Where Are Your Key Influencers Hiding?

JMimageWe have been tapping influencers for many years from celebrities to athletes, media, bloggers, YouTube stars and more. But recently influencer marketing has become a buzzword in the public relations and marketing world. And rightfully so; key influencers can help support your public relations, marketing, advertising and social media campaigns and help increase awareness, build brand and drive sales.

But first it is important to note that you do not conduct key influencer marketing for the sake of conducting key influencer marketing. There has to be a goal and strategy behind identifying and utilizing your key influencers. For example, are you looking to grow your blog readership by providing quality content? Key influencers can be a great resource. Want to build awareness for a new product by increasing product trail? Engaging influential bloggers in your space to test product and share promotions can help increase awareness and increase product trial. Launching a new advertising campaign and looking for a different approach than actors, celebrities or athletes? Consider how a key influencer or two could support the new campaign.

The key to identifying influencers is to determine where your target audience is actively listening and being influenced. Of course this is going to vary greatly based on whom you are targeting. For example, you are going to be looking in very different places to identify influentials within the triathlete, weekend DIY warriors or architectural communities.

However, there are key “places” you can start your search.

• Blogs – Bloggers are an excellent influential group because they are easy to identify and easy to evaluate as far as reach and influence.

• Media – The media themselves are influential, but you can also use articles to identify expert sources.

• YouTube – Many influentials have surfaced through YouTube on a variety of different topics.

• Social Media – Be sure to research influentials on different platforms as you could have an influential on Pinterest that is different than Facebook.

• Speakers – Research speakers at different industry shows, webinars and podcasts. Consider your industry as well as other places influentials might be speaking (e.g. Ted Talks).

• Industry Organizations/Associations/Groups – This can be especially helpful if you are targeting B2B influentials. Check leadership and reach out for recommendations on up-and-coming industry professionals.

• Activists – While some can be extreme don’t rule out this group, especially if your campaign involves a “movement”.

• Athletes – These do not have to be professionals. Look in local communities (e.g. local/regional running clubs) or for up-and-coming talent.

• Key Customers – Check for positive reviews and constructive feedback on social, and talk with employees on a store/office level. Customers can be huge brand advocates.

• Employees – Don’t forget about employees. Some might be living the brand after 5 p.m.

• Authors – Don’t limit yourself to best sellers.

• University Professors – These can be excellent influencers for your brand specifically because most are not tied to a particular brand/company.

• Community – Consider geographic communities or a “group” (e.g. Spanish speaking moms) that come together based on specific interests or needs. These can be physical or virtual.

There are a variety of software programs from GroupHigh to Sysomos, Klout and Traackr that can support identifying key influencers. But do not rely solely on software as you might be missing that next big influencer.

Jennifer Manocchio


After starting her career with Edelman in Chicago, Jennifer joined Sweeney and quickly established herself as an exceptional industry innovator. In 2004, she opened Sweeney’s first full-service office outside of Cleveland and quickly rose through the ranks to become agency president. Jen leads by example and without fear. She has been critical to agency growth throughout the past decade and continues to lead the agency into the future.