When we talked to over 1000 small businesses to understand their challenges and perspectives on digital marketing, we discovered that a lot of small businesses see the value in influencer marketing but they aren’t quite sure how to tap into the trend.
Like most marketing strategies, influencer marketing must be done well in order to be effective, but doing it well is simple, as long as you have a basic understanding of your audience and how they want to connect with you.
How small business can utilize influencer marketing
Our survey revealed that small businesses continue to trust in social media marketing, although it’s vital to note that using Facebook and other social media platforms as a primary marketing channel takes strategy. These platforms have to be used intentionally to see a return on investment, which means making the most of every post.
It means you must plan your posts with the readers and customers in mind, and doing so in such a way that feels natural and organic can be difficult. One way marketing teams connect with their audience is by getting social media influencers to back them or their products.
However, the small businesses we talked to said this wasn’t as simple as they’d initially thought.
The most difficult channel for marking teams: Influencer marketing
Out of all the marketing channels we listed in our survey, small businesses told us that influencer marketing was the most difficult channel to navigate, followed by SEO marketing and digital paid media marketing.
Utilizing influencer marketing is a great way for small businesses to get the word out about their products and services and connect with their audience through a trusted source. After all, today’s consumers trust reviews and social proof when they make purchasing decisions.
But before you can decide if influencer marketing is a worthwhile channel to invest your time, energy, and resources into, you have to know the basics.
How can influencer marketing work for your small business?
Influencer marketing will help you sell your product, raise brand awareness, and build your following through your email list, social media followers, and in real life customers. Simply put, an influencer is a person that has a significant level of impact on an area of interest. In other words, they’re individuals who have authority within a certain niche interest group, ideally the same niche interest group as your ideal demographic.
An influencer can be just about anyone. It doesn’t have to be a major celebrity who’ll ask for your entire marketing budget in exchange for one post. When you consider what type of influencer best fits with your brand ethos, consider individuals, such as:
- Brand advocates with a significant following
- Bloggers and YouTubers
- Industry experts
- Podcast hosts
When locating what influencers might be the best fit for your brand, consider micro-influencers who will be more budget-friendly but will still connect with your audience.
Source: Sand Cloud/Facebook
Types of influencers
The most important aspect of influencer marketing is finding the right partner for your brand who will build trust and increase your brand’s authenticity. The wrong influencer sends the wrong message and will hurt your marketing efforts.
So how do you find the influencers worth your time and effort?
Here’s a basic breakdown of the different types of influencers:
- Micro influencers: these are influencers with under 10,000 followers.
- Power middle influencers: 10,000 to 250,000 followers. These influencers may not have the reach of a celebrity, but they’ve created an intimate and engaged audience who trust their advice.
- Macro influencers: 250,000+ followers. These are YouTube and Instagram celebrities. While they have the best reach, they don’t always provide the same authenticity and trust associated with the lower-level tiers of influencers.
Determining your ideal influencer
Before you dive into the pool of potential influencers for your influencer marketing strategy, you have to know what makes an ideal influencer for your brand. The ideal influencer for a bodybuilding company isn’t going to work the same as a new brand offering music lessons for young adults.
But determining the ideal influencer for your small business goes beyond interest. Determine whether the influencer will reinforce your brand’s values and mission.
So, before you start looking for influencers, ask yourself these questions:
- What’s my small business’ niche?
- What’s my brand’s mission?
- What ideals and values does my brand hold?
- Who’s my ideal customer?
Your ideal influencer has to align with your answers to each of these questions. So make sure you define each of them in detail so you can compare potential influencers and make the best choice for your small business.
Examples of influencer marketing done right
Influencer marketing, when done right, can bring in a ton of new prospective clients to any brand, big or small.
This example posted by Tania Baron falls in under the power middle influencer. She’s known widely for her work with Team Beachbody, the Insanity workout videos, and was a pro dancer who used to tour with the likes of Britney Spears. Coming in at 134,000 followers, she hasn’t quite hit mega-celebrity, but she does have a loyal following.
People are attracted to her because she’s real, despite having a touch of celebrity associated with her name. She can relate to the everyday person and still drive influence for the brands that she represents and loves dearly.
Source: Instagram/Tania Baron
Another stellar example is this post from celebrity Hilary Duff. Despite her fame, she still has a reputation for being authentic and true to her values. This fact alone makes her an excellent choice for an influencer, though her 12.1 million follower count doesn’t hurt either.
Source: Instagram/Hilary Duff
Influencer marketing gone wrong
One common misconception around influencer marketing is that brands believe big name celebrities guarantees success.
Just take this example from Scott Disick, known worldwide as part of the Kardashian clan. With such a strong reach, brands might assume he’d be a great influencer.
Now, we aren’t saying that he isn’t an ideal candidate. However, it’s essential to note that even celebrities make mistakes.
Source: Neil Patel
In this example, Scott, or his social media reps, didn’t take the time to personalize a sponsored post that was sent to him from BooTea. Instead, the suggested post was simply copied and pasted alongside a photo of the mega-celebrity and posted directly to his Instagram feed.
Scott isn’t the only mega-celebrity to fall victim to careless posting. The same thing happened to Naomi Campbell when she partnered with Adidas.
Source: Neil Patel
While some marketing teams may want to go for major celebrity endorsements, this is one area where more money doesn’t mean guaranteed success. In fact, finding micro-influencers who connect with the right demographic can be cheaper and far more effective than an influencer marketing stunt gone wrong.
When it comes to advertising, only 33% of consumers trust blatant advertising. However, 90% of consumers trust peer advice. It’s why influencer marketing can be so vital to a brand’s marketing strategy—but does that mean it’s right for your small business?
Remember, when it comes to influencer marketing, you want to find someone whose posts and personal mission will build the trust and authenticity between you and your followers.
Find someone who fits that bill and you’ll have a partnership that will last.
And, if you don’t have the budget to pay a lot, there are alternative methods to luring in influencers, such as offering influencers exclusive products or insider information or providing the influencer with free or discounted merchandise for their honest feedback.
Want to know more about influencer marketing and how it could impact your small business? Then read our blog post about its overall effectiveness.