Small businesses, startups included, are not known for having endless marketing budgets. Usually, their resources are allocated to more practical aspects, like day-to-day operations and maintenance, sales operations, and employee benefits. Marketing becomes part of their priority only when they are expanding, in order to reach more audience or try new markets.
However, with the help of the Internet, there are now new ways to make a name for your business even when you’re just starting up. Through tapping into social media and other platforms to connect with large numbers of people online, small businesses can start their own marketing campaigns and one way to do so is through influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing, from the term itself, is the approach that focuses on individual influencers, rather than your usual marketers. Influencers range from well-known celebrities to experts in niche topics of your industry. You could include knowledgeable bloggers with a sizable following, or social media personalities that tackle topics related to the industry you are in.
Maybe now you’re wondering if influencer marketing would work for your business. Take a minute to think about how well your brand is engaged online: how many followers do you have on your Facebook or Instagram account? How often do you update your accounts, or post something new for your followers? If your answers are leaning towards dismal numbers, then perhaps you should consider going with the influencer marketing route. And no, this is different from social media management.
You’re not getting another person to handle your accounts or post updates about your brand. What you’re doing is targeting influencers with thousands of followers to talk about your products or services and promote them to their followers. Their influence is what you’re after, and just like any other marketing campaigns, your aim is to attract and engage the right audience, only this time, these are the influencer’s audience too.
To have a simplified understanding of what influencer marketing is, refer to this 4-step process:
Step 1 – Identify the experts in your industry, specifically in your chosen niche/field. Learn how well-connected they are, to see if they are influential enough to be an influencer for your business. Come up with as many as you like, so that you’ll have an extensive list of potential influencers before proceeding to the next step.
Step 2 – From the compiled list from the previous step, make a shortlist of those who are closely related to your business. These people should be complementary to your business, meaning, they are targeting the same audience bracket, as well as their reach, and their tone. It would help if you could find some that have the same target audience as yours so that they won’t have a hard time selling whatever product or service it is you are offering.
Step 3 – Start building a connection with your influencers. First step is to follow whatever platform they have so that they’ll know that you are connected through the same industry. Formally introduce your business, and express how well their blog/page resonates with your brand. State that you are looking forward to working with them in the future and are open to discussing a partnership. Share their content on your end, so that they’ll know you’re positively considering them as an influencer.
Step 4 – Once you’ve formalized a connection or partnership, you can now start to create content with them. These could include videos, posts, info graphics, and other items that they could share with their followers. This would be something related to your brand and will be promoted by them in whatever platform they have.
Why is Influencer marketing effective?
This type of marketing works simply because it helps you go directly to your target audience. Unlike typical marketing, which is like casting a net in a wide ocean, you’re cutting through all the unnecessary noise of your usual advertising efforts. From the get-go, you’ve identified influencers whose audience are quite similar to yours, so running campaigns through them would assure you that the ones on the receiving end are at least interested in what you’re offering. This method would be like casting a net on a commercial fishing pond, wherein you are highly likely to catch something.
But of course, it still takes a lot of work for this kind of campaign to work. Going back to Step 4, you’ll need to coordinate with your influencer in order to create a content that will capture your audience. You can’t just go and ask your influencer to say something about your brand and tell your audience to buy from you. Just to give you an idea of what they can do, here are some of the tactics that influencers usually employ:
– Your influencer gives you precious blog space so that you can write a content that’s related to their blog theme, and find a way to mention your product. In a way, you’re projecting yourself as an expert, and it builds trust from influencers’ audience, drawing their attention to whatever your brand is offering.
– You create a content for your own platform, but this time, you’re using your influencer as a subject matter expert. By interviewing your influencer for your own content, their audience (fans, followers, etc.) will likely go visit your site to see the content. You can also ask the influencer to promote it by sharing the URL on his or her accounts.
– The influencer will create a content that includes your product, either as a part of a tutorial (how-tos, FAQs, etc.) This can just be a subtle mention of your product as an ingredient, or as a material to whatever they’re creating. The influencer can also allot a post especially for you, to review your product or service. If they’re pleased with your brand, their followers would know about it and most likely try it out, too.
Going back to the original question, should I get an influencer for my small business? The answer is obviously, Yes. It’s a great way to make your presence felt in a jam packed industry, and hopefully, help you make a name even when you’re just starting out. You can couple influencer marketing with other marketing strategies like mobile marketing in order to achieve best results.
Francis Mansueto has been writing for more than a decade now, focusing on Digital Marketing in the last couple of years. He is currently in charge of writing web-optimized content for RingCentral, an industry-leading cloud phone systems provider. Francis is also a voracious reader, spending most of his free time immersed on fictional worlds. You can reach him through Twitter.