Influencer marketing focuses on identifying and building a relationship with key leaders in your niche market. These thought leaders are key to getting your message out to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to large numbers of prospects, influencer marketing is all about reaching the right trusted and influential individuals who will in turn cascade your message to their audiences. But how do you find influences in your industry?

What makes a successful influencer?

Not all influencers are created equally. Before you start to explore your options, you should set the ground rules:

Context – Contextual fit is key when finding who is the best fit for representing your business. An influencer may have millions of followers, but what are the chances those millions of followers will be interested in your business?  Will your audience trust this individual? You need to be looking for highly targeted, highly relevant, and highly engaged contextual fit.

Reach – So now that you’ve chosen a few choice influencers who fit the context of your brand, check what their reach is. This is measured by engagement, not follower count.

Accountability –  We are in an age where brands are striving to be transparent in all areas of their business. In order for your influencer marketing to be successful, you need to ensure that you set clear guidelines between yourself and the influencer.

The next step is to start creating a list of across social platforms to see what their influence could possibly offer your industry. It doesn’t have to be comprehensive, just an idea of what platforms you would most likely want to reach your audience.

Which platforms are appropriate?

Start by identifying the social platforms that you feel would be most beneficial for your company to build a relationship with. With such a wide choice of social platforms, you need to decide where you are going to focus your efforts.  Twitter? LinkedIn? Facebook? Instagram?

And the next step is to identify your list of highly targeted, highly relevant website that you want to focus on. If I were looking to find influencers in the area of digital marketing, my starting point would be sites like:

  • Moz
  • BuzzStream
  • Search Engine Land
  • Search Engine Journal
  • Social Media Examiner
  • Econsultancy

This stage begins to break it down in your head a little, so you know exactly who to trust most from these platforms. Under each publication, list your favourite or your most trusted influencers based on social shares, audience engagement and legitimacy.

Start the process with mind mapping, and there are great tools that you can use to break down your influencers platforms.  Here is my mind map for my digital influencers:
Industry Influencers Coggle

I used Coggle to create this image, and is a great mind- mapping tool. You can create a Coggle list of your favourite and most trusted authors, writers, and content creators by their platform. They don’t have to be specifically committed to these publications, but you can tailor it to include any influencers who have guest posted or are just contributors. It is especially useful for influencers who contribute to multiple publications, as it shows you potential overlap.

But before you include your chosen list of influencers for your business, you’ll need to know how to find them first.

How do I find the right influencers?

While you’re looking for trustworthy voices in your industry, find personalities, bloggers, well-known speakers who are making waves within your industry. It will lead you to your influencers.

Here are just a few ways in which you can begin to identify your key influencers:


Buzzsumo provides insight into popular content online, and the influencers that share it. This tool allows you to get into the data about influencers in your industry. You can analyse, follow and reach out to influencers. For example, you can use the influencer tab when looking for relevant people to target. When searching for content marketing influencers across Twitter, Buzzsumo also provides the option to sort them out by relevancy to your search topic.

In this case, it has been sorted by search relevancy. But Buzzsumo also allows you to search by domain and page authority, the number of followers, retweet and reply ratio, as well as how many retweets they average across Twitter. This is a brilliant tool for concise searches, especially if you’re main concern is basing your influencers on certain criteria.

Buzzsumo Industry Influencers


You can use BuzzStream’s influencer tool to find influencers across a range of topics. You can also use Buzzsumo’s search to filter your results by the factors that matter, their company, the type of influencer they are and their geographical location.


Followerwonk is a social analytics tool for Twitter. Its search bio allows you to find influencers across the site easily. All you have to do is click on the search bios tab at the top of the screen and type in your industry keywords into the search bar. You can also sort the results list by the Followerwonk “Social Authority” tool, to measure just how much influence they have.

Twitter Lists

One great way to find influencers in a specific topical area is to research Twitter lists. Twitter lists are curated lists of Twitter handles, generally created to identify key influencers in a niche area.

It is interesting to research both the lists they follow as well as the lists they are included in.

Start your research with a topical Twitter account, and click on the Lists tab. Select to see “Member of”

For example, in the example below, I was looking for influencers in the niche area of Environmental issues.   I started with The Guardian newspaper’s account. The “Members of” list signposts me to a list containing the Guardian’s worldwide network of environmental bloggers, a more general Environmental Bloggers, and highly specific accounts related to drought and hosepipe bans,

Researching Twitter Lists - Finding Influencers

Now you can browse through these lists where you will find a rich vein of highly targeted, highly relevant people in your niche area. For example, I found even more environmental accounts:Twitter lists to find influencers

Google searching: advanced search queries

Advanced search queries or search operators, are characters you can add to your Google search to narrow down the results a bit more. Once you have identified the top trusted publications by your clients or customers, you can use advanced search queries to find the contributors to these. For example:

If you wanted a list of the contributors to Search Engine Land you could navigate to their website, find a post and click on the author. This will give you the URL structure of their author pages. Let’s search for Search Engine Land Founder Danny Sullivan’s author page:

From this, you can see that the URL structure for authors for Search Engine Land is

Using an advanced search query you can ask Google to show you all pages starting with this URL, like so:

influencers influential search engine landYou now have a list of all the authors and contributors to Search Engine Land. You can combine this with tools like FollowerWonk and keep influencers on your radar.


One of the greatest ways to achieve brand success is to build relationships. Identifying influencers will help you retain an active and engaged target audience, no matter what your brand!

Identifying influencers will also help you retain and active and engaged target audience.

I’d love to know more about what tools you use to find and monitor your influencers. Do you have any favourites?