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Social media influencers: three great research tools

Who is really a social media influencer in your sector? Here are three tools to discover who you need to build relationships with for successful social media campaigns.

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social media influencers

Who are social media influencers and why are they important?

Social media influencers are accounts on any social network with large amounts of engaged followers. Engagement can take many forms: the number of times they get retweeted, the amount of times their content gets liked, or how often they are included on lists by other social media users. Influence, of course, is not measured by something as simple as number of followers. Influence is measured by engagement.
Connecting and building relationships with these accounts can help your content reach these engaged followers. If a social media influencer retweets your blog post for example, this instantly reaches a far wider audience than just your own followers.
Successfully engaging with social media influencers can be a great way of building brand awareness and boosting your online reputation.
In terms of search engine rankings, HubSpot has undertaken some very interesting research that demonstrates the correlation between social sharing and improved search engine rankings that is well worth reading.  We have also published a post on using social media marketing as a link building strategy.
Whether your business objective is to increase brand awareness or improve SEO traffic; identifying and building relationships with social media influencers can help.

How can you find social media influencers?

Simply searching on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or any other social network, using the keywords that are most important to your business, can yield some good results, and is a good first step.  However, this can be quite a time-consuming process. Thankfully, there are also tools available that can make identifying social media influencers in your industry much easier!

What happened to Klout?

One of the original providers of social media influencer data, Klout, was closed as a service in May 2018. However, there are other tools you can use instead.

Tool 1:  SparkScore

SparkScore is a brand new service offered by Rand Fishkin’s new venture, SparkToro.
SparkScore measures individual social media accounts’ levels of influence by scoring and weighting specific engagement attributes. The SparkScore methodology is clearly explained and transparent on the website.
One particularly useful feature is the ability to assess a Twitter account relative to the entire SparkScore database, as well as assessing an account relative to other accounts of a similar size in terms of numbers of followers.
The service is free, but limited to 25 searches per day.
SparkScore provides a comprehensive set of data, starting with key engagement benchmarks which are useful for comparison purposes.
I score a SparkScore of 14 out of 100, using SparkScores’s methodology relative to the entire universe of Twitter users. The scoring methodology takes into consideration levels of engagement, numbers of followers, as well as having a verified Twitter account.
And yes, I see I need to tweet more frequently!
Social Media Influencers - susan hallam sparkscore
The SparkToro Engagement Score is a relative score, comparing one social media account to other accounts with a similar number of followers. In terms of social influence, this measure places a greater emphasis on penetration into an account’s fanbase.
sparkscore engagement score to research social Media Influencers

Tool 2: Followerwonk

Followerwonk is a social media tool which can help you find, compare and analyse relevant Twitter accounts.
There is a confusing web of relationships in the digital world, and up until December 2017 Followerwonk was part of the Moz family, of Rand Fishkin fame, who has now created SparkScore (above.)  Confused? Don’t worry!
Followerwonk has a free version, as well as a paid version.
One way of finding influential accounts to follow using Followerwonk is to use the Search Bios function, which is free to use. You can choose to search Twitter profiles or bios. To identify relevant companies for you to connect with, I would suggest searching Twitter bios for your important keywords.
Followerwonk assigns a Social Authority score to each account. In this example, I performed a search of Twitter bios for a client whose target market is companies with fleets of company cars.  I searched for the keyword “company cars” and sorted the results by Social Authority score to see the most influential at the top of the results, including editors of magazines, journalists and online publications. All are influential, and all will help me to reach my target market if they engage with my content:
Followerwonk Social authority for Social Media Influencers measurement
Not every result will be relevant to you, so it’s important to go through the list manually and check each profile out before connecting. You can follow accounts directly from this page.


Buzzsumo is a paid tool, but if you’re serious about content marketing and social media for your company, it might be worth the investment.
Buzzsumo has an Influencers section, which you can use to find social media influencers, searching by topic or username.
You can then evaluate their engagement levels, as well as the authority of the website in their biography.
In this example, I’m looking for British social media influencers in the biomass industry.
Buzzsumo search for social media influencers
From the search results, you can use the options in the red box on the right to follow an account, tweet the account, add them to a list, and view the links they have shared. These options are really useful for establishing whether an account will be useful for you to connect with, and organising your research.

Top tips for engaging with social media influencers

Once you’ve identified some social media influencer accounts, it’s not enough just to follow them and hope for the best. You’ll need to engage with them and build a relationship if you stand any chance of them interacting with your content.
Here are some top tips for engaging with influencers:

  1. Interact with content they post – retweet, share, like, comment.
  2. Join in with conversations they are starting or leading.
  3. Address them directly – where appropriate.
  4. If they have a blog, comment on their posts – show that you are actually reading their content.
  5. Make sure your engagement is authentic – don’t just retweet every single thing they post, make it meaningful.

Establishing and building relationships with social media influencers takes time and will not yield instant results, unfortunately. But it’s certainly worth dedicating time and effort to doing this to boost the reach of the content you are creating for your business.
Do you use any of these tools regularly? I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!

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