You’ve read tons of generic advice on how to find influencers, but the detail is always lacking. There’s never a breakdown of how a real person at a real brand actually does the work, day-to-day.
Which criteria do they look for? Which social platforms do they focus on? Which methods do they use to source talent?
I’ve interviewed 5 successful brands & their influencer marketers to answer exactly those questions. Enjoy!
How Aumio finds Instagram influencers to promote their app
What is Aumio: Aumio is a sleep and relaxation app for children & babies. Their goal with influencer marketing is to increase the sign-ups for the apps.
Influencer team size: 5 people. Anna-Maria Klappenbach is the team lead. She runs a team of four — one employee works around 15 hours/week only on inbound & affiliate campaigns and three employees work a total of 80 hours/week on fixed-fee campaigns.
Primary ways to find influencers: Around 60–70% of Aumio’s influencer marketing campaigns are fixed-fee campaigns. 30-40% are part of the affiliate program.
Finding influencers for paid campaigns
Team Aumio finds Instagram influencers for fixed-fee programs using three primary methods:
- Existing relationships with talent agencies account for 50% of new influencers
- 40% of new influencers for fixed-fee campaigns are found searching in Modash
- The remaining 10% are found searchin within the Instagram app (e.g. with hashtags)
First, it’s worth noting that Aumio focuses on long-term relationships. Each month, between 30-60% of paid collaborations are with creators they’ve already worked with. This helps in reducing the overall need to source new talent.
(In November 2023, 60% of all influencer-generated signups were by creator partners Aumio had already collaborated with more than five times!)
Now, onto how Anna & the team find new talent in the first place.
Those relationships originally came about through outbound searching. The process looks like this:
- Aumio search in their discovery tool and find a creator they’re interested in
- The email address listed by the creator leads to their talent manager
- Aumio builds a relationship with that talent manager
- Once they understand Aumio’s product & audience, they suggest other talent from the roster (and let them know when relevant new signings are made)
If a talent agent reaches out cold to offer their roster, in 99% of cases it’s not a good fit. This only works when Aumio handpicks the talent, searching with their specific criteria.
These are the most important criteria that Aumio look for when doing outbound influencer recruitment:
- Audience location: as many followers as possible in DACH (ideally 80%+)
- Low number of fake followers (e.g. <25%, but this isn’t strict)
- Audience age mostly between 24 – 35
- An engagement rate of 3%+
- Content relevant to their niche (e.g. mindful parenting, family life, or sleep)
Since most of Aumio’s buyers are moms, looking for a predominantly female audience makes sense too.
These are filters that can be applied in Modash’s influencer discovery tool, so that every one of the results has a high chance of being a fit.
For follower count, Aumio’s sweet spot with paid partners seems to be 20k-150k. Any smaller, and creators are often offered the affiliate program instead. Any bigger, and ROI is commonly lower due to rapidly growing influencer fees.
Finding influencers for Aumio’s affiliate program
30–40% of Aumio’s creator partners are a part of the affiliate program. They’re recruited using three methods:
- 60% of affiliates are sourced via accepting inbound enquiries
- 30% of affiliates are found on Instagram (e.g. by checking comments of bigger creators)
- 20% of affiliates are found via searches in Modash
Aumio accepts approximately 80% of inbound applications. The remaining 20% get rejected either because they were too small (follower count under 5K) or because the creator doesn’t understand Aumio’s product and offerings.
Outside of follower count, the other criteria for acceptance is very similar to paid partners.
Creators for this performance-based program are paid per discount code redemption (approx .€5 – €10). They also get Aumio access free for a year.
💡 Interested in learning more about how Aumio runs its affiliate program? Listen to our podcast episode with Anna where she explains everything about sourcing and keeping affiliates happy in detail.
How Deeper Sonars recruited 7K+ brand ambassadors
What is Deeper Sonars: Deeper Sonars are a powerhouse in the angling world. Its flagship product is a portable sonar. Their ambassador programs get 70% of the total marketing budget.
Influencer team size: There are 5 marketers total. Two manage the paid partnerships (led by Valeriia Chemerys, Head of Media Partnerships), and the other ambassador tiers (detailed below) are run by content coordinators, including Andrius Juodis.
Platforms: Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, niche websites.
A quick brief about Deeper Sonars ambassador program: there are three tiers — Deeper Squad, Deeper Heroes, and paid partnerships. Anyone can become a Squad member by completing specific tasks (self-serve). Heroes are pro anglers and get more time-intensive tasks (also self-serve, but applications have to be approved here). Paid partnerships are with niche influencers.
