Whether you’re a small business, a one-man brand, or you’re the social media manager for a large agency, your first goal in social media is the same – influencer identification. You need to identify the people in social media who are important to your business. This includes the folks who have already been talking about your brand on social channels, as well as the users and outlets you want to be talking about the brand.
But how do you find these elusive influencers? Below are some tools to help you get started.
It’s not always flashy, but I like to use an old fashioned Google search when I’m in the early stages of influencer identification. It’s an effective way to find those initial “linkerati” aka the people in your industry who have the ability to link to you or send you traffic. This will include industry-related blogs, writers, reporters, media outlets, and even those who are frequently quoted in news about your industry. These are important people to be connected to as they’re your link to future press mentions and visibility. You can also do searches for competitors to see who is talking about them and where they’re getting mentions. Start keeping a list to help you keep track of all the names you’re collecting. Once you find the person or site via search, you can work backwards to find their social information.
Staying along the lines of search, setting up Google Alerts  related to your brand will also help you to find people who are already talking about your brand and whom you may want to reach out to again.
Thanks to the rise of social media (and the need to market to social users), a number of powerful tools have emerged to help businesses connect with people who are relevant to their business. Tools like Twitter Search, FollowerWonk , SocialBro , WeFollow, Twellow  and FindPeopleOnPlus  can all be invaluable in helping to track down influencers on Twitter, Google+ and the social Web.
As marketers you want to find people with established networks who have shown a propensity to be interested in what you have to offer. It may be they list a specific interest or they’ve recently had conversations about a similar topic. Once you use these sites to identify who they are, again, add them to appropriate lists and start looking for avenues to build relationships with them.
Influence Measuring Tools
Aside from tools designed to help you identify people are tools designed to help identify social influence. While I don’t think any of these tools do a perfect job of determining if someone is truly influential on the Web, they can be used to get a baseline view of a particular user’s network and who they are connected. Tools like PeerIndex , Klout, and Kred  are all tools to help you identify users who are deemed influential in certain subject areas. If you’re a local bakery, maybe you want to find people influential in cooking or cupcakes or a certain method of cooking. These sites are designed to help you do that.
Again, none of them are perfect so you’ll want to use your own common sense when looking for topics to pinpoint and whether or not you think a specific user fits into your demographics. However, if you’re looking for a starting point, these sites can often give you that.
Lists & Circles
Before you go too far creating your own lists, don’t forget to take advantage of the lists others have created for you. Twitter offers users the ability to create Twitter Lists to help them group and segment their Twitter followers. Once you have a short list of Twitter influencers, check to see what lists they’ve created and who they are getting information from. If you’re a local artist, you may be very interested in the City-specific lists they’ve created or they lists on Top Artist Blogs. You can also use a tool like Listorious to help you find relevant Twitter lists, as well.
While these aren’t always as nicely segmented, you can also find new influencers by searching through the Google Circles others have created.
Those are a few ways that I go about finding influencers and people I want to connect with on social media. What’s worked for you? What tools are you using to keep track of the influencers you find?