Influence marketing has it’s time and place. It usually occurs when your brands social profiles are strong. It’s hard enough getting the word out all on your own. Sometimes it takes a little help from enthusiastic brand fans to help get the word about your product out there.

Influence marketing targets both markets and individuals, rather than the audience as a whole.  Choosing the right influencers can make a huge difference. What makes an influencer is how active they are on social media, groups, communities and forums. These brand fans interact in such a way that resonates their excitement for brands and ideas they are passionate about. Creating a community that is excited about your message and core business values can help spread the word, and extend your brands voice, capturing the interest of potential clients. Successfully orchestrated it will increase your own community audience, as well as your profits.

When starting out with influence marketing, it can be a bit daunting and overwhelming. The pure size and scope of the internet can make it hard to narrow your search for prime influencers. In an effort to save time and money it helps to have some tools under your belt to find these diamonds in the rough.

Who doesn’t like free tools!

Here are a few of my favorite free research tools.

BuzzSumo

BuzzSummo Is one of my all time favorite content marketing tools. It helps discover content that already works within your industry. You can switch between bloggers, companies and industries. You can find out if an influencer has their own website and blog in order to help magnify your cooperative reach.

FollowerWonk

This tool is great for narrowing down the vastness of  Twitters population by using keywords. Followerwonk scrapes Twitter bios and produces a list of influencers based on following and authority that relate to your targeted keywords. Beware! There are many people that buy their followers out there, so it’s important to double check for those empty followers.

One pretty clear indication is the ratio of likes or followers compared to engagement levels. On Twitter you may get a high volume of egg profile pics, sexy profile pics that if you click on them, their tweets are all selling tweets. You don’t want to be mixed up in that, as it’s a waste of time and money.

Look for people that engage and chat and that aren’t always selling.

KLOUT

Using Klout can aid in determining user engagement. I use these in my long hand searches. Klout assigns influencers a score based on their activity and social engagement. Klout can be easily gamed to increase your score, so be sure to do a bit of research. Overall it can definitely add value, and shouldn’t be over looked as a useful tool. If you have authors on your site or are building a brand evangelist ask them to use Klout to raise their rank or score as influence marketing works both ways.

PeerIndex & Brand Watch

This nifty tool helps define who is an expert on varying subjects. Using it will give you a leg up when deciding who to include in a social circle, or as a voice of authority in your list building efforts. Lists are essential for influencers because it’s very attractive for their brand and ego. Giving out perks to raise someones professional ego can go a long way, let’s face it everyone likes to be considered and expert… just look at the professional internet marketing industry. That corner of the universe is crawling with expert lists…

Just remember

This is a small portion of your over all marketing strategy, but it works well when your brand is vibrant and big. These tools can help you in your hunt for the golden children of any industry. Engage with your influencers authentically. Keep it real. Show them what you can do for them and how it can benefit the both of you.