How to find influencers in 2017

GRIN also recommends: Quick Guide to Earned Media Value 


We get it, we seriously do. Finding the right influencers for a campaign is hard. Not because there aren’t a lot of influencers – but because there aren’t a lot of quality influencers in 2017. The rise of social has given birth to an always-connected generation. As a result, there are literally 1,000s of creators who have dreams of making it big, but very few who do.

At Grin, we’ve been running influencer campaigns for a long time. And you know what the most challenging part of the process is? Recruitment. That’s why we wrote this post: how to find influencers.

Finding, vetting, contacting & recruiting the right influencers into a campaign is always a big hurdle. How do you find influencers, sort through 1,000s of profiles online, rank them & eventually get them into your influencer campaign?

Well, you’re in luck. Because today I am going to show you our “secret sauce” – An internal process we use everyday to get the right influencers for our campaigns. This article is broken down into 3 meta categories;

  1. Prepare

  2. Source

  3. Prioritize

  4. Recruit


It all starts with preparation. At Grin we work primarily with marketing agencies. Marketing agencies typically have a very diverse set of clients who they are working with at any given time. Each client has a different target consumer they are trying to reach, and as such, requires a different influencer recruitment strategy.

In this stage it is all about preparing a quality campaign brief, which will be used as a basis for sourcing. A great brief fully explains the brand, the campaign objectives, key outcomes & more. This phase is all about making sure that you are “sourcing” the right influencers when you move into stage 2. The key questions you need to answer are:

  1. What is the campaign goal: Awareness or Conversions? We understand both can be a goal, but ONE must take precedent, which is it? Understanding the goal will help you when you move into the sourcing stage, which we will explain later
  2. What is the primary audience you are trying to reach? Again, of course there is more than one answer here, but the key word is “primary” – Is it primarily male or female? How old is the target audience? Where are they primarily located? What are their key passions & interests?
  3. What are your budget & network-posting requirements? Understanding budget constraints will help guide the influencer souring process to ensure you don’t waste your time with influencers who are too large, or small, for your needs
how to find influencers
find influencers

Ideally you will take all of this information and put it in a simple campaign brief document. A word doc or PDF is fine, but you should have it available for the next few phases of your recruitment so you can make decisions quickly. Prep is a key element when you are thinking about how to find influencers for your campaigns.


Sourcing & aggregating a list of influencers is the heart of running a successful campaign. Now that you have done your homework on the key details in the preparation phase, you can begin doing the actual influencer research.

At the stage you want to get a high volume of “likely” fits without wasting too much time and energy on influencers who are a definite no. The first thing you will want to do is create a Google sheet. Google sheets are easy because they auto-save and are always available online. Once you have a Google sheet you will want to add the following columns;

  • Influencer name
  • Gender
  • Primary network
  • Social link
  • Location
  • E-mail specified?
  • E-mail address
  • Followers
  • Avg. likes / views
  • Engagement rate
influencer outreach

You will notice each one of these columns helps us prioritize and answer the key questions we asked in the preparation phase. For example, if your campaign is an awareness campaign, you may be less concerned with engagement rate and more concerned with total audience size. So you can prioritize influencers with more followers and lower engagement to stretch your budget.

Again, each column answers a specific question for us. At Grin we know that around 30% of an influencers audience, on average, is located in the same city as the influencers. This gives you some insight into location before going to the next phase. A key element in this phase is to understand if the influencer has an e-mail present. Response rates via DM on Instagram or other networks are really hard to convert, so you need an accurate way to outreach to the influencers for anything to work long term.

Once you have the Google sheet created you are going to need to do the hard part: actually sourcing influencers. We suggest always starting in-network, so, for Instagram… start sourcing influencer ON INSTAGRAM. You can start by searching geo-location photos & hashtags. There are also some tools, which cost money, which help you find influencers (we have that feature built into Grin).

Remember, the goal here is VOLUME. You want a lot of influencers, with all of the columns filled out, before you start prioritizing & outreaching to them in the next steps.


After you have a big list of influencers with all of the contact information in your Google sheet you want to assign priority to certain influencers that fit with your campaign brief. When you are thinking about how to find influencers, we always suggest sorting by the following metrics, in order;

  1. Is the e-mail present?
  2. Followers or engagement rate (based on your goals)
  3. Content quality & fit – you are going to want to click in and assign a number to the influencer based on how good their content is, 1-5 is a good base to start from

The fastest way to complete this step is to eliminate influencers who are not a fit.  We suggest sorting the google sheet by each metric described above and deleting the ones that don’t fit your brief. Once you have a short-list of potential fits, you are on your way with how to find influencers, you are just going to want to go a bit deeper on audience analysis to decide who to ultimately reach out to.

The best way to do audience analysis is with a tool called Demographics Pro. For an on-going fee of $449 you can analyze up to 1,000,000 total followers of influencers.

influencer find outreach

FYI: We also have a similar tool when you subscribe to Grin as an advertiser.

The good thing about audience demographics is it will help you further refine your list and make sure you are only outreaching to influencers who fit your criteria perfectly. After analyzing the influencers audiences, you will want to take one last pass through the influencer list and again delete any influencers who don’t fit


Now…. you have a final short-list of influencers you want to recruit into your campaign.  At this stage, you should be sorting the influencer list in the google sheet by total number of followers. Depending on your budget, you can decide whether to start with influencers who more, or less, followers. You should expect a 10-20% conversion rate on cold outreach e-mails for influencer campaigns. The higher your budget is, typically, the better response you get. The easiest way to manage cold outreach is to use an e-mail tool like Mailshake.

influencer outreach

Mailshake is a simple e-mail automation tool. With it, you can load in your contact list and create outreach sequences. e-mail drip campaigns that are personalized to each influencer. You will want to use the custom fields inside of Mailshake to personalize each e-mail with the influencers social profile URLs, name & more. Here is an example of what one of these outreach e-mail can look like;

how to find influencers

Mailshake plugs directly into Gmail and you can manage all of your replies right in your normal e-mail client. Once you start getting some responses on your campaigns… you will want to create a new google sheet that has the negotiated rates you discuss with each influencer, posting requirements, schedule & other requirements. More on those topics later….

And that’s it… of course, this is only one small piece of an effective influencer marketing campaign, but it’s important. Recruitment often defines the ultimate success or failure of an influencer campaign.

Lastly, if you don’t have time to manage this type of process on your own, you can always sign up for Grin

At Grin, we have automated this entire process

Our campaign creation workflow automatically takes your key audience data and matches it with opted-in influencers in our network to work with you on campaigns. If we don’t have influencers who match your criteria, we’ve built an automated outreach engine that automatically outreaches to influencers who fit your criteria and recruits them into your campaign.

Automating a process as hard as recruiting social influencers is no easy task, but, it’s something we do well.

So, if you are interesting in learning more about how Grin can help you complete this entire process in under 5 minutes, make sure to book a demo here

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