The small business guide to influencer marketing

When social media influencers talk, their audience listens. So wouldn't you want influencers in your industry discussing your small business and its products?

If you're anything like us, you answered with an enthusiastic "heck yes!", and you've taken your first step in creating an influencer marketing campaign for your business.

If you're unaware of the term, influencer marketing is when you partner with an influencer in your niche or industry to share your brand’s blog posts, retweet your tweets, or otherwise promote your product or service.

This is great because influencers put your brand in front of a new audience. Even more importantly, since your influencer’s audience already trusts them, some of that trust will be passed on to your brand when said influencer shares your content.

This all sounds great, but starting an influencer marketing campaign is no easy task.

You need to find influencers with high follower counts to work with, verify that those followers are real, approve content, and—of course—compensate the influencers you work with.

But don't sweat it: we're here to help!

In this article, we'll show you to start, run, and maintain an influencer marketing campaign. The guide will take you full-circle, so don't worry if you're new to new to marketing—we've got your back. 

First, you need to find the right influencers

Finding influencers to work with may sound like a daunting task, but it isn't as hard as you'd think.

The first step is simply creating a list of influencers in your space. These can be people with follower counts as low as 1,000—just make sure that they have good content, and that people actually engage with their posts (liking, retweeting, etc).

Start by running searches on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other social networks for terms related to your niche. For example, we at Social Report would search for "social media marketing", "social media managers", and "social media management."

Don't want to look for influencers manually? Social Report makes it easy to find influencers with our Search Agents feature.

In short, this feature runs ongoing searches for a keywords of your choice, so you don't need to run searches manually. We even have an influencers pane that will show you the most popular users that are actively sharing your keywords.

Sounds awesome, right? Start your free Social Report trial today, and check out our guide on how to use Search Agents to find influencers to work with. Trust us, it'll make your life a lot easier!

Verify that your influencers have real followings and engagement

So, now you have your list of influencers—but don't start contacting them just yet.

Before you pick influencers to work with, you must ensure that their follower count and engagement numbers are legit.

Do this by sifting through their list of followers and looking for real accounts. On Instagram, this means accounts that are actively posting images and have a few engaged followers. On Twitter, this means looking for accounts that have real content.

Once you've verified your influencers, look through your list and pick out your favorites. Then, follow the next two steps, and you can begin outreach.

Diversify your social networks

One question we're often asked is: "what social networks should I find influencers on?"

Take a look at where your industry is most active.

For example, if you're marketing to photographers and artists, chances are most of your audience is on Instagram. On the flip side, professional services will find most of their audience on LinkedIn.

Put a majority of your resources into these networks, but also diversify for maximum return. Consider asking your influencers to cross-promote your content across multiple networks, and you can take advantage of all their followers.

Do they have special skills

When working with an influencer, think of the content that you want them to share.

After all, it's easier to find someone to simply retweet your blog posts than someone that will use your products and document the process. 

So with that in mind, try and find an influencer that has value-adds like writing, photography, and videography. Leverage these skills when you can, and you'll find better returns and higher quality content.

Don't overlook micro-influencers

It may be tempting to only want to work with influencers that have huge followings, but don't discount micro-influencers.

Micro-influencers are people with small to mid-sized social media followings in a specific niche. Partnering with a micro-influencer over a social media celebrity gives you access to an audience that will actually engage with your products, not just swipe by.

Further, you can partner with micro-influencers for cheaper, making your bottom line (and your boss) happy.

Oh, and speaking of pricing...

How much do you pay an influencer?

Another great question! And this one varies influencer-to-influencer.

How much you pay an influencer depends on their follower-count, engagements, and the nature of their work.

Remember the value-adds we discussed earlier? An influencer that's going to take photos and blog about your product will cost more than an influencer that's just retweeting links.

And while there's no set "market price" for influencers, we've found that somewhere between $10-13 per 1,000 followers per post is a solid rate to go off off.

Keep an eye on their content, and track it too

Now that your influencer marketing campaign is up-and-running, make sure to keep an eye on your influencers work.

Make sure that what he or she is posting is up-to-snuff, and that it's providing accurate returns. If all goes well, renew with your influencer for more posts. If things aren't, don't be afraid to drop them and experiment with others in the industry.

Also make sure to monitor your influencer's other social posts. After all, in influencer marketing, your influencer's mistakes become your mistakes. Check out our piece on the risks of influencer marketing for more info.

Pro tip: use UTM codes to ensure that your influencer posts are actually driving leads.

Now it's over to you

There you have it: the small business guide to influencer marketing. Use these tips to make a solid influencer marketing campaign that converts, and watch your bottom line grow.

Now we want to hear from you. How do you use social media influencers in your marketing campaigns? Let us know in the comments.

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