10 Steps to Influencer Marketing for Your Small Business

Sarah Donawerth
Sarah Donawerth
10 Steps to Influencer Marketing for Your Small Business

If you’re a small business, you probably have limited time, money, and resources to devote to your marketing efforts, including your influencer marketing.

So how do you get the great result without the overwhelming effort?

Influencer marketing can help you get the word out about your brand. You’ll build brand awareness and grow your digital marketing. However, you have limited time and resources as a small business, so creating your marketing strategy for each social media platform needs to be done wisely. Here’s 10 steps you can take to master influencer marketing as a small business.

1 – Create Personas

We started off trying to create a detailed customer persona to narrow down our search, we know that health & wellness stretches across lots of influencers, so [we] wanted to try and get specific.~Elliot Blackler, Evopure

Before you start your influencer marketing, do you know who your target customer is? Make a list to describe your ideal customer, including:

Note: Just because someone is your dream customer, doesn’t mean that’s who actually shops with you. Remember to include any analytics and data that you’ve already accumulated into this assessment. Make sure that your dream customer also lines up with those who have actually purchased in the past.

These personas will help you determine the type of influencer that you need for your influencer marketing. You want to pick influencers that are already on the platforms that your potential customers use the most.

It’s also important to look at the influencer’s audience, rather than the influencer. The influencer may be a certain demographic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the same demographic follows them. See if their audience lines up to your personas to ensure that your influencer collaborations reach the right targets.

You need to really get to know your audience. A lot of small businesses struggle because they try to serve too many individuals or because they don’t truly know their customers or their target audience. Take time to interview, talk with, connect with members of your community and find out what they really want. Then you can truly tailor your content, advice, mentoring, offers, etc to what they are looking for.~Carl, Hubspot for Startups

2 – Discover Influencers, “Automagically”!

In order to take your influencer marketing to the next level, you’ll need the right tools. Using an influencer marketing platform for small businesses can help you keep all your partnerships organized and streamlined. Finding the right influencers is key to your collaborations.

Carro is a free tool that allows you to discover influencers who already love your brand. Jeff Moriarty of Moriarty’s Gems says:  

It’s so easy to use and absolutely free, which is perfect for small businesses. We have found over a dozen great influencers for our brand using this tool. There is no reason a small business running Shopify shouldn’t have this app.

Carro is the all-in-one tool to discover and manage influencers. By installing this free tool, you’ll be able to set up a system of notifications so that you never miss an influencer opportunity again. That’s a huge time saver for a small business!

3 – Target Smaller, More Engaged Groups

Target smaller, more engaging communities because, in the long run, you will gain a lot more in terms of conversions and ROI. Smaller influencers are also more likely to be willing to work on an affiliate basis, and then as they grow, you can grow your business relationships with them.~Gareth Harry, Zygo Media

Micro-influencers, or influencers with less than 10,000 followers, are the best influencers to start with for your content marketing. These influencers typically have a highly engaged community, centered around a focused interest. They’ll be able to share about your product or service to their audience. In exchange, they may only require a free product or small fee, which is less expensive than other advertising. They’re better for finding your target audience and for your bottom line!

4 – Get the Bloggers

Focus on influencers with blogs

: Landing a mention on Instagram or Twitter can be a nice ego boost, but rarely converts into significant sales for your business. Instead, focus on influencers that have blogs and can include a link to your site. Even if that individual link doesn’t result in sales, the accumulation of links overtime will help your site rank on Google and other search engines; which in most industries will result in low-cost sales for months or years to come.

~Michael Alexis, CEO of Team Building

Bloggers can achieve a “two birds, one stone” scenario for your small business — a social media mention and a backlink. They typically use social media to disseminate their blog articles and other offerings. Some of these bloggers have even managed to curate large followings on social media.

When negotiating these partnerships, you’ll want to explicitly state that you’d like both social media mention and a blog link. Then you can discuss the particulars of each part of the collaboration.

With bloggers, you can build your search engine clout and have new audiences discover you on social media.

5 – Follow the Rules, You Can’t Afford Not To

As a small business, you may be tempted to take risks at the beginning to accelerate the results. However, it’s important to follow the rules. Following through on contracts with influencers, steering clear of influencers who use shady tactics, and requiring all FTC disclosures are all necessary parts of influencer marketing for your small business.

You’ll need to check that the posts contain the elements you agreed upon, and that they are FTC compliant. While you should try to respect the influencer’s creative process as much as possible, and allow them to create content the way they know best, it’s important to stay on the right side of the law. Businesses and influencers who violate FTC guidelines on can faces fines or legal action.~Alice Bedward, Online Marketer at Flyparks

As part of your campaign management, you should send an email or message to influencer partners saying that you require FTC-compliant disclosures on all content, and with an explanation of the requirements for these disclosures.

In the end, nothing is worth putting your small business in jeopardy. Complying with all the terms of service of social media platforms and clearly disclosing paid partnerships won’t hurt your bottom line. Instead you’ll be growing authentically and building credibility with your audiences.

