If you’re active on social media, you’re likely familiar with influencer campaigns. They’re the posts from high-profile people (celebrities like the Kardashians, for example) plugging products or services on their channels. Influencer campaigns can be extremely effective in driving brand awareness and sales — in fact, they’re one of the top marketing trends of 2017.
As a small business, you probably don’t have the dollars to throw at influencer campaigns with megawatt celebrities. (As you might imagine, they’re not cheap.) But that doesn’t take you out of the game.
For a local business, influencer campaigns using people with smaller, more niche audiences is actually far more effective than using someone with millions of fans. (Take a look at this recent study from Experticity for some compelling stats.)
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These micro-influencers are not traditional celebrities, but are knowledgeable, authentic, and are seen as a trusted source when it comes to recommendations for what to buy.
The sweet spot for micro-influencers is anywhere between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. But follower count doesn’t really mean much when it comes to the ROI of influencer campaigns. It’s the engagement numbers you want to look at — i.e., how many people are responding and engaging with someone’s content on a regular basis.
How to find micro-influencers
Finding the right micro-influencer for your business is easier than you might think. Once you’ve zeroed in on a few promising candidates, make sure to do your due diligence.
Remember, these people will essentially be representing their brand while promoting yours. If you see any red flags in their content (excessive profanity, anything offensive or off-kilter), they’re probably someone to pass over.
Here are a few ways to find great micro-influencers for your small business marketing campaigns:
Tap your own fan base. The first place to look for micro-influencers is among your followers. These people are a natural fit because they’re already familiar with your brand — and like it enough to follow you. Therefore, it takes a lot less effort to convince them to partner with your business. Their posts are far more authentic.
Do hashtag research. To find micro-influencers who aren’t already following you, do hashtag research. What are people who might like your business interested in?
It’s good to go pretty niche here to whittle down the results. For example, a health and wellness store is better served searching for people posting #naturalcures instead of #healthy.
Start your search on Instagram. Scrolling through visuals is a quicker way to identify potential brand alignment. Instagram displays the top posts (meaning the ones with the most engagement) around that hashtag.
If someone catches your eye, click over to their profile and do a deeper dive to determine whether they’d be a good fit. You can also do hashtag research on Twitter to identify the top posts.
Look for local bloggers. You’re a local business. That means local influencers are the most effective in driving foot traffic into your store. Do some Googling to try to identify local people writing about your space.
For example, if you’re a new bakery in Nashville, look for local food bloggers or even people covering lifestyle topics in the area. A simple keyword search (something like “Nashville food bloggers”) can get you started.
For micro-influencer campaigns with bloggers, zero in on people who also have a healthy social following. That amplifies the reach of their content.
Leverage tools. There are a number of software tools that can help you identify micro-influencers in your space. Buzzsumo is a great one. You can search for people using keywords and then view their engagement numbers, which should give you a good idea of their reach.
How to work with micro-influencers
After you’ve identified a micro-influencer you’d like to work with, here’s how to engage with them.
Reach out. The best way to connect with someone is to send them a direct message through their social media platforms. You can start a dialogue from there. If they don’t respond and have a website with contact information, shoot them an email. If they’re interested in the opportunity, send them a few products to test out.
Negotiate prices. Micro-influencer campaigns can run the gamut in terms of pricing — anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands, especially if you’re working with someone more well-known. But you can also sweeten the pot with products, trade, or an invitation to an exclusive event.
Create a contract. This is a business arrangement, and you need a contract. Work with your lawyer to draft an FTC-compliant one before you begin your campaign. The contract also serves as a formal way to get everyone on the same page about what the deliverables are, which helps the campaign run smoothly.
Let them do their thing. Once everything is set, it’s time to get rolling. Provide the influencer with a bit of direction, but err on the side of giving them creative freedom. They got to where they are because people are into their content. They know what resonates with their followers. Their post about your business is a lot more effective if it’s authentic to their voice and style.
Micro-influencer campaigns are a fantastic way for local businesses to reach a new audience that’s specifically interested in their space. They’re also a lot of fun. Try experimenting with one this year, and track the results. If you’re seeing ROI, go at it again with someone new.