The recent press indicates that big brands are realising that when it comes to influencer marketing, less really could be more. While the reach numbers from influencer campaigns look impressive in the C-Suite report, they don’t seem to be delivering many meaningful conversions. The database isn’t growing, no one is making their way down the funnel and there’s no increase in beeps at the till point. It turns out a lot of these followers are fake, influencer fraud is a big problem and a new approach is needed.
Small businesses and influencer marketing
Big brands are cracking down on influencer fraud, improving their influencer marketing and shifting towards more authentic relationships. Finally. This is great for big brands with big budgets, but how does a smaller business with limited resources make influencer marketing work for them?
Here are 10 practical tips for small businesses and influencer marketing.
1. Start with 1 clear and simple goal
Is it an uplift in sales, a bigger mailing list or perhaps more visits to your website? Pick one clear and concise goal. Aim to do one thing and do it well.
2. Choose a goal that is easy to measure
Do not make brand awareness your goal, it’s hard to quantify. Vouchers redeemed, or newsletter signups are much easier to track and measure. Pick something that helps you see your return on investment.
3. Don’t base the goal on something you don’t own
Don’t make it an increase in Instagram likes, or Facebook followers. While 5000 Instagram followers sounds fancy, there is little to be gained from this in terms of customer data. You’re also going to need to spend on Instagram advertising to reach these 5000 potential customers. Rather link your goal to something you own and control, like your mailing list. If you don’t have one, please get one. Use MailChimp.
4. Cherry-pick people who make sense
Look at things like their content, their tone of voice and their online interactions. Don’t work with everyone just because it seems like a good idea. It lacks authenticity and consumers can sense this quite quickly. If you’re struggling to find influencers, the simplest thing to do is ask. E.g If you’re a cosmetics brand, ask your customers if there are any good beauty bloggers that they follow.
5. Don’t be swayed by big follower counts; look at the comments
Follower counts have become meaningless as these can be propped up by fake accounts, which will not translate into sales. A fake person cannot purchase your product, only real ones can. Sadly, influencers have bought fake followers and this can be hard for inexperienced business owners to spot. The best advice I can give you on this is to look at the comments on their content. Simply put, likes and followers can be bought, comments can’t.
6. Ask to see their audience stats
Specifically look at the demographics of their audience. Eg If you are selling high-end, luxury resort packages, an audience of primarily 20 to 23 year-olds, most likely in their first, low-paying job, doesn’t make sense.
7. Look at their audience
Ask yourself, are these the type of people who are likely to purchase your product? Who are these people? E.g if you’re selling menstrual cups, a male audience is most likely not your best bet.
8. Do they look and sound like an actual customer?
For influencer marketing to be effective, it must look authentic. This means that it must genuinely come across that this is someone who uses and enjoys your product. Trust is the golden thread of highly-effective influencer marketing strategies and advertising-savvy consumers must believe that this is real. You can’t fake trust, it just doesn’t work.
9. Spread your small budget around
Your budget is probably small, rather work with several smaller influencers, versus 1 big fish.
10. Wild Card Advice: Work With Your Customers instead because …
Everyone has influence
Everyone with a smartphone, who’s on social media, has a network of close friends that they share content with. They help shape the opinions of family and friends. It’s likely that their audience trusts their recommendations more than those of an influencer or blogger with whom they have no personal connection. Trust is incredibly important in influencer marketing. And it’s something you can’t fake.
More meaningful influence, but on a smaller scale
I’ll hazard a guess that your customer has more meaningful influence that is likely to translate into sales, than your average working influencer. It’s just that your customers have much smaller networks that they share content to. Their influence is on a much smaller scale and this is the trade-off.
There is already a relationship
You don’t have to buy the relationship, it’s already there. And it’s an authentic one that people are likely to trust. Get to know some of your customers and see if it’s an option for you.
Consider working with 10 existing, happy customers, versus 5 strangers with no previous affiliation to your brand. This will have the added effect of improving existing customer loyalty and perhaps even repeat purchase. It’s also cheaper and generates authentic stories for your brand. I’ve found that this is also particularly effective for B2B marketing strategies.
You know what they say, your best source of new customers, is your existing ones!
Are you a small business?
If you are, I hope these helped. If you know a small business, share this with them and help them avoid expensive and unnecessary mistakes.