Identifying Key Influencers on Social Media for Outreach

If you are looking for a way to advertise your business’s product or services online in a way that goes beyond SEO or PPC ads, you should look into identifying key influencers on social media for outreach. Key influencers are those who are considered to be subject matter experts, and they have a large following that relies on their opinions for purchasing choices.

In addition to celebrities with social media accounts, there are also a number of bloggers and people who post regularly to Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook who have cult followings. Getting these people to talk about your business and its products can do far more than simple banner and text ads.

Different Types Of Influencers

It is important to note that there are two main types of key influencers:

  1. those who can spread brand recognition
  2. those who can boost sales.

Often, they are one in the same, but other times they are not. For example, celebrities can easily increase your brand awareness by resharing your content, but that might not always translate to immediate sales. Having a celebrity endorse your business can be great for launching a new product or service as they can traditionally reach a large number of people.

Getting rapper Jay-Z to endorse your new clothing line is a no-brainer if you are in the retail clothing space. If you were a commercial real estate company however, paying millions of dollars for Jay-Z’s endorsement would be a waste of money.

How credible is a celebrity endorsement these days?Click To Tweet

Most consumers are well aware that celebrities are probably not using the products that they promote. Whether their endorsements are going to build trust with your target consumers and get you more sales can be hit or miss.

On the other hand, well known bloggers and social media personalities can often increase sales and brand loyalty, especially if they are known for providing quality information related to your industry.

One example of this would be Matt Mullenweg’s (the creator of WordPress) endorsement of  Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (a WordPress plugin) which resulted in more downloads of the plugin and of course more visibility for mitcho (Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine) as a WordPress developer. This is gold, as he is building authority within the WordPress community which does translate to more business / sales over time.

Brand Advocates and The Power of Social Proof

You should keep in mind that your customers can also sway people’s opinions of your products and / or services. Having influential customers, like CEOs and CMOs or even University Professor with a large number of followers / connections themselves can be extremely useful to driving leads, especially if they are prominent voices within your field of work.

If someone visits your website and sees enormous numbers of comments that include positive feedback, it can greatly improve your company’s image. Similarly, large numbers of “Likes” and reposts on social media sites can also sway consumers’ opinions about a product or service as well.

This is because people often associate high numbers of followers with a company that provides an excellent product. Having a large number of supporters and brand advocates is often referred to in the digital marketing field as “Social Proof”.

Developing an Influencer Outreach Strategy

Once you know who the power players are in your industry who are using social media, just emailing them with a solicitation simply will not work. In fact, even if someone is an authority who has influence in your industry, you may never want to reach out to them because their value might not align with your business goals. Effective outreach is more subtle than that. It takes time and a has to be in the right context.

You must listen and look for things that a key influencer values, whether that is a tool or technique or just their brand of humor or opinion. It all goes back to psychology and offering value at the right time and in the right context. It is recommended you do a great deal of research using social media monitoring tools, big data and analytics to inform your strategy.

The Creepy Line of Outreach

When identifying key influencers for your outreach efforts, put planning and research at the center of your process. There is a fine line between adding value to the conversation and outright internet stalking.

This is why a clear set of social media guidelines, message architecture and communication goals should be established (if they are not already) at the beginning of your outreach planning. You can avoid many pitfalls by knowing how and when you can approach someone just as much as why you are approaching them.

Tools For Identifying Key Influencers

The idea of identifying key influencers on the Internet is daunting, but there are a number of tools available that can help you find them.

These tools will let you determine who has large number of social media followers, who are the most active on blogs and forums and how large their audiences are and the amount of pull they have with them.

You should be sure to look for people that are knowledgeable and relevant to your industry and seek out those who can spread brand awareness and has an opinion that carries weight.


This tool analyzes which links from a website are being shared and by whom. It can show you what types of posts on your website have the most success and on which social media sites.

Additionally, since you can track who is sharing information from your website, you can determine if you already have key influencers interested in you. Socialcrawlytics is also a great way to see what your competitors are sharing and who is sharing their content.



This is probably one of the most popular tools for identifying key influencers available. Social media users are given a Klout score based on the number of followers they have and how much activity their posts and shares generate.

The tool also sorts users by subjects that they have the most influence in. It is important to keep in mind that Klout numbers are not a perfect way of measuring influence.

For a while, an fake account for a monkey that got loose in an Ikea had a high Klout rating, but let’s face it, the account probably had minimal influence on people’s purchasing preferences that were not related to bananas.


Mention Map

Mention Map gives you a graphical way of seeing connections between Twitter users. It allows you to see who particular Twitter users are talking to and about the most, and it also gives you the ability to see the way connections branch off and interconnect with other users.

This enables you to see who you have the most connections with and also allows you to track the strongest connections of your competition. Twitter only allows 150 requests per hour to their server, so you will need to allocate your use of this tool accordingly.


Peer Index

This service is similar to Klout, but it uses a slightly different method for identifying key influencers. In addition to the size of a user’s followers, it also tracks how active they are in discussing particular topics and to what degree others rely on their opinion. Peer Index is somewhat limited in scope because it only aggregates from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Quora.


Follower Wonk

From Moz, FollowerWonk allows you to see relationships between your followers and your competitors. You can see who is following both you and your competitors on multiple social media sites and who is following your competitors but not you. It will also sort by geolocation and determine when your followers are most likely to be on.

Knowing when the largest number of followers you have is online can ensure that you are posting new content when people are most likely to see it.


Google Blog Search

As mentioned, blogs are an important part of identifying key influencers. Many people consider the reviews of bloggers when making purchasing decisions.

With Google Blog Search, you are able to find blogs that relate to your business and track new posts from particular blogs automatically with RSS feeds. It is important to look at the content being posted by bloggers to ensure that they have the credibility you are looking for and that their content generates positive feedback.



Launched in 2011, Kred determines influence by measuring the amount of responses, reposts and follows generated by a user’s posts. It measures activity in real-time and allows influencers to add real world accomplishments that affect their scores. Kred also sorts influencers into communities and ranks users based on their influence within them.

As with Klout, it is essential to remember that even fake sensational accounts can have high influence numbers for a time and to understand that these numbers are based on reposts and followers, not actions.



Lijit started as a search engine for websites that would also work across social media platforms. While this is still a service that they offer, they have branched into highly targeted advertising as well.

By using Legit’s advertising network, you can be sure that your ads are showing up on the websites’ of people who are influential in your industry.


Tip Top

This is a great website for finding out what people are talking about. In addition to showing the most discussed topics on social media sites in general, you can also search by subject. This allows you to find out what specific issues related to your industry are currently being discussed on social media sites.


Board Reader

Many influential people are active on forums, and this website can aid you in identifying key influencers. Moderators and frequent posters are often considered knowledgeable and their opinions are highly valued. This website allows you to follow trends related to your business and find people to talk about you.



When identifying key influencers on social media for outreach, it is important to make sure you have the right tools sand strategy in place so that you meet your campaign goals.

In an age where one wrong tweet can destroy the perception of your brand, it is critical that you take steps to understand the who, how, why and when of the entire ecosystem.

Bad planning and communication will often lead to bad results so listen, learn, observe and offer value when it is most appropriate.

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Analytics & AdWords certified growth engineer with over a decade experience in making businesses successful. I own and operate AXZM and often speak at top national industry conferences on the topics of strategy, design and marketing technology. Work with me or learn more about me here. Follow me @nawlready

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You must be pretty smart because you're here. We like your style. You can have all of our latest tools, tactics and growth strategies FREE, in your inbox, every month or so. 

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