The Best Free (or Cheap) Tools for Blogger and Influencer Outreach

Followerwonk Twitter bio searchBlogger and influencer outreach is an area with strong crossover between PR, audience development and link building.

For publishers it typically involves identifying users that are sharing, discussing and linking to content from your brands and their competitors, and about specific topics. Then building relationships with those users over time and coming up with ideas for outreach, content development and promotion. But the same general approach applies to any industry.

Social monitoring tools like Radian6 and PR suites like Vocus and Cision offer the greatest range of functionality for research and contact management. However utilizing enterprise-level tools is not always an option for smaller organizations, or even large ones with budget constraints.

Fortunately there are plenty of useful tools that are free or inexpensive. I’ve put together a list of the ones that I typically use and recommend to others. Each tool is free unless otherwise noted.

Finding Bloggers and Influencers

Followerwonk
Followerwonk from SEOmoz is a great tool for researching Twitter users. The Twitter bio search allows you to easily find and evaluate users in specific areas. Just search on something like “fashion blogger,” “foodie” or whatever topic you need and you’re on your way. You can also sort and analyze your own followers to get a better understanding of the potential contact points you already have, or take a look at competing brands. The basic functions are free. An SEOmoz PRO membership is required for full use of the tool.

Topsy
Plug any URL into Topsy and see who tweeted it and which users were most influential (and which have a blog). Or search specific domains, brands and topics for more extensive research. You can also use Topsy Analytics to compare profiles, domains or keywords and see what content has received the most links.

Klout and Kred
The value and methodology of services like Klout and Kred has been much debated and discussed, so I’ll leave you to your own opinion there. But if you are looking for a simple way to do a relative comparison of users, these tools offer a basic metric you can use. Klout’s search functionality also lets you find influencers on specific topics.

Google+ Tools
Twitter is often the easiest social gateway to finding bloggers since people with a blog tend to be on Twitter too. But Google+ is a decent method as well, since Google Authorship participation results in people adding links to their blogs and sites they contribute to on their profile. And since social media and Google+ in particular have an impact on SEO there are also secondary benefits to locating influencers there.

CircleCount and FindPeopleonPlus are decent databases of Google+ users. All my + is a useful tool for evaluating the activity and engagement of specific profiles, as I did in my post on Google+ engagement for news sites. You can also use Google+ Ripples to examine shares and comments for a specific URL or Google+ post and see how it spread.

Pinterest Tools
If Pinterest is a priority, there are a range of Pinterest analytics tools available that can help you find brand enthusiasts and influential users. Most are fairly inexpensive. Curalate, Piqora, PinReach and PinAlerts are among the popular choices.

Finding Mentions and Links

Fresh Web Explorer
Fresh Web Explorer is a new tool from SEOmoz that lets you find recent mentions and links, searchable by URL, domain, brand, keyword, etc. The tool indexes millions of RSS feeds and a Feed Authority score is applied to each. SEOmoz PRO membership is required to use it.

Google Blog Search
While it is no longer included in the main navigation on Google, Google Blog Search is still out there and it’s a decent way to find recent posts and links, and to research blogs.

Google Alerts
Google Alerts don’t seem to be working as well as they used to, but it’s still a useful way to get instant notification of new mentions and links.

Mention
I’ve been using Mention for a few months now and I’m happy with it. It finds mentions and links in Web content and social media, and you can use it in a desktop app or a browser, or just get e-mail alerts. One thing I like is that it finds links in tweets that did not include your @username, which you might not have otherwise noticed. There is a basic free plan plus some more robust plans that are reasonably priced.

Talkwalker Alerts
Talkwalker Alerts is free alternative to Google Alerts. I’ve just started using it but it seems to work well.

Contact Management

Once you’ve started your research and developed various lists for bloggers, influencers, advocates and all those other fun names, it is important to develop some kind of system for tracking activity and interactions.

BuzzStream
BuzzStream offers nice functionality in this area. It is more popular in SEO circles for managing link building activities, but they also have a PR & Social Media tool that offers good functionality for blogger and influencer relations.

Nimble
Another option is Nimble, a social CRM system. While it appears to be somewhat sales focused, the features seem well suited to other types of relationship management too. Thanks to Jim Thornton for suggesting it.

Excel or Google Docs
If a paid tool is not an option, you can always create spreadsheets in Excel or Google Docs for tracking activity and contact management. A shared Google Doc is a workable option for team collaboration.

So that’s a good group of tools to get you started. What else are you using?

Please let me know in the comments and I’ll expand the list as appropriate.

Comments

  1. says

    Google Webmaster Tools is actually pretty great for new link discovery. Once logged in checkout Traffic > Links To Your Site > More > then the ‘Download Latest Links’ option.

  2. says

    Now that I have a little more time, I’ll leave a useful comment ;)

    One tool we love is the Scraper extension for Chrome. It can be found at this doozy of URL – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/scraper/mbigbapnjcgaffohmbkdlecaccepngjd?hl=en

    You can use it to take any list – of sites, influencers, blogrolls, or really anything – and get all of the links into a spreadsheet with just one right click. Then you can port that list to tool of your choice (BuzzStream, another CRM, Excel, whatever you may be using) and go to work.

    Scraper is especially great to use with influencer search/identification tools that don’t have .CSV exports – so you can spend your time doing outreach and marketing – not copying and pasting into spreadsheets.

    And, perhaps the best part, is its price. Scraper is free.

  3. says

    Nice list Adam! Building relationships and seeding content is a powerful marketing strategy and you just made the day of any good digital marketer.

  4. says

    Matt – My pleasure, happy to include BuzzStream as it’s a useful tool. And thanks for the tip on the Scraper extension, I hadn’t seen that before.

    David – Latest Links in GWT is good one; thanks. That totally slipped my mind when I was putting this together.

    Greg – Thanks, I’m glad you found it useful. I’ve been recommending some of these lately and I thought it would good to publish a roundup.

  5. says

    Although Google Alerts are simple, and may not update instantaneously, what I like about the alerts is that is breaks through the clutter. In SEO, we spend a large percentage of our day analyzing data and utilizing social media channels for our clients. Sometimes it is easy to forget to check our own data – so having the alerts sent to my inbox help remind me of how our content is performing.

  6. says

    Hi Adam, to keep you updated on our product: Talkwalker Alerts are now also available on HootSuite! To try it out yourself, simply install the Talkwalker Alerts app on HootSuite to monitor and share content the fastest way in one single platform. More info at http://bit.ly/1aW01hb – let me know how it works for you :)

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