Is influencer marketing small enough for your business?

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In an age when consumers are highly informed and actively seeking new products, influencer marketing is a powerful B2C option. Yet, for small businesses and startups, it’s often regarded as out of reach. That’s starting to change.

What exactly is an influencer? Sometimes called trendsetters or tastemakers, they’re individuals respected for their style and expertise who’ve cultivated followings on social media, namely Instagram. They charge fees to endorse products with posts, pictures and videos. Ethically, that’s acceptable, as long as the relationship is made clear to followers.

When it’s successful, influencer marketing is like word-of-mouth on steroids. Your product appears in front of an audience tuned in specifically to see the latest brands and how they’re used. That can spark lots of engagement and post sharing, which spreads awareness of your brand exponentially.

In our agency’s work with tourism clients, for example, we’ve arranged for influencers to visit a destination and post about their experiences at the hotel, local shops and restaurants, and area attractions. The most effective influencers understand the medium. They have an eye for compelling photos and videos, and their posts anticipate the questions followers would ask.

When this kind of marketing began several years ago, influencers were celebrities or big-name insiders with huge followings and fees to match. As the trend matures, however, micro-influencers have come along with fees that are often much more affordable for small businesses. Micro-influencers may have a few thousand followers, but the audience is highly targeted.

If you’re interested in working with an influencer, start with any you may already follow. Other sources are social media channels, blogs and Twitter feeds where your customers hang out. A simple Google search will turn up any number of websites that offer to match you with an influencer based on your products.

Set aside some time to shop and compare fees. Depending on the variables, individual posts can run anywhere from around $100 to several thousand.

In the meantime, remember the basics with strategic goals. Who are you trying to reach? What do you want the audience to know about your product and your company? And how will you measure results?

Ann Edelman is vice president of public relations and media for Zehnder Communications, a fully integrated advertising and marketing agency. Reach her at aedelman@z-comm.com.

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