How to Identify Online Influencers

Last week I gave a talk to the Canadian Public Relations Society Vancouver’s (CPRS Vancouver) chapter on how to identify online influencers and how to engage them. With social media playing a greater role than ever with communicators it becomes increasingly important for PR professionals to be able to identify these influencers for their client’s digital strategies.

These simple steps will help you start creating your list of influencers.

Create Keyword Search
Keywords are your first step. These can be your company name or brand, your competitors name. They can also be any words or phrases that describe your industry as well as any important issue that matters to  you.

Understand What is Important to You
Know where you want to start your search. Are you going to concentrate only on influencers on Twitter, Facebook or Blogs? Are the number of followers they have important to you (even though I will argue this point)? Do the number of retweets one gets important? What about likes on a post, are they important? Do the number of blog posts matter and do the comments and who comments matter?

Understanding what to look first will help you out in the long run. Focus on a few of the above to help you determine who on you should include on your list.

Search Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Forums and Multimedia Sites
Create simple searches on Twitter and use free third party tools like Hootsuite to create columns of those searches. Use simple Google Blog Searches as well Technorati to find relevant blogs based on your search keywords. You can also use Social Mention or IceRocket to help search all networks.

Most people will forget to search multimedia sites like YouTube or other video sites like Viddler or Vimeo. Also don’t forget to search photo sharing sites like Flickr or Picaso to complete the picture.

Create Lists on Twitter
Create your own lists on Twitter and make them private. Bundle like minded people to make it easier to follow your influencers

View a Blogger’s Blogroll
Bloggers create their list of other bloggers they read or find interesting to them. Looking at these lists can help identify other influencers you might not have thought of before.

Create Your List
Create your lists and add to them regularly.  Create RSS feeds of the blogs you want to monitor and create Twitter lists to combine the influencers.

Engage
Lastly engage with them. Share what they post on Twitter if it’s relevant to you. Favourite a post (we all love it when someone favourites a tweet of ours, it makes us feel special). Comment on blog posts or even link back to them on your own blog. By engaging you are also putting yourself under their radar and helps create a relationship with them.

Of course working for Marketwire, we offer Sysomos, our realtime online media monitoring and engagement tool, the above steps are quickly compiled for you and presented to you in a easy to use format.

Any tool you use should be used as a guideline only. It really will depend on you specifically to engage in who you think should be on your own influencer list.

You can view my full presentation via SlideShare below:

Thanks to CPRS Vancouver, they summarized my talk in a few short minutes with the video below.

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