Influencer marketing is a hot topic for everybody these days. Major businesses all over the world engage recognizable stars to help them promote their products.
But what about the small business owners who don’t have the money to pay an agency to start an influencer marketing campaign? Or those who can’t offer big sums directly to well-known celebrities.
In this post, I’ll show you how to put together an influencer marketing strategy without shelling out big bucks. For small businesses, this can be one of the most rewarding steps they take.
But first, let’s start by defining influencer marketing. What is IM and in what way is it different from other types of marketing?
What small business owners need to know about influencer marketing
Let’s say you want to advertise your new product – a juicer for example. You can promote it through the classic channels by hiring a popular spokesperson. A model, an actress or even a sports star.
This will cost you a lot and the results may not be as good as expected. Not all their fans will be moved by your products, and it’s possible that most of them will not even look at the commercial spot.
An influencer marketing campaign is entirely different, because the spokesperson you’re hiring is powerful in a specific niche, one that your products is suited to.
In our juicer example, why not hire a fitness specialist who is active on a blog or social media? They often come with with hundreds of thousands, or even millions followers on their blog or social media accounts.
These followers are specifically interested in fitness and a healthy lifestyle and therefore, more likely to buy a juicer.
Moreover, a blogger or social media star will be less costly than a movie star, a pop singer or fashion celebrity. In other words, the influencer marketing campaign is more affordable and delivers better results for products or services that can be placed on a niche market.
Now, that I’ve shed some light upon this topic, let’s see what a small business owner needs in order to engage in influencer marketing.
Let’s start with the basics:
1. Who will do the marketing?
There are many entrepreneurs who know the basics of marketing, but their biggest mistake is to think they can do all the work by themselves. I know, when you think you can master a specific domain, you tend to try at least doing all the work and saving some money.
If you really want a successful marketing campaign, you’ll need professionals to do the tasks for you. I am referring to professionals who have enough time to complete your campaign because they are paid to do so.
TIP: This is not the time and place to save cash: book the services of a marketing specialist. Or if you think this will be an ongoing work, hire a marketing department guy who will take care of all these problems, and do nothing else during the time he or she is paid for.
2. Which channel do you want to grow?
First of all, think about your audience. Who are they? What do your potential clients or customers like? Where do they spend their time? Gather as much data as you can and correlate the information with the brand, the products or the services you will offer.
Then think about yourself: what is the most valuable thing for your brand? Which channel do you want to grow?
Website or blog
You can grow your website through influencers on specific niches or just through specific bloggers who generate a lot of traffic and write about things similar to your style. For example, if you write about politics and you can capture the attention of an influencer blogger who writes about the same topic, you can drive more traffic or get more conversions without spending money or, spending less than if you were paying for ads or advertising.
If you want to grow your Facebook page – the page you’ve set up for your brand or your products – you can try to contact successful Facebook page/account owners with lots of fans in order to generate more likes or comments.
Let’s say for instance that you are selling organic fruits and vegetables. Look for influencers who are advertising the same products or people, or who write about a healthy lifestyle.
Convince them to mention your products and reach out to their huge list of followers almost instantly. They have similar interests and as a consequence, they’ll be more inclined to interact with your company.
Instagram or Twitter
You can also use an influencer marketing campaign to get more followers, likes or brand mentions on Twitter and Instagram. The procedure is similar to the one described above for websites, blogs and Facebook.
According to Smartketer, Instagram was ranked in the top 15 most influential and popular websites in the world. You could stick to this platform and forget about other influencers, and still achieve good results.
For example, let’s look at the Estee Lauder campaign with Kendall Jenner:
When the cosmetics company wanted to target younger audiences, they turned to the youngest member of the Kardashians, Kendall Jenner. She has more than 75 million followers on Instagram and was considered to be the influencer which was able to target the specific young audience Estee Lauder was aiming for.
According to BDP, just 3% of the content on her own channel – represent 63% of Estée Lauder’s total Instagram engagement.
They were not wrong. Kendall Jenner promoted the brand on her own Instagram account and shared makeup tips by using her favorite products from the company.
YouTube generates billions of views every second. Many vloggers are considered influencers. They can generate more subscribers or more YouTubers to access your brand page, as long as you’re able to create videos about your brand that will get shared or go viral.
3. What do you want from influencers?
This will help you find the right influencer for your brand. Why are you working with influencers? What are your goals?
