How to Identify Your Best Social Media Influencers

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How to Identify Your Best Social Media Influencers

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time on social media, both for personal and professional reasons.

Social media has become an integrated layer in our lives, available at almost every point in your day and even in space. It is this level of integration in our lives which has also made social media so powerful as a marketing tool and why just about every business has integrated it into their overall marketing strategies.

One important element of social media, if you really want to get the eyes, ears, and mouths of the people really making an impact, is to connect and engage with the influencers of each social platform.

What Makes Someone an “Influencer?”

“True influence drives action, not just awareness,” according to Jay Baer.

An influencer is someone who incites a group of people to do something. What an influencer says goes. It has weight. It has sway. It inspires your buyers to act.

As a business, having an influencer in your corner is crucial. These people create instant trust among your audience while encouraging these people to buy.

The first step in getting influencers on your side and promoting your business is to find them.

That isn’t as easy as it might seem.

To narrow the pool of true influencers for your buyers, you need to consider two factors:

1. What are the social network specific queues that make someone an influencer?
2. How can you know with certainty that the person has an influence on your buyers?

These factors differ based on the social network in question. Here’s how you can find influencers on four of the major social media platforms.

Finding Influencers on Facebook


Numbers of fans matter, but that metric doesn’t tell the whole story on Facebook. Engagement is most important.

The level of conversation is significant on most social networks, but even more so for Facebook. That’s because of the Edgerank algorithm this platform uses to reduce spam, or click-baiting headlines. The more people comment and engage with a post, the more it’s shown. For your influencer to influence your buyers, their message needs to get seen and heard.

To make sure you’re seeing what your influencers’ post, create an “Interests” list.

Add people who you consider influencers to your Interests list. Not sure who to add? Search for hashtags and see who’s talking about your industry.

Once the list is built, monitor it over the course of a week. Look at:

  • How often are people posting? The more they post, the more likely they are to be seen and heard.
  • Which of these people has the most engagement from their fans?
  • Which pages or people get the most likes, comments, and shares?

By narrowing your pool of potential influencers into an interest list, you can compare them side-by-side. You circumvent the newsfeed, making sure you’re shown every post. This gives you a more realistic idea of what people are posting and how your buyers are engaging with each post.

It also shows you who your potential customers are listening to on Facebook – and who they’re not.

Finding Influencers on Twitter


Twitter doesn’t use an algorithm to show tweets. They’re lined up in the order they’re tweeted, which means every follower is equally as likely to see a tweet.

Still, engagement is important on Twitter. Retweets show that a potential customer is interested enough in a message to share it with his followers. The more a tweet is retweeted, the more people see it, extending the circle of influence.

There are a few specific queues on Twitter that help designate an influencer. These are:

  • Number of retweets. This is golden ticket. It shows how interested followers are with the influencer’s content.
  • Amount of conversation. Are people asking opinions? Are they soliciting advice from this influencer? Watch how people converse with the person to gauge how much his followers trust his advice.

Because the bulk of Twitter conversations happen publicly, it’s easier to see how many people listen to and respond to your potential influencers. When looking at a Twitter profile, don’t just look at their Tweets. Look at the “Tweets & Replies” tab for a more realistic idea of how the influencer converses on this platform.

Finding Influencers on Google+


Although Google+ isn’t the social network of choice for many people, it’s still highly influential among search engines and a core group of potential customers. If your customers are on this social network, you need to get in front of them with the help of influencers.

Google+ knows this, which is why they initially launched Ripples, a system to identify the effect of influencer engagement. Unfortunately, they removed the Ripples feature, as it was not utilized by most people.

There are still a number of queues to help designate an influencer though, which are:

  • Number of comments: This is important for Google+, as it is one of the main factors showing people are really engaging with the content.
  • Profile views, although they can be heavily gamed, can also be a great indicator of how visible someone’s updates are on Google+, even the visibility that occurs off of Google+.
  • Update views, available on image updates, show the total number of views an update has received. This gives you a sense of the influencers’ audience.

Finding Influencers on LinkedIn


If you’re in the B2B industry, LinkedIn is a great place to find thought leaders.

Many people start by conducting a search for keywords related to their industry. This can give you an overwhelming number of results without giving you much insight into the true influencers in your field.

When searching for your keywords, click the button the left of the search box. Instead of searching for “All,” search for “Articles.”

The authors of articles on LinkedIn are the ones who are more likely to have influence. Check out the comments and engagement on each article to get a good gauge on how much each influencer is trusted.

Taking it a Step Further

Narrow down your influencer pool, by identifying which influencers are actually influencing other influencers, allowing you to get more from your efforts overall.

