Locating online influencers – part two: determining who is actually influential

Locating online influencers – part two: determining who is actually influential

Welcome back to our online influencer series! If you missed part one, be sure to read it first here.

Where we left off
Now that we’ve pulled together a solid list of potential influencers as outlined in part one, we can begin to determine which influencers will become a part of our outreach and rank them based on a number of variants.

The first thing we must do before we can really even begin to judge whether someone is influential or not, however, will be to look at some of the top-level data that is readily available to us. The first thing I always do is look at a few things that are easy to locate:

  • Number of Twitter followers
  • Number of times they are listed on Twitter by other users
  • Number of “Likes” on their Facebook fan page
  • Number of inbound links to their site. This can be found by searching “link:sitename.com” in Google (see image below). The number of results returned will give you the number of inbound links for that site

Building your target influencer list
Using the simple methods listed above, you can start to eliminate bloggers from your list that don’t boast reasonable numbers (what is considered reasonable is, ultimately, up to you to decide). You will figure out what is average, and what is considered “good” after doing this with a few of your potential influencers. Take it from there…

In the chart below, I would immediately remove “The Tech Blog” from this list. I would also likely remove “TechABC” as well, though I would need to find data for a larger list of potential influencers before I would make that decision (to determine just how good or bad TechABC’s numbers actually are). Chances are that TechABC would be cut from the list as well.

(Click the image to view larger version)

Use the steps below to ensure that your influencer list includes only those that are actually influential:

  • What kind of content is the person creating and sharing (quality, focus/niche, credible and sourced, etc.)?
  • Of the lists that Twitter users have added them to, is there a common theme/niche? For example, have they been added to several lists focused on technology? If so, they are likely influential about technology, which is why people listed them in the first place.
  • How does the content they create relate to what you are planning to achieve? The most effective blogs are often tailored to a very niche audience – is their blog attracting the group of people you want to reach?
  • What kind of engagement does their blog receive – comments? Discussions between readers through the comments?
  • Are people sharing the content through their own networks? (Through Google +1, Facebook “Likes”, Twitter, etc. – this can most often be seen by a counter next to its respective button)
  • Is their content ever picked up, or linked to by other bloggers or even major news outlets?
  • Perhaps most importantly, are they seen as credible? (A look at the tone of the comments and the kinds of comments the blog receives should give an indication of this. People won’t be afraid to speak their mind if they think the writer is full of it).

If you follow all of the steps outlined in this article and do your research, you should be well on your way to a strategically targeted online influencer outreach campaign. It is very important, however, that you recognize that checking online influence and building lists is an ongoing process, and it should be revisited regularly.

It is also important to note that some people who may not be overly active online can have a lot of influence offline. These people should not be overlooked! They can be found on LinkedIn, or through traditional news stories (among many other, more traditional methods – that’s for another post all together, though) and can play a major role in your online efforts, even though they are mostly influential offline-only.

Have you already completed an online influencer campaign in the past? If so, how did you determine influencers? Please add your thoughts and tips in the comments!