Influencer Discovery: Strategies to discover the perfect influencers for your brand

With over a billion users, it can be incredibly difficult for a brand to successfully discover influencers that align with their aesthetic, demographics, and more. This is why an influencer discovery platform is essential.

Here’s the Good News: 

It’s easier than ever to discover influencers! 

As influencer marketing continues to grow and mature into a $10 billion industry, several tools and strategies have been developed to help you quickly connect with influencers and invite them to join your campaign. 

Let’s get started. 

Slide into their DM’s:

Perhaps the simplest strategy when it comes to influencer discovery is to manually search a hashtag that aligns with your brand and go through profiles that are using the hashtag on their posts. When you find a profile that you think is a perfect fit, you could then message them explaining who you are and that you’re interested in collaborating with them.

For instance, if you run a company that sells baking supplies, searching hashtags like #bakedgoods and #bakersofinstagram would show you millions of accounts that are serious about baking. You would then browse all the images and click on the ones that catch your eye. 

But wait! You’re not done yet. 

Sending one-off DM’s to accounts makes it very unlikely that you will receive a response from an influencer. Especially since you’re not following each other, your message will not be immediately displayed in their inbox. Instead, it’ll go to  “Requests” (think of it like Instagram’s spam folder) and won’t be noticed for a while. Influencer discovery campaigns take creativity!

To avoid this, be sure to like a couple of their photos and leave comments! Basically, show them some love and let them know that you’ve taken the time to actually check out their profile. As you go liking and commenting, they’ll receive notifications and that’ll put you on their radar. 

Finally, to be extra thorough, make sure you also look up their profile on Instagram’s mobile app. Most influencers have a button on their profile where you can email them. This will allow you to contact them through two different channels and increase the chances they respond. 

Search a database 

Mining an influencer database is similar to DM’ing but allows you to refine and narrow the search. You still have to manually go through individual profiles and see if they’re a fit, but now you’re able to tailor the search with additional filters like age, gender, or location. In theory, this means that most of the results will be right on target. 

Here’s the crazy part though: 

A lot of influencer databases and search tools acquire their information by scraping and have no quality control, which means that a lot of junk ends up in the database as well – junk that you have to sort through. 

To make matters worse, most databases charge for you to access them and sometimes might even try to lock you into pricey year-long contracts! 

And just like an old-fashioned gold mine, the trouble with mining a database is that you eventually run out of searches. They’re not updated regularly, and only a small portion of the accounts will align with your brand and actually end up working with you. Most of the times databases will make the influencer discovery process quite frustrating.

So you may be locked into a year-long contract for a tool that you’ve exhausted after two or three months. 

Don’t get me wrong. 

Influencer databases are definitely a step up from just manually searching and DM’ing yourself. They can save you time, and you’ll almost certainly find some great accounts to partner with. But you’ll still have to sort through hundreds of accounts that are not a fit, and combined with the fact that you have to pay, you should consider the pros and cons carefully. 

Set up an ambassador program 

Perhaps you’ve DM’d people and want to establish a recurring relationship with them. Maybe you’re hoping to generate inbound interest from accounts that want to collaborate. Either way, establishing an ambassador program is a great step to take and allows you to formalize the relationship you have with influencers. 

First, think about what you’re going to offer influencers, and what you would like to receive from them. Will they have to post monthly? Do they need to keep a link in their bio for a set amount of time? 

And then, what will you give them? Be creative! Maybe they all get a welcome kit that they can post about. Exclusive deals and priority access? Will you pay them per post, per click, or based on some other metric?

The more attractive you make your program, the more interest it will receive. Over time, word will spread and you’ll start to receive inquiries from influencers that are hoping to partner with you. 

Ambassador programs can be difficult to structure and get off the ground. But if it achieves liftoff, it becomes a great way to flip the script and have influencers come to you directly instead of you constantly reaching out. If you build it, they will come! 

One brand that’s had a lot of success with ambassadors is Diff Eyewear. As you can see, they’ve invested the time and effort to create a robust and detailed program – and they’re crushing it on Instagram! 

Use a curated network like Trend 

Using a platform that has a curated or invite-only network of influencers is one of the best overall solutions for discovering influencers. 

These networks act as a marketplace where brands are able to set up a campaign and influencers apply to join, which saves you a lot of time and busywork.

Unlike an ambassador program though, it doesn’t take forever to start and for people to discover it and learn more. Instead, you start receiving requests immediately. 

And it gets better: 

Since these networks are invite-only (which means they don’t just let in anyone whose data they scrape) they’re able to ensure good accounts. 

For instance, here at Trend we first screen each profile that requests to join our community to ensure they have a real following based in the US and a minimum threshold of followers. We then manually crawl through a profile to ensure the content the profile posts is consistently high-quality

Essentially, we’ve already done the influencer discovery process for you.

This is tremendously important and often gets overlooked – What good is partnering with an account that has a huge following if they’re going to create a bad post for your brand? Finally, we check the comments to ensure real people are interacting with the post and it’s not just bots or engagement pods. 

After all, you want to make sure that your social media is working for you, not against you. So it’s better to take the time and do it right from the beginning. 

And of course, the beauty of a platform like Trend is that we’ve done all the hard work for you, so really all you have to do is sign up, create your campaign, and start approving applications! 

Several of these curated platforms also come with a lot of additional benefits that make them a great one-stop shop for discovering influencers. 

At Trend, we provide brands with a license to the content created so they can repurpose into their own social media, website, ads, and more. We all take care of paying influencers, eliminating the need for you to go back-and-forward negotiating rates. This saves you time and money – what’s not to love? 

Overall, Trend’s software and curated network blends the best of both worlds into one –  we combine the scale and reach of a database with the quality of an ambassador program. We make your influencer marketing campaigns a breeze to start and manage.