When someone talks about influencers, you might picture the people like Huda Kattan – whose Instagram account has more than 20 million followers, and gets around $18,000 for every sponsored post she does.
For a small business, these traditional influencers are out of reach.
This is a shame, as businesses make $6.50 for every dollar put into influencer strategy, and 22% of businesses say that it is their top pick for the fastest growing customer acquisition method.
Only, influencers are no longer out of reach of small businesses. You may not be able to engage the services of Ms. Kattan, but there are plenty of micro-influencers out there.
These are influencers who don’t reach 20 million people, but have a following between 1,000 and 10,000.
Not only does the smaller audience mean that the cost is much less, influencers with a small but loyal following have much more interaction with their audience.
So not only are micro-influencers more affordable, they also offer better value for small businesses who wish to use an influencer strategy.
So how do you go about using an influencer?
Using A Micro-Influencer For Your Small Business
Choose your platform
Firstly, you should consider your platform.
Although you may think about people on Instagram or YouTube when dealing with influencers, over a third of businesses think that blogs are the most effective form of influencer marketing, followed by YouTube at one in five – while YouTube, Instagram and Twitter all tie at 6%.
People who write are valued above those who create visual content.
Why is that?
Think about people you follow on Facebook, or a blog that you read consistently – especially if that person has less than 10,000 followers.
If they started recommending a product, you would much more readily accept that as a genuine recommendation than if you saw that product in an advert, or even mentioned in the middle of a YouTube video.
Social media is all about making genuine connections, and influencer strategy piggybacks off those who have already made genuine connections.
If you are careful about choosing your platform, and your influencer – then you can really reach your audience on a genuine level.
You need to be sure that your product or service matches what the influencer is producing.
If you are selling a new brand of ethical kids clothes, then a blog written by a mom could be a great match – but if you want to go for a younger demographic, then you might consider a young mom who has an Instagram following.
Choosing your influencer is dependent on your product and your brand but also on your intended audience.
Find where the attention of your audience is, and focus your attention there.
So, how do you find influencers?
Direct approach or vendors?
If you are a small business, then you may already have found influencers without knowing it.
In researching your industry and marketplace, you may already be looking at blogs and following people on social media who speak to your audience.
They may even be following you.
There is nothing stopping you from approaching those people directly.
They may already be signed up with a vendor or have representation, and they will point you in that direction if that is the case. They may be willing to deal with you directly, to avoid paying commission.
They may not have any representation at all – after all, someone with a thousand followers may not think that they are an influencer.
In that case, you may be able to get their support at a reduced rate, or even by providing free goods for review – especially if they are a good match with your business.
Supporting an influencer early can also help develop a strong and loyal relationship between you, the influencer and their growing audience.
If you don’t want to contact an influencer directly, then there are many services available.
No one influencer marketing vendor has dominated the industry, and there are over a hundred vendors available in five sectors.
Some of them offer a broad range, while others offer industry specific services.
Browse around and find the one that is right for you. Even if you do plan on approaching influencers directly, looking at these sites can give you an idea of the market rate.
You can also use influencer discovery sites to find influencers appropriate for your brand.
What other advantages do influencers have?
Keep a close eye on content
For small business, one of the best parts of using influencers is that they create their own content.
This is content that you can link to on your own social media pages, or even use parts of in your own copy – or republish their blogs on your site (with their permission).
Not only can this help with your SEO, it means that you have access to content that directly appeals to your audience without the additional cost of getting content created by an outside agency.
Although you want to control what is said about your product, when you allow influencers to promote your product in their own way, it is more likely to connect with their (and your) audience.
The more you research and vet an influencer, the more likely that their content will match your brand values. The less direct influence you have, the more generic the messaging is likely to be.
When you are looking at influencers to represent your brand, see what lessons you can learn from them in representing your brand yourself.
If you are selling beauty products, and you are looking at a lot of makeup tutorial videos, perhaps you should consider making your own makeup tutorials.
If you see that there is content that a lot of your audience consume, then try making that content yourself. With enough research and effort – you can become your own influencer.
Why small businesses should use influencers
Influencers are becoming an important part of social media marketing strategy as they have already succeeded in doing what social media marketing sets out to do.
They have nurtured and grown an organic audience who are engaged with the content they produce.
Carefully selected, their voice can help to amplify your own – and make you part of that community, rather than a brand that sits outside it.
It’s word of mouth advertising from someone the audience already trusts – and as such is very powerful.
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