Just because your company isn’t Adidas or H&M doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of influencer marketing. Social media influencers can be great assets for small businesses, too.
There are tons of influencers out there, and there are options for every business and budget. You just need to know how to find them and what to look for.
It can be a bit overwhelming to get started in influencer marketing if you’ve never done it before. So to help you out, we’ve outlined five basic steps for successful influencer campaigns for your small business.
Step 1: Prepare your campaign
Before you start searching for influencers and publishing content on social media, you have to outline your campaign. First thing first: choose an objective for your campaign. For small businesses, some common goals are visibility or awareness, new followers on social media, or traffic to your store or website.
Set up a campaign timeline and budget. It’s important you are honest with yourself about your limitations here. You may not have a big budget, but as long as you are conscious of that, you can have a successful campaign.
Next, decide where you’ll run your campaign. Do you want to find TikTok creators, Twitch streamers, or influencers from another network? Choose the network that best helps you connect with your target audience. If your products are targeted at teenagers for example, you may want to go with TikTok, as more than half of Gen Z consumers are on TikTok.
Finally, set up a plan to measure your progress. You won’t know well you’re doing if you don’t track data related to your campaign. Think about your goal and choose a few key performance indicators that will help you understand your progress. For example, if your goal is awareness, you may want to measure impressions and clicks on your brand’s links.
Step 2: Find, analyze and choose influencers
The key to a good influencer campaign is finding the right influencer! In order to make great brand collaborations, you need to keep a few things in mind while doing this, like how an influencer’s content performs. As a small business, it’s especially important to focus on the following points.
As a small business, find local influencers. You want someone who knows your location and culture. And if you have a brick and mortar store, it will give the influencer the possibility of visiting.
The influencer you choose doesn’t need to have tons of followers. In fact, for a small business with a limited budget, it’s best to work with nano or micro influencers. Nano influencers have 1-5K followers, and micro influencers have 5-50K. But despite these small followings, they have the highest average engagement rates and most authentic audiences.
In addition to looking at where the influencer is from, you want to make sure their audience is also located in a place where your brand is accessible.
Imagine you choose an influencer based in the same city as your business, but later learn that a majority of their audience lives out of the area, where you don’t yet ship your products. You will have missed out on an opportunity to gain new customers.
You can use influencer marketing software to get this information. Or, you can ask an influencer for their media kit. Look at the location of their audience, and check out other demographics, too. This way you can make sure the influencer’s audience matches your target.
Engagement rate measures the interaction between an influencer and their audience. High engagement rate shows the audience trusts an influencer and enjoys your content. And your brand can leverage that when collaborating with the influencer.
Engagement varies over time, so analyze the average engagement rate on a sample of the influencer’s recent content to get the most up-to-date info. Also, engagement benchmarks vary according to social network, follower count, and content category. So only compare an influencer to their peers with respect to those factors.
As mentioned above, the influencers you work with don’t have to have millions of followers. It’s more important to see that they have a good engagement rate, and healthy follower growth. An influencer should have steady growth over time, even if it’s slow.
Watch out for influencers with negative growth or growth that regularly peaks and falls. This could show that the influencer bought fake followers. You can get this data from the influencer’s media kit or from influencer marketing software.
Step 3: Reach Out
When you find influencers you like, get in touch with them. As a general rule, contact more influencers than you need. Not everyone will get back to you, and some won’t be able to or want to collaborate with you.
You can reach out via email or DM. If you’re contacting a lot of influencers, consider automating your outreach. Create an email template that you can personalize with custom fields for each influencer. It should include:
- An intro to your brand (what you do, who you are, your brand message)
- Campaign details (objectives, timeline and incentive)
- What you like about their profile (and why you think they’re a good fit)
If you get replies, start negotiating the campaign. And if not, go back a step and find more influencers who could fit into your campaign.
Step 4: Negotiate incentive and content
As a small business, your budget will naturally be lower than other companies. But don’t worry. Some influencers will collaborate in exchange for just your product, service or experience. Just understand that the price an influencer charges depends on a few factors:
- Performance metrics (follower count and engagement rate, principally)
- Type and quantity of content (for example, video is more expensive than photos)
- Location (influencers in New York City will charge more than ones in Wisconsin)
We already mentioned this above, but again: as a small business, prioritize working with nano and micro influencers. They’re your best chance for getting great results with minimum investment.
When negotiating content, explain what points you want the influencer to emphasize, but give them creative freedom over their own content. The influencer knows their audience and how to best deliver your message to them.
Stay friendly during negotiations. If you start off on the right foot, you may be able to build a long-term relationship, which could be great for future campaigns or brand ambassadorship.
Step 5: Launch the Campaign
Before influencers publish campaign content, have Google Analytics or your tracking tool set up and ready. You want to collect all campaign media and as many results as possible. The more data you have, the clearer a picture you’ll have of your progress.
You’ll most likely have to ask influencers for some internal metrics, too. For example, they can send you their Instagram Insights data about the number of impressions on the content they published for your campaign.
With all this data, you’ll be able to see if you’ve achieved your objectives. Keep an open mind here; some objectives may take longer to reach, or you may even discover a new need or objective that you hadn’t thought of before.
Even if you don’t have the same resources as global brands, your small business can still find success in influencer marketing. Stay focused on your objectives. Keep them present throughout your campaign. And if a collaboration goes well, maintain your relationship with the influencer so that you can repeat the campaign at another key moment in the future.