How to use a social media influencer for your small business marketing: An interview with Alex Shebar

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

By Michelle van Schouwen

Social media influencer marketing involves engaging with professional social media users or bloggers with engaged followers, who can help popularize, endorse, and promote your product or service. Done right, it can yield outstanding results.

For a small business, choosing the right type of influencer is key. You don’t need – and likely can’t afford – a celebrity or famous opinion leader. But not to worry. Small businesses have great choices. To learn more about how to do social media influencer marketing right, I interviewed Brooklyn-based Alex Shebar, whose tens of thousands of loyal followers trust him on matters including (but not limited to) the best of food, squeezing the best out of NYC living (even without breaking the bank), travel, events, and myriad good-humored stories and tips for living well… whether you are a person or that person’s beloved dog. Plus, he runs influencer campaigns, and is always ready to help businesses develop them.

Alex, how does a small business owner figure out if influencer marketing is right for the company?

AS: Traditionally, you’re looking for a B2C business for an influencer campaign. You MAY be okay as a B2B but you’re going to have to choose influencers who are embedded deeply into your business niche to make a dent. It’s much easier to approach it on a level of “You’re selling, let’s find people who are buying.”

Can a small business get a decent return on investment with influencer marketing?

AS:  think influencer campaigns are great for most B2C businesses as long as you realize that it can’t be your only marketing strategy. You can make $6.5 for every $1 you spend with influencer marketing, according to AdWeek, but you have to do it right.

So, let’s talk about doing it right. How can a small business owner choose the right type of social media influencer?

AS: Do your research, find influencers who are interested in your industry and focus on them. DO NOT pick influencers who are popular for popularity’s sake, or worse, outside of your niche. Sure, they may look great, but if they’re mostly about designer fashion, are they going to help sell your clever t-shirts? Probably not.

How can a business owner discern whether particular influencers are successful for their clients?

AS: Look at the engagement of these influencers. See how many likes and comments their posts are getting. And before you work with them, ask them to send you their metrics so you can see even more metrics (where their followers are based, age, etc… all the things that matter when trying to figure out if your product is a good match for this influencer to advertise). Follower count doesn’t really matter as much as it once did (for example, since Instagram changed its algorithm about who sees what). Make sure they’re actually engaged with their community.

We probably already know the answer, but is influencer marketing a viral deal… where a client might sponsor an influencer post or two and watch sales take off?

AS: The old adage is that it can take six to eight times for someone to see a brand before they finally purchase. This is exceptionally true in the influencer world. Too many businesses go in expecting to make a ton of money after working with one influencer once but that’s a rare occasion. Usually, it’s part of a targeted strategy that has multiple points of marketing where things work best! Remember that influencer campaigns are just ONE part of your marketing strategy.

(Readers, I agree. Keeping up the drumbeat is key in nearly all marketing. See also: “When it comes to your message, how much is enough?”) But that leads me to a tough question: What if a small business owner wants to give influencer marketing a try, but doesn’t have much for a budget?

AS: There are a bunch of micro-influencers (usually under 10,000 followers) who may be willing to work for product trade as they grow but remember, for a lot of them, this is a side hustle, if not a real business. In my experience, it takes a little bit of budget to create content that really makes an impact. Any eyeballs on your product is a great thing, true, but if you’re going to do it, it’s great to do it well.

Can you share an example of a great small business influencer campaign?

AS: For a great example of a small business doing influencer campaigns well, check out Swisspers “Sleep Naked” campaign. Swisspers, a U.S. Cotton brand, ran a campaign working with beauty bloggers, encouraging them to post “naked” (makeup-free) selfies as part of a “Sleep Naked” sweepstakes. This was already a trend going on with bigger celebrities that they were able to work into their own campaign and content and really create a great effect. Sometimes you don’t have to reinvent the wheel as much as use it to create natural, authentic and organic trends.

Thanks, Alex Shebar, for sharing your experience and wisdom with Succeeding in Small Business. Examples of Alex’s influencer campaigns can be seen at and


Michelle van Schouwen is principal of Q5 Analytics, providing advocacy and communications for climate change mitigation and adaptation. See Q5 For 32 years, Michelle was president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC (vSA), a B2B marketing company. In 2017, van Schouwen Associates was acquired by Six-Point Creative Works, Inc.  of Springfield, MA. Michelle is available for speaking engagements on topics including her work on climate crisis mitigation and Florida coastal water issues. She speaks to business and student groups about marketing launches and entrepreneurship and works with start-ups to support their development.

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