Influencer marketing is an effective way to get your message out to your customers, in 2016 influencer spending on Instagram alone came in at $570 million, with 48% of US marketers looking to increase their spend and only 4% planning a decrease. In this blog post, you’ll learn the basics of a winning influencer strategy for small businesses.
Influencers offer instant social proof for your brand – they are already trusted by their audience. A recommendation from them carries a lot more weight than a traditional ad or boosted post. People are also much more likely to comment on a post or piece of content put out by an influencer. Here’s how to get started with an influencer strategy for small businesses:
A winning influencer strategy for small businesses
Don’t be scared
For a small business, the idea of hiring an influencer can be daunting. You may think of Internet stars like Zoella who get paid $14,000 a post to reach her 11.1 million followers. That’s out of the reach of most people. However, there are influencers with a lot fewer followers. Micro-influencers are those who have less than 50,000 followers.
The rule of thumb is that it costs $100 per post for every 10,000 followers. That can vary according to the social media platform the influencer is primarily known for, although they are likely to post on several social media channels. That fee can also double or triple if you want exclusivity – and can incur additional charges for the creation of content.
That additional charge for content may seem like a turnoff for small businesses – but it often covers things like travel, content creation and post-production costs which you would have to pay an agency a lot more for – and you still get to use that content in your own promotion.
Better value than you think
Even at $100 per 10,000 followers, that represents a CPM of $10 for people who are already going to like your brand. Micro-influencers, who have followers of 50,000 people or less are likely to charge between $175 and $250 per post. That means you can get a CPM of around $5.
Micro-influencers are also less likely to charge to produce content, and as they are smaller – they will interact with their audiences more. In fact, micro influencers have a 60% higher engagement rate than larger influencers and are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement.
There are also different ways that you can engage influencers. You can choose to pay for a single post or opt for bundle pricing. Bundle pricing means that you get multiple posts, multiple pieces of content which may be presented over multiple platforms.
Influencer benefits for small business
Another benefit is that you can write off influencer marketing on several different budgets. You can class is as PR for branding and messaging, from ad budgets for promoting new products and even from your sales budget for driving people to your sales funnel.
These are methods that small businesses can use to get influencers that are also open to large businesses. If you’re a small business, there’s a change that you have more time than money to spend. That means you can spend time researching people who are on social media with large followings who are talking about things related to your business.
Find your own influencers
There’s a chance that you will find people who don’t even realise that they are micro-influencers. People who have 1000 followers may not think that they are influencers, yet they could be speaking to 1000 people in your area who would be very interested in what you have to provide.
If you ‘discover’ a micro-influencer, then it’s a great way to build up a loyal relationship with that influencer and their following. If you are the person that allows their following to grow – then they will stick with you.
Other ways to interest influencers
Influencers have other concerns with money – they are trying to grow their own audience. You can help promote them with your business by featuring them on your own social channels, paid ads and boost their feed posts. You can also give them the opportunity to create great content.
If they have an interest in DIY, then a video where they show professionals installing a door and point out the tools and experience they have will sell that business but will also be more dynamic than a piece to camera that they might normally do. Great content helps them – and it will also help you, as good content is gold for small businesses.
Paying without money
There are even ways to pay influencers without using actual money. You can set up an affiliate scheme where they get paid for every lead that they drive to your business. Using a pixel, it is easy to track how successful they have been – although influencers will likely be wary of an affiliate scheme until you already have a working relationship and they know they can trust you.
Depending on their size, you can also contact them directly and negotiate deals based on the products and services you provide. If there is a local beauty blogger who has a few thousand followers and you are a local beauty salon, giving them a free beauty treatment as long as they blog about it can be enough to get them to promote you.
Just be warned, although this may be a good way to dip your toes into the water, it’s not likely to be a relationship that will last. The benefit of starting by paying influencers is that you can have a long-term relationship which doesn’t require constant negotiation.
So, once you have found your influencers – what do you do with them?
Here’s a quick 8 step how-to to guide you through actually finding an influencer for your business (know that you know how useful they can be):
Find your influencer
If you don’t want to approach people to be influencers yourself, there are lots of ways that you can find them. There are hundreds of different vendors available – some are location-based, some are industry based while others are based on different metrics.
There are those that will use a collection of micro-influencers so you can reach your desired audience size, and there are others that represent individuals. There is no clear leader, so if you know what your business goals are – and if you want one person or many (and your location) then a quick search will probably find you the vendor best suited for you.
Have a look at websites like TRiBE and Influence & Co before you start looking at other websites, just so you can get an idea of what some of the larger vendors offer.
