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Small Biz, Big Gains: How Influencers Can Work For Your Small Business

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Starting a business may be the first real step towards attaining your entrepreneurial dreams. For smart business owners, they take an extra hop with the use of marketing strategies. It's a proven fact that influencers can help the little guy achieve growth. But if you're new to the use of influencer marketing and have no idea how it can work for you, don't fret as we have done all the heavy lifting for you. We have curated just about everything you need to know about how influencers can work for your small business. Read on to find out how this marketing technique can help your company grow. In this age of partnerships and exchanges, include influencer marketing tips in your ammo arsenal. Sometimes, small businesses and even starting influencers can band together to reap great rewards.

Making It Work: 5 Things to Remember About Influencer Partnerships

Not everything about marketing banks on money. When it comes to marketing through Instagram influencers and other potential partners, it's all about the relationship you build. Here are some important points to remember as you establish connections with various influencer partners.

Local influencers first

Big brands tend to prefer big names to market their products. For small businesses and start-ups, go for locally based influencers. The biggest mistake that a brand manager can make would be to ignore influencers who have good engagement in his/her area. It's a fairly simple approach. Smaller businesses would want to establish their name in their territory before moving forward. Common influencer marketing tips would attest to the fact that local influencers are also more likely to try out your product. Genuine marketing means your influencers will also find the brand as their go-to product or service for that industry.
Local influencers can help boost your business because they know the terrain and other potential markets.

Build relationships with micro- and nano-influencers

Some believe that going big is the best way to break through the industry. Sure, if you already have connections who are willing to drop your brand's name to their follower base. But even if this is the case, you have to remember that not all audiences tend to patronize new businesses. In fact, given what is known about the common trends in terms of the relationship between bigger influencers like industry experts and celebrities, endorsements, especially of smaller businesses, can be a hit or miss. This can become even more complicated, especially if the influencer is not an avid fan of your brand. With micro influencers, you can have the assurance of a very active circle. Think of two ways you can tap micro influencers. First, their follower base can become engaged and invested in their recommendations. This makes it possible for more hits with your brand. Secondly, campaigns with them will not eat so much budget so you can be more creative and experiment with what the partnership can do.

Base costings on action points

If you are still trying to get a good gauge of your chosen influencer's performance, focus on the action they spur their fan base to do. Remember, they are not necessarily selling their name. They are selling their expertise. Aspiring influencers are still trying to make a name for themselves. As a small business, you need engagement to sales conversions. If your influencer can do this, create a payment scheme that can compensate them for this conversion.

Make sure it's a match

It's easy to forget that influencers also make creative content. Even if their face and rep can bring in the engagement, they are also content creators at the end of the day. Thus, you need to make sure that your influencer's content matches your brand's needs. Just because an influencer is making waves on newsfeeds, it does not mean that they should be part of your roster. As a growing brand, you need to focus your efforts on strategies that will have an impact on the brand's actual needs. Skim first the influencers whose fields cover your brand. If they are already thought leaders in their niches, you'll have an affiliate who can vouch for your brand to engaged followers.

Content and engagement are both kings

Many marketers live and breathe the idea that "content is king." Creating content in any form allows a brand to stand out from the rest. Content can define a brand's overall identity. Yet one should not forget the other side of the equation. In current marketing strategies, engagement is also considered as an important aspect of it. Engagement on the site is the equivalent of word-of-mouth out in the streets or in groups. Part of a successful campaign is opening up channels that will lead to engagement. When you tap influencers, they will likely make use of content to get reactions and dialogue with the community. Make sure your influencer values both aspects to get a more holistic approach.
Part of your strategy should be both good content and engaging activities for your influencers' followers.

Important Do's and Don'ts

Regardless of the size of the audience you want to reach, the rules and etiquette of working with influencers remain the same. They may be among the newest additions to the evolving landscape of marketing. However, they already leverage a specific audience. And the only way that you can get access to that is to ensure that you follow the proper etiquette in working with them.

Keep the cost of influencer marketing in mind

Using influencers for marketing should be more like a partnership than immediate benefits and compensation. This means that you need to see the cost of the marketing strategy from a bigger perspective. They will want to patronize your services the more they feel that they are both valued partners and customers. As much as it would be tempting to try and scrimp on these aspects, think of the trade-off—or the trade-up—that you can have if you consider the partnership on a higher cost analysis.

