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An SMEs Guide to Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing seems to be one of those phrases that everyone has heard but few really seem to know what it is or how to do it. Well, it’s time to learn how to harness Influencer Marketing properly.

A recent study found that influencer marketing pays an average of $11.20 in earned media value for every $1.00 of paid media spend. How’s that for a return on investment?

There’s plenty of big brands who have worked with big influencers to boost their brand but how can SMEs access this very profitable marketing tactic? Well, here’s how.

1. Find the right influencers

It’s easy to point to celebrities and public figures as the type of people you’d like promoting your business, but let’s get real. It’s not viable for a small business to land a social media promotion deal with Sir Alan Sugar. Instead, build a clear picture of the type of person your audience is likely to connect with.

Take the time to read your client’s tweets, Facebook posts, snaps, and Instagram posts. Learn exactly where their attention is and who they’re paying attention to.

Once you have a pool of potential influencers, filter for relevance and reach. When you’ve got the perfect balance between correct audience and the total audience you’ll be in a position to approach them.

Both Twitter and Instagram have excellent search functions so use these to find high-value individuals in your area.

2. Turn messages into relationships

Now that you’ve found a few local influencers (and do keep it to a few to start off with) it’s time to start building relationships. Remember, this is not the sales stage – Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, as Gary Vaynerchuk would say. This is where you lay the groundwork for everything that is to come afterwards, opening the door to collaborations.

How you go about building that relationship depends entirely on the platform you’re using, but the one overriding consistency is this – be personal. Don’t set up an auto-tweet, or copy and paste the same message over and over again. With the population being exposed to as many interactions as they are now, the world’s bullsh*t detector is amazingly finely tuned now.

Keep building engagement and familiarity over time, aiming to create as many touch points as possible. When you feel comfortable with the relationship, move it forwards, but try to offer value. If you have a product/service you can offer for free, offer that. If not, find a way to offer value – it’s important to keep the leverage in the relationship.

Aim to offer maximum value while creating awareness—remember your goal at this stage is to build relationships, not to create a direct response.

3. Track results

With a few good relationships established with influencers in your area, it’s time to activate and drive results for your business. Through conversing and engaging with content published by influencers, you’re likely to see an increase in engagement with your own followers.

It’s important to track the results of your engagement – keep an eye on new followers/messages/tweets/mentions etc so you can see both how your audience is growing, but also the success of the campaign so far. If you want to double down on a particular influencer, then offer their followers a discount on your offering.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with the exchange of value—exchange Tweets for rewards, or cross-promote their website tweets with yours.

4. Start small

As with most things, the best way to start is small. Track down one or two influencers that have a good reach and relevance to your customers. Make a connection with them, and leverage their engagement to build a meaningful rapport. Then, work to drive business results through a mutual exchange of value.

With one or two wins under your belt, you’ll find it easier to build and activate relationships with more and more influencers. Your business will thank you.

Influencer marketing can take time to establish but with relatively low capital investment level, it can be a brilliant ROI driver. We really recommend you put some time into it.