The Small Business Guide to Working with Influencers and BloggersInfluencer marketing for small businesses

On February 22nd, 2018, a 21-year-old influencer sent out a tweet. It said, “sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me... ugh this is so sad.”

The tweet came from Kylie Jenner, reality TV star, model, businesswoman, and a bona fide social media influencer.

Kylie’s tweet sent Snap, the company behind Snapchat, into a financial tailspin. The company took a 7.2% percent hit wiping out $1.3 billion (£1bn) in market value overnight. They might have lost more if Kylie had not sent a second tweet. The second tweet said, “...Still love you tho snap ... my first love.”

Kylie’s tweet had an unintended and unwelcome effect. It did, however, confirm the power that a new breed of celebrity - so-called social media influencers and bloggers - have to sway the market.

The pros of working with influencers

With 49% of buyers depending on influencer recommendations to make a purchase, now is a great time to think about partnering with an influencer who resonates with your target audience and brand. Doing so can have many benefits for your business.

Influencers help you target the right audience

Influencers are so-called because they have the power to influence, among other behaviours, the buying habits of a specific group of people. When you partner with the right influencer, you get access to people who are relevant to your brand and interested in what you have to offer. It is thought that social media influencers can be as powerful as word of mouth recommendations but will ultimately they reach several more people in a quicker and more effective way (i.e. just one or two social media posts).

Influencer marketing offers a higher return on investment (ROI)

Studies show influencer marketing can generate 11 times better ROI than traditional marketing. The ROI of influencer marketing tactics is also easier to measure when compared to traditional marketing. While these numbers are impressive and present good reasons to work with online content creators, it's of course true that like all marketing strategies there is always a risk of poor performance, however, as you will read below there are certain things you can do to improve your chance of success and as this figure shows, the results are there for the taking!

It’s a quick way to boost trust in your brand

Trust takes a long time to build. Influencers have a large amount of trust equity already built up with their followers. The trust they’ve earned rubs off on your brand when you collaborate with them. This is essentially what you are gaining access to when you partner with an influencer and it's possible therefore that if the partnership is a good fit you will instantly have new customers.

Influencer marketing isn’t costly

Influencers often work with a flexible pricing structure and different payment options. These financial arrangements make marketing more accessible to small businesses. On Tribe, an influencer marketplace, micro-influencers with 3,000 to 10,000 followers charge between £50 to £100 per post on Instagram.

The cons of working with influencers

While working with influencers does have the capability of producing great results for your brands, there are some disadvantages that small businesses should be aware of.

High risk of influencer fraud

Anyone can call themselves an influencer because you can buy influence and can even fake engagement (likes, comments and shares on a post). Fraudulent engagement and inflated follower or subscriber counts can cost companies millions with little to show in terms of ROI.

Influencer marketing comes with no guarantees

Some influencer marketing campaigns have a 6.5:1 revenue to cost ratio. Top-performing influencers can bring in 20:1. As impressive as these numbers are, there’s no way to guarantee you’ll get these results as we mention above.

Influencer Marketing Mistakes Can Cost Your Brand

Once you partner with an influencer, their missteps become yours. You only have control over the content they post for your brand. You have no say on the rest of the content they create that eventually live alongside yours. Along the same lines, you should check the background of any influencers or bloggers to see if there are any past videos or blog posts that your brand may not want to be associated with. 

Tips for working effectively with influencers

If you've read all the above and you still think there are some benefits for your business by starting to work with bloggers and influencers then read on for some things to keep in mind as you start what will hopefully be a positive marketing strategy!

Find the right influencer for your business

The right influencer for your business must share your brand’s values and love and believe in your product or service. They should also know how to communicate effectively with your target market. You can find this out by spending time following them, interacting with their content and also checking out the kind of people they engage with. If they have a newsletter, sign up to it (maybe from a personal email) and do a random deep dive into all their content to check they are consistently producing the kind of content you want to be associated with. It's also a good idea to check a potential influencer or blogger has or hasn't worked with a competitor before!

Set clear goals for your partnership

Each influencer marketing campaign you run must have clear goals that align with actual business goals. The influencer you chose to partner with must have a clear understanding of what those goals are before the campaign kicks off. These goals will inform how you measure results.

Don’t expect your influencer to sell duds

Influencers are brands in and of themselves. They have a reputation to protect just like your brand does. Don’t expect them to sell poor products on your behalf. Create a product or service that’s worth both your time and effort and theirs.

Make use of micro-influencers

It’s tempting to want to work with the likes of Kylie Jenner. Before you go tracking down her people down, there’s something you should know. She’s the highest-paid influencer and charges $1 million per post. If you have that kind of cash lying around, you may want to hold off writing her a cheque. Research shows that micro-influencers—those with 1,000-10,000 subscribers—actually have higher engagement rates.

Don’t stifle their creativity

Influencers have mastered the art of building relationships, creating magical moments, and storytelling. Allow them creative freedom to create content their audience expects. They are the experts; remember this is why you sought them out. Dictating how the content should look may result in content that comes across as inauthentic, a major red flag that may result in audience backlash.

Follow all social media rules and regulations

Social marketers are subject to various rules and regulations from agencies like the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) also has a set of rules that apply to influencer marketing. Do not work with influencers who knowingly flaunt these rules. Their casual disregard for protocols may have you paying the penalty for non-compliance!

With these tips in mind, small businesses should be able to successfully work with influencers and bloggers for maximum benefit. 

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