I recently read a Forbes article highlighting the future of Instagram and the future of influencers. It had me thinking about the influencer work we’ve done at Markitors. Our clients are typically smaller businesses so they usually don’t have big budgets or extreme offerings like that of other companies. That being said, we’ve still had great success. I’m here to say small businesses can utilize influencer marketing too! So take a seat because class is in session – here’s how to use micro-influencers for your small business 101.
How To Use Micro-Influencers For Your Small Business
Define Your Goals
First things first, if you are a small business you may not have a budget for paid influencer partnerships but you may have something else to offer. From previous experience, in-kind partnerships can be mutually beneficial – especially if the influencer is already a fan of your business/brand or could easily be once they discover you.
Not every influencer is right for your business. First, define the goal you want to accomplish. Do you want a local food blogger to try your food and review it? Do you want a fashion blogger to try on clothes at your boutique and do an IG Live of it? Identifying your niche, goal, and the type of influencer you want is extremely important and it cuts down on you contacting the wrong people.
Identify The Type of Influencer
For small businesses with low budgets, the prime target should most often be micro-influencers. The definitions differ, but I take this as people who have 2K to 90K followers. Big influencers require big bucks – which is definitely deserved as it is their full-time job, but if you don’t have the budget the answer will probably be a no. Micro-influencers that fit your niche are typically the ones to go after for small businesses. Local influencers should also be your prime target unless you have the budget for a travel fee.
A lot of influencers will say yes or no depending on whether the situation fits their brand. The best partnerships come from influencers who are passionate about your brand/industry which is why it’s important to research potential influencers beforehand. Look at the influencers’ past partnerships, followers, blog and social channels to get a feel for their personality. Try using Google Sheets to list potential influencer handles so you can keep track of who fits and who doesn’t before reaching out.
Protect Yourself With Research
In the age of fake followers, also take note of the potential influencer’s engagement and following. I heard a horror story from one business owner that worked with a very popular influencer. All seemed well at first but they were unaware that this person had a fake following. When the content with their business was finally shared, the business didn’t reap the rewards because it was not seen or engaged with by many people.
Tip to combat this? look at the follower vs. engagement ratio. If someone has 20K followers but averages 20 likes on their posts, that’s a big discrepancy. Their engagement is low and may not be the best fit.
Most influencers/bloggers have contact info in the bio, on their social media platforms or website. Some accounts say specifically that they don’t respond to direct messages, so use the email they provide. If they don’t warn against DMs, I’ve found the number of responses to be far greater through DM.
Keep your message simple and short. Summarize your company, how you would like to partner with them, and how they will be paid (whether in product, service or traditional) and leave it open for discussion and questions. You can keep track of who you reached out and responses to in the same Google Sheet I mentioned above.
If you’re reaching out to full-time, big influencers, most will require a contract. Be warned, without a contract, an influencer is not bound by anything to keep up their end of the bargain. It’s also on you to keep up your end of the bargain, too. Influencers talk and you don’t want a bad rap.
At the end of the day, a contract will ensure both parties keep their end in an influencer partnership. But as a small business, lawyer fees aren’t typically manageable. Some influencer partnerships are done via verbal agreements – typically, in the case for exchange of product, not for money. This is also why the research part for influencer partnerships is important. Tread the negotiation portion at your own risk. If you’re still unsure about this part, consult with a lawyer or marketing agency that specializes in this.
The influencer marketing arena can seem like a scary place to venture as a small business owner. But with the right research and approach, learning how to use micro-influencers for your small business is very possible and very beneficial.