Think about location
If you are an eCommerce business that ships worldwide, then you can focus on the interest of your influencers’ audience. If you are a local business with a limited area that you can cover, then you need to make sure that the influencer you hire will reach people in your area.
That can mean looking for influencer agencies in your country (although some larger influencer vendors do have influencers in each country). If you are a small local business, then it may be a good idea to approach people in your area directly.
If they are represented by an agent or agency, then they will happily redirect you to them – but many (especially if they are smaller) may be happy to deal with your themselves.
Dive into the data
Just because you think that someone may be a good match (especially if you found them yourself) you need to check that they are a good match. You can use sites like Buzzsumo and InfluencerDB to find influencers and to assess influencers that you have already found.
There are different considerations, especially if one of your main
Some of the key metrics to look at can be the age, sex and income distribution of your audience compared to the followers of your potential influencer audience.
If your product is mainly bought by women, then you don’t want an influencer that has a mainly male following. If you have a product that appeals to high incomes, then there’s little point putting it out in front of a predominantly low-income audience.
Find the right influencer for your business
Just because an influencer has tens of thousands of followers, doesn’t mean that they are the right followers for your business. As well as looking at the data to see how well the influencer will match your business goals, you also need to audit their content.
Say the influencer has a large following on the Internet for makeup tutorials and you sell makeup. It might seem like a great fit – although their tutorials could be about how they make themselves look like cartoon characters with makeup. Maybe that’s a great fit for your brand, but if you’re urban and edgy, then it won’t be a good pairing.
Engagement is an important metric. People looking at the content online will be able to tell if the person is genuinely engaged with your brand or just taking your cash. The more aligned your branding is, the better the content they will produce for you is – and the more engaged their audience will be.
Choose the right platform for your influencer
Although most people associate influencers with Instagram – there are influencers on every social platform. Consider where your audience spends the most time online and think about approaching influencers there. Someone on Youtube or Facebook may be better for your business than someone posting on Instagram.
You also need to think about what else you want from your influencer. If you have a product that is great visually – then using an Instagram influencer could be great. If you have a service, it may be better to find a video influencer who can better explain what you do to your audience.
One of the most useful types of influencers for a small business are those who write blogs. Not only do people who write blogs with 1000 or more followers have a loyal base, the content they create can also be used by small businesses to improve their SEO with backlinks that already have a lot of social proof.
Give them freedom to create content
People have started following an influencer because they like what they are saying. Give them a script to follow, and their audience will lose interest. Tell them what your objectives are and give them the freedom to create their own content, and they will produce something that will speak more to their audience.
If you give influencers creative freedom to create their own content, they are also more likely to want to work with you in the future. If you give them access to materials so they can create better content than they normally do, then it’s a win for their audience, a win for them and ultimately a win for you.
If you want content from your influencers, then you can agree ahead of time that the content they produce can also be used in your own promotional materials. That means you can link to blogs from your own social feed, repost their videos on your own YouTube channel and even use their Instagram pictures in your own advertising campaigns.
Track their success
The good thing about using influencers is that you can easily see how much influence they are having. If you are driving them to your website with a particular link, put a pixel on your page to see how much traffic comes from that link.
If you are giving them a promotion, create a landing page on your website that has their exclusive offer code address – or even a code for each influencer that they input at checkout (great if you are using multiple influencers). You can then easily see the impact that a particular influence has had on your conversion rate – and also tell if it isn’t successful.
Create exclusive special offers
Exclusive offers work very well with influencers, especially as those codes can be by their audience to reach even more people. Influencers love them, as they are a tool that they can use to reach a greater audience themselves.
Also, consider giving merchandise to influencers for their own self-promotion. They can say that they will give away your product or service free to a random person who follows them on all their social media. They drive up their subscription for their own benefit while promoting your business along the way.
Have an open dialogue with your influencers to see what they think would work well with their audience and weigh that up against what would work well for your business. Remember, if someone wins something from your business, they will tell their friends about it on social media – furthering your own brand awareness.
About the author:
Zachary Jarvis is a Digital Marketer with one thing on his mind: Results.
Uninspired by the never-ending talk of ‘vanity metrics’ in the world of digital marketing, Magnate was founded – the ‘Social-First’ marketing agency.
On the very rare occasion, he isn’t watching Step Brothers in his spare time – you’ll find Zachary in the thick of social platforms, learning what makes us tick.
This is driven by a fascination (perhaps a slight obsession…) with market trends and consumer behaviours.