Getting big-name influencers to recognize and recommend your ecommerce brand isn’t always easy, or affordable. But to be successful with influencer marketing, you have to work with the most popular influencers in your industry, right? Not necessarily.
This outdated way of thinking about influencer marketing is where brands often go wrong. The thing is, huge followings don’t always lead to huge results. If you reframe your view of an influencer to anyone who has an influence on your target audience, you’ll open the door to so many more relationships — and more purchases.
The best influencer marketing strategy goes beyond the most popular Instagram creators. To maximize your results, you need a thorough understanding of your audience and where to find the people who can influence them.
1. Research Your Audience’s Habits and Preferences
To find the right influencers for your brand, you need to know who your target audience is and where to find them. We know you know this, but consider these questions:
- Who buys your product?
- What do they care about?
- How old are they?
- Where do they live?
- What are their values?
- What are their shopping habits? Single purchase? Repeat buyers?
- Do they enjoy social media, blogs, podcasts, etc.?
Use this information to segment your audience based on what drives them to purchase. For instance, one group may care about the fact your product is made sustainably, whereas another might buy because of the price point. Then, look for influencers whose audience you think reflects your target segment.
A good tip for getting inspiration about what your audience cares about is to look through your followers for users with public accounts and check out who they follow. You can also use surveys or polls on social media asking what they care most about or who their favorite creators are. This can help you narrow down what your audience is interested in and find potential influencers.
Social media is a great place to start when looking for influencers. It makes sense; a creator’s influence comes from their social media presence. And with search features that allow you to find people using keywords, hashtags, recommended content, and advanced tools, you can easily explore social media to find influencers in your niche.
Your first stop is the ‘Explore’ page. To get there, hit the magnifying glass at the bottom of the screen. This page recommends popular content based on your user account. So, make sure you’re logged in as your brand.
You can also search keywords by typing them into the search bar at the top.
Use industry-related words, and then choose one of the categories at the top. Focus on top posts, accounts, tags, and places to find creators to follow or explore their followers.
Once you follow a creator, Instagram will recommend other profiles for you to follow as well.
If you’re looking for creators who do product reviews or tutorials, YouTube is the perfect place. Like Instagram, YouTube has an ‘Explore’ tab to see what’s trending and find creators in your niche. From the Explore page, you have several options.
- Check the suggested categories for ones that fit your brand. Once you click that category, you’ll get recommended and trending videos in that category.
- Or skip the categories and hit ‘trending’ to see what videos are popular on YouTube at the moment.
- Type industry-related keywords into the search bar to find popular videos in your niche.
TikTok is the prime example of a platform where anyone can go viral and where finding content creators in your niche is simple.
TikTok’s ‘Discover’ page is very similar to Instagram’s ‘Explore’ page. Once you hit the ‘Discover’ tab at the bottom of the TikTok app, you can see trending hashtags and what people are watching right now. Or just search terms related to your brand. Then use the filters for top users, videos, and hashtags to find people posting about your industry.
TikTok also has a Creator Marketplace where you can find influencers on the platform, partner with them, and track your campaign.
While LinkedIn might not be top of mind when it comes to finding influencers for your Shopify store, you can strategically search for people who list “influencer” as their profession.
Once you’re on the platform, search ‘influencer,’ ‘content creator,’ and ‘blogger,’ and filter by ‘people.’
You can refine by industry and other demographics to find people who are in your niche. Once you find someone, connect with a DM. Even if they aren’t interested in a partnership, they may help you make a connection with someone who is.
Some brands can find effective influencers on Twitch because the streamers on the platform often have very loyal viewers.
To find creators on Twitch, check out sites like Twitch Tracker, which allows you to find top streamers and popular clips. You can also check the ‘Browse’ tab for different categories, filter by tags, or get recommendations.
3. Level Up Your Google Search
While you can always start by searching ‘Influencers in the x industry,’ Google has some other tricks up its sleeve that can help you find influencers.
Firstly, don’t limit yourself to the word ‘influencer.’ What you’re looking for is people with influence in your niche, not just anyone who defines themselves as an influencer.
