In recent years, influencer marketing has boomed, growing into a multi-billion dollar industry. Influencers are helping brands increase their sales, boost awareness, drive web traffic and get more social media followers.
And the best part about this strategy is that brands of all sizes can take advantage of it, including your small business. You don’t have to be Nike or Gucci to find influencers and launch a successful campaign with them.
However, success is dependent on finding the right influencers for your brand. This can be a bit overwhelming sometimes, especially for smaller brands with fewer resources. Therefore, it’s important to know what small businesses should look for in influencers.
Before we start, how do I find influencers?
There are three primary ways to find influencers:
- Social media
- Influencer marketing platform
- Influencer marketing agency
An agency will find influencers for you and manage your campaign, but it’s the most expensive option. An influencer marketing platform is subscription-based, so you’ll have to pay a monthly or annual fee, but it offers you search and analytics functions. Searching on social media is free, but will take up more of your time than the other methods.
Evaluate your campaign objectives and budget and decide which method works best for you. Regardless of what you choose, it’s important that you have access to influencer performance metrics, which we’ll explain in more detail below. An agency or influencer marketing platform will provide you with these, but if you use social media, you’ll have to ask individual influencers for their metrics.
What to look for in influencers
Let’s take a look at the different metrics and qualities small businesses should look for in influencers.
1. A follower count that fits with your budget
Follower count isn’t the only determining factor in an influencer’s price, but it plays a big part. The more followers an influencer has, the more they’ll charge for their services. Small businesses should forget about collaborating with the likes of Kim Kardashian, because you simply can’t afford it.
Thankfully, you don’t have to. Nano influencers, who have 1-5K followers, will generally collaborate with brands in exchange for free products alone. Micro influencers, who have 5-50K followers, may also work for product alone, or product and a small fee.
Paying with products means that the investment is lower for your brand. While the influencer sess the market value of your product, the real cost to you is the cost of production. Just remember to factor in any shipping and handling costs to send packages to influencers.
2. Good engagement
Speaking of nano and micro influencers, another benefit of working with them is that they have the highest average engagement rates in the industry. Engagement rate is the level of interaction between an influencer and their followers. The more the audience trusts and enjoys an influencer’s content, the more likely they are to interact with it.
The more connected an influencer is with their audience, the better chance they can translate that engagement into engagement with your brand. And as small businesses can’t afford mega influencers with millions of followers around the world, it’s better to promote your brand to engaged niches. This way, you connect with fewer people, but the right people for your brand.
An engagement rate metric taken from an influencer marketing platform. We can see that this influencer has very high engagement when compared to the average for her peers.
But when analyzing engagement, don’t compare, for example, Instagram influencers with Youtube influencers. Engagement rate varies by social network, as well as by the number of followers. Generally speaking, as follower count increases, engagement drops off.
Finally, beware extreme engagement. If it’s very low, either people aren’t interested in the influencer’s content, or the influencer bought fake followers. If it’s suspiciously high, the influencer may have purchased fake likes, comments or other interactions.
3. An authentic audience that matches your target
Any marketing campaign needs a defined target audience in order to be successful. And in influencer campaigns, the target audience directly affects the choice of influencer.
So, who do you want to reach with your campaign? When searching for influencers, look to see if their audience matches your target. Analyze audience demographics like age, gender, country, language and interests to make sure the influencer can connect you to the right people.
An audience interests analysis from an influencer marketing platform, which shows us that over half of this influencer’s audience is interested in surfing.
In addition to the audience demographics, vet the authenticity, too. Influencers sometimes buy fake followers to make their profiles look more impressive. Fake followers allegedly cost brands $1.3 billion in 2019. And as a small business with a relatively low budget compared to other brands, it’s especially important that you verify that you don’t waste your money marketing to bots.
An audience authenticity analysis from an influencer marketing platform. 8.46% of this influencer’s followers have demonstrated some type of suspicious behavior typically found in bots.
Bots have some common behaviors like:
- No profile picture of biography info
- Names that seem to be random strings of letters and numbers
- Little to no content
- Comments that seem unnatural, as if not written by a real human
Verifying audience authenticity is an important step in making sure you find the right influencers for your small business.
4. Local presence
We mentioned Nike and Gucci at the beginning of this post. Those big brands can work with influencers from around the world, because their companies have an international presence. But for your small business, things are different.
Choose local influencers for your campaigns. First, the influencer will be better able to understand your brand and its culture, and perhaps even visit your physical location, if you have one. Second, local influencers can connect you with people in your area of operations, who can actually buy your products or services.
5. Content and personality that aligns with your brand
Finally, this last point is true for all brands working with influencer marketing: Find influencers who align with your brand. In other words, it should be evident to followers why the influencer and brand are collaborating.
This quality can’t be measured in data, so you have to take a careful look at the influencer’s profile and trust your instinct. Think about questions like:
- Does this influencer create content in the same category as my brand?
- Is their content up to par with my standards?
- Can their unique voice transmit my message?
- Does the influencer uphold my brand’s values?
- Does their aesthetic style make sense with mine?
Choosing influencers who mesh with your brand will lead to more authentic, believable collaborations.
Influencer marketing is a massive industry, but even the smallest businesses can use this strategy to boost. Just remember that success is dependent on finding the right influencer to collaborate with.