PR ON THE GO January 5, 2024

Cultivating Credibility: A Guide to Identifying and Leveraging Industry Influencers

Partnerships make you stronger-and startups get stronger by getting industry influencers on board. The first step is to do your research and identify key spokespeople in your industry.

We asked our PR and growth experts to provide guidance on how media intelligence can help startups identify industry influencers. The experts provide examples of how to identify them, such as through traditional media monitoring and social listening, and offer sound advice on how to pursue collaboration opportunities, such as features on your startup's blog or through webinars.

  • Track mentions of notable figures across various platforms
  • Hashtags will guide you.
  • Find someone who is not overexposed.
  • Understand your audience's interests: Know the influencers they follow.
  • Leverage social listening to pinpoint influencers
  • Meticulously observe and track mentions
  • View news, content, and features relevant to your niche
  • Monitor traditional media channels and online conversations
  • Track influencer mentions in newspapers, magazines and industry-specific publications

1) Track mentions of notable figures across various platforms

Ken Fortney, Founder at That Local Pack

"Media intelligence plays a pivotal role in assisting startups in identifying industry influencers. By aggregating extensive data, it provides nuanced insights into the movers and shakers within an industry. Traditional media monitoring tools, for instance, can track mentions of notable figures across various platforms, offering quantitative data on their reach and influence.

Taking this a step further, social listening empowers startups to comprehend not only who the influencers are but also the type of content they create, the tone they use, the conversations they engage in, and how they interact with their followers. It transcends mere numbers, providing qualitative insights.

In my role as the Marketing Director at an AI venture, we successfully utilized both traditional media monitoring and social listening tools to identify potential influencers. By approaching these influencers with collaborative opportunities such as guest posts, webinar features, or co-hosting events, we significantly enhanced our brand visibility and credibility in the industry.

These collaborative ventures establish a mutually beneficial dynamic. For influencers, it offers an additional platform to share insights and enhance their personal brand. For startups, it's a potent way to gain credibility, reach a broader audience, and foster positive relationships within the industry. Platforms like Reddit provide opportunities for AMAs with influencers, collaborative content creation, or co-hosted discussions."

2) Hashtags will guide you.

Emily Reynolds-Bergh, Owner at R Public Relations

"Hashtags are not dead! Strategically use hashtags on social media platforms the way you’d search keywords on any search engine, and they will guide you to influencers with similar visions and values to your startup. Also, consider monitoring the influencers your competitors work with. Those influencers’ mutuals might be interested in a collaboration with your brand. Collaboration opportunities include branded video content, ad content, and features on your partnership webpage or a blog takeover."

3) Find someone who is not overexposed.

Paige Arnof-Fenn, Owner at Mavens & Moguls

"Finding appropriate influencers requires a lot of research online/offline. Find someone with a track record of success/stellar reputation/large social media following who can authentically live your brand values and is not overexposed. Once you identify a short list of candidates test them with your target audience to see who is the most credible/in synch with your brand. When you engage the right influencers, research shows that people trust them more than their friends/advertising/press. The risk is that they get caught saying/doing something inconsistent with your core values and your brand’s reputation gets tarnished so due diligence is crucial with social media archives/videos so easily accessible today.

For organizations that can’t afford to shell out the big bucks for fancy ads or a celebrity campaign, those brands might be better served by working with micro-influencers who offer smaller follower counts, but post around niche interests, leading to more meaningful one-on-one connections with audience members. Input from the brand should flow seamlessly with their other content which comes down to an understanding of micro-influencers’ core messaging, with brands seeking to match campaign posts with the micro-influencer’s usual look and feel. It should not feel like a paid opportunity, slapping on the #ad to a post. You want to give them the freedom to create their own content, but ensure it’s still getting the message across. Using AI to select influencers will grow."

PR ON THE GO Media Lists: Carefully curated journalist contacts and verified email addresses.

4) Understand your audience's interests: Know the influencers they follow.

Matthew Montez, Founder at The MBC Group

"Understanding your brand is the initial step toward finding the most suitable influencers. Social listening and media monitoring tools empower us to track discussions and mentions related to our brand, products, services, and industry. These tools offer insights into our audience’s interests, the influencers they follow, and the type of content that resonates with them.

An illustrative example from my tenure at The MBC Group involves leveraging social listening to identify key industry influencers aligned with our brand values and objectives. Collaborations, including joint webinars, blog features, and social media takeovers, significantly boosted our online presence and audience engagement.

Collaborating with influencers allows businesses to tap into their established and loyal follower base. In one instance, partnering with an industry influencer for a guest post not only enriched our blog with expert content but also brought in a new audience from the influencer's follower base.

The key is to ensure that collaborations align with both your brand’s and the influencer’s image and audience. Authenticity is paramount for successful influencer partnerships. By providing valuable content together, both the influencer and the brand can benefit, boosting their relevancy and industry leadership."

