How to Easily Build Your Own Local Influencer List and What To Do With It

How to Easily Build Your Own Local Influencer List and What To Do With It

Before we go any further, I want to say I am a HUGE advocate for influencer marketing. Collaborations (much better word for this type of marketing) are my favorite way to spread a product, movement, or whatever else you want to get to the masses. However, it can become scammy, so make sure you are collaborating with an influencer who would really advocate for you.

Here is your breakdown. Click to a section to explore it further or read straight through:

What is an influencer?

  • An influencer is an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience.

  • An individual who has a following in a particular niche, which they actively engage with. The size of the following depends on the size of the niche.”


In 2017/18, we were inundated with “influencer” marketing. We saw Instagram and YouTube stars being called influencers rather than celebrities. Some of these influencers pushed for social causes like helping Puerto Rico when they were hit by a massive storm and forced to evacuate. While others used the chance to make some money by pushing products from sponsorships or starting their own labels.

How/Why Influencers Help Small Businesses

Why would you choose an influencer over other marketing options? To be honest, it is not a this-or-that strategy. All marketing should be holistic. However, ads are disruptive to our daily scrolling on social media. An ad stops us and tries to tell us something that we weren’t even thinking about. An influencer will organically present your business/product in a feed while not disrupting the natural flow of scrolling through of social media.

Think about when you watch YouTube videos. Do you tune out or get annoyed by the pre-roll ads? I do because they haven’t quite hit me correctly with ads I care about (one more local car dealer and I smash my phone!). However, when someone like Peter McKinnon stops in the middle of a video to thank a sponsor, I listen! Check it out below:

Another example of this is when Mango Street. They went out of their way to make a ridiculous ad right in the beginning of the video. There is no point to skipping because I know it will be over soon, but it is also entertaining. I recognize the people in the ad (because I watch their channel) and it resonates with me.

I actually switched from WordPress to SquareSpace. One, because they know how to reach me properly. Two, because I started running into snags with WP and decided I might as well try SquareSpace.

You may exclaim: “But these people have a following and are on YouTube. I can’t afford them!” If you own a restaurant, clothing store, or any other small operation, you might be thinking “how could influencers help my small business?”. Influencers aren’t just mega stars. Many of them are in your backyard and are very tangible to work with. Small businesses should target those who are active in the local community.

For instance, a star like Casey Neistat is the dream to collaborate with, but the chances of him coming to your restaurant outside of NYC are slim. However, the vegan girl who lives within 20 miles from your establishment, runs an instagram that focuses on fitness, and has 10-20k active followers is a much more tangible/affordable option and has a similar target market to your business.

You might be thinking “that is very specific” and you would be right! That is the goal of niche marketing. You want to find the biggest name in your very specific niche. Remember, Influencer Marketing Hub states: “The size of the following depends on the size of the niche.”

These local influencers aren’t hard to find when you know where to look, and I will show you how to do the research later on in this article.

Why are we even doing this?

Influencers do exactly what the name implies. They influence their followers to take the same actions. But, there is more to it than that. Think of the psychology of these advocates. When someone comments on the influencers post, the influencer will most likely nurture that follower. The follower feels a connection and will probably take actions that nurture that connection.

For instance, an influencer posts about a restaurant or maybe even a specific meal there, then a follower comments on the post because they have been to the restaurant (maybe they say they have had that meal), and the influencer nurtures that follower by saying how much they loved it or maybe even tries to work the Instagram algorithm by asking what else the follower tried. Basic right? But now that follower will want to feel even more connected and will probably visit in the near future. Maybe they will even post and give credit to the influencer for reminding them to go to the restaurant (because they want more connection to that influencer!).

I’ve said this before: Instagram is like high school. When the cool kids say something or someone is cool, they are passing on their clout to that thing or person. We are doing this to have the popular people tell everyone to check us out. Also, this works with Instagram’s algorithm. If a popular account mentions yours, you get more momentum and possibly showing up in their followers’ explore pages.

What an influencer is going to expect...

Instagram Sponsored Post Prices

The image above is from Later's article "This is How Much Instagram Influencers Really Cost". Let's peel this onion a little more...

Money, products, and/or services. I understand you are tight on time and money, but you need to understand these people built their following using those same assets. Now, they want to reap the benefits of their hard work.

You have to remember this is a pay-to-play world. Unless the influencer is an advocate for a cause and wants to donate his/her time and reach, you are going to pay somehow. You can trade clothes, food, or services, but most likely, the influencers will want money.

Please, do your research before talking to them. Yes, you are essentially saying “you are cool and I want to benefit from that” but don’t make them feel that used. (There will be more on how to approach influencers in “What to do with it”.)

