Every new click and customer counts when you’re a small business or solopreneur. Budgets are tight, and marketing choices can feel equally restricted. But with competition getting fiercer out there, you still need to shout about your brand and products from the rooftops.
While many turn to social media to be their marketing megaphone, there could actually be another way… for example… what if you got someone else to do the shouting for you?
That’s essentially what a social media influencer is for. Could that really be smarter and more cost-effective? How?
There’s More to Influencers Than You Think
The popular image of social media influencers may well be Kardashian, Jenner, or Ronaldo shaped, and sitting by an infinity pool. But it’s not all about expensive tans, millions of fans, and billion-dollar brands.
Influencers can actually be a great marketing asset for smaller businesses. Think about it, if you could find the right ones for the right price, you could:
- Tap into ready-made audiences
- Boost your brand by association
- Save time spent on DIY marketing
- Cut DIY media and production costs
You just need to know how to find, engage, and make the most of them.
So What Exactly Is a Social Media Influencer?
An influencer is essentially someone who has the power to change the buying behaviors or brand perceptions of others through social media. They usually have a particular area or niche, such as health, travel, or technology, in which they have ‘followers’ who actively engage with their content.
The key to an influencer’s success is the relationship they have with their followers. Those who follow celebrity influencers are often simply fans, but many other influencers exist in a range of niches and markets because they are seen as trusted or experts. They feel like an authentic voice that can transcend the normal marketing blurb.
So there are lots of different types, with the four main ones being::
- Mega influencers – the major players with a million plus followers and equally large fees
- Macro influencers – the next level down with around 40,000 up to a million followers
- Micro influencers – the popular specialists with follower numbers around 1,000 to 40,000
- Nano influencers – the newest form of influencer usually with under 1000 followers but able to engage with very niche audiences.
While getting your brand in front of a few million followers might sound great in theory, you don’t need to be an expert to know that the $$$ involved won’t sound so good.
It’s actually the micro and nano influencers that small businesses should be looking to harness most. They will not only cost less, but they can also get you closer to the types of followers and customers you need within your particular market areas or niches.
It’s also important to think of influencers as more than just marketing tools. They are social brand ambassadors that you need to engage and build relationships with. It’s about working with them to create the right content for your markets — but more of that later.
How to Choose the Right Influencer for You
Even amongst the smaller influencer groups, it may just seem like a popularity contest at times — the biggest audience wins, but picking the right influencer(s) for your business means considering some other key areas.
You will obviously need influencers in or around your market sector, but you also need to consider cost and brand alignment alongside the aforementioned audience reach.
Considering influencer cost
While Kim Kardashian reportedly charges $500,000 for a single Instagram post, most influencers keep their fees under wraps. That means it’s difficult to pin down the exact prices for influencers across the main social media channels. But as a rough guide, the average prices in 2020 are the following per post:
- Facebook: $25 per 1000 followers
- YouTube: $20 per 1000 followers
- Instagram: $10 per 1000 followers
- Snapchat: $10 per 1000 followers
- Twitter: $2 per 1000 followers
The cost will also depend on what you want the influencer to post or do. A 10-minute YouTube video will likely cost more than a single Instagram post. But then again, it all depends on which influencer you go for.
It’s also worth remembering that many micro and nano influencers might be willing to work with you for goods and services. It could well be worth trying to negotiate if the situation feels right.
Considering brand alignment
Make sure any influencers you choose match your brand and company values — they’re representing you after all. Do you have a quirky tone of voice? A vibrant brand image? Do you pride yourself on your openness and integrity? The wrong fit could end up doing more damage than good. It will be seen as phony, and the opposite of what influencer marketing should be.
Considering audience reach
It’s not the size of the audience that counts. It’s what you do with it that matters. In fact, some research suggests that as an influencer’s follower total rises, the rate of engagement (likes and comments, etc.) decreases.
So think hard about your product range and customers, and question whether you might need one larger micro-influencer promoting everything, or a few nano-influencers promoting individual products.
For example, you might make and sell artisan cakes, and want to boost your online profile and orders. You could quite easily break your potential influencer segments down into:
- Vegan and vegetarian
- Parties and events
There are influencers for all of these separate niches, and probably more. So consider what you need to achieve, the reach you can get, and how to stretch your budget the furthest. You may not want to put all your eggs in one basket.
Where to Find the Right Influencers
This might seem like finding a pixel in a digital haystack, but there are some quite straightforward ways to look for the right social media influencers.
Check your own networks
Social media influencers are all about growing their reach. So if you already have some sort of social media presence, chances are a relevant micro or nano influencers might have already connected with you.
Take a look through your ‘connections’, ‘friends’, or ‘followers’ for people with large amounts of connections and take a look at their content. They could be right under your nose.
