How to Find Local Social Media Influencers to Promote Your Business
If you run a small business, you already know how important it is to build an online presence to reach your audience at a local level. You probably have a website and social profiles. Maybe you even do some online advertising.
For whatever reason, small businesses often leave influencer marketing to e-commerce sellers and major national brands. But in reality, influencers can help build brand awareness and even drive sales for just about any kind of business, including local ones.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a marketing strategy that targets other people to help promote your business, instead of marketing directly to your audience. Influencers can be anyone who has a strong voice in the online world, such as bloggers, social media personalities, or popular business reviewers.
Influencer marketing is a valuable strategy for just about any kind of brand, because people value the opinions of others when making purchase decisions. In fact, 71 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media reference.
How can local influencers help your business?
Local influencers can help businesses of all sizes reach a lot of different marketing goals. Here are just a few examples to give you some inspiration. Influencer marketing can:
Impact your brand image
If your business has had some bad PR (or no PR at all), influencer opinions can help change your brand image.
A great example of this is the Anthem of Us Campaign for Bedrock Real Estate. The business is located in Detroit, a city cliched as being downtrodden.
Bedrock Real Estate wanted to help change people’s opinions about Detroit, so they partnered with local influencers such as Detroit Bikes, Slow Roll, and Shinola to create an impactful film about what makes Detroit and its people so great:
Local celebrities and influencers like Big Sean and Pure Michigan also endorsed the video. It helped improve the company’s organic reach online and had an impact on the way people feel about the city.
Broaden brand reach
People often follow the opinions and suggestions of influencers in their area more closely. Getting them to endorse your business is a great way to broaden brand reach on a local level.
That’s the strategy that Pizza Pilgrims took to spread the word about their pizza van in London’s Soho. They solicited local food bloggers Food and Drinks Noob, The Londoner, and Samphire and Salsify to review their restaurant.
In an interview about their success, co-founder James Elliott said:
“We got food bloggers involved very early on. It’s been much more effective than print advertising or any other more traditional channels.”
Attract new customers
Influencer marketing doesn’t have to be something complicated like collaborating on a video marketing campaign. In fact, it can be as simple as asking a local social media personality to check in at your location and recommend your products.
Use an influencer marketing platform, and all you have to do is pay a small fee for influencers to share a post about your business:
Most people take advertisements with a grain of salt (or block them out entirely). But a simple online recommendation from peers can be enough to attract new customers.
How to find local influencers
The big challenge to influencer marketing success is finding online personalities with an attentive audience that’s interested in your niche. But if you run a local business, or want to target your audience at the local level, there’s a secondary challenge: finding influencers in your geographic region.
Luckily, there are some strategies you can use to make the process easier:
Don’t forget your current customers
Influencer marketing isn’t all about targeting (or in some cases paying) other people to help promote your business. If you offer quality products and/or services, your current customers will do this for you organically.
All you need to do is give them every opportunity to do so. You should:
Complete your local listings
Make sure your business has a complete profile on all the popular local review sites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor. Your business should appear consistently across platforms — look out for issues like inconsistent naming or duplicate profiles. This makes it easier for your customers to find your business online and leave positive reviews.
Fill out your Google My Business profile completely, since this information shows up in search results when people type in keywords related to your business. Searchers will also see a summary of your Google reviews, so encouraging positive reviews is a must if you want to compete in local search.
Your Facebook Business Page is another must-have local listing. Then your business will appear in the Facebook Professional Services directory, and people can check-in and review your business.
Once you have a business page, you will also start seeing which of your friends are visiting, and target them as influencers:
Offer encouragement (and maybe even incentives)
There are a lot of different ways businesses can encourage their current customers to leave reviews online and become a positive influencer. The simplest strategy is to leave a call-to-action after they make a purchase asking them to please review your business. You could also offer an incentive, such as a small discount on their next purchase, to get more reviews.
If you turn to your current customer base, you don’t need to look hard for local influencers. Don’t overlook them as a resource to help spread a positive word about your business.
