David Fairfull, CEO and co-founder of Metigy
With the rise of the influencer and the commodification of digital platforms, social networking sites have become online marketplaces for influence. Over half the world’s population actively use social media, and digital platforms have opened up new ways for marketers to connect with consumers, many of whom are becoming increasingly ad-adverse.
While the world of influencer marketing can appear to be heavily populated by big brands with even bigger budgets, this shouldn’t deter smaller businesses from getting in on this low-risk, high-return tactic.
However, knowing where to start and how to engage influencers can be tough. In fact, research from Influencer Marketing Hub found the biggest challenges businesses face when it comes to engaging influencers is finding influencers and measuring ROI.
To assist SMEs on their influencer journey, I’ve wrapped up a few of my favourite tips for those looking to know where to start and generate results.
Engage with your digital community
If you’re new to the world of influencers, the best place to start is to actively get engaged in the digital community you want to target. Figure out what hashtags apply to your chosen target market, and follow them on your business social media account or by searching the keywords on Google or YouTube to see who’s talking to your audience.
Another handy way to get acquainted with your digital audience is to check out the competition - see what hashtags they’re using and who they’re engaging with on social media. This can often provide insight into how successfully your competitors are engaging with their audience, the tactics they’re using and what strategies you could utilise to ensure you stand apart.
Utilising tactics like these can help narrow the field in finding the right influencers to connect and work with. Searching for influencers that are already engaged with your target audience and are posting content that suits your brand values and aligns with your business goals can be a big step towards creating a meaningful collaboration.
Ultimately, the benefit of working with an influencer is they can provide intimate access to your community in a targeted and direct way - without the hefty price tag.
Select an influencer that fits your brand
Once you’ve narrowed down the field and found a pool of influencers who speak to your target audience, it’s time to select who to collaborate with.
While influencers with millions of followers might seem appealing, they often come with million-dollar price tags to match. But influencer marketing doesn’t have to break the bank. The most common form of influencer payment is actually in samples, and rates for smaller influencers (with 1,000 or fewer followers) can start at around $10 per post.
While they’re unlikely to reach a million people with one post, influencers with a smaller number of followers tend to have a higher engagement level across all platforms, and can provide an equal, if not better, return on investment for smaller businesses - especially those appealing to a more specific market.
Measure campaign goals
There are many ways to measure the impact of your campaign, and while the most common is typically through direct links, earned media value (EMV) can also be an effective way to calculate your ROI.
Earned media value works when a brand assigns value to engagement metrics - likes, comments and impressions - to measure the overall impact of the influencer’s campaign. While this can be difficult to work out initially, it really comes down to what your campaign objective is and what you’re hoping to achieve. As an example, building brand awareness will have a significantly different measurement standard to a campaign focused on generating direct sales.
It may also be beneficial to have an open conversation with your chosen influencer and ask how they typically showcase results to partners. This will allow you to learn about what’s worked best for other businesses but will also allow you to collaborate on what success looks like for your brand.
Ultimately, influencers themselves are small business owners who understand what it takes to connect with audiences and deliver meaningful content that can generate real impact. Influencers are also in the unique position of being a sounding board for brands. They can help you further understand what it is your customers like or dislike, as well as particular product features or services that are generating strong engagement. And at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing, this high-reward and low-risk strategy should not be ignored. With the whole world of social media waiting for you to conquer, the next step is to start.