This week, we’ve got a guest post from Francis Mansueto, who talks about the benefits and power of influencer marketing for small business owners – and offers some valuable tips and advice for those wanting to get started.

Small businesses need all the help they can get to promote their brand and their products.

Unfortunately, marketing campaigns consume a lot of resources, including a good chunk of their budget and a few of able-bodied employees.

With limited funds and just a handful of people working for you, your marketing options can be limited.

Fortunately, with the help of the internet, there’s one sure-fire way to promote your business, and that’s through influencer marketing.


What is influencer marketing?

To the uninitiated, an influencer is an expert or personality in your field that has a considerable amount of following.

This could include actual fans or even followers of their social media accounts.

Influencer marketing capitalizes on their “influence” on others in order to push your products or services, subtly or as a PR campaign.

However, it’s not really as simple as contacting an influencer and paying them to mention your business in their tweets or posts.

In this article, we will explore how you can successfully conduct influencer marketing and ensure that it will help your small business take off.


How can influencer marketing be beneficial to small businesses and startups?

With a small business or startup, it’s hard to reach more people without spending a lot on marketing.

It’s because you haven’t established your brand yet, so there’s no recall on any of your products or services.

You’ll be marketing from the ground up, and that takes time, effort, and money.

However, influencer marketing upends all that. Consumers trust the recommendations of the “influencer” giving you a chance to prove your worth to a large audience.

By connecting with the right influencer in your industry, you gain access to their fans and their followers.

These will immediately be your target audience, no need to build your reputation from the ground up.

It’s because the audience is already under the assumption that you provide a good product or a reliable service, since the person they trust already endorses you.


Is influencer marketing it worth it?

Considering that you save a great deal from not going with typical marketing campaigns and STILL reach your intended audience, you can say that influencer marketing is worth every penny spent.

You pay your influencer with money, goods, or services, or even through cross-promotion.

As long as you connect with the right influencers, you’ll have access to an audience that’s highly likely to pay you for your products or services.

The followers that these influencers have number by the thousands, and convincing even a fraction of that would still mean a boost in your profits.

You might think that if it’s just reaching the targets through social media, perhaps you can do it on your own.

You can try, but again, it can be very time-consuming.

See also: How to save time when working on a social media strategy

You might think that you’ll be saving money by not getting an influencer.

However, the quality of audience you can reach on your own would pale in comparison to that of an actual expert or well-known personality in your field. So again, getting an influencer for your small business or startup is worth it.


Getting started with influencer marketing

The following list is a simplified guide that you can follow if you want to use influencer marketing to boost your brand.

While the steps may vary from one business to another, these are the milestones that you need to observe if you want your campaign to succeed.


Compiling a list of influencers for your industry

The first thing you need to do is to come up with a list of experts and personalities in your field. This could be an individual or an organization that has a considerable number of fans or followers.

You can list as many as you like, as long as you think they have that “influence” on your brand’s target audience.


Finding those who align with your brand

Once you have the list from the previous step, the next thing you need to do is shortlist the influencers closest to your business.

Identify which ones are connected/in parallel with your goals and are catering to the exact same audience that you want to service/sell to.

By doing so, you are increasing the chance of successfully making a sale, since you’ve already cornered your market by choosing the right influencer for your brand.


Connecting with your prospects

Now that you have a definitive list of influencers you want for your business the next step would be to start building a connection with them.

Reach out to them, follow their pages/accounts, add them up on whatever platform they’re on, and message them your intent.

Introduce your brand and tell them why you want them as an influencer for your products or services. The success (or failure) of landing them as your influencer would depend on how well you pitch a future partnership with them.


Creating the content along with your influencers

After choosing and connecting with your influencers, you can now work on creating the content that they will share and promote.

See also: Content marketing ideas for small business owners

Depending on your agreement, you could be the one doing the content and they will just promote it for you.

If they are very particular with the style of content that gets shown on their pages, they’d offer to create them for you in a form of a direct/paid advertisement.

The content varies depending on what you both agree on, including videos, infographics, and the usual posts and reviews about your products.


Tools to use for Influencer Marketing

You can track your campaign using various tools that measure your activities.

Use them to ensure that you are hitting your target numbers, reaching the right audience, and overall, moving towards the direction you want when you started with influencer marketing.

  1. Klout – this tool measures how influential your activities in social networking sites are. You can use this to track your brand’s “progress,” considering that you’ve technically started from the bottom, prior to starting your influencer marketing campaign. You need to connect all your social media accounts to Klout, and it will scan how engaging your content is, and how influential you’ve become. You’re then given a Klout score, which is the measure of your online influence in the range of 1 to 100, 100 being the most influential. You can track your success by measuring your score before your influencer campaign, and right after the campaign period. The change in Klout score will be the basis of the campaign’s success.
  2. BuzzSumo – this online tool enables you to know trending content depending on the topic or website. Basically, it lets you spy on your competition, to know what topics or posts get more visits. This way, you’ll be able to craft the right articles or posts that you can use for influencer marketing. This is a good way to ensure high success rates for your posts, making the most of your influencers’ connections plus the trending topics on your competitors’ pages.
  3. Kred – this online tool can be used during the actual marketing campaign, or when you’re choosing influencers to help boost your small business. Just like Klout, it measures social influence, pulling social media data from platforms like Facebook and Twitter. What makes this tool special is that you can use it to measure someone’s influence and outreach. Influence, as mentioned earlier, is the “trust” value given to them by their followers, which can then be transferred to your brand. Outreach on the other hand, is their tendency to share other’s content to their network. You can use this as basis of whether or not you want them for your influencer marketing campaign.
  4. Glip by RingCentral – this is not necessarily an influence rating or data gathering tool, but more of a communication platform that you can use for your campaign. It equips you and your team with a mobile communication tool, as well as project tracking and management features that you can use for your influencer marketing campaign. You can create project teams that you can manage and coordinate within the app, to ensure that you’re all on the same page when it comes to goals and targets. You can setup a meeting, share files, assign tasks and deadlines all within the app. What’s more, you can do this and keep track of your campaigns wherever you are, whenever you like, as long as you are connected to the Internet.


Wrapping up

The success of your influencer marketing campaign depends on how well you do your research, and the amount of effort you put into creating the right content.

You need to identify influencers that suit your business so that you’ll be able to reach the audience that they already have.

Spend enough time, effort and money on creating worthwhile content to be shared and promoted by your influencers.

These will reflect back to your brand, so you need to create ones that highlight your brand’s selling points. When you follow the aforementioned steps and tips, you bring your small business closer to success. Good luck.


About the Author

Francis Mansueto has been writing for more than a decade now, focusing on Digital Marketing in the last couple of years. He is currently in charge of writing web-optimized content for RingCentral, an industry-leading cloud phone systems provider. Francis is also a voracious reader, spending most of his free time immersed in fictional worlds.

You can reach him through Twitter.