This blog was submitted by Surf for Brands customer Samer Brax.
Please note that this blog post is unsolicited, we are not paying or compensating Samer in any way for providing us with this blog post. We love it when customers share how they are using Surf for Brands and when Samer offered his blog to us to use on our website we happily accepted!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen influencer marketing all over social media. You know, those crazy products your favorite influencers promote on Instagram and YouTube.
Like David Dorbrik's famous SeatGeek ad roll. Or those weird teeth whitening kits…
But how many of those products have you personally bought? Speaking for myself, not many. And that’s because those products just weren’t relevant to me.
Yet, when I did buy from an influencer the experience was black and white. Why?
Because the influencer you choose will make or break your influencer marketing campaign.
And in this blog post, I’ll share how you can find high quality influencers to promote your ecommerce brand. PLUS a bonus tip on how I made $10k in sales by automating this entire process.
5 Steps To Find Influencers for your Amazon FBA & Shopify Brand
Step 1: 🔎 Identify Your Audience
If you don’t know who your target audience is, then you’re going to have a hard time finding the right influencer.
Without a clear understanding of the people you’ll sell to, your product will fall victim to banner blindness just like the thousands of other products promoted daily.
Luckily, I have some key questions you should ask yourself to dial in the right people and blast through all the noise.
Questions to Help Identify Your Audience:
By answering all of these questions, you’ll be able to create an avatar of who your ideal customer is.
Furthermore, if you already have a following on Facebook or Instagram you can analyze more exact data by going to your Facebook page’s analytics.
Some of you may be thinking: “But Samer… I’m just getting started. I don’t have a following. How can a brand new person like me find reliable influencers to promote my product?”
Well I have a solution, let’s start with Amazon.
Go through the reviews of your top competitors and read customer experiences. For example purposes, let’s take a look at Electrolyte Powder.
Be wary though, a lot of sellers juice their reviews so I always recommend reading the most recent.
After finding a legitimate review, click on the Amazon customer and start reading.
In this example, this Amazon customer has written 34 reviews on a variety of supplements and fitness products. And by digging deep, we can identify her pain points and paint a picture of what type of customer she is.
Step 2: Define Your Influencer Criteria
Now that you have identified your target audience, it’s time to define the type of influencer you should be looking for. When it comes to Instagram followers, I typically look for people from 2,000 to 100,000 followers.
This may seem like a broad range but it’s been a great sweet spot I’ve been using for my brands. Here’s why:
Influencers in the 4-5 figure range are just getting started and will be easier to reach and work with. They’ll be newer which means cheaper posts, more negotiation, and more freedom of creativity. On top of that, they have a much more personal connection with their few followers, which means easier to influence, which also means higher conversions for your promotion!
Influencers in the 100,000+ range have skin in the game which means faithful and dedicated fans who are passionate in their niche. With the average Instagram account engagement of 3%, bigger influencers give you more reach, but they’re almost always harder to contact.
But by following this criteria, or defining your own criteria for your niche you’ll be able to narrow down who is worth contacting and who isn’t.
Step 3: Gathering your Influencer Master List:
Now that you know your audience and the ideal criteria for influencers, it’s time to find them. In this step I share 3 free methods anyone can use. (PLUS, don’t forget to stick around for the bonus tip).
Method 1: Suggestion Arrow
The first method is to navigate back to your competitors Instagram page and search the suggested for you carousel.
To find suggestions for you, tap the arrow which can be found in the middle right part of the screen.
After tapping, Instagram will show you pages algorithmically similar to your competitor through a carousel.
In this example, I’m looking at a supplement brand called key nutrients.
Just after a couple of scrolls I found an influencer that meets our criteria. They have 62,000 followers and are in the keto niche.
Method 2: Competitor Tags
Go to one of your competitors' posts and tap on it to see who they tagged. Most likely, it’s an influencer in your niche.
Method 3: Competitor Comments
Tap on one of your competitor posts and see who comments. Then see who is algorithmically similar by clicking the suggestion arrow from method 1.
Method 4: Hashtags
Search your main niche hashtag through search and see who posts. If you’re still unsure of which hashtags to search for, go back to your competitor and see which hashtags they use.
Rinse and repeat these methods until you’ve gathered enough influencers.
After collecting your influencers, it’s time to give them 1 final test: Engagement & Authenticity.
How many comments per post do they get?
How many likes per photo?
How many total followers do they have?
If you see an engagement rate of less than 3% (i.e. a super large discrepancy in followers-to-likes) then it might be best to move on. Because like fake Amazon reviews there are also many inauthentic Instagram accounts that just aren’t worth your time...
But if they pass all of these tests with flying colors then you’re ready to contact them!
