Ways That Small Businesses Can Use Influencer Marketing

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By Jess Dixon

Influencer marketing is big business, and still growing. As social media has become more and more a part of our daily lives, people are increasingly turning to their favourite online personalities for recommendations and lifestyle advice.

For example, did you know that 86% of women use social media for purchasing advice, and 49% of all consumers rely on influencer recommendations? (Stats: Digital Marketing Institute). 

Household name companies from Adidas to Audible use influencer marketing. But it isn’t just for big companies with enormous marketing budgets. In fact, working with influencers can give small businesses a big boost without breaking the bank. 

Let’s look at how you can get started. 

Understand your goals before you start

Before you can create an amazing campaign, you need to know what your goals are. Do you want to push sales of a certain product, bring new leads into your marketing funnel with a free trial, or get sign ups to your email list

Once you’ve defined your goal, then you can start working towards it. It’s best for each marketing campaign to have only one central goal. If you try to do too many things at once, you’ll end up with confusing messaging and less success overall. 

Choose the right influencer

Obvious, right? Yet so many businesses skip doing vital research and end up losing money on a failed campaign as a result. 

Ask yourself these questions as you start to research influencers:

  1. Does their core audience align with yours? If your target market is older people, there’s no point working with an influencer who is mainly followed by high schoolers!
  2. What is your budget? The most famous influencers will come with a price tag to match. However, niche or micro influencers can still get amazing results and will cost you much less. (The size of an influencer’s audience doesn’t necessarily indicate campaign success. A micro influencer with 3,000 highly engaged followers is better than someone with 30,000 followers who don’t really care.) 
  3. Do their ethics align with yours? 
  4. Have they worked with a business before, and what kind of response did those campaigns get if so? 

Ideally, the perfect influencer is someone who already knows and loves your brand. Do you have a regular customer with a large and engaged social media following? Is there someone who regularly comments on your posts, tags you, or shares your content? If so, start there. If not, start checking out relevant hashtags and seeing who your competitors are working with. 

Reach out professionally

Many influencers are bombarded with requests from brands every week. You can make your collaboration request stand out by doing the following:

  1. Take it to email ASAP. If they have an email address listed, use it. If not, drop them a direct message on whatever social media platform you’re using and ask for their email. 
  2. Be unfailingly polite and professional. 
  3. Tell them what your approximate budget is, or ask for their rates. Too many brands expect free content from influencers, so you’ll immediately be in their good books if you make it clear that you intend to pay them for their work. 
  4. Explain what you’re trying to achieve and the scope of your project.
  5. Tell them why you’ve chosen them. In other words, personalise your approach. Influencer marketing is relationship marketing, so start building a relationship from your very first email. 

You might not get a yes, but if you do all this, you’ve dramatically increased your chances. Here’s an extra tip: be open to negotiation. Influencers are creative people and may have their own ideas for your campaign. 

Keep it authentic

A mistake brands make surprisingly often is telling influencers exactly what to say, whether it’s true or not. Instead, keep things authentic. You can approve content before it goes live, of course, but allow the influencer to use their own voice. They know their audience and what kind of tone will get a good response!

Oh, and never ask an influencer to talk up a product they haven’t tried! (This actually happened to a friend of mine. They declined, obviously.) This is completely unethical and it usually doesn’t work – audiences are savvy and can tell when someone isn’t being genuine. Factor the cost of gifting the influencer with a free product or subscription to your service into your overall campaign cost. 

Include a clear CTA

As with any other marketing campaign, your influencer campaign needs to include a call to action (CTA.) Your CTA must be aligned with the goals we defined back in step one. So if you want people to buy a product, ask the influencer to send them to the relevant page of your online store. If you want people to sign up to your email list, include a link to the registration page. And so on. 

Run a giveaway

Who doesn’t love free stuff? One way to make the most of an influencer campaign is to incorporate a giveaway as part of it. For example, why not ask the influencer to try your flagship product, tell their audience about it, and then anounce a giveaway or prize draw?

The criteria for entry should be aligned with your goals for the campaign. For example, you might ask people to retweet a post, follow you on Instagram and leave a comment, or sign up for your mailing list in order to enter. 

When you draw the giveaway, have your influencer announce the winner on social media. This will keep the excitement going.

Offer a special discount 

If you’re using influencer marketing to push sales, you should include a special offer or discount code for your influencer’s followers. If you run an ecommerce store, why not offer an exclusive code for 20% off? If you run a physical store, you could offer a discount to people who mention the influencer’s name when they come into your store.

Don’t forget to leverage FOMO (fear of missing out) by emphasising that the discount is time-limited. 

Ask for feedback

When your first influencer marketing campaign concludes, use it as a learning opportunity to gather feedback. You can ask the influencer how they found working with you, and anything you could improve in the future. You should also ask your audience what they thought and if there was anything you could do to improve the campaign. 

Why not give it a go?

Influencer marketing is only going to become more and more critical as part of an overall digital marketing strategy. And small businesses can benefit just as much as large companies. So why not give it a go? Don’t forget to let us know how you got on!

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