How to Use BuzzSumo To Find Influencers

Posted July 21, 2014 | Laura Christianson

By Bruce Harpham
Guest Columnist

The right person at the right time can transform your business. Influence can be as simple as a friendly journalist who writes an article about your company.

In this article, you’ll learn a technique to quickly identify influential people in your field.

How to Target Influential People

  1. Learn Their Language: Once you find an influential person, you can study what kind of language they use. This information shows you what kind of terms and words are popular.
  2. Listen To What’s Popular: imagine attending a cocktail party of heavy hitters in your industry where you could sit back and take notes about what’s popular – that’s what you can accomplish by virtually listening in on influential people in your field.
  3. Start The Relationship Building Process: Once you know who they are and what they’re talking about, you join the conversation. In my experience, I like to start by following the influencer on Twitter or sending them an email. Where possible, send an email for the best results.

Finding Influencers With BuzzSumo: What To Look For

BuzzSumo is a free marketing research tool that helps you identify influential people quickly. Influence can be defined in many ways. For our purposes, there are three criteria we will use to find influencers on BuzzSumo:

  1. Twitter Followers: The number of followers simply suggests how many people pay attention to the person.
  2. Type of Influencer: I suggest focusing on individuals rather than companies or organizations – it is easier to build a relationship with an individual.
  3. Not A Broadcaster: Filter out people who tend to ignore questions or messages on Twitter.

Your First BuzzSumo Influencer Search

  1. Sign up for a free account on
  2. Go to the Influencer search function of BuzzSumo:
  3. On the far left hand side “Filter by Type,” I recommend unchecking companies and checking off “ignore broadcasters.”
  4. Enter the keywords that describe your customers: in my example, I searched for “project management.”
  5. In the “Sort By” drop down menu on the far right hand side, choose “Number of Followers” rather than the default setting of “relevancy.”
  6. If the resulting list looks interesting to you, you can click the blue EXPORT button and export the list as a Microsoft Excel file.
  7. (Advanced Users Only): You can run additional analysis using Microsoft Excel. For example, I have done analysis to find influencers in my region – Toronto, Canada.
  8. (Ed. note): Click the “Top Content” tab on Buzzsumo to find articles, infographics, guest posts, giveaways, interviews and/or videos in your niche. This is a great way to see who’s doing what, and to give you fresh ideas for your own content.

With that short exercise, you can quickly identify numerous influential people in your industry. Your next step is contact them to start a conversation.

Bruce Harpham is the author of Project Management Hacks, a leading resource for ideas to improve your results at the office tomorrow. He lives in Toronto, Canada.

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