Have concrete marketing goals

Just because your strategy taps influencers, it does not mean that the planning stops there. Think of influencers as one strategy to pull off, but they also need to still be supported by concrete goals that are grounded on the brand's vision. Are you trying to raise awareness of the brand or convert sales? Do you want to expand your audience or establish your current base? Each decision here should be in line with the actual needs of your brand. It's good to loop in your tapped influencer partners, but their output is just as good as the campaign that it stands on. [visualizer id="1764"] Source:  

Never assume exposure is payment

Everyone likes free stuff, but it's also important to think of what the creators of the products or services will feel. As a small business owner, you know the value of every sale. And as much as you would want to provide freebies and samples, you also need to profit from your business. The same goes for influencers. Never assume that they will work for free for your brand. It might seem like a "simple post" that they can showcase to their followers. But remember, they also have a reputation to uphold. Every shared product will need to build on their own credibility, so it's good to treat them as partners rather than mere channels to reach their fan base.

Avoid micromanagement

You may be working with microinfluencers, but that does not mean you need to micromanage them. Remember, influencers want to build their own brand in their own way. Essentially, brands, whether small businesses or established corporations, are merely tapping into an influencer's reach. They need to have a big deal of freedom to execute certain posts and campaigns to weave in their branding. There's a difference between an outright sponsored ad and an organically created post for a partner. Always aim for the latter--give them the reigns to create great content!

Social Media In The Age of Business Starters

It's a give that almost everyone has some form of online account. It can be a social media account or some other membership. There will always be a way to reach your audience from an online perspective. Thus, it's good to explore ways where you can try maximizing social media. It would be even better if you can ensure that your influencer's presence will also make use of this marketing medium to reach more markets.

Always use a hashtag

You'd be hardpressed to find an influencer post that does not use a single hashtag. Hashtags may be a way for an audience to find something of interest to them. From the marketer's perspective, it benefits you in two ways. First, it can give your brand an identity, especially for a campaign or even for a long-haul call-out. Influencers can mark their content with unique hashtags. Don't forget to use generic hashtags. Think of it as way to get expand the audience who access and check a particular hashtag. This brings your brand closer to them.

Don't be afraid to boost posts

Boosted posts may seem like an additional aspect of the budget. While it is true that having the pull of influencers may be enough to get the publicity one needs, boosting posts is still a good option. Blog posts from your microinfluencers may also widen your reach. This is the same for blog posts on your own website. These are the kinds of content that can reach even non-followers, allowing you to get more reach with the same post. You also need to understand and ascertain the most ideal times for posting. This will differ depending on product and target market. It may be harder to attain engagement with sponsored posts but the difference between a well-timed post and a randomly timed one may be great.

Use analytics wisely

Data drives almost every operation today. Even as a small business, it is important to keep track of certain data that will help give insights into your customers' needs. A lot of influencer marketing platforms tend to already have tracking and analytics. As a start-up business, it's good to practice using these tools in the meantime. Expand your tools as your business expands. Start with the most basic features, including tracking for responses, customer queries, and resolutions. When choosing the right tool, always focus more on tracking engagement and movement rather than vanity metrics. One can easily get lost in aggressively wanting more likes or clicks, but forget the importance of making your customers stay and browse.
Vanity metrics are a good start for tracking. However, these are not the most important metrics that you need to keep track of.
Knowing these simple data can make your business more efficient. At the same time, this will let you know what works and what does not when it comes to communicating with your customers.

Using Instagram For Your Small Business

People tend to ask, "Does Instagram influencer marketing work?" For some campaigns, especially those that focus on this platform, this becomes a crucial question to properly allot budget and understand the dynamics of the website.

A great way to tap the young market

Not all small businesses are run by young entrepreneurs. For some, this may be a mom and pop store that wants to maintain average sales to keep the business running. That does not mean that it can no longer expand. Any influencer marketing guide will state that going online, even for traditional stores, can result in expanding one's audience.
Influencer marketing can help you get a foot in the door of your younger customer market, because you now operate in the space they move in.
While typical smaller businesses tend to have a specific audience, it does not hurt to promote every now and then. You never know what market you can strike gold with, because for most businesses, the best way to survive and thrive is to continue adapting to maintain relevance.

Case study alert: Makes you think and like

Even established brands need to get creative with how they market their services. In Ford's case, it learned the value of Instagram as a medium years back. Driving and texting have always been a bad habit, which some people still carelessly practice now. As a responsible brand, Ford created a series of public service announcement posts on Instagram that makes its market think. The images were simple: they are images of on-the-road sights covered by a heart in the middle to mimic an Instagram post. The goal of the Ford influencer marketing push was to show the dangers of driving while on the phone. More importantly, it went beyond the traditional billboard and poster route by tapping a younger audience. This creativity, even with the irony of using likes and clicks as the main style of the campaign, makes it a good Instagram influencer marketing strategy. Thinking of using whitelisted influencers for your small business? Check out our article, "Whitelisted, Not Waitlisted: Benefits of A New Marketing Technique" to learn more about how to ensure you get good content each time.
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