Lately, there has been a lot of talk about influencer marketing. Many are calling influencer marketing one of the biggest marketing trends of 2017.
Currently, influencer marketing is typically available only to those with huge budgets to blow. As a result, small business owners are often left assuming they cannot afford the marketing trends they read about online.
Despite there being a lot of coverage around micro-influencers (who cost far less than standard influencers), there have not been many resources explaining how those with smaller budgets can utilize influencers effectively.
In this article, I wanted to do just that. Let’s dive in…
Utilize Micro-influencers, Preferably on Instagram
Markerly, an influencer marketing platform, conducted a study examining over 2 million social media influencers. They found the engagement rate of micro-influencers to be 2X higher than those with 10k to 100k followers, and 4X higher than those with 100k+ followers. In short, even if you don’t have the budget to run expensive influencer campaigns or have Beyonce shout out your shoe company, you’re still in luck thanks to micro-influencers.
To identify and connect with influencers in your industry or city, use tools like Klear, which lists out relevant influencers based on a variety of criteria, and see if you two can work together. If that does not work for you, you can never go wrong with a Google search.
Get Liberal with your Definition of “Influencer”
The definition of an influencer is anyone who influences a member of their audience to take an action. If you are unable, why not get a little creative here? Here’s an example: Shameless confession: I’ve spent some time as an Uber driver. The amount of times I received the question, “Where is a good spot to eat around here?” or “Which clubs are worth going to?” is outrageously high.
If you’re the owner of a cafe, bar, restaurant or a similar business, consider hosting a night/day where Uber & Lyft drivers get 25% off. Then, befriend those who show up and let them know you’ll compensate them (either with money or freebies) for every x amount of people they bring into your business. To track this, have their passengers say “Rachel, the Lyft driver, told me about you.” etc.
Begin thinking creatively on how to reach audiences and potential clients where they’re already at. Once this “clicks”, the possibilities are endless when it comes to generating awareness for your business.
Pay with Your Resources
You don’t always have to pay them with money. Leverage the resources available to you, even if they aren’t monetary. If you are a local bar, why not give the influencer a free round of drinks for her and her friends? If you are a clothing brand, why not a couple free t-shirts?
Of course, many influencers do require monetary compensation, as they should for their hard work, but there are always exceptions who may be willing to accept other forms of incentives.
Become a Student of the Game
What I mean by this is for you to make relationships while influencers are still on the come-up.
If you are the owner of a local gym, then follow influencers in your area who document their own fitness journeys. If you come across an influencer who has a small following at the moment, but is gaining a lot of momentum and traction, reach out to them. Let them know you are a fan of their work and you’d like to meet up sometime. This may lead to a fruitful partnership.
Make the Process Seamless for the Influencer
For the most part, influencers are very busy. For large influencers, their personal brand is their business, so they are constantly working to build it up. Smaller influencers, more than likely, have a 9–5 on top of their blog or YouTube channel, which makes them extremely busy as well.
Be cognizant of this by making the process as seamless as possible for the influencer. If you are a small nightclub holding an event, create Snapchat Geofilters yourself (or hire someone on Fiverr to do it for you) and encourage the influencer to use the filter throughout the night upon arrival. If you own a restaurant, be sure to have an idea of what you’d like the influencer to cover in their post specifically before they arrive on site.
Have the location of your business already created on Facebook so the influencer can tag it in her/his Instagram & Facebook posts.
Have Realistic and Actionable Goals
Here’s the deal: For the most part (and I’m talking about the 85–90% part), influencers are best at driving awareness. I hate to burst your bubble, but better to do it now than finding out after you invest time, money, and resources into influencer marketing.
Sure, you might receive some conversions. Hell, maybe even a sizable amount of conversions. But thinking you will receive $500 worth of product sales by spending $250 on influencer marketing is just not realistic. Sometimes it happens, and we can call those instances “unicorns”.
However, the true value in influencer marketing is worth much more than what you will pay them. The awareness you receive is more than worth the cost. Conversions are a bonus. Have an awareness goal that is realistic. If the influencer who’s posting for you typically receives 4,000 Instagram Likes on her photos, make your goal 4,500 Likes.
In this regard, begin to think of influencer marketing like a billboard on a highway where only your potential customers drove on.
If You Can’t Reel ’em in, Then Make ‘em Yourself!
If nothing else is working for you, use social media monitoring tools to see who’s talking about your brand or your industry. Then, if those people are receiving a fair amount of engagement and have a sizable amount of followers, treat them as if they were an influencer!
Use social monitoring tools like Sprout Social, Respond by Buffer (Twitter only), or Hootsuite to see who is talking about your brand or topics similar to your brand. Or, if you wanna keep it simple, just search for hashtags and keywords in the social platforms directly.
Reach out to them and use the compensation model laid out above to use as leverage. Occasionally, “average people” can reach your target audience just as well as micro-influencers can.
While it is true influencer marketing can be expensive, there are an immense amount of opportunities available to everyone with a little creativity and an open mind.
If you would like to learn more about how to leverage micro-influencers on Instagram, read this terrific article here on Stories by Buffer written by Shane Barker & if you would like weekly social media updates, consider subscribing to the Arctiphi newsletter.