The majority of small and startup businesses do not have sufficient budgets allocated for above-the-line advertising, such as using TV, obtaining celebrity endorsements or using print media.
Using influencer marketing as an alternative to social media advertising is an increasingly successful way to reach out to potential customers.
Influencers help consumers become aware of a startup’s existence, says TechCrunch France editor-in-chief Roxanne Varza. In addition, influencer marketing can make a startup more likely to succeed. According to a study by Burst Media, companies obtained $7.85 in value from influencer marketing for every $1 spent. That’s a pretty good cost per user acquisition.
If your target market consists of millennials and stay-at-home moms, their influencers are people they look up to, and they base their purchasing decisions on what their influencers recommend.
These influencers tend to be bloggers and mini-celebrities (on social media). Getting these influencers on your side can be a great way to generate awareness and interest in your startup.
In his best-selling book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell described mavens as experts and influencers in their respective fields.
People who are influenced by these mavens tend to buy the products and services they recommend.
1. Start with targeted research
Influencer marketing is most effective when you research what their interests are, what it is that they value.
As a result, you can narrow down your target to find the most relevant people to help promote your business. The ideal candidate should have an image and values aligned with your own.
Consider the best way to contact them – whether it’s by phone, social media, etc. By preparing a highly targeted email campaign, you can tailor your message to the key influencers in a way that’s likely to elicit a positive response.
In addition to genuinely believing that your business is a great idea, these influencers should also want to promote it even without any monetary compensation. Shoe of Prey, for example, used micro-influencers in 2010 to scale up their growth.
2. Develop great relationships with influencers
Identifying the relevant influencers is the first step in building relationships with them and engaging them.
Design an influencer marketing strategy that benefits both your business and potential partners. Get their thoughts on how you can work together.
Instead of simply telling them what to do, ask their opinion: whether it be from helping design or name a specific business campaign, what are their thoughts on investing in it personally? Will there be a series of campaigns to promote the business?
Turn them into brand ambassadors—Travel and lifestyle company Adventure.com, in 2014, found freelance photojournalists to become community ambassadors coming from its Twitter followers.
3. Track your campaign’s success
Your startup should be able to measure how successful the influencers were at generating sales and raising awareness. These numbers may also include information from your social media accounts. Has your traffic spiked since you gained influencers’ attention?
4. Remain ethical at all times
With an authentic and genuine relationship with influencers, you will not only be able to boost your company’s traffic and sales, but also show the power of technology in uniting the community.
If you want to leverage influencers’ expertise, look for mutually beneficial ways to collaborate rather than approaching them with just an ‘ask’.
You should think about how the person could use your brand to boost their own personal brand, and whatever campaign you have in mind, consider whether it would be relevant to their audience.