Written for First Voice by AJ Sharp, founder of Sharp Relations
Influencer marketing is the fastest-growing customer-acquisition marketing method. Over 90 per cent of consumers engage with influencers on a weekly basis, especially through Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.
In short, influencers are people who interact with their social media followings to impact consumers’ buying habits. When used in the right way, you can use influencers’ outreach to increase sales, bolster your brand’s engagement and improve its online reputation by creating small cohorts of brand advocates.
Define your objectives
There are several ways in which small business owners can use influencers’ outreach to benefit their business. While driving revenue is the first objective that will likely come to mind, you can use influencers to help convey your story to smaller, more engaged communities while gaining brand affinity with Generation Z and other specific demographics you wish to reach.
Increasing the customer’s confidence, raising brand awareness, providing value to your audience, and building useful relationships are all massive benefits of using influencers as part of your business’s inbound marketing strategy. As with any marketing approach, it is vital that you are clear on what you are trying to achieve as a result of your relationship with an influencer.
Be clear about your message
Whether you are using influencer marketing as a one-off strategy or looking to start and grow a long-term relationship with an influencer, it is crucial that you both understand what you want your customers to understand and how it will be expressed. Are you aiming to launch a new product or are you looking to change perceptions of your company’s values?
Identify the right influencer
As we mentioned before, marketing via an influencer gives you the opportunity to reach out to more directly to smaller online communities. There are a number of different types of influencers:
- Nano (1k - 10k followers)
- Micro (10k – 100k followers)
- Macro (100k – 1m followers)
- Mega or celebrity influencers (1m+ followers)
Or they can be split up based on content and niche: bloggers/vloggers, photographers, travel, fashion, food and drink etc.
As a smaller business owner, first you’ve got to decide what follower count suits your objectives.
Next you can start to research which influencers match your target audience. If they don’t, your influencer will probably have a tougher time promoting your message.
Seek out ‘Magic Middle’ influencers – these people do not have vast social media followings nor are they paid bloggers. But they do have solid engagement within their particular community. The ‘Magic Middle’ is made up mostly of micro-influencers with smaller, more faithful followings.
Top tips for working with influencers
- Give influencers the best chance to convey your story. Give them a bit of context from your brand’s perspective, make sure they understand your objectives and know your message
- Agree on the terms of your relationship. Will it be a one-off collaboration? Or will they become more of a brand ambassador, supporting your brand, and telling your story over a longer period?
- A free meal or experience or a gifted sample are common, effective ways to encourage influencers to review or engage with your business. Micro and beyond, however, tend to expect some payment or a different sort of benefit offered as part of your company’s deal
- Use a call to action (CTA). They’re a great way to persuade potential customers to buy, find out more or share content – depending on your goals. If it’s product discovery you’re after, the CTA might be “tag someone who would love this” or if you’re looking to boost sales then posts can have links embedded in them, taking customers to a web shop or promo code, for example
- Be open and honest with your influencers. As a small business owner, you can get them really excited about your message and make them feel a part of your brand’s journey. The more interested and enthusiastic they feel, the more authentic they will be with their audience on your behalf