What is “Influencer Marketing” and How Can a Small Business Use it?

Influencer marketing is the buzzword of the year…and maybe even the past couple of years. It is most often associated with professional bloggers, but that’s not the only type of influencer out there. Influencer marketing is also often thought to be expensive, and something only large companies can employ, but that’s not the case at all.

Who is an Influencer?

Put simply, an influencer is anyone who can influence the purchase decision of another person. That could be anyone from a Kardashian to you! Yes YOU could be an influencer. In fact, I would argue we are all influencers to someone. Have you ever recommended a product or service and had that person follow thorough and buy what you recommended? That makes you an influencer!

In the broader marketing world, an influencer is generally someone who has a large (which is relative, of course) following on at least one platform, to which they can promote a product or service and influence a purchase decision. Influencers began as people who simply raved about products and services they loved…but like everything else, marketers quickly realized they could take advantage of this and pay people to talk about their products.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is the strategy of getting an influencer to promote your product or service to their following. This could be done on a relationship basis; you know them and they love your product so they naturally share it. Most likely, however, you will need to research, find, pitch and pay an influencer to share your product with fans. Influencer marketing consists of two equally important parts: marketing to the influencer and the influencer marketing to their followers.

How to Find Your Best Influencers

The biggest question I get from clients is how to get started in influencer marketing. How do you find the right influencer for you? Well, it takes a lot of research. You’ll need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. On which platform/s will we focus? Bloggers, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, radio, TV or YouTube? Influencers are not exclusive to social media even if that’s what we hear about most.
  2. Who are some of the most common accounts/personalities my ideal customer follows on each platform?
  3. Do those personalities fit with your brand values and vision?
  4. Does it make sense for them to talk about your product?
  5. Do they already engage in influencer marketing? If so, do those campaigns fit with your brand vision and values?

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of influencers, check their websites to see if they have information about how to work with them. If they are making a living from doing this, likely you will find most of the information you need on their website, except perhaps pricing.

Pitching Your Ideal Influencer

Now that you have a list of potential influencers, your next step is sending them a pitch. You’ll want to keep in mind they likely get a ton of pitches, so yours needs to give them all the information they need and clearly outline what you’re offering and expecting. Short Presents, a local Halifax influencer, wrote a great post, Things to Consider When Approaching a Blogger, and it’s a great place to start.

Expect they will write back with questions to clarify your budget and expectations. Or they may simply write back and with a form to fill out, depending on how big they are.

How Much Does Influencer Marketing Cost?

If ever there was a perfect place to say “It depends,” this is it! If you approach someone who isn’t already doing regular influencer campaigns, they may be happy to give you a shout out or an Instagram post in exchange for a good amount of product. However, if you are approaching a professional blogger, or a big personality, expect to be asked for anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. How much they charge depends on the size of their audience, the posting commitment, and the amount of time required to build the posts.

You may think “It’s just an Instagram post. How long could that take?”

Any influencer worth working with takes more than five minutes to put together their posts. Setting up the photos and editing them can take an hour or more. Writing a 500 word blog post is another hour. Then you have to add the time to craft each share on social media. Now consider the time it took to use the product you sent as well. You could be asking your influencer to spend 10 or more hours on your contract if this is a DIY project, for example.

Does Influencer Marketing Work?

It certainly can! You’ll want to agree on measurement tactics with your chosen influencer so you can see for yourself if it was worth working with them. You can do this by asking them to use UTM tagged links to your site, checking the insights on their Facebook post (if done properly, you would be able to access them yourself), or at the very least asking them to use a trackable shortened link or a coupon code on your site. If you can track how much traffic they’re sending your way and whether or not that’s translating into conversions, then you’ll know if it’s working.

Erin at DIY Passion, tells me one video campaign she implemented for FAT Paint Co. resulted in a $ .04 per view, which is very low compared to running one’s own video ad on Facebook.

For more numbers, check out this article on Forbes. It’s about large companies and their results, but it’s encouraging for small businesses as well. Studies show more and more marketers will be increasing their spend on influencer marketing and we know marketers only do what works…influencer marketing, done right, must be working!

Have you tried influencer marketing for your small business? What was your experience? Will you try it again? Let me know in the comments.


4 thoughts on “What is “Influencer Marketing” and How Can a Small Business Use it?”

  1. Fantastic post – so much helpful information! I’m just starting up and learning all about influencer marketing, so this was just the perfect thing to read to give me a better outlook of what it actually is.


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