I love this one example from a restaurant I work with. Instead of having one influencer some to the establishment, they invited 10 to have dinner with each other and talk. About 5-8 showed up and they had a great time! Of course, they posted about each other (as well as the restaurant), which is very organic. As they tagged each other they spread to more markets (they are smart and know what a feature can do in one another’s story or feed) and exposed the fact they are at this restaurant.

Below is a sample of package options from Later's post. However, the rates are from a lifestyle blogger, with 118K followers and a 2.5% engagement rate. If you are going hyperlocal/niche, these numbers can be way lower!

Instagram Influencer rates

How to easily build your own local influencer list:

Try to find ways of how the collaboration benefits them more than just a quick check. This will help you find the right person. For instance, if you own a bar, don’t try to get a fitness influencer in to help push your happy hour. They won’t advocate for drinking. Find someone in fashion (fancy drinks), photography (you know you will get good photos), or even a band (they drink and have a following that wants to hang with them). Remember, this is a collaboration. You want to match niches and build a relationship with the influencer and the audience.

Below you will learn how to build your own influencer list.

One thing to note: high follower count does not mean they are an influencer. Click on each profile, look through some images, and see if they have high comments and likes in correlation to the amount of followers. 2-3% engagement is normal for an account, but make sure they aren’t following thousands of people to get more followers. For more in depth on this subject, check out is good for validating, but using your judgement is best.

Another Note: if you are only finding people in the 2-10k range, that is fine! Not everyone lives in densely populated areas. You can (and should) work with people who have lower follower counts and still high engagement. Instead of one big influencer, try to throw a small networking event for these micro influencers. 2,000 x 10 = 20k and it might only cost you a meal, coffee, and conversation.

Step 1

Go on Instagram and search by location. Type in your town, then scroll through the images in that location. Find those that would relate to your business and check to see if they get high engagement. If so, click on that media and visit the profile. Check to see if the engagement seems legitimate for the number of followers the account has. Copy the account, put the link/username in a file, make a note of why they would be good to collaborate, then repeat this step for more locations near your business.

Step 2

Once you are done with searching via location, search Instagram by hashtags. Type in hashtags with a geo modifier such as #njfitness then go through posts using that tag to find accounts close to your business. Add them to the list you are keeping.

Step 3

Use a tool like Iconosquare that allows you to search media more in depth. allows you to search two hashtags at a time. This is powerful as you can search users who tag their posts both by location like #newjersey and interest like #vegan. Those combined will produce very solid results for your niche. You can also search a hashtag and words/phrases that were used in a caption. I suggest starting with a location hashtag, then adding a phrase. Add your favorites to your list.

This process is going to be time consuming. You will be checking out profiles, validation, and keeping record, but it is all front loaded work! Once it is done, you have a list you can use over and over again.

What to do with the list...Influencer outreach

Now that we have our lists all in order, it is time to reach out. Make sure to like and comment on their photos so your name may seem a little more familiar. Nurture this relationship for a bit. There is no exact amount of time you should wait but try to leave authentic interactions before your go in for the pitch. Direct message these influencers, but also check their profiles for emails or a even a phone number. Their website might have more information on collaborating too. To break the ice, you can find a post in their feed that you love, message it over to them, and say why you like it and how you would love something like that for your establishment.

You want to contact influencers with an inquiry. They are busy with their daily lives, account management, and whatever else they feel like doing. I don’t believe in wasting time and not asking for what you want, but I do believe you should be authentic. Tell them why you like their posts. They put effort behind their account, so show you recognize the details and that is why you really want them to come check out your business. Ask if they have a media kit as an influencer. If not, that means they might not do it professionally and you can make the terms as you see fit. If they do, see if it works with your budget. It is that simple. If you have to negotiate, be polite about it. “$500 for an appearance is a little out of our scope, but we would gladly be able to pay $250 and a free meal at our restaurant.” - that could suck to hear on a influencers end, but they may take it because it is better than nothing. Or, they shot for $500 expecting a negotiation. Who knows?!

What you want out of this is time in front of their followers. Try to negotiate a permanent post on their feed (or a least five-days to a week), the full 24 hours in their story, and a picture for your own feed and/or your story. These are all very basic assets, which probably won’t be denied.

Sidenote: keep a bank of the photos and videos they send you or post. Add those to a highlight story of people who visit your establishment and keep building on that highlight.

Influencer Marketing FAQ

How influencer marketing works:

Any influencer is the middleman. Instead of a brand, business, etc paying for ads to hit the consumer directly, they hire someone (the influencer) who consumers are interested in. The influencer is usually paid in dollars and product to post photos and/or video advocating for the products/service.

