What Every SMB Owner Needs to Know About Influencer Marketing
With so much competition these days from behemoth multi-nationals, it can be difficult for small and mid-size businesses to succeed. Smart business owners know they need to stay on the cutting edge of the newest ideas in advertising and customer enticement.
One of the ways they can do that is through “influencer marketing.”
What Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is an approach that centers on getting opinion leaders to create demand for your product organically.
This concept is much more than the earnest testimonials. It’s invaluable, targeted exposure to the exactly the right kind of customers you need to take your business to the next level.
Influencer marketing utilizes the vast social media networks of celebrities, bloggers, and trendsetters to spread the word about your product to an audience traditional advertising might miss.
This type of marketing is incredibly powerful as studies show:
- most traditional advertising only reaches 10% of your target audience
- 70% of consumers will look more favorably on a brand recommended by someone they admire or trust
Influence marketing combines the power of grassroots, word-of-mouth campaigns with social networking tools and trendsetting brand advocates.
Strong influencers, sometimes referred to as “brandividuals” who draw on their identity as well as a brand’s identity to represent and promote an organization or product online, can drastically increase a brand's exposure by sharing a social media post or writing an article about a brand they love.
There are two different ways this type of influencer marketing occurs.
Earned authority comes from unpaid or pre-existing loyal customers who are thrilled to endorse your product because they love it. Savvy small to mid-size business owners should first identify their natural influencers before committing precious marketing dollars to a paid influencer campaign.
The first step is to communicate honestly with long-standing local customers and offer incentives for sharing branded content to their online networks. Brand fans are likely to share content about your products and services because they already love them. Target this audience and give them incentives to share their experiences and opinions.
Your employees are also an immensely valuable trove of natural brand advocates. Successful companies take the time to nurture their staff and encourage thought leadership from the inside out. Who better to communicate the essence of your brand to the outside world than the folks who live and breathe it every day? Every one of your team members has their sphere of influence, reaching thousands of possible new customers.
Educating and empowering your biggest fans and employees to promote your brand with an authentic voice will create a profound emotional connection that will resonate with potential new customers.
The second kind of influencer marketing is via paid influencers.
Perhaps the most famous of all paid influencers are the Kardashian sisters. These famous beauties are compensated by a variety of companies to use and promote their products to millions of social media followers. But most small and mid-size businesses can’t afford to pay millions of dollars for one Instagram post.
Don’t worry, though. It’s relatively easy to find influential opinion leaders and key influencers in your industry without spending a ton of money.
Favorite business networking site LinkedIn can be an excellent jumping off point for locating affordable yet effective influencers for your brand. Experts recommend identifying potential influencers on LinkedIn by searching keywords or phrases related to your product or industry.
Twitter is another great platform for finding potential social media influencers. There are over 500 million tweets posted daily! Use Twitter’s Advanced Search Option to pinpoint and reach out to influencers talking about subjects related to your brand.
Once you’ve located a great mix of potential influencers, it’s time to implement this powerful marketing strategy.
How Can SMBs Use Influencer Marketing?
Businesses need to make it easy for influencers to share their message by providing easily shareable brand-generated content, embeddable links, snappy graphics, and pre-written social media messages.
Here are some additional tips to get influencers and brandividuals on board so you can begin reaping the benefits of influencer marketing:
- Make sure your brand, your company, and your product are credible and high-quality.
- Ensure your influencers only experience positive results related to your product or service.
- Influencers are very busy people, so get to the point of your request.
- Target influencers whose expertise relates directly to your industry.
- Be crystal clear about what brandividuals and influencers can expect in return for their efforts on behalf of your product.
- Always show respect to your influencers and strive to develop a legitimate rapport.
- Provide clarity of message and reasonable deadlines for delivery.
- Interact with your influencers at offline, real-life events as well as online.
- Show appreciation and give appropriate credit to your influencers to inspire even more shares.
- Consistently follow through on your commitments.
Don’t let this list overwhelm you. There are knowledgeable marketing companies who can help your business locate and utilize influencers and brandividuals that are a perfect fit with your product.
Organizations such as MyArea Network excel at providing a broad range of affordable brand management and marketing solutions for small to mid-size businesses to increase brand awareness and attract customers.
Even better -- when you work with MyArea Network, you access an extensive network of local influencers and trendsetters.
MyArea Network's network of local influencers can increase exposure for your business, products, and services.
Reach out to MyArea Network for a free consultation to learn how your business can use area influencers to bring customers to your restaurant, retail store, business, or event.