Primary ways to find influencers: 90% of paid partnerships come from using an outbound recruitment strategy — for which they use Modash. These collaborations are with bigger creators so there’s a lot of vetting, negotiation, and management involved. Almost 100% of Squad ambassadors and 90% of Heroes come from inbound methods, like the ambassador landing page. The inbound influencers are usually smaller creators and they join the self-serve ambassador programs — translating to less management work on the company’s end.
The team prioritizes the following influencer filters for searching:
- Follower count
- Engagement rate
- Reel plays (for Instagram)
The ideal metrics keep shifting depending on market size. If a place has lower fishing influencers overall, Valeriia would lower the thresholds. In general, Valeriia looks at:
- Whether the influencer has a genuine interest in a castable sonar
- A 5–6% engagement rate (can be lower depending on market size)
Next comes the audience filters. Valeriia’s primary goal here is aligning audience location with target market. For example, a “60%+ audience in Germany'' filter for an influencer in Germany.
Usually, Deeper Sonars looks for 70%+ followers to be in the target location. It can be lower if the market size is smaller.
For inbound recruitment (mainly for recruiting Deeper Squad members), Deeper Sonars has an ambassador landing page. Anyone can sign up, join the gamified program, earn points, and exchange it for discounts or accessories.
The top sources of traffic to the landing page are:
- Word-of-mouth via other ambassadors
- Promoting the program on their social media channels
- Advertising the Squad program in their automated email flows for subscribers
Since the tasks and the rewards are fixed, Andrius and the team can manage the Squad ambassador program smoothly and scale it efficiently — there are over 6,800 Squad ambassadors so far!
💡 Interested in learning more about how Valeriia reaches out to creators, practices influencer negotiations, and more? Read our in-depth article on how Deeper Sonars recruits 7K+ ambassadors.
How Blast finds niche gaming influencers
What is Blast: Blast is an esports entertainment company. They work with game publishers to create amazing esports experiences. Their goal with influencer marketing is to increase the exposure of their arena events and sell more tickets to in-person events.
Influencer team size: Only one person (Ben Williams) works on sourcing influencers.
Platforms: Twitch, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat.
Primary ways to find influencers: Blast uses Modash to source 50% of its influencers. The rest of the influencers are sourced via talent agencies (25%) and co-streamers (25%).
The majority of Blast’s influencer partnerships are to promote in-person esports events for a specific game.
That means the target creators are pretty niche. They (mostly) need to be physically located near the event, and they need to be active on that particular game. For example, Ben recently recruited influencers for the BLAST R6 Major Atlanta 2023.
(For the non-gamers, R6 = Rainbow Six Siege)
In Modash’s discovery tool, Ben starts with the hashtag and location filters to find relevant influencers local to the event.
For hashtags, Ben uses trial-and-error with industry-specific keywords like CS2 and R6 to find relevant gaming influencers.
(There are various ways to identify an influencer’s niche / content type in Modash, including hashtags and bio keywords)
After #r6, Ben might try variations (like #rainbowsixsiege), or a bio keyword instead, depending on the results.
Lastly, if there are still tons of results, Ben narrows down further with things like a follower range, or a minimum engagement rate.
Next, Blast also leverages agencies, mostly in markets where they aren’t the experts.
For example, Ben used an agency to find influencers in the Middle East, because:
- Snapchat is more popular there, and his team isn’t well-versed on it
- Their team don’t speak the local language(s), so a talent agent is helpful
Lastly, Blast also relies on co-streamers on Twitch to promote their events and raise brand awareness. Some of these co-streamers come via inbound requests and some influencers found via Modash also have a good Twitch following and can act as co-streamers. Primarily, Blast relies on game publishers like Rainbow Six to get data on who’s streaming their game and can become Blast’s influencer partner.
💡 Want to learn more about how Blast recruit gaming influencers? Ben shared insights & examples (along with 50 other influencer marketers) on the topic of influencer outreach. See here: 51 Marketers Share How They Reach Out To Influencers.
How Bolt finds 100+ local influencers in 15+ markets each month
What is Bolt: Bolt is like a mobility company that offers ride-hailing, grocery delivery, and other services. Their goal is to find local influencers in target locations to promote Bolt and boost app downloads.
Influencer team size: Two marketers (but there are marketing specialists at every location they’re present in).
Platforms: Instagram and TikTok.
Primary ways to find influencers: Bolt sources 70% of its creator partners using Modash. For some locations (like specific European markets), Bolt utilizes talent agencies (making up around 20% of Bolt’s new influencers). The last 10% come from other methods like referrals, Googling, or searching on social media.
First, here’s how Bolt uses Modash.
