some kind of influence, and that’s typically measured in quantity of followers. Your target influencer should have an audience of thousands at a minimum, preferably tens of thousands or more. Without that audience, they won’t be able to offer you the same level of return for a share or contribution.
  • Regular activity. You’ll also want to seek out influencers who are active on social media. Some celebrities, for example, have an audience of millions but only post on a very occasional basis. You need someone who’s involved in conversation regularly and is willing to engage with others.
  • Industry relevance. Finally, you need to find someone in the same industry as you. You don’t have to have the same niche or same target audience, but there should be a shared relevance here.

You can find them in any way you choose, but these are some of the most common and easiest to approach:

  • Simple search. Your first option is to use searches—both standard Google searches and individual social media platform searches—to find these people. You can search for keywords related to your industry or brand to generate a list of strong personal brands in the area.
  • Social listening. You can also use social listening software, such as Buzzsumo, to flag certain topics you want to pay attention to, and chase down the people involved in those conversations. Who seems to be sharing the most content in these areas? Who’s attracting the biggest following? Some software can even recommend influencers on your behalf.
  • Industry perusal. You could also follow industry publications and events to track down influencers in a more manual process. For example, you could take a look at a list of speakers in a major industry conference, and work to find those speakers on social media.

Before You Reach Out

Assuming you’ve identified one or more potential influencers to engage with, there are a few things you need to know and acknowledge before you reach out to one for content shares, contributions, or even a simple conversation:

  • Know that influencers are busy. Most influencers have big businesses to run, or at the very least active social profiles to manage. They’re extremely busy people who are bombarded with requests every day. They don’t have time to respond to everyone, so don’t be surprised if you don’t get a response every time.
  • Offer something valuable. Again, influencers are busy and their time is valuable. If you want them to spend some of their time on you, you need to offer them something valuable in return, such as a content contribution, a helpful insight, or even a sponsorship—it’s not all about you.
  • Be unique. Requests for influencers come in all the time. If you aren’t unique, you’re going to blend into the masses, so find a way to stand out.

You’ll probably go through a few influencers before you find one willing and able to engage with you, but when you find that one, you’ll start noticing the results almost immediately. Pay attention to how your follower accounts, content engagement, and link profile develop in the days and weeks following your first interaction. As long as you’re seeing a positive ROI, try to maintain an active and positive relationship with your target influencer, then gradually work your way toward bigger and more prominent targets. It’s a long-term strategy, like any SEO tactic, and your execution should reflect that.

Article Written by Jayson DeMers of Forbes.