Use pro search platforms
With the influencer industry on track to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022, it’s no wonder a whole host of websites and tools have popped up to help you find the right people. Here’s a selection of the most popular:
- Upfluence – gives you access to 3M+ influencers, plus management and optimization tools
- Kred – lets you find, engage, and score influencers through its Kred CRM platform
- BuzzSumo – shows you who and what is performing well across markets and sectors
- Followerwonk – Twitter-specific platform for finding influencers and analyzing posts
- Klear – helps you find influencers, then build, scale, and measure campaigns
The good thing about these types of platforms is that you can refine searches and get more focused results. This basically means creating your ideal influencer profile based on criteria like:
- Number followers
- Engagement rate
Each of these platforms offers free trials or demos so you can check if they’re right for you. The Influencer Marketing Hub has also published an extensive list of free (or freemium) influencer finders if you prefer to do a bit more digging around yourself.
This is literally searching for hashtags i.e. #vegancheese on Instagram or other social channels. You might need to search for some pretty niche hashtags to find true micro or nano influencers, but it could still be an interesting exercise.
If you’re using one of the pro search platforms then reaching out should be quite straightforward — just follow the instructions. If you’re making contact with an influencer personally, remember that they’ll probably also size you up to see if you’re a good fit for them too.
It’s best to start your approach by following/connecting with their social media accounts and profiles. They probably won’t take you seriously if you don’t even follow them. These relationships need to feel authentic, just like influencer marketing itself. Plus, every influencer is happy to have more followers.
Then you need to introduce your brand. An email/inbox message is the standard first step. Explain who you are, why you’re a good fit for each other, and what you like about their approach. Perhaps even mention a post of theirs you really loved — a bit a research and flattery won’t do any harm. You want them to introduce you to thousands of potential new customers, after all. So pitch your future partnership.
Working with Your Influencers
After you’ve connected with your chosen influencers, it’s time to get down to business and start creating actual content. You’ll need to agree exactly what type of content will be produced, and how often.
Usually, the influencer themselves is responsible for creating posts, but make sure you’re 100% clear on who’s doing what. Some brands and businesses like to create, or at least polish, the posts themselves and have the influencer share them.
It’s also very important to agree on what success looks like. What do you want to achieve in the end? Sales? Subscriptions? Buzz?
Which social channels?
You should hopefully have a good sense of which social channels and platforms your influencers use through your research, but you may also want to discuss different options. These will no doubt include the usual suspects, like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. They could also include more niche channels or blogs.
What type of posts?
Again, the influencer may have a particular type of post that works with their audience, but that doesn’t mean you can’t throw other ideas into the mix. Popular formats include:
- Video product reviews
- Interview blogs
- Instagram stories
Just make sure you’re making the best use of your time and budget. It’s tempting to go for the big show-stopping idea, rather than tried and tested simplicity. Try starting small to see what’s working.
How to Track Influencer Success
Social media success can come in many forms. It’s usually as much about buzz as it is bucks. That’s why it’s important to set objectives with your influencer at the very beginning, so you know what to measure and what success actually is.
Using pro platforms
Most of the platforms you could use for finding an influencer will also offer some sort of tracking and even optimization tools. These will make it easier to understand the success of your posts, through important data like the total number of views, clicks, and click-through rates.
Extra features, such as real-time tracking, competitor analysis, and ROI calculations are also available. Just be aware that the more premium platforms and tools don’t come for free. You’ll need to compare them and see what’s best for you. Again, free trials and demos are your friends.
Tracking performance yourself
Whether you’re taking total control of the performance tracking, or you’re sharing to data duties with your influencer(s), there are a few key metrics and tactics for tracking success:
- Engagement – this is basically the different ways your audience interacts with the content, such as comments, views, likes, and shares. The main social channels, like Facebook and YouTube, all have their own built-in analytics tools you can use for this. You just need an account.
- Conversions and sales – to monitor sales and other types of conversion like subscriptions and sign-ups, you can create trackable links through Google’s Campaign URL Builder for your influencers to use. Then you can track where your users are coming from and the impact they are having.
- Promo tracking – to track the results of special promotional sales, you could consider using voucher or coupon tools, such as Voucherify and Vouchery.io to measure your success rates.
You may also want to use Google Analytics to check your referral traffic and figure out how much the influencer is driving from their post or website. Although, it can be difficult to uncover the exact impact using this method.
The Even Easier Way to a 2M+ Audience
It’s not just important to give your brand and products the exposure they deserve. It’s also important to celebrate success. That’s why every month we feature the website of a Namecheap customer in our Inspire Newsletter — which has over 2 million subscribers.
If showing your site and business off to an audience in the millions sounds good, apply now to make it happen.