You probably know that word-of-mouth is the most valuable form of marketing out there. With 92% of consumers trusting referrals from people they know, one way to generate word-of-mouth is by transforming your loyal customers into brand advocates. But this is not the only way! Companies have been turning to influencers for help. Simply stated, social media influencers carry influence over others that they wield through social media. Consumers trust their favorite influencers in the same way as they trust friends and family. In fact, according to Twitter research, 49% of consumers seek purchase guidance from social media influencers.
How to incorporate influencer marketing as a small business?
You don’t need a Kim Kardashian to promote your app (but if you know her, it can’t hurt to ask!). A newer concept known as micro-influencer marketing recently joined the scene. It’s the same concept as influencer marketing, but on a smaller scale: you partner with influencers with smaller followings to promote your local business with authentic posts of sponsored ads. According to Hubspot: “They’re individuals who work or specialize in a particular vertical and frequently share social media content about their interests.”
You might think it’s counterintuitive to use micro-influencers, as their following might be smaller than yours. However, there are severals reasons to believe micro-influencers can get better results for your local business.
First, micro-influencers have better engagement rates. In fact, Markerly’s Instagram research found that as an influencer’s numbers of followers increases, their number of likes and comments decreases. As a result, they recommend brands pursue micro-influencers with Instagram followings in the 1,000-10,000 range. Companies will achieve higher engagement rates by following this strategy.
Not only will micro-influencers have higher engagement, they will also have a highly targeted audience. Here’s an example: if a brand like Barkbox partners with Kylie Jenner (who has several dogs), they will reach a very large audience on Instagram. However, many of her followers might not be interested in dog products. Barkbox instead partners with Instagram dog influencers. These accounts, while popular, come nowhere near the following of a celebrity like Kylie Jenner, but the followers are definitely all dog lovers. So the promotion has a much higher chance of leading to conversions, i.e. people buying Barkbox products after seeing the sponsored content. In this case, a micro-influencer allows the brand to connect with the right audience.
Which micro-influencers should you go after?
You will have to spend some time conducting research into influencers that align with your brand’s identity and narrative. Would this person use your product or service in their daily life? Do they embody your brand’s story? You want customers to understand and appeal to your brand through the chosen influencer. It’s not all about the number of followers and likes. The better the fit, the more effective the influencer marketing campaign.
This might seem obvious, but make sure you are looking on the platforms that your target audience is already using. If your target audience is on Instagram, then an Instagram influencer could be the way to go. However, be wary of sponsoring content on channels that you are not highly involved in. If your company doesn’t have a presence on Instagram, this might create a disconnect with your target audience.
Find micro-influencers among your fans. It will be a lot easier to convince people who are already a fan of your company to work with you. For example:
- If you own a gym, look for the people who are always working out there. Find that gym fanatic who has an engaged audience. Approach this person for a partnership deal. Maybe you can offer this person free gym membership for 6 months in return for a couple posts on Instagram tagging your business location.
- If you are in the restaurant industry, find local food bloggers in your area. Invite them to dine at your restaurant for free in return for a blog post about your establishment.
If you are not sure how to find the right influencers, or you don’t have time to do this manually, these third-party tools can automate the process:
- BuzzSumo is a tool that allows you to search for influencers using specific keywords. In the search results, you can see the relevant statistics of each influencer. They also let you filter the results based on different categories; for micro-influencers you would select “Regular People.”
- Klear is, similarly, an influencer search engine backed with years of historical data. You can find Instagram influencers, Twitter influencers, Youtube influencers and influential bloggers. Start your search by choosing a target audience based on the social network, the category and the location.
How do you reach out to these micro-influencers?
Make a list of potential influencers, taking into account that not everyone will say yes to your request. Approach these influencers over email or on the platform they use to reach their followers. Make sure to personalise the message to the influencer, instead of copy-pasting the same message over and over (e.g. reference their content, or a common interest). Get the conversation started by introducing yourself and your company, and describe the mutual value the partnership would provide. This mutual value can come in various forms. Partnering with micro-influencers is a lot more affordable than going after celebrities. However, you shouldn’t expect that just because they have a small following they will partner with you for free. Managing a blog or curating an Instagram account is hard work. Acknowledge this hard work by offering your product or service for free or offering a one-time payment in return for their sponsored content.
Make sure to include the most important elements of the partnership in your first message. This will make it easy for influencers to decide whether or not they want to collaborate, without wasting anyone’s time.
Working with influencers can be a great way to reach potential customers and breath new life into your small business marketing strategy. For more inspiration, just scroll through your Instagram feed and see how other brands are partnering with influencers to grow their business. On a side note, Instagram just released a new feature allowing influencers to formally disclose their paid partnership (instead of using #ad or #sponsored). This feature will allow you, the partnering company, to directly access the sponsored post’s analytics like reach and engagement metrics. In other words, social media networks are underlining the growth and value of influencers. Time to find your new brand ambassadors!