How to Find Influencers For Your Small Business: Part 2

From the Market Motive Forums: Where Are Your Influencers?

In part one of finding influencers for your small business, we talked at length about identifying the product you are offering and ways to initially identify your target audience.

We then talked about social reviews as ways to identify those in your area that already have an affinity for your product and how those reviews can help you identify any local competition.

Are you ready to see your next steps?

We’ve identified some competitors so we can start to use their names to run some searches to find some of our target audience. There are two key places we want to start looking: Google and Twitter (because searching Facebook is almost impossible due to privacy settings).

First we go to Google to see if anyone is mentioning your identified competitors. This is a tough one for small, localized businesses because there often isn’t much chatter. I ran a search for Menchie’s, our example for this blog post, first. It turned up some useful links, including their Twitter feed, a Yahoo Local listing that had a review, some local business listing sites we’d want to make sure we were listed on, etc. A few pages in, it also turned up some useful tidbits, like this review for another branch of Menchie’s that mentioned many of the flavors were Kosher.

This is valuable info, because it gives a potential targeting option. Checking with your own company to see if you have kosher flavors or toppings means you could do some targeted advertising on Facebook that promotes the treat to Jewish people who keep Kosher.

A few more pages in I found a news article from the local newspaper talking about Menchie’s opening up. That means I now have a name for a reporter who has covered this topic in the past. Boom! Influencer #1 is found. You can reach out to that reporter to see about getting coverage for your own opening or some other special event you might have planned.

We could keep going on Google, but hopefully you get the point.

Let’s move on to Twitter.

Don’t use Twitter’s standard search for this. You want their advanced search found here:

I set it up to search for a variety of froyo related phrases, included our branded competitor Menchie’s and restricted the search to tweets near Washington, PA.

By doing this, we can find out which Twitter users are actually talking about these topics and therefore, may be part of our target audience or potential influencers. Sure enough, even for a town this small, we get results.

If we look we can immediately spot three different people who have multiple check-ins and mentions of our competitor. This gives us a starting point. We could consider reading through their streams to see if they post about a lot of restaurants or just happen to have a love of Menchie’s.

We could check their profile to see if they have a blog, and we could look up their names on sites like Urbanspoon, Yelp, and more to see if they have review profiles. Based on this research, we could consider inviting them to the store to try things out, or we could extend a special offer to them.

Now let’s move on to Facebook.

There are a few ways to approach Facebook. We want to see if our competitors have followers, how active their feeds are, and what types of offers they put out there.

Menchie’s has a page, but it’s pretty basic. What the Facebook page does have is some 800-plus visitors as well as 800-some check-ins. That is a good thing. It means people will check-in on Facebook when they visit you.

This is something you’ll want to encourage in your store through signage and incentives, because those check-ins fall in line with what influencers and evangelists do: They help spread the word about your store by sharing pictures and hopefully rave reviews to Facebook.

Menchie’s page also shows us that loads of people have taken the time to write reviews here on Facebook even if they haven’t elsewhere. (And on Facebook, you have way more leeway to incentivize reviews than you do on Yelp.) Again, look at the names of the reviewers and run searches to see if they’re also on Twitter or if they blog, as this can open up the door to contacting them.

Your next option is to look at things like Facebook Offers and Facebook Ads. Because of the targeting, you can narrow the field geographically, by interest, etc. Putting these ads or offers out there does cost money, but sometimes you do have to invest to get the ball rolling and to see who starts showing up as a frequent check-in and reviewer.

Remember, in the world of being a small business you spend less money, but do more work. Finding and building relationships with influencers is one of the hardest and most time-consuming parts of social media, especially if you are a small business, because you’ll often have to lay the groundwork to get people involved enough for you to even identify them.

But once you start realizing that Joe Smith comes into your shop every Thursday afternoon during happy hour, it becomes easier to start talking to Joe about how creative his concoctions are and whether he might be interested in helping you create some custom creations that can be named and shared on your social media accounts.

Or you might notice that Rachel, Jen, and Christina tend to come in on Saturday nights pretty regularly, and you might talk to them about putting together a single’s night event with speed dating, or you might learn they are coming over after a weekly meeting for a non-profit they are involved in and you could open the door to doing a fundraising event for them at your shop.

Finding influencers for your small business is hard work, takes a long time, and requires insight and investment into people. These people include those who come to your shop, talk online, and even visit your competitors.

It’s all part of the broader process of growing your business, so get out there and get going today.

Along with award winning training courses and weekly live webinars, our members find guidance and insight every day in the Market Motive forums. This post is based on a student/faculty exchange, and we invite members to join the conversation.

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