Updated July 2021.
Influencers – people who shape our purchasing behavior – are not new. For those of us born before the social media age, these people were our friends and family, and at an aspirational level, celebrities. But now influencers aren’t limited to those close to us in proximity or personal relationships. Social media has created a new breed of influencers, and with them a new marketing channel.
Is Influencer Marketing Right for You?
Before jumping feet first into influencer marketing, you need to define your audience. From there, determine what social platforms they are using. If your audience isn’t on a particular platform there’s no sense in working with an influencer there. Instagram and YouTube are two spaces where influencer marketing has become extremely prevalent but is also growing in popularity on platforms like Snapchat and TikTok.
Once you determine the right platform for your audience, consider your timing:
- Are you launching a new collection or menu?
- Hosting an event?
- Having a sale?
For small businesses with limited budgets, leveraging influencers during these types of promotions to boost sales and attendance is a smart approach.
Those with larger budgets may work with influencers who align with their brands on a more consistent basis to raise awareness and promote their unique selling propositions. For instance, Thrive Market runs a notable influencer campaign with YouTubers who post both promoted YouTube videos and Instagram stories on their behalf. The company then uses footage from these influencers in their own advertising on Instagram and YouTube, targeting users who follow those same influencers so that the user is consistently seeing messaging from Thrive Market alongside their favorite creators on multiple platforms.
A simple Google search will reveal dozens if not hundreds of third-party tools designed to help connect brands and influencers. However, this will lead to an additional cost on top of the compensation for the influencer, so using one of these tools makes more sense for larger brands with bigger budgets. For small businesses, personally researching influencers is a more cost-effective approach:
- Start with your own following. You may find that a nano-influencer has already tagged you in an Instagram post. File them away and invite them to your next event or DM them to see if they’d be interested in working with you on a new launch.
- If you aren’t finding a good fit in your existing following, research hashtags and keywords that match your target audience. To go back to our Thrive Market example, if they were to take this approach they might look at #glutenfreeliving, as their site allows users to filter products by dietary restrictions, including gluten-free options.
- Local businesses should search geotargets in their area as well.
Choosing the Right Influencer
Bigger isn’t always better. Small, local businesses that are ready to dip their toes into influencer marketing should start with nano-influencers or influencers who have between 1,000 and 5,000 followers as these individuals are more likely to be in their price range. But even if your budget allows you to work with larger influencers, continuing to include small creators as part of your influencer marketing mix can have big benefits. Nano-influencers have closer relationships with their audiences, meaning they’ve built more trust aka influence. They also tend to have higher engagement rates and allow you to work with people who fit niche areas.
Beyond audience size and budget, you’ll need to determine if an influencer is a good fit for your brand. Ask yourself, is the content they are already posting aligned with my brand identity? Does their personal brand fit that of my target customers? If the answer to either of those questions is no, then you may need to continue your research to find a better fit.
Setting Expectations & Creating a Positive Experience
Once you decide to engage an influencer, you need to make sure you’re on the same page. Some may provide a rate sheet so you’ll know right off the bat how they expect to be compensated for different types of content. However, many nano-influencers won’t have this, so you’ll need to let them know what you’re willing to offer in terms of compensation and what you’re expecting from them in return. In both cases, follow these 3 steps:
- You want to be extremely specific.If you’re providing a dollar amount or gift card, be clear about how much that will be and how the influencer will receive it. If you will be providing product, event tickets, etc. again you will want to be clear on where, when and how the influencer will get these items.
- Get the agreement in writing. As a nano-influencer with my Instagram account @hoppilyfed, I’ve had a few awkward experiences. In one instance I was vaguely told I would be “taken care of” and then had the staff have no idea what I was talking about when I arrived at the agreed upon time. Alternatively, I once had the staff tell me to order whatever I wanted and felt strange about wanting to get enough variety but not wanting to seem greedy. Outlining exactly what they will receive ahead of time creates a better experience for the influencer overall.
- Have the influencer sign off.Just as you want to detail what they can expect from you, you will want to outline what you expect from them. What types of content will they post on your behalf (Instagram posts, stories, reels, IG TV videos, YouTube videos, TikToks, etc.).
- How many of each type of post are you expecting them to publish?
- What time frame would you like for these to be published in?
- What tags, hashtags, and links should you use?
All of this should be agreed upon in advance.
Need Help Making It Happen?
We’ve only just scratched the surface here, but we’re still here to help! Book a session with a Marketing Mentor to get personalized advice on finding influencers for your business, creating profitable agreements with them, tracking the results from your partnerships, and more. Still exploring the idea of working with an influencer? Check out these training sessions to dig a bit deeper.