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What is Social Media Influencer Marketing and How Can I Use It for My Business?

influencer marketing for small business

One of the biggest marketing trends this year that people have been talking about is Influencer Marketing. If you’re new to social media influencer marketing, then keep reading! Recently, we attended an Influencer Marketing luncheon where we sat down and had lunch with guest speakers who are leaders in the marketing industry.

In this article, we’ll give you the inside scoop on what Influencer Marketing is, why it’s important, and how you can take advantage of it for your business!

What Is Influencer Marketing?

The simplest definition of Influencer Marketing is like using a celebrity to endorse a product, except that influencers, whether celebrities or not, are people who connect with their audience directly and can reach a demographic your brand may not be able to do.

Social media influencers can be anyone and anywhere – from the guy sitting at the coffee shop to your next door neighbor. What makes someone an influencer is their following on social media.

That guy at the coffee shop? He’s actually a popular travel blogger with over 100,000 Youtube subscribers. Your next door neighbor – they’re a popular fashion model with 30,000 of Instagram followers. Because of their large following, the content they produce likely reaches a much larger audience than your own. If their audience is similar to yours and could benefit from your product or service, they may be a great influencer to approach for your influencer marketing strategy and campaigns.

AMA Influencer Marketing Luncheon

Recently, we attended an American Marketing Association DFW luncheon in Addison, TX. At the luncheon were panelists from various industries talking about influencer marketing along with a prominent influencer as well.

The panelists included representatives from Southwest Airlines (@briediculouz), Whataburger (@sabeinaharris), Envy Gaming, and social media influencer/Youtube superstar @Preston.

During the luncheon, they spoke about their experiences with influencers, how they integrated their marketing strategies with influencer marketing campaigns, and what they look for in an influencer.

Here are some key takeaways you can learn from:

  • Organic match with an influencer is crucial.
    • Their “brand” and message should align with yours and work together effortlessly.
  • Build a mutual & beneficial relationship with the right influencer.
    • Short term, one-off campaigns can lead to working together long term!
  • Your product or service should align with their content and audience.
    • Before working with an influencer, make sure that you scrub their social and look at how they are treating their followers. That is an important indicator of their temperament and should align with your business’ voice.
    • Also, make sure that they are getting real engagement and don’t simply have a large number of fake followers/likes/etc.
  • Legal is important.
    • Ensure that you have a proper contract with any influencers that you work with, including a moral clause to avoid influencer marketing legal issues.
  • Make sure that any influencer you engage with has proper legal disclaimers in place as well.
    • If the influencer is new, you may need to provide resources for them to be compliant.
  • Do not be afraid to test and embrace uncertainty.
    • Try different age ranges of influencers. Fail forward with your campaigns.
  • Don’t let influencer content die on their channel.
    • Utilize it in your campaigns directly as well by including it in email newsletters, banners, your company’s social posts, etc.
  • Always be testing, and always be measuring.
    • Track your results on the various platforms by measuring impressions, clicks, follows, conversions, etc.
  • Finding an influencer can be tough. The easiest and potential best ones will already be engaging with your brand and have a large following. Start there.
    • Don’t be afraid to help an influencer reach their own goals. You will often find that a mutually beneficial relationship yields better value.
  • Consider providing the influencer ad spend for boosting their campaigns for your brand.
    • This gets your message more impressions, but also gets their brand more visibility, followers, and engagement. Again, mutually beneficial.

Why Influencer Marketing Is Important?

Influencer marketing is becoming more and more important in today’s world of social media and brand building because you’re not just sticking a famous person on a product and creating a spokesperson – you’re trusting someone to influence their specific niche with your product and create loyalty towards your brand from their audience. Typically, the influencer would have knowledge and experience with your product or service, which creates authenticity.

While it’s easy to go out and find an influencer to endorse your product, it’s important that they actually care about your products too. You want someone who uses (or will use) your product in an organic manner because their audience trusts their opinion.

Southwest Airlines Social Media Influencer: An Example

An example from marketer Brie Strickland of Southwest Airlines was when they hired an influencer, but then that person, after the campaign was over, tweeted positively about a competitor while slamming Southwest.

Obviously, that campaign backfired on them, but it didn’t discourage them from using other influencers. It did, however, make them realize that they needed to engage more with influencers who actually use and love their airline. Brie chalked it up as a lesson learned and used it to illustrate the importance of trial and error.

Collaborating With the Right Influencer Marketer

Another reason why influencer marketing is important is that while you can create a short term (or one of) collaboration, it can also lead to a long term relationship. Social media influencer Preston gave us insights about how he finds it important to build a relationship with the brand he’s advertising for because both parties will continuously benefit. By creating a lasting relationship, it strengthens both parties’ brand and image to their respective audience which then creates loyalty and trust.

Preston, along with Envy Gaming and Whataburger, noted that choosing the right influencer is important because your business needs to make sure that your product or service fits with their content, along with making sure their content aligns with your overall image.

Picking someone who just has a big following can have negative effects on your brand if they post offensive content. It’s also important that you work with someone who’s image makes sense to collaborate with. For example, it makes sense for a sports brand to collaborate with a fitness influencer on Youtube or Instagram, but what doesn’t make sense is an IT consulting company collaborating with a beauty guru.

How You Can Make Influencer Marketing Work for Your Business

Since influencer marketing advocates for authenticity when collaborating with a brand, businesses can use this to their advantage. The use of an influencer works because it relies on social and content marketing tools, which lends credibility through engagement with audiences that match a brand’s demographic. Before hiring someone though, it’s important that you review their social media to make sure they treat their fans right and that their following is real (and not bought)!

Although it can be costly to hire an influencer, it doesn’t have to be! Preston noted that paying an influencer doesn’t always have to include monetary compensation. If you’re a small business, you can offer some monetary payment alongside other perks, which can include a stipend, free products from your business, or even putting in money behind their own campaigns to boost their content. This is a win-win situation for both parties if your business is on a budget.

Some important questions to ask in order to fully utilize an influencer are:

  • Who is already tagging the brand? Is there anyone there passionate enough?
  • Is it organic and authentic engagement?
  • Ask them what their goals are and what they don’t want to do and approach from that angle.

Once you get the answers you’re looking for with these questions and the above information, you can make influencer marketing work for your business.

With brands looking to leverage the impact of influencer marketing, we hope that we have provided valuable insight into what it entails and how to utilize it for your business – even on a budget! Influencer marketing is, of course, just one marketing method to consider when growing your business.

For more ideas and strategies, especially for small businesses, read our other blog post on cost-effective marketing strategies.

Questions or comments? Let us know below!

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