Branding

Influencer marketing for small business

By Mark Ainsworth

The concept of using celebrities and familiar faces to advertise products is not a new one. Celebrities have been used to advertise products for decades, thanks to their ability to shape a brand using star power alone, and provide an endorsement that reaches fans much more successfully than regular advertising.

The newest and most relevant iteration of the celebrity endorsement is influencer marketing, which uses social media ‘influencers’ to promote products and services. This type of marketing has risen sharply over recent years, with a 325% rise in online searches for the phrase “influencer marketing” in 2017 on Google alone. Influencer marketing combines the glamour of the celebrity endorsement with the more intimate connection your target demographic feels with influencers – who tend to be more accessible and personally connected to their followers.

What is an influencer?

An influencer is defined as any online persona with a large following. Influencers may have any combination of popular youtube channels, blogs, Twitter accounts or Instagram pages, but what makes them an influencer is their ability to command the undivided attention of a large group of followers and keep them interested and active on their pages.

Influencers tend to have far more social influence than regular celebrities, because they are more accessible and active in their interactions with followers. Word of mouth marketing is an incredible boost for businesses wanting to advertise products, as it helps consumers see them as more trustworthy and attainable. Where an A-list celebrity influencer offers a vision of a life that most people will never have, a social media influencer will usually advertise products and experiences that are very accessible to the people that follow them.

For smaller businesses, the biggest influencers are probably out of reach, often charging tens of thousands for an advertising deal, but micro influencers (with 5,000 – 100,000 followers) and nano influencers (with less than 5,000 followers) offer a great way to promote brand awareness authentically.

These influencers have a very active and engaged following, and they create regular content that is viewed and shared thousands of times.

The power of influencer marketing

Makes you relevant

Being aligned with an influencer offers you the kind of social proof that you could never achieve with a regular marketing campaign. Influencers are the internet’s version of the ‘cool kids at school’ and consumers love to buy into their lifestyles. If an influencer says that your product is desirable and that they use it, most of their fans will want to be a part of that too.

Builds trust and authority

A recent survey found that 85% of Generation Z learns about new products or services via their social media accounts, meaning that spending big money on television and billboard ads is pretty much a waste of time for that demographic. Being noticed and trusted by an influencer makes consumers see the brand as an industry leader, and one which is more credible than those companies who have bought into more traditional advertising.

Beats advertising blindness

Whilst banner ads and sponsored posts used to be the basis for a successful digital marketing strategy, statistics show that audiences are less responsive to this type of advertising now. The average click-through rate for these types of ads is now 0.06% so it is very important to widen the scope of advertising you do online. Influencer marketing offers a great return on investment, as it places your advertisement at the heart of the type of natural content that audiences are actively watching, ensuring that your product gets seen.

How to find influencers

There are no hard and fast rules about finding the right influencers to advertise your product, but the easiest way to find those who will appeal to your target demographic is to look through your current fans on social media and see who they are following and what they are interested in. If you see the same names popping up again and again, these are the influencers you need to target.

You could also browse Twitter and Instagram for hashtags related to your product or industry. The most popular tweets and posts using these hashtags are likely to be from influencers in your industry.

Before you commit to a certain influencer and get in touch, you should ask yourself:

  • Do they fit with the image I want associated with my brand?
  • Who are their audience?
  • Is my target audience active on the platform that they work on?
  • Are they open to content marketing?
  • Have they used my products before?
  • Have they worked with any of my competitors?
  • Can I afford what this type of influencer is likely to charge or ask from me?

How to connect

If you have decided that an influencer is the right choice for you and your brand, you need to make a connection with them and convince them that you are the right brand for them to promote to their followers. Don’t forget that just because you are willing to pay or offer freebies, the influencer may still be protective of their channel/page and not keen to work with you, so be mindful of how you approach them.

1. Do your research. Look through the influencer’s past posts and stories to see what sort of sponsorships they have done in the past, which other brands they have worked with and what sort of promotion you could expect from them.

2. Plan for a long-term relationship rather than a one-off promotion. Influencers don’t want their pages to become a series of unconnected advertisements as this damages their perceived authority and can put off followers, so you’ll need to offer a long-term relationship in which they can continue to offer special deals and products to their followers.

3. Establish your expectations in advance and come to an agreement about:

  • How you are going to reward the influencer. You may be looking for a simple payment option, or you could be offering free products to them and their followers, discounts, coupon codes etc. Allow them a say in what sort of payment they would prefer.
  • What type of content you want them to share.
  • Anything that they should not do or say to promote your brand.
  • How long you intend to work together.
  • If they will provide content or simply post content that you provide.
  • Target metrics per post.

4. Ensure transparency. Trust and transparency are the key to the success of your influencer marketing campaign. Make sure that the influencer makes it clear that your post is sponsored or that they have received products for free. Not being clear in this can really damage the trust that the audience has in both you and the influencer.

Need more information?

There are hundreds of avenues and techniques available now for you to promote your company online – influencer marketing is just one that you should have in your advertising toolbox. If you feel daunted about how to get your message across online then why not speak to the team at MaxWeb. Our friendly experts can discuss with you our range of affordable marketing packages that can further boost your company’s engagement online. Please call us on 0151 652 4777 or email info@maxwebsolutions.co.uk to find out more.

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