Identify the people who are influencing your influencers, as they are more likely to engage with you initially and they already have the ear of your target influencer.


Image Credits

Featured Image created by Paulo Bobita
In-post Photo #1: Twinsterphoto/
In-post Photo #2: fyv6561/
In-post Photo #3: Gil C/
In-post Photo #4: Evan Lorne/

Brent Csutoras

Brent Csutoras

Managing Partner & Chief Social Media Strategist at Search Engine Journal
Founder & CEO of Pixel Road Designs, a well respected marketing design firm, and Managing Partner at Search Engine Journal. Brent has over 10 years... Read Full Bio
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  • R.Rogerson

    I’d be looking at going a little further with the examination of Influencers.

    a) The Audience:
    1) How many are actively following the Influencer
    2) How often are they are “on”
    3) How often they post
    4) How often they give approval (like/+1/rate)
    5) How often they comment
    6) How often they (re-)share
    7) What topics they seem to interact/engage with most
    8) What topics they seem to re-share the most
    9) Which ones seem to get their posts shared

    b) The Influencer:
    1) How many they follow
    2) How many audience “groups” they may have
    3) Whether they always post Publicly or Privately or a mix
    4) What the primary topic/subject of their posts is
    5) What the secondary topics/subjects of their posts are (if any)
    6) What the primary topics/subject of their (Re-)Shares is
    7) What the secondary topics/subjects of their (Re-)Shares are (if any)
    8) What topics/subjects get the most audience interaction/engagement
    9) What topics/subjects get the most re-shares by their audience.

    Looking at things like that, you can readily build rated/scored profiles that allow you to see which Influencers are most suitable based on topic and effect.

    It’s also worth paying attention to the last bit Brent said, which amounts to you looking at 2nd and 3rd tier profiles. They are not major influencers, but they tend to be the people that influencers Share from, follow, interact/engage with.
    They are often used (Subconsciously or Intentionally) as Social Filters – the Influencer will note what they are looking at, saying, sharing … and may follow suit.
    That means that identifying the Influencers Filters, (or Social Pillars if looking at a community), can give you a way to reach the Influencer without direct contact.

    • Brent Csutoras

      For sure, there are a lot of ways to go even deeper and especially when you start getting into niche influencers and considering what your overall goals are.

      All great points to consider!

  • Salman Aslam

    One untapped area of targeting influencers that is often miss by the digital marketers is finding influencers on Youtube.

    I see such a small portion of digital marketers being active on Youtube but teenagers are killing it there and have amassed following of millions of viewers.

    I think this is one of the biggest open space that digital marketers can capitalize on in 2015 and beyond.

  • James

    I would add whatsapp to the list. It’s gradually becoming a tool any blogger or content marketer can’t just over look.

  • Siddaiah

    Hi Brent,

    I too spend a lot of time social media but not able to get influencers mercy till now, you have given us complete details about how to find influencers in major social media platforms, at present I am planning to concentrate on Twitter and LinkedIn to get influencers in touch.

    As Salman commented YouTube is another big platform to find out influencers, I will try to implement above tips in YouTube also, thank you very much for sharing this valuable information.

    • Brent Csutoras

      My pleasure and please comment back if you have any additional things you find and with how it went for you!

  • Dharmesh Khatri

    It was really well explained but now a days scripts are also available that increase this number. So to find real social influence checking this other parameters are also important.
    This is nice and very informative article thanks for share.

    • Brent Csutoras

      Agreed and I think looking a bit closer at any influencer and using your best judgement is ideal, but at the end of the day, the results are what you want most 🙂

  • Markitext

    Thanks Brent. Do you think Google Plus is still helpful nowadays?

    • Brent Csutoras

      I think Google+ is still a social site to participate in, especially for the influencers who are really active there. There is far more intimacy on Google+ and you will likely be able to connect easier there than anywhere else for some people.

      Also for a handful of niches, there are very active communities on Google+.

  • Cristian

    Greetings Brent
    Thanks for this article.Im working in social media sphere and found your article really interesting.

    • Brent Csutoras

      My pleasure!

  • Rick

    great article! With the information from this article you will be able to identify what your business may need in the social media networks. Great for small business and what they will need in the future to help build their social media empire. Thank you for the great article!

  • Vicky Choksi

    Agree with Rogerson. If a person working in a industry he/she should been aware of influencers of their industry, for beginners as well as professionals to identify the right people I am sure this post will add value in it. Brent, Good stuffs!

  • Dan TheIuvo

    You should know your influencers no matter in which industry you work, and try to connect with them, if not engage. Good advice for Google+.

  • Taimoor Khan

    Please explore more that how to identify niche influencers. Not a in-depth approach in this article.