There is a lot of buzz surrounding the term “influencer” right now. We know that we need them for the success of our brand or our client’s brands but it’s hard to find something that we don’t even know what it is or what it looks like, isn’t it?

And that’s where the confusion lies, because an influencer morphs in to something completely different for every brand. They are often times unique for every brand’s campaign as well. But, if we give our ideal influencer an outline, it makes it a lot easier to find them.

Influencer Outline

Context: An influencer is an influencer for your campaign first and foremost because they fit contextually. In determining whether or not an influencer is a contextual fit, you first must decide on one genre and one or two niches in which an influencer who your target audience would follow would fit.

For example, I am promoting a line of vegan boots. My genre would be fashion bloggers and my niches would be animal friendly clothing and shoes. I would execute a search for my genre and then have to read through blogs and/or social media posts to find ones that talk about these topics.

Reach: While numbers aren’t the determining factor, they are certainly important. No matter how awesome of a post you create, if no one can see it, it’s moot. So, you need to decide what metrics are important to your campaign such as different social media presences, SEO stats and followers.

For example, food campaigns tend to be very visually driven so if you are promoting a foodie client, you may require your influencer to have a strong Pinterest or Instagram presence or a photo driven blog.

Actionability: This is the influencer’s ability to promote action not just awareness of the brand you’re promoting. The main thing to look for here is if the personality of the influencer fits with your campaign.

For example, you may want to target an activist personality for a nonprofit campaign or the expert type of influencer in the field of cell phone technology for your app client. Or maybe you want to go after the creative influencer who writes beautifully strung posts on travel to promote your travel magazine client.

Where to Find Influencers for Your Brand

Now that our influencer has taken shape, it’s much easier to locate them. The majority of influencers are found on blogs, social media channels and are advocates of your brand.

This report recently put out by Technorati shows us that 86% of influencers operate at least one blog and since bloggers are also active on many social media channels, targeting bloggers is like walking in to a gold mine of influencers for your brand.

Manually searching for blogs with Google blog search works if you are doing minimal blogger outreach but if you are going to do a lot of influencer targeting, I recommend checking out a blogger outreach tool. GroupHigh allows you to not only locate bloggers by topics, SEO stats, social media followers and more but you can also track and organize your outreach campaign.

If you want to target influencers on Twitter, check out Follower Wonk from SEOmoz. This tool allows you to search for new influencers by location, keywords in their bios and the number of followers they have.

A brand’s advocates are some of the most effective influencers and the best part is that they are already in place. The key is locating them and rewarding them to keep the positive mentions coming. Social media monitoring will reveal influencers that you didn’t know you had.

You can also create advocates out of happy customers or influencers who are already advocates of your niche but haven’t heard of your brand. Incentivizing and empowering them with awesome content or inside information pertaining to your brand will make them feel like the cool kid on Twitter when they share exclusive or new information.

Once you give your influencer an outline and choose your method of influencer seeking, all of these variables culminate in to one key step no matter the brand and type of influencer—engagement before pitching. You wouldn’t walk up to someone at a cocktail party and say “will you be my friend and promote me?” So don’t do this on the web.

How do you target influencers for your own campaigns? Cheers to a good discussion in the comments below!