Many small business owners think influencer marketing is a new marketing tactic to come on the scene when in fact, influencer marketing has been around for a long, long time. The latest spotlight on influencer marketing gives many the impression that it’s hard and expensive to do, but it doesn’t have to be. Are you ready to try influencer marketing? Here’s how to make it work for your small business.

Influencer marketing isn’t new

Santa ClausWhether influencers are real or caricatures, we’ve been experiencing influencer marketing for years. At the most basic level, influencer marketing is a form of marketing involving endorsements and product placement from people and organizations who have an alleged expert level of knowledge or influence in their field. We love the comparison made by this article that states Santa Claus is probably the most popular figure in the history of influencer marketing. Think about the influence Santa Claus has on the buying demands of children which in turn influences parents to buy. Sure, Santa Claus isn’t real, but the concept stands up to what an influencer is. The same goes for celebrity endorsements we’ve seen on TV for decades. The most recent version of influencer marketing is mostly based in social media. Nowadays, an influencer is an individual who has a dedicated social following and is viewed as an expert within their niche. While celebrity endorsements are still going strong, more savvy consumers are more likely to trust an expert in the field over a famous face. Add the reach of social media and that can be quite substantial.

Small businesses can use influencer marketing

When agencies first started helping businesses put together an influencer marketing campaign, the effort was typically substantial and expensive. There are still many large agencies that deal with high visibility, high demand influencers, and until recently, small businesses could do little to take advantage of this type of marketing. However, with a little legwork and planning, even small business owners can use influencer marketing.

list of namesFirst, you need to create a list of experts in your field. Depending on what your industry is, there may be many experts, some very well-known even, but there are also those who have the knowledge and reputation to garner trust from your prospect. On the other end of the spectrum, your industry might be quite niche and experts in short supply. This could actually work in your favor as that means there’s a lot less static out there competing for your message. If you’re active in your field, you likely know a few potential influencers already. Perhaps they speak publicly at conferences, have written books, do regular email marketing to a large audience, or appear on podcasts or YouTube channels. If you have relationships with those people, take the time to have a conversation to see if they would be willing to help promote your company. If you don’t have a relationship, now is the time to reach out. Learn not only about their expertise and reputation but find out what their social presence is and what kind of social reach they have. Remember, today’s influencer marketing is primarily social-based, so this is important! Make sure they truly understand and appreciate your product or service and aren’t just looking to make a buck. Being genuine is important for influencer marketing to work. Yes, you’ll likely have to compensate them for their time depending on what they’ll do for you, but likely with a strong, legitimate relationship being built, you’ll see good ROI for money spent.

marketing tactics on social mediaOnce you’ve found someone you can work with, it’s important to give them the freedom to promote your product or service in a way they’re comfortable with. Remember, you’re essentially using THEIR social platforms to promote YOUR product or service. If they’ve built up a nice following, they won’t want to come across as a snake oil salesperson. Give them some freedom to promote you while making sure you can connect their efforts to what you’re paying them to do. Some will want to use humor or be more educational. Others will want to write content, create graphics, or create a video to help with the marketing. Be willing to partner with them so their efforts are comfortable to them and will come across as genuine.

measurable marketing resultsLast, you’ll definitely need to create some expectations. You’ll want to know what their plans are, when they’ll complete certain tasks, and how you’ll be able to monitor both activity and results. Access to their social analytics is ideal, as well as your ability to measure your own social and website analytics. Setting up clear expectations and how to measure results will ensure a pleasant experience for both parties.

When you’re ready to try influencer marketing, starting with a more targeted effort can bring about positive, measurable results. Take the time to find those industry experts, learn more about them and educate them about you, then collaborate to create an influencer marketing campaign that works.

Patty Hughes
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