‘Influencer’ is one of the most increasingly common careers in the age of social media. Whether it’s Instagram, Youtube or Snapchat, every social media platform has its own pool of influencers that are hugely - you guessed it - influential. So how can influencers help your small business?
Influencer marketing refers to the business partnership between an influencer and a business or brand. With new Instagram algorithms and the social impact of influencers on the rise, both big and small businesses are recognising the benefits of influencer marketing and utilising them to help spread the word about their products and services.
The main benefit of influencer marketing for small businesses is that it’s both effective and affordable. While some influencers only do paid posts, many influencers - particularly if they’re new to the scene and establishing their audience - are happy to collaborate for an alternative form of compensation.
A common way of collaborating with an influencer is by gifting them your product or service for free or at a discounted price. This is also clever as it ensures the influencer is allowed to give their honest opinion, as nothing can quash the credibility of someone’s opinion like realising it’s a #paidad. Commission for the customers they bring your way and social media shoutouts, such as reposts, are also common forms of compensating an influencer for their work.
At the end of the day, influencers thrive off recognition, having access to information and being one of the first to know about news in their industry, as these are all requirements for building a loyal and active following. If your product is genuinely innovative and relevant to an influencer’s interests, an influencer will share it with their audience not because they are being paid to do so, but because they want to.
The popularity of influencer marketing largely lies in the fact that audiences trust recommendations from a third party more than from the brand itself. A trustworthy influencer vouching for your product or service is considered more convincing than traditional marketing such as advertisements. In order to maximise the benefits of influencer marketing, it’s essential that you take the time and effort to choose the right influencer, assess engagement rates and be wary of common traps such as followers that have been bought.
There’s no point attempting to connect with an influencer’s audience if the audience’s interests don’t align with your business. To find the perfect influencer to collaborate with, make sure you know your target audience like the back of your hand. What topics are your target users interested in, what blogs do they read, and who do they turn to for recommendations?
Now that you know the interests of your target audience, you can find influencers who share these same interests. At this stage, it’s essential to take the time and effort to understand what really makes your influencer tick. Reading their blog posts or watching some of their Youtube videos can make a world of difference. You don’t want to be that business inviting a vegan blogger to the opening of your 1950s-esque American diner.
It also pays to be as specific as possible. For example, if your business is an ethical fashion label, don’t just reach out to fashion bloggers; go that extra step and seek out influencers who are passionate and vocal about environmental issues and ethical clothing.
Once upon a time, an influencer’s follower count was the be-all and end-all of their influence. However, thanks to Instagram’s new algorithm which has kissed the chronological order goodbye, an influencer’s overall engagement rate is now a far more reliable measure of their impact.
After all, you want to be sure that an influencer’s audience is engaged to maximise the value of your collaboration; you don’t want your influencer to be shouting into a void. To assess an influencer’s engagement rate, divide the amount of likes and comments on a post by their overall number of followers. Engagement rates should be between 3 to 10 percent.
Another reason why engagement rate trumps follower count is because paying for followers is a common occurrence. Influencers who buy their followers continue to subscribe to the notion that their follower count is the most important measure of their influence - but this simply isn’t the case anymore. In addition to a low engagement rate, other signs that an influencer has bought their followers include unexplained rises in followers over a short period of time, a high comment to likes ratio, and a high number of follower bot accounts.
Influencer marketing can be an invaluable tool for your small business when it comes to getting the word out about your brand. Our team of expert digital marketers at Undergrnd Marketing can help you with not only maximising its benefits, but with all aspects of marketing your small business. Whether it’s social media strategy, web design, content writing or SEO, we’re here to help your small business thrive. Get in touch with us today to discuss your next move.