Influencer marketing can help you in the following areas:
Advertise your brand through influencers from a specific niche and calculate your success based on specific analytics similar to those described above.
We can see how Gap used this strategy to grow their awareness:
— Gap (@Gap) July 19, 2016
They targeted specific social media personalities through the Styld.by Campaign, and asked them to post on their social media accounts photos with a specific caption: “Shop this look”. Thanks to these influencers, GAP’s campaign had an enormous reach.
This is a great way to grow awareness about your brand and/or products. Trigger responses from a specific community, through vouchers, contests and targeted campaigns.
Ask your influencers to share these with their audience. This helps your contest reach new users, and gives the influencer something special to offer their followers.
If you have products to sell, influencer marketing may prove to be your best option. The niche community you target may prove to be a good and reliable source of customers.
That’s how Sperry, the boat shoe brand, get their positive results. They created their campaign by targeting over 100 influencers on Instagram and asked them to create engaging content for their followers. Thus, they were able to identify fans of the brand that were later contacted and invited to develop visual content for Sperry’s official Instagram account.
Sperry also gave these influencers a budget to engage with their communities. Stacy Goodman, Sperry’s Digital Marketing Manager, said in an article for Adweek:
“For example, [we let them host] a meet-up or other event that’s inspired by the sea. This provides them with a means to further build their personal followings – both within and outside of social environments – in a way that’s also relevant to the Sperry brand.”
Drive web traffic
You may simply ask an influencer to talk about your brand, website or company, to advertise your website and generate traffic to it. The better the influencer suits your brand, the more successful this approach can be.
4. How to find influencers as a small business owner
Now, it’s time to find the influencers in your niche and try to establish a communication basis with them.
Some will have to be paid in order to promote your brand, services or products, while others will do it just because you know them and they trust your company.
There are also tools that help you find and connect easy with influencers. Brittany Berger suggests 9 influencer research tools that will make this process simple.
One of the best ways to meet influencers is during specific conferences and meetings. Venngage has a good infographic on this topic if you want to read more about it.
However, the following are the best ways to capture an influencer’s attention and get you started with your campaign:
Through the “Search & Explore” feature (location + hash tag), you’ll find photos and videos from accounts you don’t yet follow. This option is useful when searching for topics that are directly related to your brand, products and/or services.
You’ll also see the main topics the search engine recommends for you.
Use hashtags to find relevant topic and influencers who can be targeted or used for a marketing campaign.
This online tool helps you find the most relevant influencers or competitors on all the major social media sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.
5. How to measure the results of your campaign
There are several ways to quantify your campaign. Let’s look quickly at the most important tools you can use, and the types of quantifiable data you can rely on:
This is very important when you want to measure the success of your marketing campaign. You can measure brand awareness through social media interaction, number of new followers, likes and shares, but also through website and blog analytics. You can also use netvibes.com to monitor everything that happens on your social media channels.
Leadfeeder has a custom tool for measuring Google Analytics data. You can also use other plugins for your website or even the Google Analytics account, according to your needs.
Affiliate links & promo codes
Advertise your products, brand or services through affiliate links and promo codes that the influencers can distribute to their communities. These things are easier to quantify as they link back to your online blog or shop.
Social Media engagement
If you are marketing your business on a social media platform, you can easily quantify the engagement you receive on your posts and of course, on your page. Watch for new followers, new likes, new comments and new shares.
6. Continue the relationship with the influencer
Was your campaign successful? This is important because not all the influencers you have contacted and engaged in your marketing campaign will deliver the expected results. However, after you have the results of your campaign, you should continue the relationship with those who delivered good results.
You’ll benefit from future campaigns and of course, maintain an open dialogue with people who lead important communities within the niche you have chosen for your small business.
There are many ways to engage in a marketing campaign. But the results will always depend on how good your choice was, considering your brand, your products or services and finally, the channels you chose for delivering your message.
Influencer marketing campaigns are perfect for small businesses as they target specific communities of users and/or clients, and build your brand awareness based on their specific interests.
The results are better than those for classic marketing or advertising campaigns because you engage individuals who’re interested in your niche, and therefore are more likely to buy your products or services.
What do you think about influencer marketing? Do you have anything to add to this short tutorial? Do you have successful stories to share with me or the people who read this article? Feel free to add to this page and write about your own experience with this type of marketing campaigns in the comments section. I’d be more than happy to read about your personal opinions on this subject.
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