6 – Put in the Time with Your Influencer Partners

Influencer marketing is built on influencer relationships. Your ability to work with influencers is directly proportional to your ability to build trust and credibility with your influencer team. There are no shortcuts to creating relationships with influencers, but it is definitely worth it.

Influencers that feel cared for will provide better content and will be open to even more complex collaborations in the future.

Here’s a few ways that companies have been building their influencer relationships:

Collab with influencers before asking for promotion… we often reach out for their advice/opinion on a blog post we’re writing, then would link to their social pages and website when the post goes live. We found this really helped build a relationship and made the influencer more open to working with us on a long term basis rather than just charging us a flat rate for a post/product review.~Elliot Blackler, Evopure
Look for ways to incorporate influencers versus just requesting a mention. For example, I worked with a local main street event and they invited influencers to be celebrity judges for the event. This made them a part of the event versus just requesting a plug.~Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital
You can do a yearlong partnership with one influencer where they can get a discounted rate at your business in exchange for a monthly post. This kind of frequency is key to a successful influencer campaign. You’re better off working with one influencer multiple times than a bunch of influencers once.~Jaime Huffman, Charleston Blonde

Start off interacting with them on their medium of choice (for many, probably Instagram). Comment on their posts and engage with their content. Contribute meaningful, thoughtful replies to their posts that will grab their attention (instead of one and two-word replies like cute or that’s cool).

Next, start to engage with them on other platforms too. Share their posts on Facebook, or even Pinterest. Wherever they are online, engage with them!

Next, get in touch via email, but start off just simply saying hello and offering some sincere admiration….

Finally, once you’ve spent some time solidifying this relationship, pitch your ask – whether that’s a brand partnership or a product review. Since you’ve already started the foundation for a good relationship, the influencer will be much more likely to listen!

~Meg Marrs, Founder of K9 of Mine

7 – Turn Your Customers into Influencers

Your existing customers are some of the best advocates for your small business. Build features into your existing checkout flow that allow customers to share their purchase, connect with you on social media, and get the tools they need to recommend your products.

One influencer marketing tip for those on a budget is to make every customer an influencer marketing participant. You can do this by giving everyone who buys a promo code they can share with friends so their friends who use their code get $10 off or a 10% off coupon, and they also get a $10 credit toward their next order. This encourages all your customers, even those with more modest followings to share your brand through their promo code, and gets the word out to people they know, building your brand and sales through a profitable micro-influencer campaign.~Stacy Caprio, Founder at Growth Marketing

8 – Create a Diverse Team of Influencers

Although your persona should determine which influencer partners you work with, don’t confine yourself or your influencer team. Instead, look at using a few different types of influencers on a few social media platforms to see what works best for your brand.

My best tip for a successful influencer marketing campaign is to utilize a mix of influencer types. Instead of just focusing on the most popular/branded individual influencers, include internal experts, micro-influencers, niche experts prospects and customers in your influencer marketing mix. Getting multiple perspectives and insights always enriches the discussion and generates more activity online.~Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO at Mavens & Moguls

Diverse influencers also ensure that you are reaching new audiences, since these influencers will have less overlap among their followers. You’ll be able to see which campaigns perform best and finetune your approach from there.

9 – Track Your Results

Establish the best possible tracking methods you can. When you’re a small company and your marketing budget is limited, it’s paramount for success that you are able to track your ROI as best as you possibly can. This enables you to see where it’s working and where it isn’t early on, allowing you to move your budget around, pull out of what isn’t a good ROI, and double-down on what is.~Gareth Harry, Zygo Media

When building influencer marketing campaigns for your small business, every penny counts. Use tracked links, coupon codes, and other methods to track the results so that you know which attempts had the biggest payoff. From there, you’ll be able to optimize your budget to focus on the influencer marketing campaigns that were most successful.

10 – Create Your Own Influencers(s)

Maybe the most unique tip on this list, you may want to start building your own influencer within the brand. Someone within the company who’s especially social media savvy can start building up a social media platform with content that works well with your business. That person may serve as a spokesperson for your company, so that you can position them as an expert within the field.

Work towards establishing someone on staff as the ‘face’ of your company — then reach out to influencers who have podcasts, pitching them your spokesperson’s expertise, and trying to get appearances on podcasts – regardless of how big or small. It’s always important to remember that fans are more important than followers. Even smaller podcasts can have highly-engaged followings, which can be useful for your business.~Kane Carpenter, Director at DAGGERFINN

Start influencer marketing for your small business

There are so many benefits to influencer marketing for a small business. You’ll be able to build brand awareness on a conservative budget (versus paid social ads) and get discovered by new audiences. Influencers will contribute content that you can use to improve your other marketing materials, and you’ll gain valuable insights from the influencers about what works for your audience.

The biggest obstacle to influencer marketing for a small business is getting started. Taking the first step can set your influencer marketing in motion and let you see the results for yourself.

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