Why and how to use Influencer Marketing as a Small or Medium Sized Business
Throughout my education and career in marketing, I’ve often been asked, how do you market a small business with little budget and inaccessibility?
Of course, social media is the first answer – it’s cheap, it’s easy to learn and you can literally connect with any audience if you do it right. The problem however, is that it takes time to build a trusted audience, skill and a good eye to produce content that LOOKS good for social media and helps boost SEO.
Building a social media following is very much possible but it doesn’t happen overnight. As a business, it’s easy to become impatient and lose interest if you don’t see results happening quickly.
Influencer marketing is something that has been on the rise for the last 5 years, and it is only getting stronger. If you’re unaware of how influencer marketing works, it’s when an influencer (someone with a trusted following) promotes a brand over their channels to help build awareness, drive traffic and create authentic content.
For example, take the recent media attention that the Fyre Festival received – the owners used some major Instagram influencers such to help promote the festival over social media. The outcome? Every millennial in the US (and afar) being aware of the festival and far too many event attendees - more than festival owners could ever control.
The guys behind Fyre Festival used MAJOR influencers, however an influencer doesn’t have to be the likes of the Kardashians or famous reality stars. To be honest, an influencer is anyone who is already established, has a passionate audience and has an active voice in your space.
“My definition of a social media influencer is anybody who posts content that gets shared. It is a person who can move ideas to their own audience and beyond” – Mark Schafer, CEO of Businesses Grow
So how do you find the RIGHT influencer for your brand and how do you make the approach?
Identify influencers within your niche: To begin with, you need to pull together an influencer list of potentials that could connect with your brand and be able to produce true value from their content. During my time in PR, I personally found this the most crucial stage of the process when working with influencers – you don’t want to pitch to the wrong person.
Create those relationships: Unfortunately, making cold pitches to influencers will not work. Being an influencer myself (in Cornwall), I normally focus on working with brands that I am passionate about or already have a connection with. Use your social channels to share, comment, ask for feedback/quote or link back to something that they have written about before. Be patient and not pushy, relationships aren’t formed over night - make sure that you keep an eye on their activity and keep interacting.
Don’t aim for the big guys: Of course, what great exposure would it be if someone with 5 million followers could promote your product – but of course, it’s not that simple. Aim for the mid-level and smaller influencers as their followers are much more loyal and can create up to 16 times more engagement than paid media and mega-influencers.
Go for the approach: So you’ve got your list and you’ve built the link between your business and the audience – what next? You reach out to your influencer but instead of demanding or asking for a favour you ask for their help or alternatively, subtly mention how it could benefit them (this could be pay, a freebie, or engagement). Be simple, yet specific, sometimes an influencer will receive a number of pitches each day.
It might seem like a lot of effort to create and build relationships with influencers, but focus on a partnership that lasts, rather than a one-off engagement. Both sides will then benefit from having a more authentic and less corporate relationship with one another.