SME guide to Influencer Marketing

Short and sweet for you guys… small and medium business guide to influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is a hot topic in business and marketing right now more so in the big brand space though. Big brands have big budgets and can afford the world’s best influencer agencies to bag some exposure via the world’s biggest influencer audiences. But how does this relate to you the SME?

Big brands are using influencers to reach targeted and mass communities and getting results, but how can the smaller businesses use influencers to tap into new audiences, increase brand awareness and get more business, without the big budgets? Who are your influencers? Where do you go to find influencers? And how do you build a relationship with them that is mutually beneficial?. In this post all will be revealed.

Think small and influential

With large influencer posts costing a small fortune, how is it possible for a small business with limited budget able to tap into influencer audiences? The answer is in micro influencers. A micro influencer is a person who has influence within a niche or that has a small but influential audience or community. To define an influencer: It’s someone who influences someone to either take action or to make a purchasing decision and influencing someone to making a purchase decision is what you ultimately want to achieve.

How to find a micro influencer

Micro influencers are everywhere, you’ll find them in the form of bloggers, local papers or journalists, Instagram users, they even host twitter chats and so on. A micro influencer doesn’t have millions or even tens of thousands of followers but a smaller base community. Your influencer will normally vlog or write about their niche and share articles and information through social media that is industry specific. Local bloggers will write about local activities and businesses. You can spot micro influencers easily on social media because they have great engagement. In fact you’ll often see some (so called) influencers with 100k plus twitter followers with no retweets, replies or likes.. These people are not influencers, people are not talking to them. This is a really easy way to spot if someone holds a bit of clout within an area. In fact it’s even easier to spot micro influencers for b2b, this is because you can see if they consistently talk about their industry and you can see if people are listening. Look at their blogs at the shares (if this is available) are their articles getting shared?

Tools for finding influencers

There are many tools you can use to find and connect with new influencers in your niche. including these popular services:

Followerwonk – Twitter specific.. Find, Analyse, and Optimise for Social Growth – free for 1 profile
Buzzsumo – Analyse what content performs best for any topic or competitor. Find the key influencers to promote your content – from $79 per month
Klout – Has had a heap of criticism as it’s easily gamed by so called influencers, but it’s a great starting point. Also you can see if someone really has influence by checking on their engagement. On the flip-side it’s a great way to check on your impact (used with a pinch of salt)
Reaching out to influencers

Once you’ve established who your influencers are you’ll want to connect with them through social media. I would not recommend connecting and then asking for a share, a post about you or an email out to their list right away. This would be considered a bit rude and also remember these influencers have spent years building a solid community or audience, why would they just give you access to something that has been carefully built and nurtured? The key is to build relationships. Start by connecting and sharing their content with your own community. Share the influencers videos or articles and tag them in via twitter, for example: ‘a great insight on _____ by @Tagthemhere’ don’t do it everyday to the same person but show you are interested in their content. When they share a post, join the conversation and respond. If you have written a piece of content that may be of interest to your influencer you could reply to one of their posts and say: ‘thank you for the great information once again, I wrote something similar from a different angle, what do you think?’ or ‘great piece, we actually have a solution to the problem you mentioned in your post have you seen it before?’ – I wouldn’t start doing this until you have some relationship established through social media. You could also write a blog or create a video in response to one of their articles or even mentioning them, this is a great technique for getting industry specific influencers attention.

Building a relationship

Influencers are human beings, all different, all complex. So different approaches will be necessary for each. A good way to get to know your influencer would be to invite them for lunch (on you, of course 😉) once you have their full attention DO NOT TALK ABOUT YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS! Have a 2 way conversation about your industry (be careful not to whinge about competitors or the industry) keep it positive and upbeat, discuss how you can collaborate or help each other. Offer them something of value if not monetary, perhaps you have a product you could give them for free. They key is to be targeted with your influencer so that they want to share your product, service or insight with their community, because it is highly relevant and useful.

Nurturing your influencer

Treat your influencer like you would a customer. What can you do for them? What solutions do you have for them or their communities that would add value? Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s all about you and what you can get from them. Build the relationship, nurture your influencer, this way they’ll begin to respect you and share your thoughts and more with their communities.

Finally, nothing is guaranteed. You can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do. So test the water, do they respond to you? Are they accessible? You have a business to run so don’t invest too heavily in courting your influencer until you see they are open to a dialogue.

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