Track mentions of your business online
Organic mentions of your business online are a great opportunity for influencer marketing. For one, you can connect with people who are already saying nice things about your business. If you get to know them, they might be able to help you promote more on other platforms. For example, someone who spoke highly of your business on their blog might also be willing to Tweet about it to their social audience.
It’s also good business practice to respond to negative mentions of your business if you find them.
Google Alerts is an easy-to-use, free tool you can use to track mentions of your business online. Just set it up to send you an email whenever Google finds a new mention of your business online.
Search review sites
Besides encouraging your regular customers to leave positive reviews, you can also actively target influential reviewers who live in your area.
First, pick an important local review site for your business, such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Foursquare, or MerchantCircle. Then you can use Google to search the site for top reviewers in your area.
Use the following search command to find Yelp profiles in your area:
site:yelp.com/user_details “your town’s name”
Google results will show popular profiles from your area:
Ben B. is the first result for Chicago reviewers:
You can see that he’s part of Yelp’s Elite 2017, and wrote a lot of reviews. That’s the kind of powerful influencer you want to target. Google is pretty good at prioritizing active profiles, so the first results should either show members of the Elite 2017 or other profiles with a lot of reviews.
Make sure you look at the reviewer’s rating distribution before you reach out. Ben B. hands out more 2, 3 and 4-star reviews than he does 5. So it might be difficult to get a 5-star review out of him.
However, one plus is that he lists his Twitter account and YouTube channel on his profile:
It’s valuable to find reviewers who offer other points of contact, like a social profile or website. These are opportunities to get to know the influencer and encourage them to review your business. Many top Yelp reviewers also write reviews on their blog as well.
Use an influencer marketplace
Influencer marketplaces are just that — marketplaces designed to help businesses connect with influencers. There are plenty of tools out there that will help you find influencers for Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and other social platforms. Some will also help you find bloggers.
In most cases, you’ll pay some sort of fee to work with these influencers. For example, you post a brief about one of your products, an Instagram influencer creates a cool post about it, they share it with their audience, and you pay a small fee.
Marketplaces make it easy to search for influencers based on all sorts of criteria about their engagement and audience demographics. You can also search based on location to find local influencers.
Here are a few influencer marketplaces you can check out:
- Klear – Social media and blogging influencers
- Shoutcart – Instagram and Twitter influencers
- HYPR – Social media and blogging influencers
- Famebit – YouTube and Instagram influencers
- Revfluence – Social media and blogging influencers
- Tribegroup – Social media influencers
Search social media
Social media is really all you need to use to find local influencers. Each platform has search features that can help:
It’s easy to find local bloggers using Facebook’s search feature. I typed in “Portland bloggers” and it came back with lots of groups:
All you have to do is look for bloggers in your business niche or narrow down your search.
You can really get creative with your search terms and still find relevant results. “Chicago Restaurant Review” just returned the profile of a local food blogger:
LinkedIn also makes it easy to find local bloggers. Say you run an acupuncture practice. Search LinkedIn for “health blogger,” then narrow down the search results based on location:
You should be able to find local bloggers who might be interested in reviewing your business.
Twitter Advanced Search can help you find people tweeting about different keywords related to your niche based on location:
The results return profiles related to your keyword and tweets related to your keyword.
Instagram’s suggested search feature is a great way to find local hashtags people are using.
For example, I typed Chicago fashion into Instagram search and found a lot of relevant hashtags people are using:
Then I can click on the posts to find their profiles:
Follow the hashtags, and you can find social media influencers who are already posting about topics related to your niche.
These strategies are just a few of the many ways you can find local influencers to help promote your business. I didn’t even mention good old-fashioned in-person networking (that works too!).
There are plenty of search features, databases and tools out there that can help you find influencers in your area with an active audience who are interested in your business. If you take your time and use even a few of these strategies to find the right local influencers, the payoff will be worth the effort.
Powerful, talented influencers can help you broaden your reach, impact your brand image, help engage your audience, attract new customers, and more. Just find the right influencers and help them do what they do best — create engaging content that their audience loves.