An Introduction to Influencer Marketing for Small Business

Before the days of social media, celebrity endorsements were the precursor to today’s influencer marketing. With far-reaching, loyal, and engaged followers, a social media influencer — someone who wields influence over others through social media — can be an incredibly valuable addition to your organization’s social media marketing campaign.

Just how valuable is influencer marketing? With sponsored Instagram posts garnering a billion likes in 2017 and influencer marketing budgets projected to increase in 2018 and beyond, we could be seeing a whole lot less Matthew McConaughey in the back of a Lincoln, and a whole lot more Ryan ToysReview on YouTube.

Consider the following points if you want to successfully incorporate influencer marketing to help promote your products and your brand, and reach new audiences:

1. When it comes to influencers: a bigger following isn’t always better

Just because an influencer has hundreds of thousands of followers doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best fit for your business. It’s still really important to target the right audience, not just a big one. With this in mind, Christina Newberry of Hootsuite recommends special consideration is given to the “three Rs of influence” before approaching a potential social media influencer:

- Relevance: The influencer is sharing content and has an audience relevant to your business and industry.

- Reach: The number of people you could potentially reach through the influencer’s follower base will bring value to your business.

- Resonance: Potential exists for meaningful engagement between the influencer’s audience and your brand. If followers aren’t interested in your products or services, the size of the audience won’t matter much. “And a smaller follower count can be very powerful if it’s a niche area and the potential influencer has a dedicated and engaged following,” Newberry explains.

2. Know thy audience

Targeting the right influencers starts with figuring out exactly which audience you want to target. Customer personas are still considered an essential starting point of any marketing strategy and influencer marketing is no exception. Once you have profiled the types of people you are trying to reach, you can create a matching set of influencer personas, which will make it much easier to identify the qualities and traits you’re looking for in a potential influencer for your brand.

3. Choose an influencer whose personal style aligns well with your brand

In addition to aligning with influencers who share a target audience, you’ll also want to partner with someone who is compatible with your brand in terms of values, as well as the overall look, feel, and tone of the content they produce.

4. Tips for approaching an influencer

Once you’ve identified a few key influencers, you’ll want to make a good impression from the start and set the stage for a complementary relationship. Popular influencers get a lot of offers, so it’s important to distinguish your offer from the rest.

Start by sending a direct, personalized message and show that you’ve done your homework — demonstrating a genuine appreciation for the unique flavour they bring to the table (and explaining how a partnership could be mutually beneficial) will go a long way to securing a creative collaboration.

Lastly, have an appropriate compensation framework in mind. Influencers who are fresh on the scene may be fine with receiving free product or services, but those with some serious sway will likely want a flat-fee payment. Other compensation models might include performance-based incentives like affiliate or commission payments.

5. Relinquish some creative control

For the influencer to agree to promote your brand and, more importantly, for the campaign to ultimately succeed in convincing their audience to try your products or services, the content will need to ring true to the influencer’s own personal style. Newberry explains: “... after all, influencers are content creation experts — you’ll get the best value from their work by allowing them to showcase those skills.”

6. Measure results

Don’t hesitate to ask your influencer to provide detailed analytics of the reach and engagement levels of their posts. And while it will be exciting to see support in the form of likes and comments, the real return on investment will be more challenging to measure.

You may choose to assign influencers with unique links that include UTM code to help you track the amount of traffic coming directly from the influencer’s campaign.

Social media has generated a whole new cast of influential people who have earned the trust and attention of audiences around the world. For marketers, tapping into this star power is like a movie producer striking box-office gold!


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