If you’re a small to mid-sized consumer brand you don’t have the experience and budget of the big brands, but that doesn’t mean you can’t rock influencer marketing!
In fact, in some ways, you’re more likely to succeed with this new marketing medium because you’ve more flexibility and can try new things. You can definitely use your size and lesser-known brand name to your advantage!
As you work to increase brand awareness, build your social media presence. Influencer marketing is especially useful in helping businesses build their social media following on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
You can follow the tips below to use influencer marketing for your small business.
Best Tips To Use Influencer Marketing For Small Business
1. Focus on depth of relationships
What you lack in resources (budget and human capital) will impact the scope and duration of your influencer programs – you simply will not have the ability to run huge programs over and over again. Do not focus on the breadth of programs, focus on the depth of relationships. In other words, do more with less
Take time up front to find influencers who truly embody your brand and build real, personal working relationships with them. If you can not pay them in cash, “pay” them with valuable products, inside information and attention. Treat them like an extension of your workforce. Consider developing brand ambassador programs that span several months.
2. Give influencers more freedom
You have more creative freedom if your brand is less well-known. The social media influencer community is drawn to creativity and self-expression.
The less coercive influencer marketing is (i.e., the less a business insists on rigid brand and editorial restrictions when working with influencers), the more likely the program will pique the interest of people. Take chances and give your influencers creative assignments!
3. Focus on shorter-term wins
When you focus on short-term successes with influencer marketing, such as building a following on social media, you can better track successes. “Brand awareness” is a good goal, but it’s difficult to measure and expensive to achieve on a broad, national scale. Influencer marketing goals need to be realistic and achievable, especially if your resources are limited.
4. Reuse the content that your influencers create
Your content can populate your other social channels and resonate with your audience because the content comes from users, not just the brand. This is especially true on Facebook, where you are constantly looking for new content that will engage your readers. Posting images and blog links is quick, easy, and very engaging.
5. Don’t underestimate the cost of running influencer marketing programs
Too many companies turn to influencer marketing because they mistakenly believe it’s a cheap, easy alternative to other marketing tactics. However, it is not! Creating amazing and proven valuable campaigns takes a lot of time and resources. That does not mean you can not get a lot of bang for your buck, but do not approach influencer marketing as if it’s a quick fix to marketing problems.
6. Don’t let your influencer marketing take over your marketing budget
Allocate 20 percent of your total marketing budget to your influence marketing programs. Remember: Influencer marketing amplifies traditional marketing efforts, but it doesn’t replace them.
7. Don’t forget about how to measure success
Think about what your success metrics are going to be and how you’ll get there. Are you tracking sentiment, brand lift, coupon distribution, and social media followers? With what tools and benchmarks?
Whatever your goals, start with a small, in-house program with a handful of influencers and let them serve as your benchmark. Too many organizations throw together influencer programs with unrealistic expectations (“Our hashtag will go viral!”) and no way to measure success.
8. Using influencers as beta testers
You do not have to limit your influencer activity to writing reviews about your product. Consider using influencers as beta testers. Bloggers can be fantastic virtual focus groups. Sometimes early feedback can make or break a startup. If you do not have the funds to pay an influencer to write a public review, the influencer may still be willing to work with you and give you private feedback.
Avoiding common mistakes in influencer marketing
Small businesses and startups tend to make the following mistakes when it comes to influencer marketing. Avoid doing the following:
Mistake #1: Assume influencer marketing is quick or cheap
Influencer marketing takes a lot of time and resources, two things most startups don’t often have. Unless there is a clear strategic marketing goal that influencers can help you achieve (such as beta testing), don’t waste your startup energy.
Mistake #2: Try influencer marketing if your product is an app
If you’re promoting an app, you may want to reconsider influencer marketing. Yes, it can be a fabulous tool for long-term boosts in searches — if you engage a handful of bloggers to include your app as part of a blog series on “perfect apps for kindergarteners,” you can be sure that parents who search for “kindergarten apps” will discover those posts. But you won’t see a surge of downloads directly from blog posts.
Don’t max out your marketing budget by hiring 50 bloggers to write about your app thinking you’ll see thousands and thousands of downloads as a result. Influencer marketing is not a direct response — it will never convert at the rate a startup app needs.
How to find an approach that works for your small business?
You want to get the most out of your investment, especially since your marketing dollars are probably very tight. Keep these tips in mind as you approach influencer marketing:
1). Given your limited resources, focus on influencer marketing programs that truly amplify your other marketing efforts, rather than programs that work completely independently. If you have a promo code for a product or sale, use influencers to spread that code far and wide. If you are launching a product in stores, coordinate your influencer efforts so they launch at the same time. Do you have TV, YouTube, radio, or podcast content you are proud of? Work with influencers to share that content with their audience.
2). Use influencer marketing to increase awareness of your social media channels and grow your followers or grow your email marketing list. This is easier if your influencers have a simple, clear, and consistent message.
3). Keep your goals realistic, measurable, and short-term.
4). Nurture the relationships you build with your influencers. You want them to become vocal advocates for your brand – both online and offline – even if they do not get paid for it.
If you have limited resources and a budget, think carefully about how you want to use influencers and know exactly what you want from a program before you launch it.
Learn more about how to collaborate with influencers.