5) Leverage social listening to pinpoint influencers

Magee Clegg, Founder & CEO at Cleartail Marketing

"A compelling example from our endeavors involves utilizing social listening to pinpoint influencers in the B2B realm. We observed a significant surge in traffic on a client's website after an influential industry blogger mentioned their blog in a post. Seizing this opportunity, we initiated collaboration with the blogger, extending beyond blog posts to include webinars featuring influential figures aligned with our client's product range. This strategic move allowed our client to tap into the influencer's audience base, resulting in amplified reach and improved lead conversion rates.

Traditional media monitoring tools have also proven invaluable, keeping us abreast of influencers' real news coverage. For instance, identifying a thought leader frequently quoted in prominent industry publications, we engaged them for a guest article on our client's blog. The result? A substantial boost in website traffic and added credibility to our client's brand.

However, it's not just about identification; the content produced must provide valuable insights and align with the influencer’s and client’s brand image, fostering a mutually beneficial relationship. Beyond identification and collaboration, maintaining these relationships is crucial, as continuous collaborations often yield more significant benefits in the long run."

6) Meticulously observe and track mentions

Sam Tarantino, Fractional CMO at Harmonic Reach

"Identifying influencers through media intelligence requires meticulous observation across various platforms, including news websites, blogs, social media, and forums. Tools like Google Alerts and social listening platforms such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social are invaluable for tracking mentions. Additionally, platforms like LinkedIn are essential for building professional relationships and identifying industry influencers.

At Grooveshark, we analyzed forums, tweets, and blogs to identify music influencers who were also tech-savvy. This approach led to partnerships where influencers provided valuable feedback and evangelized our product within their communities.

Collaborations with influencers can take various forms. At Grooveshark, we invited influencers to guest-blog, be special guests on our podcasts, co-create downloadable content, and participate in real-world events. These collaborations not only amplified their content on our social media but also strengthened our brand."

7) Observe news, content, and features relevant to your niche

Priyanka Swamy, Founder & CEO at Perfect Locks

"Media intelligence is the key to finding influencers that match your brand. Use traditional media tracking tools to watch news, content, and features relevant to your niche. Social listening tools can also help you find key influencers on social media.

For example, if you’re in the beauty space, watch beauty magazines and influencers discussing hair trends. You’ll find common names and voices aligning with your brand’s values. With this data-driven strategy, startups can identify influencers genuinely connected to their industry.

Now, there are plenty of ways to work together. For example, you can feature influencers you have identified on your startup’s blog, building a mutually beneficial relationship. Another way is to collaborate on webinars – sharing your insights, trends, and expertise can help both brands grow.

Don’t forget that media intelligence isn’t just about data; it’s about strategic relationships that strengthen your startup’s voice. Stay true, connect with influencers that align with your brand’s values, and you’ll watch your brand grow."

8) Monitor traditional media channels and online conversations

David Rubie-Todd, Co-Founder and Marketing Director at Sticker it

"In my experience, media intelligence is a crucial tool for startups looking to build relationships with industry influencers. For instance, by monitoring traditional media channels like newspapers and TV, I have been able to spot emerging trends and identify thought leaders whose interests align with my startup's mission. At the same time, social listening allows me to keep my finger on the pulse of online conversations, helping me discover influencers who are driving these discussions on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn.

A real-life example of this was when my startup identified a trending topic on sustainable technology in our industry. We reached out to the influencers leading this conversation and invited them to participate in a webinar we were hosting. This not only brought their followers to our event, but also led to constructive discussions that benefited our product development."

9) Track influencer mentions in newspapers, magazines and industry-specific publications

Krittin Kalra, Founder at Writecream

"Media intelligence can be an invaluable tool for startups to identify industry influencers and establish meaningful collaborations. Traditional media monitoring enables startups to uncover influencers through various methods such as tracking their mentions in newspapers, magazines, or industry-specific publications. By monitoring these sources, startups can identify journalists, thought leaders, or experts who frequently discuss topics relevant to their industry.

Additionally, social listening plays a crucial role in identifying influencers through analysis of conversations happening on social media platforms. Startups can track hashtags, keywords, or industry-specific discussions to discover individuals who have significant engagement and influence within their target audience.

Let's consider an example to better illustrate this. Suppose a startup operating in the fitness industry utilizes media intelligence tools to monitor traditional media and social platforms. Through traditional media monitoring, they identify a fitness blogger who frequently writes for renowned fitness magazines and has a strong online presence. Using social listening, they discover a fitness influencer who often discusses fitness trends, diets, and workout routines. By analyzing the influencer's engagement levels, reach, and relevance to the startup's target audience, the startup determines that both individuals are potential industry influencers.

Once these influencers are identified, startups can explore collaboration opportunities such as featuring them on their blog or participating in joint webinars. For instance, the startup could invite the influencer to share their expertise through guest blog posts, interviews, or even co-host webinars discussing fitness industry updates, workout routines, or dietary advice. Collaborating in this way not only provides valuable content to the startup's audience but also helps them leverage the influencer's audience, expanding their reach and credibility within the industry."


Subscribe to our growthhacking newsletter.

Follow the latest PR hacks from our experts.


The Entrepreneur's Source For Global Prime PR Hacks.