How do influencers help brands?

They use their popularity to spread knowledge of the brand. The influencer’s followers get a more organic presentation of the brand rather than a disruptive ad.

How do influencers get paid?

Influencers get paid in money and product. It all depends on how you set up the terms of the payment. Paypal, Venmo, check, and more options are available.

How do influencers make money on Instagram?

Via brands, businesses, and others who want their product, service, or self known. Influencers are paid to present these assets to their followers.

How do influencers get followers?

Plenty of different ways. They can pay-to-play with ads to extend their reach, or they can put in the work to grow organically. The secret sauce is different for each of them.

How do influencers use social media?

This is an odd question, so I will answer is as if it was asked “how do influencers use social media for brands?”. Basically, they put a twist on advertising. They build up a niche following and present brands (that pay for the exposure) to their followers.

What is influencer outreach?

It is just another way to say what we have been saying. You persuade persuading influential leaders to promote your brand.

What is influencer mapping?

You might be confused with influence mapping, but we can twist the definition to fit. Influencer mapping would be creating a visual model showing the interests of a niche and the people who have influence to drive decision in that niche.

Why is influencer marketing effective?

There are many reasons, but to me it is about connections. You trust these people you follow on social media and feel like part of their lives. When they are advocates for something, you are more inclined to take their word for it. They are making decision easy for you.

Problems with influencer marketing:

One of the biggest problems is finding the ROI without using expensive software. Also, ensuring the influencer sends the correct message at the correct time.

Influencer vs Celebrity

A celebrity can be an influencer. They have niches that followers each of them in which they have an influence over. An “influencer” might not be a movie star or musician, but they are a form of celebrity. Think about an Instagram account for a dog with 100k followers. That dog is an influencer.

Influencer vs Affiliate

An influencer can be an affiliate if they are getting a cut of the sales. You can give an influencer an affiliate link to your online store to make it easy for them to get that cut. Often affiliates who are not influencers must apply to offer goods from a business. 

Who are the best digital marketing influencers?

I’m not going to write who the top influencers like Casey Neistat are. Rather the best digital marketing influencer are those who have an authority in your niche.

Why is influencer marketing growing faster than digital ads?"

It is new and shiny. Many people want to be associated with the cool kids (just like high school), so paying them is easy. Also, it is organic. Personally, I like a more holistic approach to marketing rather than shoving ads down throats (or eyes).

What is unique about influencer marketing?

It is not disruptive! Ads stop us and tell us to do something. Influencers just so happen to have this awesome thing you should try!

What are the benefits of influencer marketing?

Association with a larger entity, direct access to a niche, and an advocate for your product/service. Also, it shows you are paying attention to who is popular and supportive in your niche. 

What are the best sites and tools for influencer marketing? What tools can I use to find influencers?"

NinjaOutreach, Upfluence, Famebit, Reelio, Izea, Onalytica, HYPR, Brand24, GroupHigh, Influanza, In/Spree Brands, TapInfluence

What are micro-influencers?

These are who I suggest you hit up as a small business. These are the people who have a small, but very dedicated following. Think about the person in your town who has 5-10k followers rather than everyone else who has 500-2k.

How can influencer marketing help to grow my business? How to use influencer marketing for my business?

There are two ways this focus can work: One, develop a relationship with an influencer and have them consistently advocate for your business. Two, have several influencers advocate for your brand at the same time to get a wider spread. They will help with exposure, but not guarantee sales. If you want to go into greater detail, you should just hire me to break this down for you.

Does influencer marketing really work?

Depending on your goal, yes! As long as you do your research to find the best influence in your niche, you will have a productive campaign.

What kind of ROI does influencer marketing produce?

Exposure. Don’t expect a ton of followers or sales. Yes, both happen, but don’t think influencer marketing will immediately change everything in your business.

What are the most common mistakes in influencer marketing?

Not clearly defining the goal for the influencer and you expectations.

What problem is influencer marketing solving?

It is cutting through the disruptive ads. It associates a product with a person, which is more relatable. 

What is the best way to buy social influencer marketing posts?

Research your market to see who they look up to! Make your own list!!! However, these tools will help: NinjaOutreach, Upfluence, Famebit, Reelio, Izea, Onalytica, HYPR, Brand24, GroupHigh, Influanza, In/Spree Brands, TapInfluence, AspireIQ (formerly Revfluence)[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][/vc_accordion][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Cannabis Marketing: Why Organic Is Best As Usual

Cannabis Marketing: Why Organic Is Best As Usual

What Is The True Fan Strategy, Why/When To Apply It, and How To Use It

What Is The True Fan Strategy, Why/When To Apply It, and How To Use It