Word of mouth advertising and referrals are strong lead sources for small businesses because people tend to trust others’ recommendations versus what companies say about themselves. That’s why influencer marketing has gained such popularity with marketers. Can influencer marketing help your small business grow? Learn what it is and how to use it.

What is influencer marketing?

Instagram influencerInfluencer marketing is a form of social media marketing involving endorsements and product placement from influencers, people, and organizations who have a professed expert level of knowledge or social influence in their field. When influencer marketing first became popular, influencers were typically celebrities endorsing a product or service. However, more recent trends have seen several “influencers” cropping up that most would not consider celebrities. Instead, these people have the power to affect others’ purchasing decisions because of their authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience, and a following in a distinct niche, with whom they actively engage. Influencers act as a mutual friend connecting your brand with your target consumers. The “audience” is usually on a social channel, podcast, or blog, though typically influencer marketing ultimately leverages social media to cast the widest net. Influencer marketing works because of the high amount of trust that social influencers have built up with their following. Recommendations from them serve as a form of trust signal to a brand’s potential customers.

Does influencer marketing really work?

According to an article by Buffer, 65% of brands now run influencer campaigns. According to an infographic by The Shelf, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other people—even if they don’t know them personally—over promotional content that comes directly from brands. We’re more likely to buy a product if it’s recommended by a friend than pushed at us by an advert and an eMarketer study found that advertisers who implemented an influencer marketing campaign earned $6.85 in media value on average for every $1 they spent on paid media for influencer programs.

How can small businesses effectively use influencer marketing?

social media messagingTo launch a successful influencer marketing effort, small businesses need to do a little planning to get the most out of their investment. First, it’s important to establish the goal of the influencer campaign. Goals could include brand awareness, growing a social media following, or generating more leads. Each goal will impact how the campaign is run, so it’s ideal to choose one, though you can have secondary goals too! The next step is to find influencers in your field that would have the most impact on your target audience. Several reputable influencer marketing agencies can help with this, or you can do your own legwork to research people in your industry who have the attention of your target audience. A few tools can assist with this, including Heepsy, Fohr, or People Map. It’s a good idea as a small business, especially if this is your first time with influencer marketing, to start with micro-influencers; the size of the audience of a micro-influencer is small, their followers are more likely to follow them because of their interests. You can also research popular hashtags in your industry to find influencers, monitor competitor social accounts, or take a look at your Instagram comments to see who appears to have traction in your niche. Once you find those influencers, reach out and see if they’re willing to be a brand ambassador. Understand that those who are influencers for a living will want to be paid, so be prepared to negotiate, and keep in mind what the ROI needs to be for it to be worth doing. If an influencer costs $10,000 and your product costs $20, you’ll have to sell a LOT of product to justify the cost. If you’re looking to increase leads, have a good idea of how much a lead is worth to you (a small business marketing professional can help with this!). Determine what exactly they’ll be doing to help promote your company. Typically, influencers will use blog posts, videos, and images to help engage an audience. Next, make sure you have sufficient resources for the influencer to leverage, including branding guidelines, talking points, FAQs, and popular hashtags for your product or service.  Last, as with any campaign, measure your results! If you choose to run a campaign on your own, check out Single Grain’s influencer marketing guide.

Influencer marketing can be a fantastic way to help your business grow if done correctly. The investment can help expand the reach of your small business and ultimately grow your company.

Patty Hughes
Follow Us!