You have just started a new business and the small number of people who have tried the product your business is selling absolutely love it. You are confident that your business will be a success IF you can reach a larger marketplace similar to your current customers.
Unfortunately, you have obstacles getting from Point A to Point B, from having a quality product to having a successful business. For starters, you have a limited budget. You also are just starting out so selling yourself and your company will be very challenging.
Before, companies counted on advertisements and word of mouth to grow their business, but today, they are using their own websites and social media outlets as de-facto advertisements. These methods can still work, but if you’re an unknown entrepreneur with a new business and a limited budget you should use a faster-growing way to boost your business -- social media influencers.
“Businesses are receiving $7.65 on average for each $1 they spend on influencer marketing,” concluded “The Remarkable Rise of Influencer Marketing,” a report that was based on the Influencer Marketing Hub 2017 Study. “The top 15 percent are actually receiving more than $20 for every influencer dollar spent, although 25 percent are either losing money or just breaking even.”
Companies are spending money on “influencer marketing,” which Wikipedia defines as “a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market as a whole on social media,” because prospective customers trust what influential people say about a product. Influential people could be well known business executives, people who are experts in their industry, or people your marketplace knows personally.
“Ninety percent of consumers trust peer recommendations. Only 33 percent trust ads,” reports the article “What is Social Media Influencer Marketing?”
Do you want your company to earn at least $7.65 for every $1 it spends on influencer marketing? Earning those kinds of profits is easier said than done as evidenced because 25 percent of companies don’t make money on their influencer marketing investment.
Below are 20 tips for finding and working with social media influencers so your company can be among the 15 percent who earn more than $20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.
Finding an influencer for your industry
1. STUDY YOUR INDUSTRY: Find out who is respected in your industry with a large following because they will have influence on your prospective marketplace. Each top influencer is geared towards a specific niche that they are good at, making them a specialty in that particular field.
2. STUDY POTENTIAL INFLUENCERS: After narrowing down your potential influencers, find them on all of their social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to determine the following:
- Are they sticking to their marketplace?
- How active are they?
- Do they already promote another brand?
- Would they be a good representative of our company/product/event?
Generally, they won’t promote products unless they believe in them, or they won’t be as convincing. Make sure they 100% match with your brand because, even though they are getting paid, you want them to actually be excited about what they are promoting.
3. INTRODUCE YOURSELF ONLINE: Don’t approach social media influencers out of the blue. Start by commenting on their blogs and praising and engaging in their community. Because they have other brands reaching out to them, it’s important to make a connection before you make an offer. Build your relationship by your engagement; share and like their posts, leave comments about what you do, and eventually email them your offer!
4. HAVE ACTIONABLE GOALS FOR THEM: Just like a marketing campaign, you need to have a plan for how you want them to promote your brand. Keep in mind these goals should be simple actions you want to see or hope to achieve; examples are “fast growth”, “awareness”, “more engagement” etc.
When creating these goals don’t get too crazy, and remember, Influencers have a following for a reason. They know what works and what doesn’t for their audience. So give them all the creativity they need to broadcast your brand and give them a creative license to introduce everything authentically and natural. You can suggest your ideas, but I am positive if they think it stinks they won’t go along with them and be okay with that.
5. SEND THEM TO EVENTS: This tip is one thing a lot of businesses who use influencers do not do. If you have any sponsored events, trade-shows, or exhibits let them attend. If their audience is exceptionally large and sending them to an event isn't too costly, I would recommend it. The influencer would not only be promoting their expected attendance at an event, but it would encourage people to attend to see this influencer.
6. PROMOTE INFLUENCERS: Don’t stop building a relationship once they agreed to work with you. Continue to follow and praise their content, not just the ones with your branding.
This will promote a healthy relationship beyond just professional and show you care about their content as well as you care about your own stuff being promoted. Sharing their feed and posts will get more people looking at their account and increase more views on your brand as well. This will also build a connection and a sense of familiarity for the influencer encouraging them to work with you again.
7. CHOOSE MICRO-INFLUENCERS: This article in Entrepreneur magazine defines micro-influencers as people with fewer than 10,000 social media followers who “engage and interact” with their followers more than mega-influencers who have more followers.
This means don’t go straight to the celebrities. Most celebrity influences don‘t stick to one niche, but have a broader audience. Most of the time, smaller influencers deliver better results and are often trusted more than famous stars.
Become An Influencer Yourself:
8. PUBLISH CONSISTENTLY: Now that you have a niche in mind, it’s time to develop a consistent content strategy. The number one rule: consistency. It’s important to have a consistent quality and output of posts, whether that means two posts every single day or a single post every other day.
This keeps your account active in feeds and gives you extra opportunities to engage with followers and generate revenue. The more you put out there the greater chance you have of being seen.
9. FIND YOUR NICHE: Your life is one-of-a-kind, but documenting your daily adventures is not a unique way to use Instagram, so sponsors are only interested in targeted posts and accounts that have a more narrow focus; this is important because with a narrow focus comes a narrow audience.
Influencers appeal to many people, of course, but many of these people must belong to specific demographics, interests, hobbies, like etc. that help them identify with certain influencers. Identify these demographics before you get started so you can keep your content relevant to their interests and what they want to see from your account.
10. KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN INFLUENCER: If you want to make it as an influencer, you need to know what that means. Instagram influencers are posters popular enough to generate revenue with their content.
Influencers come in many forms, but there are always real people behind the screens, analyzing follower engagement and developing strategies to maximize it like social media managers.
Brands and businesses collect followers so they can sell their own products and services, and some develop strong enough identities to become fan favorites.
Meanwhile, individuals get paid to post sponsored content if enough people view their posts and value their opinions. Followers assign more value to high-quality photos and videos, but marketers and potential sponsors also want to see evidence that followers depend on these accounts to curate their own lives.
11. SPEAK AT EVENTS: As an unknown you will have to begin as a featured speaker at small events or a brand ambassador, but the experience can lead you to being invited to large events where you are perceived as an expert and soon an influencer.
12. ACT LIKE AN INFLUENCER: Promoting more notable influencers than yourself helps you connect with them, but promoting the companies and products of less known people who need your help elevates your status.
Haven't you heard of the idea that if you pretend you are already successful or an influencer, the universe usually turns you into that person. If you don’t have a large following yet and no promotional offers, reach out to companies yourself and partner with them for a small fee or free to get you started.
Followers who see an account with products being promoted instantly assume that person has an impact strong enough to do promotions. It’s a fast trick to convince people you are the real deal.
13. SEEK PARTNERSHIPS: At some point, your informal help to influencers should become formal. In other words, consummate formal agreements with other influencers that includes working together on projects and promoting each others’ businesses. Creating a partnership allows each other to work off of the two different audiences and grow their following even more.
Working With Influencers
14. BE ACTIVE ON INSTAGRAM: ALL of your influencers should be active because Instagram is the “king” of social networks for influencers thanks to its “enormous user base and digestible video content,” reports Entrepreneur magazine. Instagram is so important that you should coordinate what you post with your influencers and refer to each other in these posts.
Most influencers have a large following because they post frequently, usually between one to three times per day. They know what works best for their audience, so as long as they are posting daily, being active online shouldn't be a high concern.
15. UTILIZE MANY PLATFORMS: Facebook reaches many people who aren’t on Instagram. YouTube is popular with young people. Pinterest and Snapchat are becoming more popular for social media influencers. Make sure you have multiple influencers on all of these platforms if you want to extend your reach even further.
16. PLAN BUDGETS: Long-term relationships with influencers is crucial. Plan long-term (over one year) influencer marketing budgets with estimated expenses and revenues. To create an accurate price model you need to know:
- How much the influencer is worth: To do this I recommend using the Instagram Influencer Money Calculator. This tool allows you to calculate your estimated earnings from an Instagram account of an influencer.
- A pricing model that works for you (pay/cost, pay/click etc.)
17. PAY INFLUENCERS: Regarding your payments to influencers, study the market and the contract you make with them. This article lists the average cost of a sponsored Instagram post.
Understanding how the costs works with influencers is important because it can fluctuate a lot. Meaning, the price may increase if the influencer is receiving more engagement or followers than promised (make sure guidelines about rising costs is in their contract).
The cost of working with influencers on Instagram will also vary according to the sector in which the influencer specializes. The Influence.co report found that travel influencers charge the highest, taking an average of $220 for each sponsored post. Next come entertainment influencers, followed by home and lifestyle influencers charging $209 and $204 per post respectively. - Jay Baer, Convince & Convert
18. MONITOR ENGAGEMENT RATES: The social media influencers you chose are active, but you want a long-term relationship with them so you must regularly update their engagement rate. This article has an equation for measuring engagement.
"To calculate an influencer’s engagement rate, total the engagements (likes + comments + retweets etc) across all of the influencers posts on a particular profile (e.g. Instagram profile) then divide by the total number of followers and divide that by the number of posts (to get the per post average).” - Scrunch
This way you can continue to track their performance and determine if they are delivering high, good or low engagement rates.
19. SIGN CONTRACTS: Written agreements with influencers maximizes the chances they will promote you via a certain number of blogs, links, columns, etc. -- and you can enhance your long-term relationship with them by agreeing to their terms in writing. The contract should include:
- Total number of posts/mentions
- standard agreement terms
- Timeline of campaign
- Cancellation clauses and refunds
- A list of things they can’t mention
- Confidentiality and exclusivity
- Payment terms
- Extra conditions you might see fit
20. BE FLEXIBLE: Don’t be afraid to switch influencers and try out the different audiences. Sometimes, the fit isn’t right after awhile or a new project requires new influencers. How many influencers should you have? There is no correct answer. It always depends on your budget and overall marketing plan for the influencer; you might need 5 or you stick to 1. It’s what works for you.
A chart in this article shows that worldwide spending on influencer marketing increased from roughly $500 million in 2015 to between $3.2 billion and $6.3 billion in 2018 ($1.6B on Instagram alone) and is projected to increase to as much as $10 billion in 2020.
Big and small companies, CEOs and entrepreneurs, have dramatically boosted their efforts to find and utilize social media influencers because prospective customers trust them. Hopefully, the tips in this article will help you find the best social media influencers for your company. Good luck!