For the audience filters, Piia Õunpuu (Bolt’s Global Influencer Marketing Manager) primarily applies the location criteria. The metric is adjusted on location, but Piia’s aim is usually to have a 70% or more overlap with the target market.
Let’s say Bolt wanted to find influencers in London:
Next, Piia moves on to influencer filters. Here the filter that matter are:
- Influencer location (since Bolt is a physical product/service)
- Last post in the previous 30 days (to ensure the influencer posts actively)
- Follower count
Bolt is flexible on the ideal number of followers metric because what’s a decent follower count is location-dependent. Someone with a 10K follower count in Estonia is a big creator, but in Germany someone with 10K followers is a micro-influencer.
Bolt’s standard campaigns are primarily reliant on location — niche no bar. But when running a brand-related campaign, Bolt looks at bio and hashtag filters. Piia searches for the keyword “sustainability” (often translated to target market’s language) to align with their niche.
Similarly, if Piia is searching for an influencer for its food-related services, she filters for hashtags like #foodie to find niche creators.
Coming to local agencies, Bolt relies on it for several European markets. The primary benefit is the deducted administrative effort — you don’t have to find creators, onboard them, share influencer briefs, or manage the relationship. Plus it’s great to have someone on the team with local knowledge — it eliminates language barriers and aids in communicating more smoothly.
But Piia always ensures to cross-check the influencer’s metrics using Modash to ensure Bolt is partnering with the right creator.
Around 10% of influencers are sourced using other methods like:
- Scroll through the nominee lists of different influencer awards
- Browse social media to find any relevant creators
- Asking local contacts & existing influencers to introduce or suggest other creators
💡 Interested in learning more about what you can pick up from Bolt’s recruitment strategy? Read our in-depth article on how Bolt finds local influencers.
How SafetyWing finds affiliates to promote insurance products
What is SafetyWing: SafetyWing provides insurance for digital nomads and remote teams. Their mission with influencer marketing is to build brand awareness and generate revenue. Their affiliate program drives $350k+ per month in sales.
Influencer & affiliate team: Enelin (Paas) Toneva has been running their affiliate program since 2018 (first in-house, now as an external agency). There’s an outreach manager for long-form content and an operations manager to manage strategic partnerships. The Head of Community manages Instagram campaigns, and all of the partnerships team do a little bit of influencer outreach.
Platforms: Websites (for long-form content), Instagram, and YouTube.
Primary ways to find influencers: Inbound applications via their affiliate program, Modash to find creators on Instagram & YouTube, and BuzzSumo or Ahrefs to find relevant bloggers.
SafetyWing has an affiliate program that offers its affiliates a 10% commission for every sale they bring.
The 10% number works for SafetyWing because they have a subscription product. So every affiliate gets a commission via their referred customers in a long 364 day window.
Each affiliate gets a unique link they can add to their Instagram profiles or YouTube video descriptions.
SafetyWing chose YouTube as their affiliate marketing channel because their customers go to YouTube to search for travel itineraries when they travel — which makes it an ideal channel for running their influencer marketing program. But this doesn’t mean SafetyWing doesn’t experiment — quite the contrary. They test new channels like Facebook and WhatsApp groups all the time and stick with what gets them the most ROI.
When choosing their ideal affiliate, the primary thing they look at is trust and authentic content. Insurance isn’t a product customers buy without doing their research. SafetyWing uses influencer and affiliate marketing together to partner with people who have the most influence and trust in the industry — whether that’s safe travel or remote work.
In Modash, this looks like using searching for trending hashtags related to the “digital nomad” topic. For example, if SafetyWing needed to partner with a digital nomad who’s an advocate of remote work, they can search for “remote work” in the keyword filter or hashtag #remotework.
SafetyWing also requires social media creators to have an engagement rate of 5% or higher. Since theirs is a global product, they’re flexible on location, but try to filter for geographical areas frequently visited by their target customers.
💡 Interested in learning more about how SafetyWing manages their affiliate program — from influencer outreach to keeping ambassadors engaged? Listen to our podcast with Enelin Toneva where she spills all the secrets.
Finding relevant influencers for your brand isn’t a straight line
While there are certain methods (almost) every brand uses to find influencers — like an influencer search software — most companies mix-and-match various methods to discover their creator partners. It’s never a simple, straight, step-by-step process. You have to do the legwork and dabble with multiple methods to find the perfect influencers.
If you’re looking for even more insights & examples, read this next: 63 Influencer Marketers Share How They Find Influencers.
If you’re ready to take the plunge and use an influencer search software that is affordable, easy to use, and has every creator on Instagram, YouTube & TikTok with 1k+ followers, take Modash for a spin at no cost.