If you think your small business is too small to take advantage of influencer marketing, think again. This strategy is adaptable for all brands, regardless of size. You just need to know how to tweak your campaign to make sure it works for you. In this article, we’ll show you some strategies you can use to apply an influencer marketing strategy to your small business.
How does influencer marketing work?
It’s simple really! Businesses choose influencers to help them promote their brands or products on social media. The two parties negotiate the collaboration to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. The brand gets influencer-created content and connection to the influencer’s followers. And the influencer gets paid, whether in free products or a fee.
Influencer marketing can take place on any social network of your choosing, but the most common platforms these days are Instagram, Youtube, Facebook and TikTok. More specifically, Instagram influencers have taken center stage recently, as 90% of influencer marketing campaigns include the network in some way.
How to manage your campaign
The below tips are meant to guide your small business in your influencer campaign process. Just remember, throughout all the steps, that your marketing campaign is unique to you. Don’t try to copy your competitors, because what works for them won’t necessarily work for you!
Determine your goals
The very first thing you have to do is decide what you want to get out of your influencer marketing campaign. Each brand will have different goals, but some common goals for small businesses are:
- Branding – getting your name out there and establishing your unique brand
- Followers – attracting more social media followers to your brand’s account
- Engagement – boosting your brand’s interaction with its followers on social media
Each goal also requires key performance indicators (KPIs) to let you see how you’re getting along with your campaign. Basically, think of how you can measure your progress toward your specific goal. For example, if your goal is branding, you could measure traffic to your website or social media impressions (the times your content is displayed on screen).
When you determine your KPIs, set up a system that will let you measure them. Google Analytics is a good place to start. Also, some social networks have their own built-in analytics, like Instagram Insights.
Define your campaign
In addition to defining your goal, you have to define other aspects of your campaign, too. Here’s a checklist of questions to answer:
- Who is my target audience?
- What budget do I have to spend on this campaign?
- What’s the campaign schedule and duration?
- What geographical area and social network do I want to focus on? (make sure you have your own account set up on the same)
- How many influencers do I plan to collaborate with?
- What type of influencer do I want to collaborate with?
The last point on that list refers to different types of influencers ranked by follower count. As you probably already know, an influencer with 1M followers isn’t the same as one with 10K. The more followers an influencer gets, the more they charge for their collaborations.
Thankfully, there are nano and micro influencers, who are perfect allies for small businesses. Nano influencers have between 1-5K followers, and micro influencers 5-50K.
Despite these relatively low follower counts, these influencers have the highest engagement rates in the industry. High engagement means an influencer’s followers trust them. This trust can be transferred to your brand if that influencer promotes them. And the best part is that with these influencers, you can usually close a collaboration in exchange for free products alone.
There are a few ways to find influencers. You could hire an influencer agency, but you’ll spend a fortune. You could also spend nothing and search directly on social media, but this process will take a lot of time and effort, and you won’t have any built-in guidance.
A good, middle-of-the-road solution for small businesses is an influencer marketing platform. You have to pay to subscribe to this type of software, but in return you’ll get a search engine, analytics data, and the ability to organize your search results. And the subscriptions are nowhere near as expensive as an agency.
Let’s say you want to find Youtube influencers from the USA who have at least 10K subscribers and who work in the beauty sector. With an influencer marketing platform, you can put those requirements into the search engine’s filters. Then, you’ll see only the results that match your search query.
A screenshot of influencer marketing platform Heepsy.
After you find some interesting results, you can organize them into customizable lists. Create lists for your different campaigns, different regions, categories, or however you need to organize yourself.
An example of a list created to manage results found with influencer marketing platform Heepsy.
Analyze their profiles
It’s not enough to find influencers. You have to analyze their profiles too. If you don’t do this, you may end up with an influencer who can’t help you achieve your goals. Or worse, you could end up working with a fake influencer.
When looking at influencer profiles, make sure you check out:
- Number of followers/subscribers – this determines an influencer’s reach and price
- Follower growth over time – the way the influencer earned their followers throughout time
- Engagement rate – the level of interaction between an influencer and their followers (calculated by adding up the total interactions like likes or comments, dividing it by the number of followers, and multiplying by 100)
- Post frequency – the rate at which an influencer posts per week
- Audience demographics – the age, gender, location and other demographics of the influencer’s audience
- Audience authenticity – the percentage of the influencer’s audience who exhibits suspicious behavior
An influencer marketing platform will help guide you while analyzing these metrics. For example, if you see follower growth that is sudden and drastic, it could be a sign of fake followers. Check first to see if the influencer went viral or hosted a giveaway just before the spike, and if not, dig a bit deeper into their audience’s authenticity.
As for engagement rate, extremes on either end of the spectrum are bad. If engagement is very low, then either people aren’t interested in the influencer’s content, or the influencer bought fake followers, which don’t usually interact with the content they follow.
Looking at the audience demographics is especially important to make sure that a specific influencer can help you reach your target audience. And audience authenticity can reveal if an influencer has fake followers; the AI scans the audience and shows you the percentage it thinks may be bots.
Negotiate with influencers and launch
Reach out to the influencers you think are the right fit and negotiate the terms of the collaboration with them. A contract usually isn’t necessary if you’re paying influencers solely in free products, unless the product is something of very high value (like a new motorcycle).
Explain to influencers any publication guidelines you have, like:
- Deadlines for when content need to be published
- What aspects of your brand you want to emphasize
- Certain aesthetic requirements like settings, etc.
- Any hashtag, mention or discount code you want the influencer to use
If you’re sending influencers free products, just remember to account for shipping in both your timeline and budget. Especially nowadays in a world dealing with Covid-19, deliveries may take longer than we anticipate. Pay for tracking, and give the code to the influencer so that both parties can stay on top of any moving pieces.
Monitor your campaign and analyze the results
Ask influencers to send you campaign content, or to tag your business in it so you get a notification. In addition to your own data about the content, ask the influencer for any internal data they may have about their content. This will help you get a clearer view of things like impressions, clicks, etc.
When it’s time to analyze your results, keep an open mind. Success is totally relative to your original campaign goal. Measuring the success of your influencer campaign can take many forms, but in general, success is when what you get out of your campaign outweighs what you invested in it.
This is just a basic walkthrough of how to manage an influencer campaign as a small business. If you’d like to learn more, check out our influencer marketing guide, which goes deeper into the whole process. And remember, even if you’re a small company with a small budget, you can still make influencer marketing work for your needs.