There is no doubt that influencer marketing has unmatched penetration. Everyone from retailers to creatives has embraced the trend like fish in the water.
Statista found that almost 70% of companies (over 100 employees) plan to use influencer marketing campaigns in 2021.
The writing on the wall is quite clear. COVID or not, this marketing channel has no shortage of takers.
However, there is a demographic of users who still don’t know how to tap into influencer marketing.
Used to the benefits of influencer marketing, small businesses have psychological barriers that hold them back. They still view influencers as an elusive commodity that only the rich and famous can afford.
Here’s a statistic that proves my point: Campaign Monitor interrogates 1000 small businesses to understand their marketing issues. The majority of those surveyed said that among all the popular marketing channels, they found influencer marketing to be the most difficult to navigate.
Image via Campaign Monitor
They don’t know that the influencer marketing market is ripe for small businesses.
Influencer marketing campaigns are more affordable than ever. In fact, 60% of content creators are willing to work for lower than normal prices, and 87% only for high value free products.
If that doesn’t motivate small businesses to jump in on the fray, here are four ideas for profitable influencer marketing campaigns below. Check them.
1. Niche influencer marketing
If you plan to use influencers to build your reputation in the industry and achieve targeted reach, niche influencers are your best bet.
These influencers are industry experts, opinion makers, and thought leaders. Most of them are micro- or nano-influencers who believe in the adage of quality over quantity, both in terms of number of subscribers and number of customers.
Don’t be fooled by their modest number of followers. Research (cited earlier) shows that engagement is higher when influencers have fewer followers.
Image via AspireIQ
Niche influencers work for a select few clients who can add value to their personal brand. They rarely work for monetary gain. They believe in the exchange of value.
Why is that ?
Because their supporters take their word for it. If they collaborate with mismatched brands just for the money, their credibility suffers. They lose authenticity, which sets them apart from other influencers.
For all of these reasons, niche influencers are tailor-made for small businesses. But identifying them is a difficult task. You need to find the perfect combination of content creation skills, thematic authority, and subject matter expertise.
I recommend that you use tools for discovering influencers. They can objectively examine thousands of profiles and spot fraudulent influencers from miles away. A small investment at this point can save you megabucks in the long run. So don’t skimp on finding influencers.
Once you’ve found and onboarded your ideal niche influencer, put them to work. To showcase your influencer’s domain knowledge, involve them in expert meetings and roundtables. You get a competitive edge that levels the playing field when you compete with bigger brands.
You can even organize influencer events for public relations. The sole purpose of influencers will be to promote your brand / products to investors and potential customers.
Example: Backcountry, an outdoor clothing brand, hosted a four-day getaway for its fitness-conscious influencers. Here’s a sponsored post from one of their delighted influencers:
Image via Instagram
2. Product collaboration
Relationships – with customers and influencers – are the foundation of influencer marketing. You’ll be surprised to know that 96% of influencers want to nurture relationships beyond sponsored content with their favorite brands.
Content creators also want to have a say in the product development process. They wish to participate in the planning and development of the products / services offered by their partner brands.
For small businesses, co-creating products with influencers is a winning strategy.
By making influencers a stakeholder, brands gain the loyalty and exclusivity of influencers. Additionally, influencers bring in their loyal and engaged followers who have higher purchase intent than random consumers.
If you are convinced by this tactic, create dedicated landing pages for your products led by influencers. They help with attribution and tracking of influencer-driven traffic.
To make this tactic work, give your influencers as much creative freedom as possible. You want their creativity and uniqueness to shine through.
Example: Influencer Arielle Charnas has launched a custom clothing line for Nordstrom. The store has achieved $ 4 million in sales to date as a result of the initiative.
Image via PureWow
3. Sponsored reviews
Sponsored reviews may sound like a done and dusted tactic, but they still work, especially when they come from influencers.
Better yet, use your loyal customerrs and employees as spokespersons. There is no rule that says influencers should be celebrities. In fact, relevant influencers are twice as inspiring as plastic icons.
Most important, 88% of people trust the reviews of other consumers almost as much as they trust the recommendations of friends.
If you’re still inclined to use influencers to write reviews, it’s best to go with those who have an affinity with your brand. You can use social listening tools like Mention to identify influencers who speak passionately about your products.
So what ?
Approach them with a tantalizing collaboration proposition, and they should be happy to promote your brand, maybe even for free!
Encourage your influencers to create reviews in a variety of formats to cater to audiences with different tastes. They can share the user generated content of their followers or those who use your products and rave about them.
Video testimonials from real users can be a powerful hook for new customers. Remember, community-generated content is more compelling social proof than studio-shot creation.
Don’t forget to reuse reviews created by influencers to enrich your content strategy. Attach them to emails and sales pitches for instant credibility.
Example: Hillary Duff is known for her unwavering fitness values. This is what makes her the ideal person to promote Green Chef, a delivery service for healthy meal kits.
Image via Instagram
4. Long-term influencer marketing via ambassador status
Consistency is the key to standing out amid the confusing vibes on social media. That’s why brands invest in ongoing campaigns with the same set of influencers. It takes more than sporadic partnerships with influencers.
You need to convert influencers into ambassadors.
When this happens, influencers become an extension of your brand. They embody the philosophy of your brand. Their endorsements have an authentic quality as they are rooted in a genuine admiration for your brand.
If you work with multiple Ambassadors, you can take advantage of their diverse audiences. Each ambassador has a unique circle of influence, so you expose your brand to new target groups.
Is that all?
You are in a better position to negotiate with influencers to work for lower rates. Many influencers aspire to steady income and stability – a goal that can be achieved through ambassadors.
Finally, you can monopolize the advertising space of your ambassador. You have exclusive rights to their feeds and audiences.
If you still don’t see the merit of this tactic, understand this: 73% of marketers have formal ambassador programs in place. Are you behind the curve?
Ask your influencer turned ambassador to take charge of your brand accounts and post content on your behalf. Let them interact directly with your customers and followers. If possible, allow them to advertise gated events and offers.
Example: Under Armor’s partnership with basketball player Stephen Curry goes beyond a post or two. The brand offered a stake in Curry, cementing their relationship until 2024. Curry repays by showing a deep commitment to the brand’s mission and values.
Image via Instagram
Small business and influencer marketing is a perfect match. There are many innovative ways small businesses can capitalize on influencer marketing, even on a budget. Instead of shooting in the dark with unfamiliar tactics, it is best to use the strategies I explained above as they align with recent trends.
Still, I’d love to hear about your influencer marketing strategies. Share them in the comments below.