Key steps to influencer marketing for small businesses

By Sam Nunley

Influencer marketing is the fastest-growing consumer acquisition marketing method to date. For small business owners or solopreneurs, this practice may seem confusing and intimidating if you aren’t social media savvy.

However, with a little research, this approach has proven effectiveness with different audiences. It’s well worth considering for companies that want to engage with today’s consumers in a language that speaks to their expectations and desires.

With this in mind, let’s explore five steps leaders need to take in order to achieve success with influencer marketing — as well as a few pitfalls to avoid when endeavoring in this method.

Choose your platform

There is no “right” or “obvious” choice. Not every social media platform is perfect for every business. Before you can find your influencers, you need to know which platform is best for your unique organization. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all have their places in the social sphere.

By homing in on the platforms where your customers dwell most often, you’ll be able to find influencers who can impact your audience. It doesn’t make sense to partner with an Instagram influencer if your business never shows photos and doesn’t have any visual stories to display.

On the other hand, if you work in an industry where image is everything, such as weddings, Instagram might be your optimal platform. It’s not just about finding the platform that has the most social media influencers; it’s about finding the platform where influencers can connect with your customers.

Set your goals

You want to make your marketing efforts better, but that’s not really a measurable goal. What does “better” mean for your business?

Are you:

-Trying to get more followers?

-Interested in increasing sales?

-Working on getting more impressions?

-Hoping to drive more people to your landing pages or website?

Let’s take a step back. It’s essential to have baseline data before launching your campaign. If you want to get more followers, how many do you have right now? Do you plan to measure increases daily, weekly or monthly?

Be careful not to become too obsessed with fluctuations on a small-term basis. Weekly, monthly or even quarterly measurements will provide a better picture of the impact your influencers have on your audience.

It’s also important not to get overwhelmed with too many goals. Focus on one or two metrics at a time. If your sales are improving, maybe you don’t need to spend a ton of time on impressions right now. If you’re driving traffic to the website, you can switch your focus to figure out why people aren’t converting to customers if you’re experiencing high bounce rates. In those situations, the influencer is doing his or her job; the rest of the responsibility resides with you and your marketing team.

Find your influencers

Explore influencers who reside on the platform(s) you’ve chosen as your optimal outlets. You want an individual who has a wide reach, solid reputation and great engagement with people. Be sure to look for someone who represents your brand’s values and mission, so you align your audience with an influencer who speaks your company’s language.

Manage the relationship with your influencer

Like anything else in business, this is a professional relationship. Your influencer may already have ideas about how he or she wants to approach your brand, so be willing to listen. It’s important to foster a positive relationship with influencers. They have a lot of power over audiences, and you don’t want to find yourself on the wrong side of the transaction.

Put a contract in place, make sure all expectations are defined, and pay your influencer in a timely manner. Make sure your influencers disclose the fact that it’s a paid partnership or you could get in legal trouble. If influencers don’t disclose this fact outright, they can use the hashtags #ad or #advertisement to get the message across.

Measure your results

Now it’s time to see if you got the ROI for which you were hoping. Did you meet your goals? If you fell flat, maybe you need to try a different influencer, or perhaps you were using the wrong social media platform. If your campaign was a success, congratulations! Now you know what to do next time.

With these five key steps, social media marketing should get a little easier when you’re ready to reach out to influencers. Remember, they’re representing your brand. The more research you can do upfront to find the people who will make the most impact to your customer base, the more successful your efforts will be in the long run.


Sam Nunley is a sales and marketing team member for Ace Models, a Las Vegas-based event staffing company. She has seven years of experience in the industry, and currently focuses on storytelling and writing website content.

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