Try swapping out ‘influencers’ with artists, creators, photographers, bloggers, experts, authors, or journalists. For example, ‘bloggers in the beauty industry’ is going to give you completely different search results than ‘creators in the beauty industry.’ Varying your search terms will give you a richer selection of content, creators, and channels.
To search a specific social media platform using Google, use the ‘site’ filter.
- Try typing ‘Site:[platform URL] [relevant keyword]’ to filter Google results based on a website. For example, searching ‘site:twitter.com beauty’ gives you results that contain the word beauty, but only from Twitter.
You can narrow your results further by adding follower amounts. For example, typing ‘site:instagram.com “k followers”’ into Google still narrows the results to Instagram, but the “k followers” narrows the follower count. For more relevant results, add keywords: ‘site:instagram.com “k followers” beauty.’
Google Alerts notify you when people post about industry-related topics. This helps you find thought leaders and people who interact with their content. Set an alert for your brand name, keywords related to your brand and product, and even competitors. Google offers step-by-step instructions on how to set up an alert.
4. Subscribe to Industry-Related Content
Stay up to date on relevant industry trends by following popular content hubs where industry experts and thought leaders contribute. By keeping an eye on this type of content, you’ll discover well-known, influential people in your niche.
Consider subscribing to industry-related:
But instead of targeting the big names, see who is being interviewed, referenced, or contributing. These industry experts often make effective influencers. For example, if your brand is in the fitness industry, you may want to follow popular fitness podcasts like Jillian Michaels’. Each week, she brings on doctors, authors, and other specialists to talk about wellness.
5. Analyze Your Competition
Another way to find relevant influencers is to search for ones who have built positive relationships with companies like yours.
While you might not want to use the exact same influencers, you can gain valuable insights from them, like what resonates with your audience and what doesn’t. For example, a beauty brand’s competitor recently partnered with an influencer on a beauty tutorial. They used the product in the video, posted on their own feed, and their comments were full of requests for more tutorials. This is an indication that your followers might like to see an influencer use your product in a makeup tutorial.
Pay close attention to engagement as well. People who are actively commenting, sharing, or liking competitors’ content could be an opportunity. Go to their profiles and check out their interactions.
6. Tap Into Existing Customers
Because the ideal influencer doesn’t have to be someone with the largest following on Instagram, you can look just about anywhere for an influencer. The people you partner with should be advocates of your brand — creators who can influence others. Who better to do that than people who already love your product?
Consider reaching out to your customers via email to thank them for their purchase. Then invite them to join an ambassador or affiliate program. Make sure to include incentives and a way to contact you. Another option is to send your most loyal customers free products in exchange for a positive review and post about your brand.
7. Invest in an Influencer Search Tool
If time-consuming manual searches are getting in the way of scaling, it could be worth investing in a platform that does the research, exploring, and vetting for you.
The main benefits of an influencer marketing platform include:
- Streamlined search – Think of an influencer marketing platform as Google that only searches for influential people. You can discover people from all platforms in one search.
- Segmented search – Most platforms will collect data from every social site so you can search by audience demographic, industry, or even aesthetic.
- Detailed influencer profiles – These platforms highlight fake followers, compare engagement rates to others in the industry, and provide you with the creator’s metrics.
In addition to a comprehensive search database, it’s worth looking out for the following features:
- Creator marketplace – The perfect complement to searching and reaching out cold.
- Ecommerce integrations – Search your customer base for influencers. For instance, Aspire has a Shopify integration so you can automatically send products to influencers, track promo codes, and generate affiliate links.
- Social listening – Find brand fans who are already mentioning you online.
You’ve Found the Perfect Influencer for Your Shopify Store — Now What?
Once you have curated a list of potential influencers, it’s time to reach out to them.
Before you hit send on that DM, ask yourself:
- What will you offer in exchange for their content?
- What do you want them to post? (e.g., a video, photo, story)
- How many mentions or posts are required?
Make sure to add these conditions and preferences to your message, so you don’t waste time negotiating. If you’re interested in automating communication with influencers, Aspire has the tools to make this next step seamless. Schedule a demo to see how our platform works!