Step 4: How to Reach Out to Your Influencers
If you’re like me that goes deep on influencer research, you probably have a really long list. And it can get really repetitive going back and forth with them. So I advise you to create an outreach template.
An outreach template allows you to send messages in bulk in a structured manner so that you set your goals and intentions with every influencer from the start.
With my template, I’m able to send about 20-30 messages per day from my brand account. The reason I send so many is because influencer response rate tends to be low.
Speaking as an influencer myself, I get bombarded with messages and collab requests daily. And I only accept their offer if I’m passionate about the product and I believe in the company.
Since low response rate is common, don’t have a scarcity mindset here. Reach out to as many influencers as possible every day and eventually someone will work with you.
Once you’re in the door, don’t forget to build a relationship with them. At the end of the day, a human is on the other side of the screen with their own wants, needs, and goals.
I’ve actually found some of my best influencers just through conversation. Sometimes I compliment them through an Instagram story, or leave a comment on one of their posts.
Anything to get the ball rolling.
Here’s some of my messages in action:
Notice that they are very templatized and structured to save time for mass outreach.
In my template, I always start the conversation by complimenting their page and tell them a little bit about my brand.
Then I offer them a risk free no questions asked sample of my product in exchange for an honest review. If the influencer is responsive, they almost always take me up on the offer.
My Results from this Template:
Almost all of the influencers we’ve sent our product to has made a story or a post about our brand. And the best thing about this is that influencers tend to follow and collab with other influencers.
So after one influencer saw our brand from another, they reached out to us. And as the flywheel began to turn, we no longer had to compete for influencers. They came to us and we gladly connected them with our brand.
Step 5: Keep them Coming Back
Like I mentioned before in step 4, build a relationship with these influencers. Like and comment on their posts, respond to their stories, keep the dialog open and most importantly: care about them!
Most of these influencers are trying to start and run their business just like you. Which means they need help and consultation. Keeping the relationship transactional helps no one.
So always, always, always, give as much free value as possible. The relationship will be worth your time in the end.
For example, one of our influencers needed help building a marketing portfolio to attract larger brands. So I asked her if she’d like to take photos with our brand and add it to her portfolio.
And sure enough she took us up on the offer and now we have FREE lifestyle images of a well known influencer in the space that we can use on our Amazon listing and Shopify site.
BONUS: Automate & Find Influencers Faster with This Online Tool
Like I said in the beginning of this article, I made $10k plus in sales and now I’m going to share with you how I automated steps 1-5 with this online tool.
There is a tool that has a database of millions and millions of Instagram profiles. It is paid but very affordable. It let’s you access every Instagram profile on the platform and has powerful and intuitive filters.
That means that you can put in the exact criteria and the tool will instantly pull a list of profiles from Instagram that best matches your ideal influencer.
The tool is called Surf Analytics and is by a Canadian start-up called Surf for Brands. The photo below shows you a quick search that I did when looking for fitness influencers to help a friend sell his electrolyte supplement.
As you can see you are able to filter according to various factors and variables such as the following:
In this example, I chose to look for profiles that have fitness and/or trainer in their bio (you could choose to make sure both words are in the bio, not one or the other).
I also searched for profiles that used the words like workout, sweat, or electrolytes in their past posts. I opted for profiles in the US since we can only ship our products there.
Additionally, I filtered for “recently posted”. Which means Surf Analytics will only show profiles that have made a post in the past 45 days. This was a game changer because I didn’t have to worry about inactive accounts.
And finally I filtered for accounts that have anywhere between 5000 followers and 75,000 followers.
After running the tool, you can see that there are over 14,000 profiles that match our criteria. There’s a lot of potential influencers to work with here and we did it in half the time.
Surf Analytics gives us a breakdown follower count, average comments and likes, which are metrics that can help us understand how engaged the influencer’s audience is.
So as you can see below, when I switched to the grid view, I was able to sort the list by the average number of comments per post. So now we can see the profiles that get the most comments, and have a better understanding of which of these influencers might get us the most results based on how engaged their audience is.
As you collect influencers in Surf Analytics, you can save it inside the tool. But what I recommend you do is go through each of these new influencers you found and use each one as another starting point for Step 3 from this article.
In other words, you would go to the profile of one of the influencers from your Surf Analytics list, and you would easily find even more similar influencers by clicking on the arrow in their profile and seeing who is suggested, by checking the posts they are tagged in, by checking who they have tagged in their posts, by going through their comments and looking for influencers, you get the idea…
There are many methods of finding influencers. I would suggest you mix and match all the strategies in this article.
Go down the Instagram rabbit hole and aim to message 20-30 new influencers every day. As you build your influencer pipeline, you will most definitely see a quick increase in sales, AND you will get a good amount of free content and traffic to your Amazon & Shopify site.