Small businesses still struggling with influencer marketing best practices

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 6 April 2021
The Social Secret director Maree Sortino

The pandemic has shown many small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) the power of influencer marketing, but The Social Secret director Maree Sortino says there are a lot of owners still struggling to use the medium effectively.

Sortino, who founded the social media agency four years ago, has been working with SMBs on their marketing and says she is still seeing them make mistakes around basic influencer marketing best practices.

“I’ve been exposed to businesses doing the wrong thing and thinking they are doing influencer marketing, but it’s actually not really influencer marketing,” Sortino tells AdNews.

“I think there’s been this big misconception out there that the more followers the better, but it doesn't work like that in the influencer space this day and age.

“We’re also seeing a lot of influencers try to pitch themselves to big business by telling them ‘look, I’ve got x amount of followers and so many likes’, but they can actually be purchased these days.”

To help SMBs through the space, The Social Secret has put out a training video that tackles the issues, such as understanding engagement metrics, the importance of having contracts with influencers, how to find and brief the right influencer, and the importance of having a strong media presence before engaging influencers.

Sortino launches the program as SMBs become more interested in using influencers during the pandemic because of its low price point, increasing audience, and the fact that many influencers had less work during the height of the pandemic.

“There’s perhaps a little bit of a misconception that only product-based businesses can use influencers because it's something tangible the influencer can actually hold or wear or use,” she says.

“But it doesn't work like that, any industry has the opportunity to be able to use an influencer. What it comes down to is understanding, what's the demographic of a particular influencer and do they have the same demographic as me? If those two things align, then you can use an influencer in any space.”

One campaign Sortino worked on last year was for Melbourne restaurant Just Italy, which switched to take-away only within a 5km radius during the city’s tough restrictions.

Just Italy partnered with influencers, including The Real Dads of Melbourne who have 122,000 followers, to promote its new business model. The Real Dads of Melbourne promoted the restaurant without charge and within a 24-hour period, Sortino says the business saw a turnover of $10,000 in sales.

Sortino says this is an example of the success SMBs are seeing from influencers that is causing them to shift ad dollars from traditional to social media during the pandemic.

“If we look back to traditional marketing methods and say a small business was to put an ad in the paper that goes out to 50,000 homes, you don't know how many of those 50,000 people are actually going to see it, or if they are actually your target audience,” she says.

“When we use an influencer, we are condensing and selecting an influencer that has the same target audience as you already so it's going to be a lot more highly targeted.

“I'm also a very big believer that you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket either, so try lots of different things, but influencer marketing should definitely be one of them.”

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